Guest Author - Kathie LoMonaco
I’ve written here before in an earlier article on the topic of ‘privacy’. I’ve always been a very private person - but, there are those people out there that cannot understand the meaning of privacy, or should I say - YOUR NEED for privacy, and they, therefore, don’t show regard or respect for their fellow man. I have seen firsthand where a neighbor can become resentful and sometimes mean when they’ve lost their quest to have you knuckle-under, to follow their lead - recruit you into their fold, ensure that you go along with ‘the program’ as they see fit. It is an invasion of your privacy.
Let’s say - take neighbors, for example. Everyone I think has a neighbor who is like Mrs. Kravitz from the series, ‘Bewitched‘. She is constantly on the ‘look-out’ for fresh gossip; as an example, when I would attempt to mow my lawn - and immediately my neighbor would appear and sprint over to engage me in some type of gossip as I tried to mow the lawn - I would have to stop the mower, talk for 30 minutes or so and by that time I had lost my impetus to continue mowing my lawn. But, that's trivial compared to what has since transpired.
This type of person, I believe, has a void and they must fill it. Sometimes You become their obsession. I have a neighbor like that. I call her the Town Crier. Once she knows your business - everyone in the neighborhood soon will. I know firsthand because I have been privy to her gossiping ways besides ultimately being the victim of her gossip.
When I first moved in, although I wanted to keep an arm’s distance from my neighbors, this one neighbor wasn’t going to go along with my agenda, only her own. So I was immediately at a disadvantage, but after seeing how helpful she was - or wanted to be - about anything going on with me, I thought maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to be friendly with this one particular neighbor, so over time I softened to the idea since she was so helpful and SEEMED so nice. Little did I know there were strings attached - albeit subliminal.
Well, as they say, you should always trust your gut instincts. Mine have never been wrong yet. Within maybe a few months to a year or so, I was noticing that it didn’t matter that what should be construed as disrespectful or ‘crossing boundaries’ my neighbor would not abide by if it opposed whatever she was attempting to do -- whenever she pleased, even if that meant encroaching on my personal boundaries.
I would notice that she let her dog run rampant over my lawn as well as other neighbors’ lawns and the dog would do his business and then go home. When I would mow the lawn I would come across piles of doggie poop for which I had her to thank. In New York, where I was born and raised, you were not allowed to let your dog run onto other people’s property - you would be in defiance of the law and get a fine. I felt like she was thumbing her nose at me - or at what was at the very least, common courtesy - after all, she was the Mayor of the neighborhood, or so she thought. In essence, she felt she was ‘above the law’.
There was an instance where she advised me that the daughter of the woman who owned my house previous to me was coming to visit her - and asked if she could see my house. I told her ‘if’ I was home on that particular day, I’d be glad to let her see it. I also said that I would stay home up until a certain time, but then I was probably going out. She came back to me saying not to worry about it or words to that effect. I took it to mean that either she scrapped the idea of taking her over to my house - or that if it worked out fine, if not, that was fine too. Little did I know what was coming.
That day came - I stayed home until maybe Noon time - I thought the woman was going to arrive around 11:00 a.m. In any event, I then left for the afternoon. Later on when I arrived home my neighbor saw me and nonchalantly apprised me that she had taken the woman around the outside of my house to look through all the windows so she could see what my house looked like inside!!! She then advised me “I knew you wouldn’t mind!” I was incredulous - still am to this day! (especially since she had told me not to worry about it anymore)
That’s when I realized what a deep hole I had gotten into. What price would I have to pay - did she see my niceness to her as giving up my right to my privacy?
In another instance which gob smacked me right in the face as well - it was very early one summer morning - I snuck out the front door to reposition the sprinkler with my robe and nightgown on - no makeup, not ready for public display - never thinking I would get caught at my worst - when suddenly from nowhere this same neighbor came scurrying up my driveway and said she wanted to talk to me - I was aghast - so embarrassed - I had not put a brush to my hair yet or dressed or anything - and she kept coming - I tried to pursuade her in the nicest way that I was not presentable and I asked that she not come any closer - I kept telling her I was not comfortable with letting people see me in my night clothes, no makeup, no hair combed - and she kept insisting it was ‘OKAY’ with her!! I was truly MORTIFIED! BUT, THE POINT WAS - IT WAS NOT OKAY WITH ME!!! That is the kicker - she did not respect MY privacy. She finally retreated and I didn’t realize it until much later but it had triggered her personal vendetta against me which has continued to this day.
Who knew? The seemingly nice, helpful neighbor had a venomous, vengeful side to her. She has gone out of her way to be rude and just plain mean to me (over and over again) ever since that day, which has turned into YEARS - even going so far as to influence her family and many of OUR neighbors to ignore me! they walk right past me if I'm outside on my property - one day her teenage daughter took off running the minute I said 'hello' to her. The worst part is - there is a pall over our neighborhood with neighbors looking the other way whenever I pass by - never attempting to get to know me - and have apparently taken up her crusade or mission to make my life as miserable as possible while still on this block. They ignore, they avoid - they follow her lead. Whatever spin she has put on events between us - came from a tongue that has a razor's edge.
Now I know what the word 'pariah' means. People like this try their hardest to make you feel diminished, invisible. That must give them some sort of satisfaction to be so cruel. That is evidence to me that this woman is NOT the helpful, nice person she pretends to be. She does whatever she does for her own selfish motivations, whatever they may be. She has a 'hidden' agenda and she could really give a fig about you or anyone else! Just don't get on her bad side!
The subliminal message that I’ve gleaned from her is this: ‘This is MY block - I rule here - things will be the way I say and the way I want’ - OR, pay the price - a character assassination.
I do want to go on record, however, to state that, in the beginning, she was very helpful to me and did some nice things for me - but the price of her "friendship" turned out to be too high a price to pay - I could not give up the reigns to my privacy. I should have listened to the young man who sold me my house - who tried to warn me - mentioning her name at the closing - until his Father interrupted him from saying anything further - I ignored his warning and decided to judge for myself. Well, you see how that went. I paid the price.
I always wonder - don’t these neighbors realize what a ‘control’ freak she is? If she doesn’t get her way, she takes her marbles, goes home, regroups and influences the other neighbors against you, who she perceives as the offending party. She does this especially with the neighbors she has in her pocket. She sets about to make your life as miserable as possible. Don’t these neighbors have a mind of their own? Talk about ‘office politics’ - this is ‘neighborhood politics’! I've never had any respect for people who don't have a mind of their own - who won't make their own decisions.
I can hear the song "Harper Valley PTA" by Jeannie C. Riley in my head whenever I am on this subject. "This is just another Peyton Place and you're all Harper Valley hypocrites', is how the song goes. How true.
The funny thing is - I approached this particular neighbor a couple of times in the past and was straightforward saying "I know you're mad at me, but I don't know why"...and she wouldn't tell me why - no response - she just kind of shook me off of the subject. Yet, there she was - actually talking to me - why? I had just had work done on my property and curiosity got the best of her and she wanted to come over on my property to get what? the scoop? - the facts of it? the price of it? the info on it? whatever it was, it was something SHE WANTED so she was willing to put HER BAD MANNERS AND VENGEFULNESS ASIDE FOR THE MOMENT - while I was supposed to ignore all the history between us where she had made me the victim of her abhorrent behavior!
When I think about all the many times this neighbor has badmouthed me and disregarded/ignored me - many times I have wanted to take action by having my attorney send her a 'Cease and Desist' notice (Slander and Defamation of Character) as my reputation means everything to me. For a neighbor to besmirch it at her whim for something ridiculous, makes my blood boil. I have not even touched on the goings-on on my property that are also suspect and relative to this story; things tampered with on my property - so much so that I at one point called and had the police come over. Yes, it started getting more serious than anyone knows.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news - but, according to the book, 'The Sociopath Next Door', Dr. Martha Stout says 4% of the population are sociopaths. That would add up to 12 million of them in the United States. Every person usually knows at least one sociopath or psychopath - whether it be a boss, family member or neighbor. Take someone like Lance Armstrong - once beloved, now being spoken about as a Sociopath. The most unnerving part is that these people come across as so personable and charming. That is what I mean about 'wolves in sheep's clothing'.
Well, I have been enjoying my independence, free from worrying about her next move as it’s gotten old to me by now. She’s just not worth the aggravation. As Alex says (formerly of 'Housewives of New York') - “You are a mean girl and you are in high school!” I think that pretty much sums up how I feel about her (along with the other neighbors who have gone along with her 'agenda') and her childish, spiteful machinations.
Now I realize that even if she wanted to mend fences with me (don’t worry I’m not a fool) - she couldn’t - because she burned all her bridges and would make herself look like the fabricator she is since badmouthing me to the neighbors - she would then have egg on her face for making up with me. So, she must keep this ruse up. “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive"...
For me, the moral to this story is - keep it simple with your neighbors - a simple 'hello' and 'goodbye' to my way of thinking, is the best policy. You have to see these same people almost every day - and it would behoove you to keep it brief - friendly, wave hello, goodbye, whatever - but BRIEF. I am against coffee-klatching. We should all have better and more positive things to do with our days. Remember, 'Idle hands are the devil's workshop.'