Recently, one of my editors from The Nest told me about a weird neighbor experience she'd just had. Let me preface her tale with this: In NYC, we love it when the guy at the corner deli memorizes our name (and how we take our coffee). It makes us feel like our 'hood is a little slice of Mayberry and that we’re all looking out for each other. Kumbaya, everyone. And also with you. But when it comes to the residents of our own buildings, we are way more standoffish. Etiquette-wise, I'd put it somewhere near ATM rules -- do not invade each other's personal space, say “hello” (eye contact + a nod is preferable to making actual noise), and keep moving. Don't look at me like that. It's just the NYC way.
So here's what went down with my editor. Around 11 p.m. the other night, there was a knock on her apartment door. Her boyfriend answered and saw their new, across-the-hall neighbors: a young, southern couple who'd just moved in and wanted to introduce themselves. My editor friend was not thrilled that her boyfriend had even opened the door and was even less jazzed about the fact that he proceeded to make plans with them (they’re coming over for drinks later this week) before sending them on their way. Her fear? If they end up being total nutjobs, it will be nearly impossible to avoid them (remember, they live right across the hall). Oy! I get where she's coming from. The first red flag for me was the time. I mean 11 p.m.? I'm from the (fuddy-duddy) school of no good news is ever delivered post-10 p.m. So a call or drop-by after that hour rarely bodes well. In other words, no one's really into surprise, late-night get-togethers. Okay, maybe two exceptions: college kids and stoners (of which there is likely massive overlap), and in the case of the latter, both the dropper-byer and the drop-ee must be stoned to make it truly harmonious. I believe it was Ann Landers who first said that, FYI.
But anyway...besides the inappropriate hour, was there really anything wrong with the neighbors coming over to say hello? I'm going to go with no -- even though I get how my editor feels. Chances are this couple is just lonely, bored and (possibly) super-stoned. I don't know about you guys, but I’ve found it to be much harder to make friends and meet people as a couple. As a single person, I'd go out one night with a girlfriend and come home with plans for the next six weekends. So to my editor, I say: Have the drinks, honey. If the neighbors turn out to be duds, you can easily wriggle out of future hangs by claiming to have brought home a work project to finish that night.
I could write so much more about this, because Jack and I brought our city 'tude upstate with us and were also totally wigged when our neighbors dropped by or invited us to things. But now that we've had enough time to get over ourselves (and to stop being such citiots), we LOVE our neighbors (even the really, really weird ones). But it's made me realize how differently neighbors interact geographically.
So what are the neighbor "rules" in your neck of the woods? (And yes, I realize I just sounded a lot like Al Roker.)
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