When TGeek and I moved into this neighborhood, the rental
house across the street was occupied by beer-bellied, greasy-haired men with a
large number of VW Beetles in the driveway, none of which appeared to run.  We called them the Slug Bug People.

We had no idea how good we had it.

Although we live on a quiet street with assorted elderly residents,
ever since the Slug Bug People left, that house has been a magnet for Undesirable

First there was Jason, a little boy of about eight with an
invisible mother.  This lonely child
would often ring my doorbell and ask if my husband could come out and play
(this was before we had kids).  TGeek
sometimes went out and drove remote control cars around the cul de sac with

After Jason, a little girl named Brittany with another mostly absent mother
moved in.  Another family on our street
had a girl the same age, and Brittany
spent every afternoon at their house, not because her mother had arranged that
but because they felt sorry for the girl. She had no one at home with her until god
knows when.

Note: I am not unsympathetic to the difficulties of single
motherhood, but there’s a difference between stressed single mom and negligent

When Brittany and her mom moved out, they abandoned their

Next came Rowan, a lively and brash five-year-old boy.  He spent his time riding his bike around and
around the cul de sac while his father slept inside.  To make this guy even more special, he sublet
part of the house to a stick-thin woman with stringy hair and many
visitors.  You figure it out.

Rowan and his dad departed in the middle of the night, no
doubt owing rent.  Stick woman was there
longer.  She acquired a boyfriend and had
drunken, bottle breaking fights late at night. 

We were pleased when a young couple rented the house, though
not thrilled with the large Rottweiler they owned.  They were hardly ever around.  Best renters in years, we thought, until
another neighbor pointed out that even though they were never home, they kept
REALLY BRIGHT LIGHTS on in their basement ALL THE TIME.  I’m sure you can figure that one out too.

I’ve already written about the gangbangers.

Several times during the years all this was going on, TGeek attempted
to convince the absentee landlady to sell the house to us, figuring we could
either manage the rental or fix the place up and sell it.  No deal. 
So we were surprised to learn that she’d sold the property last summer.

Now the house is a group home for developmentally disabled women.

Remember, I used to be a special ed teacher.  I am in favor of group homes and other
community-based living arrangements for people who can’t live
independently.  I have no objection to
people with mental retardation and other disabilities living on my street.

But one of them screams. 
I don’t know why.  Some people
with severe mental impairments scream a lot. 
That’s the way it is.

It’s not every day. 
And it usually doesn’t bother me. 
But when the screaming woke me up at 6 this morning, I shut my eyes
tight and wished hard that the Slug Bug People would come back.


28 thoughts on “

  1. I’m sorry to read about all the “goings-on” at the house.  We have a less noisy version of a similar house in our neighborhood.  You may or may not know that I have a 23-year-old son with autism.  I know you understand about the screaming, as you said, having been a special education teacher.  K does not scream anymore, and hasn’t in years, but when he was small, he awoke at all hours with severe night terrors.  I know neighbors could here this in the dead of night, and I made sure they all knew what was going on with him, because we didn’t want to be reported for “abuse” or simply have them misunderstand him.  Perhaps the same thing is going on with one of the women living in the house.  I hope nothing abusive is happening to anyone there, but it sounds as you said, like it is a function of the woman’s disability. 

  2. I know you just remodeled the bathrooms and all, but maybe it’s time to find another house.  There’s a couple of really nice houses for sale on our street.  No one screams, neglects their kids or even has a lot of Beetles in the driveway.  We do have a couple of goats living next door, but they are far more quiet and refined than most of your neighbors. And  I’m sure, in time, our neighborhood Starbuck’s will learn how to make that latte thing the right way.

  3. Can they do that? Have a group home in a normal size house on a residential street?I suppose they can, but I never even contemplated that possibility when a For Sale sign pops up on my block!ps. Would it be rude to scream back?

  4. I guess every street is required to have one household that makes all the other residents tear their hair. Consider that their official position is that of “keeping it real.” That’s how I console myself about the house at the corner that would have an endless parade of visiters who’d park their vehicles and stay for about three minutes, and kids who’d come to our house with bogus “charity” forms and ask us for money, and loud domestic disputes in the middle of the night, and a neglected dog that had to be destroyed after it bit someone.

  5. I live next door to a fundamentalist self-styled preacher who lures children into her back yard with candy and then gives them bible stories. Apparently, this is not illegal. She waits on her fromt step for people to pass by and then insists on giving them pamphlets, even when they refuse. This is not illegal either. She inisists that all the rainwater that falls on our property is the cause of flooding in her basement. She digs holes in out backyard and cuts pieces of the fence so that she can stick rocks inside. Why? Nobody knows. When she knows we are outside, she plays hymns very louldly, or throws on a taped sermon, so that we can reap the benefits of canned theology.We realize she is ill. the only thing we can do is ignore most of it, and have as little to do with her as possible.When we viewed the house for the first time, she was having a church service in her back yard. I thought to myself “Isn’t that sweet. the little old lady next door is holding a choir practice….”All that being said, I would find the screams very unnerving.

  6. *sigh* The joys of apartment dwelling aren’t much better. Both of the apartments upstairs are rented by the [illegal] immigrants. One of whom has a rooster. That gets housed outside MY window. And stinks up my office. I’m one breath away from calling animal control. I don’t live on a farm or a rural area, mind. I live in the middle of the city of Paris, KY. Small, but not farm land. Wanna trade places?

  7. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood, would you be my, would you be my (white-trash, child-neglecting, cat-breeding, john-hustiling, pot-growing, screaming) neighbor.

  8. I live in a faceless apartment building. I’ve never even seen my next door neighbors. That said, I wouldn’t trade anonymity for some of your neighborhood’s squatter menagerie. Wow.

  9. Our goat neighbors are very refined and never cause any problems with the FBI as do yours.   The city is even thinking of a blanket hot-zone for your computers.  As an added bonus when you move here, you’ll have Chucky for a neighbor.

  10. If it helps at all, at least there is something good and healthy going on in the house now, and you are doing something good for those whose lives are so challenged by not letting the screams upset you, especially if they’re not frequent.  I admire you for being supportive, even when it’s difficult.   

  11. well i feel better now.  I can’t complain any more about the neighbor whose dog barks every time i make too much noise washing dishes in the kitchen or the neighbors who threaten… i mean OFFER to cut down every living thing in my backyard.
    it could be worse…

  12. I’m pretty sure Mr. Rogers is dead. But I’ll swap you a skinny guy who’s mostly drunk and has let his grass grow taller than his house for the screamer. (Disclaimer: This offer is null and void unless you take the grass and all the bugs & critters therein along with the mostly drunk guy.)

  13. Pot growing.  Is that what lights in the basement mean?  I was going to ask the self-admittedly naive question, but Marklabouff’s version of Mr. Roger’s song may have answered it for me. 
    And I know you’re not trying to be insensitive.  Screaming in the early morning hours would be REALLY hard to take.

  14. You realize, of course, what the common thread is with all these residents? It must be you.  Just kidding, TR! You have my sympathies. I love my neighborhood. My kid can blow away squirrels with a 12 gauge while I fence the garden for sheep to graze off the weeds and nobody cares!

  15. Call the police to report screaming? We have some group homes near and one has a screamer. In another one, the guy comes and wants food etc and tries to sell me tickets for pro-life fund raisers.

  16. what an interesting revolving door of neighbors! Reminds me of a house in my sister’s neighborhood (you’re in the NW right? Her family is in Federal Way) …
    After a busy month, i’m finally getting around to commenting back on comments from the first Featured Grownups topic post of the month. Thanks for visiting and for your comment! I survived my PhD exams … and now it’s on to the dissertation … my first “book!” I’m doing a PhD in “Rhetoric and Public Culture” … i’m in a department that combines rhetoric with cultural studies.

  17. i like your style ! thats hilarious! johnny knoxville is from the MTV series “Jackass” he also played one of the bothers on the new dukes of hazard movie with jessica simpson.. he is one of those “crazy stunt” type of guys.. yeah he is cute,, i have to sub to yah and read the rest!

  18. I will trade you for Crazy Cat Guy.  (Crazy Cat Guy lives behind me and feeds all the stray cats in our area–rural with no county animal control.)  Crazy Cat Guy comes complete with 57 cats, litter boxes sold seperately. 

  19. Oh, for a nice quiet neighborhood, right?   We’ve had our share of neighbors from hell, but nothing as bad as you have mentioned.   I hope someone moves in that will be nice, quiet and invisible.

  20. Man! You could kick out our next door neighbors and move in!  Granted, the kids aren’t really that bad, but they seem to attract all of the children in the neighborhood, and well, kids are kids. Noisy, noisy kids. You’d be perfect….hopefully you like hillbillies that come in all colors of the rainbow.

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