A crappy parable

Let’s say you wake up one morning and decide you hate your neighbors. In your infinite wisdom you decide to stroll up and down the street screaming at the top of your lungs about how they’re degenerate assholes and losers who can’t be trusted, and the next time any of them even touches a blade of your precious grass you’re getting the hose or maybe the paintball gun.

You make sure to do this every day so they don’t forget. Occasionally you single one of them out for being particularly lazy or disgusting. “Ron’s a useless slob and his wife is ugly!” you shout. “The Worth kids are never going to amount to anything but meth heads and their father’s a diddler, I just know it!” You feel good.

Next, you build a fence. Not just any fence. The best fence. You pay for it out of your family’s vacation funds without any second thoughts and your useless, no good neighbors are going to reimburse you once it’s done. They’ve never agreed to do so, and they’ve told you over and over to pound sand, but you insist they’re going to pay up anyway and you boast loudly of your brilliant plan to anyone who will listen. You give the job of building the fence to your brother-in-law, who you pay extra because he’s family and it’s not like you’re using your own money to pay for it, not really.

The fence takes three years to build because your land’s kind of uneven and your brother-in-law’s kind of a lousy scumbag. It winds up costing a lot more than you thought. No family vacations until at least 2025. Your kids don’t really hate you; it’s just a teenage phase they’ll grow out of. They’ll understand when they’re adults.

You look out proudly upon your fence. It’s done. Your friends and family didn’t believe you’d actually do it, but you did. Now you realize you have to watch it, carefully, lest one of those ne’er-do-wells surrounding you tries to climb it or vandalize it or throw stuff over it. So you do. You start losing sleep. Your work life suffers. Your wife, feeling neglected, starts sleeping with Mr. Worth, the supposed diddler, who’s family got to go to Disneyland three years in a row. None of the neighborhood kids will trade Pokemon with your little bundles of joy. Your house gets egged on Halloween. The Homeowner’s Association “forgets” to invite you to the summer block party. No one will give your wife a cup of sugar when she goes asking around for one, ruining your daughter’s Sweet Sixteen and directly resulting in five years of steep therapy bills.

Maintenance costs continue to climb. Your beloved fence needs a fresh coat of paint. It’s crooked and sinking a bit over in the corner. Your neighbors continue to ignore the invoices you leave in their mailboxes, except that god damn Mr. Worth who tries to pay in Monopoly money. And somehow, despite your magnificent fence and your tireless vigil, you find dog shit on your lawn all the god damn time. Your daughter comes home from school in tears because all the other kids won’t stop making fun of her crazy ass father.

A massive storm hits the area, toppling trees, damaging roofs, the works. The neighborhood bands together to help Mr. Worth patch up his garage. You remove the fallen tree from your driveway, alone, while your wife glares at you through the kitchen window and sexts her secret lover. You throw out your back.

But you wouldn’t actually do all of that, right? That sort of thing would make you the town joke because only a crazy person would be that fucking nuts. You know being neighborly will pay off in the long run. You know there are better, cheaper ways to protect your beloved lawn. And you’d try to instill all those positive values in your children and make sure they get to go to Disneyland at least once.

Soooooooooooooo…

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