“Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.” (Mark Twain)


I’ve never done an intervention before but I think my chance may be coming. This isn’t going to be as simple as demonic possession or drugs or alcohol abuse either. There is no professional help available for this type of problem. This one’s all on me and as the most senior male in the neighborhood I am bound by a moral obligation to help my younger male neighbor with his outrageous behavior. You see, he works too damn hard around the house and it’s starting to make the rest of us guys look bad.

He moved in about 10 years ago shortly after they got married and at first he seemed like he would fit right in. He did his share of mowing and maintenance and helping around the house but nothing out of the ordinary. After their first child was born and they decided that she had the better job, he became a stay-at-home dad. Since then his behavior has become decidedly more threatening to those of us who like a quiet cul-de-sac with low expectations of husbandry. I guess he never saw the movie Mr. Mom because I’ve never seen him with a week old beard or an ancient flannel shirt.

The guy’s from Nebraska so I guess we can look at that as part of the problem. Let’s face it, they named their championship football team after a brand of hand lotion and Larry the Cable Guy is more famous than Warren Buffet, even though Buffet’s funnier. It’s just that after 10 years of living in Kansas, isn’t it time to become acclimated to your surroundings? This guy works way too hard and the rest of us are starting to feel threatened. In the past couple of years he has added a stone retaining wall in the front yard, built a man-cave in the basement and done other improvements all around the house. That wouldn’t be so bad but he does it all while taking his girls to private school every day, coaching soccer, playing fantasy football and going to church almost every week. Who needs that kind of competition?

The last straw for me was last week when he had a sprinkler system installed and this week when he started re-sodding the backyard. The lawn wars have always been my best thing and since I had a 5 year head start on everybody else, mine always looked the best, even without a sprinkler system. Now he’s raised the ante to a level that I may not be able to keep up with. In order to save face today, I mowed my yard and the older couple’s behind me all in one afternoon. At the age of 57, I should be hanging out on the patio drinking iced tea and writing this blog not trimming, mowing and weeding a huge yard.

So I guess it’s time for the talk. I need to just take him aside and explain the Code of the Cul-de-Sac  because apparently they don’t have those in Nebraska. The Code is a suburban tradition that has been refined many times over the years but has one basic premise, “No man will ever work so hard as to make his fellow-men look bad at the same time.” In his case this may be more difficult because he is a stay-at-home dad and the Code never really saw that coming. This won’t be easy for him but it’s going to be brutal for me. I would rather tell him he serves crappy beer than have to explain this misbehavior. I know his heart’s in the right place and he’s trying to do his best for his family but where does that leave the rest of us? We’re not exactly slackers but when he offers to tune up my mower in his spare time that just goes too far. So now I have to find exactly the right fatherly advice to help him become the good neighbor that we all need and want him to be, the kind that sleeps in on Saturday, drinks beer in the afternoon and generally lowers the wives’ expectations of what their husband should be able to accomplish in one weekend. But how do you tell Superman not to be so Super?

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

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2 Responses to “Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.” (Mark Twain)

  1. mary wise says:

    Guy, y ou are sincerely funny. Some people are just that way. My dad, Frank Koloff, did all the things this young man is doing, but he also worked regularly at General Motors, Electromotive Division, in Illinois. Then he took a correspondence course, in his spare(?) time and learned how to build a radio. This was in early 1950s when television came into popularity in the domestic sector. Then he got a course in building and repairing televisions. This was through the University of Chicago. Then besides working at GM, he built swing sets, climbing gym, etc. after he learned to weld. Then in his little garage, where he put in a brick floor, so there would be no fires from sparks, he began to repair TVs in there from the neighbors who had bought a TV. That was after they came to our house, FULL HOUSE, along with mom and us six kids, because he invited anyone and everyone to come watch TV in our tiny little house. Mom tried to feed them and give them tea or coffee, on the nights Authur Godfrey was on with his entertainment program. Soon, many people had TVs, even the hillbillies who lived on the back streets in our Chicago suburb. They had dirt floors, with rabbits, chickens, dogs, and infant crawlers (their own babies)plus they bought a bigger TV than we had. Theirs was huge! (27 inch. ha.)I had a fascinating childhood, and Oh, I remember dad had also bought a wind up victrola in a beautiful wood casing. It stayed outside always under the huge mulberry tree we had. Us six kids, and our favorite family of 13 German children, would come over, climb the tree, eat Mulberries, while I the eldest daughter, cranked up the victrola and put on the very thick records to play and entertain us, happily getting full, with purple fingers, clothes, teeth, etc. Our back yard had NO grass. My mother
    planted every kind of bush, flowering, and flowers, like morning glories, that climbed the fence. Beautiful. Then dad had a vegetable garden in the very back yard, where no children, heaven forbid! could ever enter, fence protecting the plants, from all the 19+ children, the dogs, whatever…(we also were not allowed in front yard, which was a posh place, perfect in every way, because my dad had planted hedges from neighbors hedge, just little pieces of wood that dad stuck in ground and they grew. He planted trees, painted the house…he had money in five banks, car paid for, house paid for, we ordered clothes, anything from Sears every Friday, where the truck brought items to our own front door. My dad said if they sold groceries, he would buy them from Sears, Roebuck and Company. Alas, he died of severe heart attack at age 46 years old. No debts. Only a heartbroken family. I love my dad to this day and I know I work too much, but love it. My children follow suit. You cannot stop this y oung man…it’s HIS WAY OF LIFE. I love that you are concerned for this fine young man, but believe me, a raging, bullish TRAIN cannot stop him. Did you ever hear the song,can’t STOP THE TRAIN? sincerely, mary.

  2. Pingback: ‘Don’t Know Much About History:’ Ken Burns Schools Dallas Bar on His New Documentary on Prohibition | FrontRow

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