Sunday, March 25, 2012

STAY OFF MY LAWN: When a 20-Something Becomes an Old Lady.

My mother’s family has this thing. It’s called “I love you, but ___________.” And you can always see it coming from a mile away, to the point that the savviest (or fastest moving,) who’re on the receiving end can usually insert the ‘but’ before the speaker can. (And then they duck.) It’s our version of the backhanded compliment. It’s backhanded love really. Or like a compliment sandwich, only open faced. It’s an open faced compliment sandwich.

And as off-putting and irritating as it can be (because WOW, it can be,) it is a habit that has found its way into my own thinking. …Damn it.

Church Hill, God damn it, I love you, BUT your Irish Festival attendees are pissing me off. I live in Church Hill, a historical neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia. I’ve got a future post that’s my love letter to this neighborhood. For now, all you need to know is that this neighborhood rocks and they have an Irish Festival once a year. And it’s awesome, it’s great—who doesn’t enjoy a festival? And what’s more, it’s two blocks from my house, convenient for me and convenient for my friends who go and want to swing by and hang out. Yes, I love the Church Hill Irish Festival, BUT it has made me into that old lady on the block who tells those damn kids to get off her lawn.

When I awoke uncharacteristically early on Saturday (9:30,) I heard bagpipes. Oh bagpipes, I do love their sound! There’s something old and ingrained me that cries out, ‘It’s the sound of the motherland!’ I assumed this was God’s way of encouraging me to get out of the house, despite the pouring rain, and enjoy the festival. And I did! I donned green, I got out my umbrella, and I went to the festival, taking in some of the vendors, doing some people watching, even observing the parade. I had a lot of fun until I was ready to go back to my apartment and put on some dry clothes.

But then the bagpipes continued. They not only continued, but they moved their practicing area across the street from my house because the concerts going on at the main stage were interfering with their ability to hear one another. So a pack of bagpipers stationed itself on the corner (no, those weren’t hookers,) and practiced their craft. And then it continued for EIGHT FUCKING HOURS. Patrick Bateman almost made an appearance (because like it or not, we all have Patrick Bateman moments.)

Sometimes old memes are still the best.

And then there were the attendees. Now if you live in this neighborhood, you come to accept that you can’t move your car from 7am to 5pm on Saturday or Sunday during the festival. It’s cool, it’s one of those things, and it’s an acceptable term. What is not acceptable are the attendees abusing the neighborhood and being bad visitors.

Case in point: My bedroom windows are ground level and face the street. The upstairs neighbors’ front door is up a level with a small front porch that hangs over one of my windows. Got that pictured in your head? It rained a bit yesterday. Okay, a lot. At one point I look out my window and I see a woman is by my window changing her baby’s diaper under the shelter of the steps while her husband looks on. I can overlook this though. Kid’s gotta have his diaper changed; I’ve been to the festival already, I know there isn’t a “family” area for such activities (food for thought, festival organizers,) so I can deal. After she’s done, she gathers up her diaper bag, gets her kid situated in the baby carrier on her chest, and then they walk away, LEAVING THE SHITTY DIAPER IN FRONT OF MY WINDOW.

So me being me, really, being mother’s daughter (because I’ve heard stories about you, Mom,) I run outside in my PJs and a tank top and pursue these people (who’ve only just reached the corner,) shouting, “EXCUSE ME! YOU’VE LEFT SOMETHING HERE, THE TRASHCAN IS THERE!” They look at each other and try to ignore me, but I continue to walk toward them, repeating what I’ve said in a louder voice, adding, “Your used diaper is there, in front of my window!” Other people stop and stare. The husband sighs and walks back to my house, picks up the diaper, and throws it away in the bin around the corner. The entire time I’m giving a death glare and neither one of them is willing to look at me. I thank them and I tell them to enjoy the festival.

Another case in point: My backyard is separated from my neighbors’ with a chain link fence that is rarely shut (we really don’t care,) and their backyard is adjacent to the sidewalk and street. Their gate is always shut, but it doesn’t lock, and it’s really loud when it clangs shut. A few hours after the diaper incident I glance in my backyard through my screen door because I hear the gate slamming. I look out and see a guy I don’t know assuming The Stance. Within seconds he is fumbling with his pants and within a nanosecond of seeing this I am out the door and saying loudly, “Excuse me, what are you doing?!” He stops and in Drunkenese (I’ll translate into vernacular for all you,) tells me that he needs to urinate. I point out to him there are at least half a dozen port-o-potties across the street and a half block away and that he’s to go there. He snorts, clearly bent on ignoring me. I tell him to get out, that I’m not kidding. He informs me that I need to engage in sexual intercourse. I reply that I will take the suggestion under advisement, but inform him he is not a candidate for such an endeavor. I’m pretty sure if he knew where my car was, he’d be pissing on that instead. As it was, I kept my front door open for the rest of the festival to make sure he didn’t come back to pee on it. And I’ve already cleaned it several times, just in case.

The price you pay for being a (justifiable) bitch.

In conclusion, I love you Church Hill Irish Festival, BUT some of your attendees are assholes. And you need to rotate the practice areas for the bagpipers. For their safety.

So from the “old lady” on the block to all you young whippersnappers, I extend to you an invitation to come out to Church Hill and enjoy all our neighborhood has to offer, including the Irish Festival. Depending on how you behave, I may also extend this:


  1. Goooooood GOD! I think I was born that old lady. I HATE festivals. I HATE large groups of people. And bagpipes? They are what Celtic dentists used to drill teeth back in the Auld-en days. Faugh. You crack me up, BabyBear!

  2. Jess, the way you feel about what happened during the Irish Festival is the way I feel every day where I work in Church Hill: in a business across the street from a corner convenience store. I do the same things you do in response to the same types of activity and people brand me a racist. Here we have proof that skin color doesn't matter. People just choose to be insensitive selfish slobs--regardless of their upbringing or race.