The Mercury Retrograde was supposed to have ended the previous week, so everything was supposed to be proceeding more smoothly. Why, then, was I subjected to the most insanely irritating gardening debacle yet??
Your attention please, owners of small children! Yes, of course they’re precious, but has it ever entered your mind that other people may not find their constant chattering and incessant demands for attention quite as cute as you do? Especially when the person being pestered thusly is pressed for time and in the midst of a complex, hazardous task that requires their full attention.
It was one of those weekends when I had a little time available during daylight hours, but nowhere near enough to take on an overwhelming task such as tidying up the front garden that was totally out of control from the spring growing season, but since that was all I had to work with, there was nothing to do but try to work as quickly as I could and get as much done as possible within the available time. However, our neighbors apparently had other ideas.
There is a Thai family in the adjacent unit of the duplex we live in, and as much as we surely must annoy the hell out of each other, we are on friendly terms. The man appears to be in his mid-50’s and in poor health with a horrible chronic cough, and apparently unable to work or drive or do much of anything else. He also appears to be somewhat feeble-minded, among other things, displaying a disconcerting mannerism of laughing constantly even though there is nothing the least bit funny happening, instead of allowing for the silences that naturally make up part of the flow of any humanly normal conversation or interaction. Chi is concerned that he will leave the gas on and inadvertently blow up the whole building or something horrendous like that. Chi has demonstrated similar mindlessness, and I have similar concerns about him.
Back to our neighbors, his wife is a delightful, attractive young woman who can communicate in intelligible English, and much like me, appears to have to do practically everything (i.e., financially support the whole house, keep everything functioning, etc.), but unlike me, she seems to endure it much more cheerfully. Fortunately I have never heard anything emitting from their side of the wall that would indicate that she has to endure the routine domestic abuse and toxicity that I do, so perhaps that may have something to do with it? They have an adorable little 5-year-old daughter, and like us, they have turned their side of the front yard into a culinary garden.
During the warm season, we both work on our respective gardens whenever we have time to do so, and her little girl is often out with her while she works. However recently the little one has become overly demanding of my attention, bringing out a constant parade of dolls and toys to show me, telling me all about them, etc. This is not a bad thing in and of itself — it’s just rather frustrating when I have to get a huge amount of work done within a desperately inadequate amount of time — the story of my life! The mother, however does try to curb the disruptive behavior and respect reasonable boundaries.
On this occasion, the mother was not home, and the father came out front with the little girl while I was doing my level best to get my work done. I pre-emptively quit weeding the main plot and retreated to the other side of the yard to prune the rose bush, liberate the now burgeoning nasturtiums from the plastic fence I had put up along the southern rim that they had got all tangled up in, deal with the long, very thorny blackberry canes that had totally outgrown their area, etc. Not to be ignored, the neighbors came over to where I was standing on the wall working inside the fencing that I had pushed back so it was hanging a few feet over the edge, and launched into a relentless campaign to wrest my attention from the job at hand and fix it on the child instead. I politely acknowledged them, and kept working.
The kid then came inside the enclosed area where I was working, and carried right on peppering me with questions about anything and everything in her field of view, while her father commented that she likes to talk with me. I briefly flashed a forced polite smile and carried on working, trying to make it as politely obvious as possible that I was fully occupied at the moment and not in a position to entertain his daughter. “What is wrong with this person?”, I thought, my irritation mounting. Why doesn’t this man get the point that hovering over me distracting me while I’m obviously engaged in a complex task is not desired? And the sheer annoyance of it aside, I had sharp cutting tools out, rose branches with sharp thorns all over the place, bits of rusty hardware cloth with sharp edges sticking out, and a large-ish array of hefty plastic fencing precariously balanced on the concrete wall, so it wasn’t a particularly safe environment for a small child either…aaarrrrghhh!
And then, to my utter astonishment, instead of getting the not-so-subtle hint and herding her out of the way and off somewhere else so I could carry on working in peace – something that any responsible parent with any functioning grey matter in their head at all would most likely have done – her apparently brain damaged father crowded in behind the fencing too and then picked her up and put her on the wall right smack in the middle of what I was trying to deal with, where of course mayhem ensued. W.T.F.????!!!! With my frustration level skyrocketing, I politely but firmly requested that they puh-leeeeze Get. Out. Of. The. Way so I could work(!). Not to overstate the bleeding obvious, but, like, DUDE! I AM W-O-R-K-I-N-G!!!! AND I AM NOT UNDER ANY OBLIGATION TO HAVE TO DROP WHAT I’M DOING AND ENTERTAIN YOUR KID RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT!!!!
Well, perhaps I’m a bit thick too, but by that point I finally got the point that there was no point in trying to continue what I was doing under such absurd conditions, and there was no recourse but give up and retreat indoors as quickly as I could, and while trying to wrestle the fence back into place with the yapping peanut gallery still hovering, I noticed that the nasturtium plant I had so painstakingly rescued from a piece of protective hardware cloth looked very limp and wilted. That was perplexing since I had been especially careful not to damage the main stem during that operation. A closer examination revealed the main stem to be totally crushed against the top of the concrete wall in the exact spot where Mr. Genius had installed his kid so she could hinder my efforts completely. Needless to say, I saw red, and it’s a very good thing that the 6-foot-long iron bar with the nice pointy tip I use to dig concrete chunks out of the yard was safely out of reach. With the pestiferous little cutie pie shadowing (and querying) my every move, I hurriedly brought the yard trash barrel around and dumped the clippings in, deciding against taking the time to sort out the ones that would have been ideal for the compost bin.
Now I do not want to be known as the crotchety old bat next door, especially given the way I go around muttering to myself all the time like some half-crazed street person due to being stuck in this isolated life where I work nearly constantly, mainly at tasks that I…well…to put it mildly…do not particularly enjoy, and am desperately short of quality social time spent around people who are mentally normal and speak English.
In all fairness, she is a very sweet little girl, and I seldom hear her cry or throw a tantrum. The noise she makes is almost always joyful, and the only thing annoying about it is the volume and persistency of it, which I know she will eventually outgrow and develop into a perfectly lovely young lady whose company I will surely always enjoy. This is in strident contrast to the two absolutely adorable little boys in the apartment bloc next door who nearly drove me postal last summer with their incessant screaming and crying Every. Single. Weekend. while their beleaguered single dad yelled at them. Thankfully they seem to have moved out and been replaced by a group of older kids who like to party often, but they will have a formidable task trying to displace us as the loudest thing on the block in the evenings.