By Jeannette Gartner
Who knew that moving to a bigger house closer to a school would be a traumatic experience?
It’s a well-kept secret that living on “The Hill” entailed certain OBLIGATIONS. There should be a mandatory requirement to take and pass a social training class for anyone planning such a move. In fact, the whole family should have to take this class, kids, parents, and even pets. There are certain things one can get away with in a former neighborhood which are Not Allowed on “The Hill.”
Weeds. I have always prided myself on my tolerance of weeds. Since I don’t have a green thumb, it is hard for me to grow anything. So if a weed wants to take up residence in my yard, I have always encouraged it to do so. I figure at least it’s green. But no more. Weeds are Not Allowed.
Old cars. Now, we are not the kind of people to have cars sitting around on blocks in the yard – at least not indefinitely. But in this neighborhood, an old car is one over two years old or with a dent in it. And, never, ever is one allowed to have a truck parked in front of one’s house except for deliveries of new furniture, etc.
Somewhere along the line, I failed in the social graces department. Conversing with a stranger, unless we both happen to be cowering under the table during an earthquake, has always been difficult for me. All the intelligent questions and clever witticisms I come up with at home desert me around strangers. At a symphony orchestra reception, I told one of the musicians he played “real good” and another that her “baby flute” was darling.
Cocktail parties. Frankly I’d rather be home with a very bad book than go to a cocktail party. In fact, I hate them so much I’d even rather be home with the kids. First of all, I don’t drink more than one or two glasses of wine on any social occasion and my constant refusal of alcohol beverages seems to be an affront to the host. I’m not very good at coming up with stimulating conversation with people I don’t know, so I usually end up saying something inane like, “What do you do about corns?” I once spent the better part of the evening in conversation with a waiter, who, by the way he was dressed, I assumed must be a senator, at least. Actually, he had such refreshing solutions to national problems, he’d get my vote.
My husband, on the other hand, knows no strangers. Even though he is basically as shy as I am, he could carry on an intellectual discussion with a rock, and has been known to do just that after a few drinks. It must be that his brain doesn’t shut down when faced with someone he doesn’t know.
The hardest thing about moving is training the kids. Oh sure, I tried to teach them some manners, like not bringing books or pets to the dinner table (well, not big pets like horses, anyway). They are not allowed to kill flies at, or rather, on the table, either. And I always make them wash their hands on both sides.
It wasn’t easy to teach them that they could no longer go around unwashed and uncombed, dressed like their clothes came from the Goodwill grab bag – which they did. Since we moved, we’ve made it a point to take them to some concerts to try to instill in them an appreciation for the finer things. Not that they didn’t enjoy the concerts. It’s just that they lack the social graces to respond correctly. After all, yelling, “One more time!” or “eeehaa” at the end is not exactly classy. Neither is saying admiringly, and loudly, “Boy, that is sure good music for a funeral.”
Pets. When we moved we had a dog and a cat. It didn’t take us long to find out that anybody who was anybody had two dogs, and they certainly weren’t mongrels like ours. So we had to rush right out and buy two pedigreed dogs. This meant that, as we couldn’t stand the thought of giving our mongrel away, we now had three dogs. However, the mongrel was then confined to the house where the sight of him wouldn’t be an embarrassment to the family.
We have learned to cope with living On “The Hill” by now.
None of the neighbors have any idea we have an old car, because we keep it in the garage and never take it out except after dark. Hubby parks his pickup right in front of the house and the neighbors think we are having deliveries made on a daily basis. Since none of them has ever seen a weed, I just let them grow and tell them they are rare, exotic plants which spread rapidly – thus accounting for the weeds turning up in their yards.
It wasn’t easy learning to adjust to living On “The Hill,” but humans are, after all, adaptable. And now I’ve got to go check on the new neighbors moving in next door – it seems they have a car with a dent in the fender . . .