Goodbye, neighbors from Hell

Dennis DalmanColumn, Sartell – St. Stephen, St. JosephLeave a Comment

Column by Candi Valasity

Everyone at some point has had a neighbor they can’t tolerate. They seem to be numerous and unavoidable, but if being a neighbor from Hell were an Olympic event, mine would have a wall of gold, silver and bronze medals.

At one apartment I lived in I couldn’t have anything on the wall because the bass from their stereo would vibrate everything off. At another apartment I had a steady stream of college kids climbing up and down my air conditioner to get on and off their balcony.

Either no one had a key or they hadn’t mastered stair-climbing. They had, however, certainly mastered floor-stomping and broke so many of my light bulbs I gave up and lived in the dark.

I thought THEY were the neighbors from Hell. They were amateurs. I didn’t know that until I met the “professionals.”

It started off innocently enough. First a nod or a wave as I passed by, followed by a hello and a light conversation about the weather. Having lived in the neighborhood for a few years, I introduced them around. We even had several gatherings and campfires together with the rest of the neighbors. Somewhere along the way, it all went south, and we all found we had unwittingly entered our neighbors’ nine circles of Hell, as in Dante’s Inferno.

I can’t mention their names because they have two numbers on speed-dial: the police and their lawyer. Anyone who’s ever met them would testify to that fact except they have the right to remain silent, and – believe me – they use it.

The police calls became so numerous, tedious and frivolous that some light-weight lucky-duck neighbors actually moved out. The rest of us just incorporated police calls as a regular part of our day. I considered turning my son’s room into a donut/coffee drive-up “Cop Stop” several times. The money would go for legal fees that we would use to defend ourselves against utterly baseless charges – in fact outright lies against us. For example, they called the cops because one of us told them to keep their dog tied up in their yard, as required by the law. Three neighbors were questioned by the police about “harassment” of them. They still don’t tie their dog up. The law applies to others, not them.

Every year we give three of our neighbors a Christmas-tree ornament to reflect the year that passed. One year, after approximately 50 police visits between us on behalf of the “professionals,” we sarcastically gave one neighbor a mini-cop’s hat, another a set of mini-handcuffs and a third a get-out-of-jail-free card. We received a ball-and-chain, a mini-cake and a nail file in return.

When we caught wind the “professionals” were moving, to us surviving victims it was better than winning the Powerball. It was sweet salvation.

For the last month we have been glued to our windows like Garfield cats, waiting for the mice to move and take the cops with them. When we’re not doing that, we are walking on air with a song in our hearts, thanking the Powers that Be for divine intervention versus police intervention because we know the end of our Hell is nigh.

I can’t vouch for the neighbors, but the song in my heart is from “Scrooge the Musical.” It’s where Ebenezer Scrooge dies, and everyone dances behind his coffin en route to the cemetery.

“Thank you very much, thank you very much,

That’s the nicest thing that anyone’s ever done for me.

I wish that I could pray for something nice to say, but that’s just not in the cards for me to say today.”

Another neighbor/victim, with a big grin on her face, keeps singing that line from the “Wizard of Oz,” the one about, “Ding Dong, the witch is GONE, the witch is gone, the witch is gone. Ding Dong, the wicked witch is GONE!”

Yet another neighbor/victim keeps humming the Mr. Rogers’ theme while glued to his window:

“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood . . . things will be fine, glad you’re not mine, glad you’re NOT my neighbor.”

Have you ever had a neighbor from Hell? What’s your song?Pyramid and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve – something you didn’t want to miss during the holiday season. He had a full life as an iconic TV host. He died April 18 at the age of 82.

Summer, the most recent loss for the music industry, lost a battle with cancer. She was 63. The singer died May 17.

Hailed as the “Queen of Disco,” she was the voice behind the era’s biggest hits. Most women applauded the ladies’ anthem, “She Works Hard For the Money,” and her crowd-pleaser, “Let’s Dance the Last Dance.”

These are just a few losses in 2012. Unfortunately, there will be more. Some lost battles with illnesses; some died tragically. They all have one thing in common: each of them is missed and left his or her legacy in history.

I’m personally looking forward to the upside of 2012. The introduction to the year has been a little depressing. If you don’t believe me, just watch the news.

Author: Dennis Dalman

Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.

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