Neighbors, you can’t live with them…

Posted 6/20/12

You can’t live with them - your neighbors - and you can’t put a “for sale” sign in their yards. I’ve tried. I am a brilliant neighbor for …

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Neighbors, you can’t live with them…


You can’t live with them - your neighbors - and you can’t put a “for sale” sign in their yards. I’ve tried.

I am a brilliant neighbor for someone to have. Brilliant. I am quiet and discreet. I groom my yard and maintain the exterior of the house.

I don’t host parties, varoom motorcycles, and I especially don’t detonate things before, on, or after the Fourth of July, my least favorite day of the year. I don’t street-park “beaters.”

I never put inflatable ice skating penguins in my yard in December.

To be honest with you, I don’t even know my neighbors’ names. Oh, a few. And I do have some good neighbors. But I wouldn’t recognize most of them if I saw them in a lineup, which is where some of them belong.

My kids wouldn’t be auditioning for “Lord of the Flies” in the front yard, if I had kids. My dog is not the “Hound of the Baskervilles.” There are a couple around here that slather and bare their teeth and sound like hell’s fury when my dachshund and I go for walks. I carry a walking stick, which also serves to thwart. We’ve been assaulted 11 times by loose beasts.

One fine gentleman, walking with his son and dog (neither was on a leash), swore at me when I raised the stick at his dog. Smitty and I were minding our own business, and the man’s dog was minding our business too. (His dog could have put mine on a Ritz and swallowed him whole.)

He yelled, “My dog isn’t going to hurt your @#&%ing dog.”

“Good example, dad,” I said. “Vulgarities around your son and ignoring Highlands Ranch regulations. What’s planned for the day? Shoplifting?”

I have been a homeowner for 19 years. In that time, one of the houses next to me has been rented at least 10 times, mostly by transient families, some of them have bailed in the middle of the night. Some of them have gone months without mowing. None of them has planted a single thing. The sad little bramble bush that the builders planted 20 years ago is still right there, stark naked for half the year, never touched.

At least I have some distance between houses. I just came back from Newport Beach, Calif., and beachfront homes that look like art museums are yardless and so close enough together that if Ozzie Nelson tried to walk between them he’d get stuck.

The HOA manual is huge and hugely disregarded.

Apparently when a house is rented the concept of an HOA is not passed on to the renters. These are tough times. I know that. And if some of these homeowners and home renters were flush, they might actually take care of their homes much differently. I live near a family from Arkansas. They must be homesick (you can finish my thought).

I have seen little kids become young adults, and stick-figure trees become beautiful shade trees. Most of us have lost pets, obtained new ones. Now and then I wave to one of my neighbors. I’m accepted and I am allowed to keep to myself, and to paint in my studio without interruptions at the door.

I have no idea what they think of me. And that’s fine.

This isn’t one of those Denver streets where they have block parties and everyone hugs each other and exchanges holiday crap. About all I see most of the time: garage doors slowly going up and then slowly going down.

I don’t have much in common with my neighbors. I am a misfit, know it, they

know, and it’s OK. I’m not Ozzie Nelson. I don’t want to borrow Thorny’s wrench or his wife.

None of that goes on here, which is the way it should be.

I have often wondered if Jim Nabors is a good neighbor or a bad neighbor.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at


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