The “Lonely” Scale

As someone who has rented all their life, there’s something about my neighbour I don’t understand. If he’s paid for the whole house, why does he spend most of his time on the front doorstep?

He’s out there rain or shine. If he’s not sat on his doorstep, he’s out on the driveway, buggering about with the cars. I’ve watched long enough to know he’s not doing anything mechanical. He’s not cleaning them. He’s not repairing anything. For the most part he seems to just slam the doors and listen to the radio really, really loudly.

Yet he hardly ever seems to go inside. I’m sure he has a lovely stereo in there. Wierd man.

Maybe he’s not allowed indoors, because when he does go in, it’s not uncommon to hear a lot of noise through the wall. His family lives with him, and there’s sometimes laughter, more likely shouting or screaming; but always noise. Often, when he thinks he’s alone and nobody can hear, he sort of does a strange form of singing – sort of like yodeling, but with zero skill and more of a blunted, yelling style. It’s usually quiet in my house, so it cuts through the wall like nobody’s business. Maybe he’s unbottling some sort of frustration, I don’t know.

It doesn’t explain why he seems to bark when he sneezes, though.

I’d be inclined to suggest his desire to be in front of his house was him overcompensating for an unhappy life indoors. An attempt at putting on a happy public face. But I think that suggests too much fore-thought.

I’ve never told anybody about the things I hear next door. But he must know I hear it all. Maybe that’s why he’s so keen to be seen to be all cheery when he’s on his driveway. Try to prove any rumours wrong. A tiny PR campaign.

It’s not a busy road, yet he seems to want to make an effort to be seen by everyone as they pass. Often he’ll collar them in forced conversation. Once, I saw him virtually block someone from getting into their house – he was that desperate for a chat.

Please understand – I don’t think there was anything malicious, or perhaps even deliberate, in his actions. I think it was just a bit of a lack of social awareness. For my part, if I was carrying a child in one arm, shopping in the other, and trying to fish my keys out, I’d be slightly peeved at someone standing between me and the front door. He just didn’t seem to consider this. Maybe he was just desperate for a chat with someone who wouldn’t yell at him.

But I’ve heard him gossip about me on his driveway, too. Usually when he thinks I’m not in. It isn’t helped by the fact that he uses this strange, projecting voice for his ‘chats’ with people in passing. I don’t think he likes me. Maybe he’s annoyed I never seem to have the time to stop and talk to him. Maybe he knows I like to sit near my window and he wants me to hear him being sociable.

But then his driveway comes so close to my front window, he always seems to be in my living room. It feels like an invasion of my personal space. Once, I opened my blinds to see him watering the plants in naught by his underwear. I didn’t need that first thing in the morning.

I’m sure he’s a pleasant enough chap. But there’s a difference between being a pillar of the community and everyone’s chatty mate, and being a bit overbearing and weird. I don’t care what anyone says – he’s a bit weird.

Take another old neighbour of mine. Perfectly agreeable, but I’d always run into her when I left my flat. She’d go to great pains to tell me about her dog every time we met, but each time the animal would be introduced to me as if I’d never seen her before. By the time I moved away, the old dog looked as fed up of it all as I did.

It was around that point that I became convinced that people were unbearable. It didn’t take much. Between incidents like that, constant news reports of violence and hate, and a few too many angry exchanges on public transport… I soon had any youthful faith in humanity knocked out of me.

I don’t really go out too much now. My friends have long since stopped trying to coax me outside. I don’t invite them round, either – I live too far away. I do all my shopping online, I work from home and I don’t drive.

The outside world simply isn’t worth bothering with.

Yet even when I stay in and keep myself to myself, I’m ‘treated’ to watching him, tending to his peonies in his skivvies and yelling at people passing by.

What type of man buys a house then lives so much of his life outside, literally in full view of his neighbours?

I suppose I’d find out if I actually spoke to him. But people are weird.

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