I hate noise - I mean really hate noise. Nothing sends my gut into rolling spasms quicker than late night sonic assaults from hormonal young'uns and their portable steroes. That goes double if there's rap music involved - and there usually is, you know. And please don't get me started on the topic of squeaky trampolines that never stop - well - squeaking.
In the 13 years we've lived at our current address, we've had the odd episode of noisy neighbours. I'm sure we're no different than most manicured suburban neighbourhoods. Of them all, only one episode became a Summertime Obsession that made for bad feelings and one ineffectual call to the front desk down at Police Central. The resolution: the teenaged bad seed turned 18 and was given the boot. We all applauded.
After the past few years of blissfully pleasant Summers where we could sit on the deck and hear the little chirps and warbles of Nature - a new Summertime Obsession has materialized. Ironically, it's the same house as our last episode. You know, the one with the rainbow-coloured blinds whose backyard overlaps ours by just a few feet in the northeast corner. Yeah, that one.
It started with a portable pool and kids spalshing about - not a problem. We have a little pool just like it. It escalated with the arrival of a trampoline that serves as a diving board for the pool. Okay, we can live with that, too. The thing sits kind of close to the fence and maybe isn't optimal for (our) privacy - but no problem.
Then came the backyard entertaining. Dad, the emcee for these events, strikes me as the biker type - bald, goateed, tatooed, a beer gut that belies a history of muscles, and a voice that rasps gravel and too many smoke-breaks. Son is thin, pale-skinned, and brush-cut. He's all about gangly fidgits and bored meanderings about the yard. Beyond these two, there seems to be an occasional cast of supporting characters, including various kids from 6-ish on up to mid-teen as well as a few adults supplying by Central Casting. And all of them swear a blue streak. Where our neighbourhood is concerned, it is without malice and snobbery when I say that these folks just ain't from around here. They are The Osbournes without the benefit of money and an interested audience.
They love kickin' back, it seems, and spend part of most weekend afternoons and evenings with their like-minded friends sitting in their unkempt backyard playing in the kiddie pool and sucking on cans of Blue Light. I know it's Blue Light because I can see the crushed cans littering their yard from our bedroom window. But all that doesn't bother me. It's sweet to see families and friends connecting. And I can always plant more cedars if need be.
The problem: noise and profanity. It's breathtakingly loud and stunningly lacking in class. As the Blue Light flows, so does the stream of 'fuck' and 'asshole' and 'bitch' that is literally shouted through the 'burbs for all of us to experience. I'm not a prude, but this assault is more over-the-top than anything I've experienced in the hockey locker room or on the factory line. Backyards (mine and others) are rendered unlivable during these innocent soirees.
So now Ozzy's neighbours (we're calling our new friend Ozzy), spanning two blocks and a dozen families, are massing for the attack. Ozzy's next-door neighbour has tried once to work things out. Things, of course, did not get worked out.
We are gathering intelligence. Ozzy is a single Dad and Son is 11 years old. Son does not like school and Ozzy has told him he doesn't have to go to school. Son seems to spend the day on his own, often playing his boom-box too loud in the backyard. Son seems to spend a lot of evenings on his own, too. We had hoped Ozzy is renting the property, but it looks like maybe he owns the place and is putting down roots.
The police have been consulted, and they're too busy dealing with student parties to pay much attention to our little problem. Video cameras are capturing the occasional evening bonfire. Ozzy's next-door neighbour has consulted a lawyer. The neighbours want and need to do something collectively, but aren't sure what this something might be.
And underneath it all, we dream of using our backyards once more. We dream of letting Little Ones play on their swingsets without the sonic assault. Some of us secretly pray for rain and snow - and wonder where the For Sale signs might land come Spring.