strange neighbor

About a month ago, my neighbor (let’s call him “Gene”) mentioned to me that he is planning to put a privacy fence between our back yards. Okay, fine, I said. It’s not a big deal to me, in fact, it might even be an eyesore, but my feeling is that it’s his property. If he wants to build a fence, I’m not going to war over it.

Now, I want to reiterate that the privacy issue for me is not a big one. We rarely run into each other out there, and when we do, I’m fine with the polite “hello”/wave and even the occasional chit-chat. A few of the landscape bids I had entertained included some kind of screening foliage there, but it wasn’t that big a deal, so I opted not to go with that. Instead, we went for a bigger patio.

However, we did end up with an evergreen privacy screen along our back fence. The fence itself is about waist-high and made of wrought iron, so it didn’t really provide any privacy. In fact, from my kitchen windows, in my pajamas, I’d developed a “hello”/wave relationship with the garbage men who pick up the trash twice a week in the alley back there. The arborvitae that we planted works really well. Not that I won’t miss the garbage men, but the pajama aspect of the relationship was really making me uncomfortable.

The other night, after 9, we were sitting here watching TV in our jammies when the doorbell rang. I didn’t move, but my husband answered the door to find the neighbor. “Gene” complimented our new and improved yard and specifically pointed to the arborvitae. My husband thanked him for the compliment. Gene then explained that he had discussed a privacy fence in the back with me, and he wanted to know what my husband thought of planting arborvitae instead of installing the fence. I could hear their conversation, and I was all for that idea. Trees beat fence like paper beats rock. But here’s the weird part: Gene wanted to know whether we would be interested in paying for half of his arborvitae project. We were like, “what the hell?” The trees are going in on your property, right? Hence, they’re your trees. Why would we pay for them? I didn’t ask our neighbors in the back (or the garbage men) to chip in for the arborvitae there — nor would it have occurred to me to do so. Can’t figure out where Gene’s coming from.

Is it me?

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