How to Avoid the Neighbors


T. S. Eliot’s poetic line “April is the cruelest month,” probably had something to do with the return of Block Party season.


If you’ve never attended a neighborhood block party (and if you haven’t, where do you live so I can move there?) here’s how the ordeal unfolds: People you have successfully avoided all winter long suddenly converge on your property leading a limbo line over your freshly seeded lawn. A portable mess hall blocks your driveway. A roast pig resembling Elmer Fudd arrives, terrifying the toddlers and the elderly alike.


Technically you’ve been “invited” to this extravaganza but you’re expected to cater it as well. An anonymous letter (the cowards!) instructs you to provide a “dish to pass,” something large enough to feed the entire subdivision, making it more of a “bin to pass.” Assigned houses are also asked to furnish desserts and hors d’oeuvres (why not throw in a rubdown and landscaping for good measure!)


If being treated like a short order cook and service butler weren’t enough, you are then called upon to “donate” a fee for libations and incidentals. Since you would rather evaporate than drink the swill provided, you get nothing for your money. You are maimed by the piñata stick you helped purchase.


Meanwhile, the spirited ringleaders responsible for the carnival sideshow are always so liquor-soaked they fail to notice their abandoned offspring leading a game of kick the can through your living room.


Illegal fireworks cap off the gala. Only after the cul-de-sac is engulfed in flames do the revelers decide to call it a night.


How do you avoid such merriment next year? Plan your escape now! But be warned, there are pitfalls to avoid.


The Lockdown Strategy (and why it won’t work): You tell everyone you’re going away for the weekend then stock up on supplies, barricade the door and hunker down in front of a handheld television (the glow from a full sized set will tip off your whereabouts.) Unable to turn on any lights after dark, you trip down the staircase and are forced to call the paramedics. When the ambulance arrives your charade is exposed. You are viewed with contempt as they cart you away on a stretcher.


Leaving town merely guarantees a rain date re-scheduled upon your return.


There is only one real solution: move to an underdeveloped country where the infrastructure is poor - to avoid block parties you must move to a place where there are no blocks. May I suggest a cliff-side shanty with a fifty-foot drop into a craggy ravine?


Just don’t be surprised when an invitation arrives by pack mule. Faking your own death as an avoidance strategy now gains momentum when you are kicked by the mule and go tumbling downhill.


As your life flashes before your eyes, you are comforted in the knowledge you have successfully avoided an encore performance of the neighborhood cutup singing “My Way” into a bullhorn at midnight.


Happy Spring!