Neighbourhood Watch (or: Dragons Are Very Cool)
I was walking to the supermarket today when I passed a neighbour of mine. I know his name - Michael - and he said I looked good in red as I passed. (Not actually the point, but I am nothing if not narcissistic!) There, in a nutshell, however, is almost everything I know about that particular neighbour - his name, and that (he says) he thinks I look good in red.
After I brought the shopping home, I switched on my computer and saw that I had a private message on MySpace from a different Michael - a neighbour in the sense that he now lives in Tasmania, a neighbouring state, but I have never actually met him. Our conversation has, in effect, lasted several months - albeit intermittently and via cyberspace. My message back today consisted of the usual oddities we seem to find so damn amusing (I told him my theory of the sky actually consisting of a big sleeping dragon, and if everyone on the earth jumped at the same time, it would sense the surge in energy and awaken. Then, it would swoop down and gather us all on it's back. I'm not sure what would happen after that, but I suspect something along the lines of us riding around the universe much like Bastian and Falcor in The Neverending Story). I also said that I had bought apricots, and that I didn't like them as much as I used to...
And here we - finally - get to the point, because that got me thinking. First of all, MySpace Michael has no clue how much I used to like apricots, so the statement is going to be a little lost on him, methinks. Then I started thinking about how easy it is to develop a vicarious sense of neighbourliness and feel like you know someone, when you haven't even met them!
Some of my neighbours I would actually prefer not to know. It is a well known fact amongst those that do actually know me that I greatly fear visits from the elderly gentlemen directly next door to me. I grew up spending plenty of time in Hell's Angels club houses (I mostly remember lots of red velvet, and a very old slot machine that took 20 cent coins - which I think I liked a little too much ), but when he works on his car, he uses swear words that even I'm not accustomed to hearing. On top of his very obviously abusive relationship with his car, he does not like my taste in music. Which I have to respect, because if I didn't and played it a little too loud, he will show up at my front door - wearing his favourite, pale-blue transparent trousers with a distinct lack of underwear of any kind underneath - and start yelling words which offend my delicate sensibilities.
My other neighbours primarily keep to themselves, a habit I have developed myself - excepting the neighbour on the other side of me, who regularly insists I accept copious amounts of plums from her tree. I have given up trying to refuse - she won't take no for an answer - so I now smile graciously and accept them, but I don't actually like plums all that much. I like them about as much as I now like apricots - which is nowhere near as much as I like cherries, just so you know. But the neighbour who supplies the plums, has just as much clue about my fruit-likability scale as MySpace Michael. Hmm...
It would appear that my conclusion is no matter how near or far someone is, you can only know them as much as you are willing to, and/or as much as they are willing to allow.
And that riding around the universe on a dragon would be very, very cool.
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