Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Note Writer

I am that neighbor.

I have stuck my head out the window at 3am and shouted for quiet. Those darn kids. I have left notes in their mailboxes when they woke up the whole street for weeks on end. I have left notes on cars sticking into my driveway or otherwise inconsiderately parked.

I have considered leaving notes for people with selfish signs:

“Don’t even think of parking here” – It’s a public street. You don’t have the right to restrict parking.

“If caught disposing of trash in this bin, you will be prosecuted” – If you spend your energy on something as trivial as guarding your trash cans you must have a sad life.

“Yes on Prop 8” – You are a hateful bigot…but then we’ve already been over that one.

I have also considered leaving notes for other concerning behaviors: The whole street can hear you when you scream at your elderly mother. We wonder if we should report elder abuse.

Sometimes I just feel the need to blow off the steam of my occasional outrage at the state of the Universe. Notes are fairly harmless. Plus every thwarted screenwriter needs as many outlets as she can get.

The thing is I also am the neighbor everyone likes, the one you can count on, the one you invite over for tea and cookies. I don’t know if they’d be so quick with the Toll House if they knew I was the righteous note bitch. I like to keep my righteous note soap-boxing anonymous. I feel my noted opinions are indubitably correct but I still don’t want anyone to know it’s me – just in case they’re not.

I was having tea and cookies last night at a neighbor’s when a friend of theirs popped in for a cuppa. He said he was parked in the alley with his hazards on. I suggested he park in my driveway and he chuckled. Then our hosts chuckled.

“What?” I asked.

“Tell her,” one prompted.

“Well,” hedged the guest, “it’s just kind of funny that you would offer since you once left that note on my car.”

I froze, horrified. How did they know? “What note?”

“I guess I didn’t realize four cars can fit across the street and I had sort of parked in the middle of the space so only three –“

“It said ‘please be a considerate neighbor,’” interrupted our host, “’four cars park here.’” She giggled. The guest giggled. Everyone giggled but me.

I actually remembered coming home expecting to park in front of my house but being thwarted by a rogue car who, very rudely in my estimation, took up more than his share of curb so that I couldn’t. I was pissed. Indignant. I wrote a note and smacked it on the windshield. If there was one thing I couldn’t stand it was people who were oblivious to how their actions affected others. I remembered writing that note; being that righteous bitch.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I waffled. “I didn’t leave a note.”

My hosts chuckled on. It was clearly no big deal. But I was on a roll.

“Why do you think it was me?”

“You said you left notes.”

“Yeah, for the loud kids. They woke us all up for a month, remember? But… never just on a car.” I dug deeper.

“Oh. Huh.” The chuckling was dying out now.

“I’m actually kind of offended that you would think it was me.” Dang this was a big shovel.

“Oh don’t be offended. It was just funny.”

The evening went on from there and we moved on but I kept thinking about it. I wasn’t actually offended, of course. I just hadn’t known what else to say. It probably would have been much better for me to admit to the note and laugh along with them since it was clearly no biggie to them. But something stopped me. I didn’t want them to think I was an awful note-leaver.

I had always kept my notes anonymous because I was afraid, not of being wrong, but of being thought of as the bitchy busy-body with nothing better to do but leave notes on cars, passing judgment on others’ actions from on high. I didn’t think anyone would invite a note writer over for tea and cookies. Not being part of their neighbor family was what I was afraid of.

Yet they had laughed. They didn’t care if I was a quirky, occasionally indignant note writer. They knew and had accepted me for me anyway. Even then, I was afraid to trust them with my silly truth.

As I walked home, warm with tea. I though how silly I had been to lie. It’s not like the secret identity I was protecting was like Superman or anything. I was just the Note Writer. I will set the record straight over tea tonight. I finally get it. Friends accept you, opinions and all, and don’t cast judgment even if one’s opinion delivery method is a tad ridiculous. I’ll have to write them a thank you note.

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