We have new neighbors next door.
“I think you’re really going to like these people,” said the former neighbors.
I might but I really liked you and now you’re gone.
“You were the best neighbors we’ve ever had,” I told them a few months ago.
That was a mistake. I jinxed it. I should have told them they were the worst neighbors on earth. That way, they would have stayed forever.
I take it back. You were awful. There is nothing we liked about you.
Nothing except, you never made any noise. Nothing except, when you were working in your backyard and played music, I turned down mine because yours was as good or better.
There was nothing to like except that you planted a row of Carolina cherries that not only gave you privacy but did the same for us too outside our kitchen window, eliminating the unfortunate possibility of the first-thing-in-the-morning underwear shot.
What’s to like except that you painted the house inside and out, put a big beautiful fountain in the backyard that, in concert with our junior fountain, made beautiful music together and sounded like Iguazu Falls.
Have you forgotten that we brought you a bottle of wine when you moved in? Then a second bottle because we’d forgotten about the first? I would have brought you a third, but you’re moving, and I’m not going to ask what your address is.
What did you give us other than peace, quiet and the time you brought your generator over unasked and pumped up the front tire on our truck — twice.
That and walking Charlie, our mutt/terrier mix, three times a week? You also fed him and gave him water when we were gone and thanked us like we were doing you a favor.
“We weren’t trying to move,” said the old neighbor. “Then this house came up a few blocks away and it was just what we were looking for even though we weren’t looking.”
I wish you had been looking because if you had, maybe you wouldn’t have found anything. You’ve got another thing coming if you think good things happen to people who are generous, kind and not looking for anything in return.
Expectations for new neighbors — the previous ones proving themselves to be traitors by moving without asking for our permission — are modest and parallel the doctor’s code of ethics: Do not kill, do not cause pain or suffering, do not incapacitate, do not cause offense, and do not deprive others of the goods of life.
Translation: Do not bring a pair of pitbulls who lunge at the fence every time your neighbors pass by and please do not turn your backyard into a popular wedding venue.
Moving vans came and went. It was time to meet the new neighbors, so we walked next door bearing a succulent with a bow on it as a down payment on a peace offering.
We knocked on the door. A young woman in her 30s opened it. She was taller than both of us. Strikingly tall.
She was also strikingly nice. We gave her the succulent. She thanked us. We might as well have given her a grove of dawn redwoods.
“I work odd hours,” she said. “You may hardly ever see me.”
We hardly do. I told her she could borrow my tools anytime but she looked like she had her own well-stocked toolbox, socket wrenches and an impressive array of power tools and knew how to use them.
Recently, she played some country music in the backyard that sounded like a playlist for Willie’s Roadhouse so I turned off my bluetooth speaker. If she has a dog, it’s either quiet or mute.
We’re off to a good start. I hope we measure up.
Welcome to the neighborhood.
Email contributing columnist Herb Benham at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears here on Sundays; the views expressed are his own.