Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I'm not saying it started with the mashed potatoes, but it certainly didn't end there.

I live in a "New South" community - carefully planned and executed as to mimic the "Old South" neighborhoods, where homes are close together, and we're all linked by greenways and sidewalks. Where people are encouraged to linger on a neighbor's porch, or start an impromptu game of kickball in the common area. Where the alleys that run behind our homes become the gathering place of children, and beers are shared over barbeques all summer long.

In reality, people let their dogs shit all over the greenways, so impromptu games of kickball often become impromptu games of wipe-dog-shit-off-your-shoes, and the alley as a gathering place has become a warzone thanks to the woman we'll call Gladys.

She's a staunch supporter of the Homeowner's Association which, in theory, isn't a bad thing. HOAs can be a force of good, making sure Cletus doesn't keep his '76 Dodge Dart on blocks in the front yard or have rockin' house parties when all the decent folks are trying to sleep. But Gladys really takes it to a new level. One that includes reporting children's shoes on porches for more than a day, or improperly contained trash receptacles, or a dozen other 'infractions'.

She's a real a-hole.

As a result, she's not super popular with either the neighbors or the HOA. We've lived in relative peace for over eight years, but in the past year Gladys has really ramped things up.

"What do you mean, she threw leftovers on the sidewalk?" The Husband is talking to the woman who lives behind us and right next door to Gladys.

"I mean, there was a big pile of food on the sidewalk in front of my house. Who else would have done it?"

"Well, what kind of food?" (This may seem like a silly question but, really, you'd want to know, right?)

"Well, there were mashed potatoes."

When The Husband relayed the story to me later, it was this point that really struck me. "Mashed potatoes!" I kept saying. "That is fucking ridiculous!" Because other starches - macaroni, some pilaf, even a sweet potato - seems so much more logical. "Why the mashed potatoes?" I couldn't help but wonder if, somehow, the mashed potatoes held the key.

It went from bad to worse when Gladys decided to stick her tongue out at another neighbor's 8 year old daughter.

1. Who does that?
2. What adult does that?

The mother, a very sweet nurse-in-training who also happens to look like Jessica Rabbit and has a wide streak of the badass, marched down to Gladys' house and told her, "You stick your tongue out at my kid again and I'm going to rip it out of your fucking throat."

Who says nothing good happens in the suburbs?

Gladys has had the nurse-neighbor arrested (twice), stolen (allegedly) the shutters off another neighbors house, screamed and cursed multitudes of children, not to mention the mashed potato incident. And this month, she won the Yard of the Month. I can only assume it's because of her superior composting skills.

Despite Gladys, maybe even a little because of her, there is always something to talk about over beers and barbeques, watching our kids ride the alley, carefully steering clear of her property. I see her outside sometimes, working in the yard, casting furtive glances our way. I raise my bottle and tip it her way, and offer a hesitant smile.

She looks at me for a moment and then, in reply, sticks out her tongue.


  1. oh, I feel sorry for you living near Gladys. And I feel even more sorry for Gladys having to BE Gladys. She sounds pretty miserable. I'll bet there's a story lurking there........


    1. I think you're right. But I may have to make that one up - I don't dare ask for an interview!

  2. And once again my theory is proven that old people need to mind their own business. Of course I am assuming gladys is old, but I guess she could be a very bored 24 year old as well.

    1. ha! I think she's about my age, which is VERY VERY young.

  3. Perhaps it is a secret compost mixture of 30% Recycled Mashed Potatoes combined with 70% Dog Ex-Food, that gives her lawn that cutting edge look. I hope she also captured and recycled the natural gas generated in the biological breakdown process.

  4. This, right here, is why the initials HOA send shivers down my spine. Where would I put my '76 Dodge Dart?!
    I definitely think you should interview her. I bet she'd be flattered. I bet she feels under appreciated and isolated. You could make a peace offering of mashed potatoes and beer.

  5. I think I'd give Gladys a fricking heart attack. Not sure there would be enough Bic pens in the world for her to keep up with what would be our current infractions:

    1) TWO flags flying from the front
    2) A pair of yellow rubber gloves on the front porch for 2 weeks now
    3) Bike helmet on front porch for 1 week
    4) Busted up driveway in dire need of repair complete with potholes
    5) Gerry-rigged fencing to accommodate my in-laws dogs who visit once a year

    And so on.

    Thank you, 5 year ago Kristen for not moving to an HOA neighborhood. Love, This year Kristen.

  6. I don't blame you for getting stuck on the mashed potatoes...

  7. Thanks for making me feel grateful (yet again) for living in my humble, HOA-less neighborhood. No one has a Dart up on blocks, but the guy up the street DOES have three or four other vehicles in various states of disrepair and disintegration scattered about HIS yard. Gladys would FLIP.