Monday, October 6, 2008


Yesterday I got caught spying on my neighbors.

I'm not really a spying kind of girl I'm just very curious. Which is code for "I was REALLY bored and couldn't bring myself to leave the house in search of more interesting forms of entertainment."

I wasn't intentionally spying. I didn't have some little command station set up at my kitchen window in hopes of seeing some unlucky individual exit their house in such a manner that I felt the need to snatch up my binoculars and frighten the poor person to death. In fact I hadn't even consciously decided I was going to spy. It just sort of happened to me. Much like how a really bad outfit can sort of just happen to you. Maybe you didn't plan it - or maybe all of its pieces looked great on their own - but together this little outfit is by and far something that should never happen again.

I was the victim here of this unfortunate mischance. The victim I tell you. Not that I'm "playing the victim" for those of you that subscribe to those types of notions - merely that sometimes people find themselves in situations beyond their control and are, as a result, victimized by their circumstances (and not their subconscious). And it was in one of these situations that I found myself when I stood up from the small computer workstation I've assembled on the floor of my living room and happened to be standing directly in front of the window - out of which I could see my next door neighbors arguing out on their front lawn.

Now Utah is like the poster child/state for "Don't Wash Your Dirty Laundry In Public." The people here are largely Mormon and as a result they tend to be very private with not only their personal affairs but their lives in general. They gossip incessantly but never actually confront each other with the information they are privy to. They also happen to be especially wary of us "Non-Mormon's". My family doesn't attend church - hasn't since I was in middle school and because of this we are somewhat removed from our neighborhood social circle. I know my neighbors on the left have too many cats, an obnoxious redheaded daughter, and are going through a divorce. My neighbors on the right are teachers, travelers, and I suspect them of having a sex life akin to that of a twenty-something PR bachelor (they have a video camera that sits in their window - information I could have lived without).

So of course when I see my Neighbors Of The Left arguing in such a public fashion I do what any normal person would. I stand there and stare like some sort of dumb turkey. It's like when there's a nearby fire and the entire county gets in their cars and goes and drives towards it even though all of our smart-people-instincts are telling us that its probably not a good idea to head in the direction that the twenty-foot flames are spewing from.

Regardless of the fact that I am actually a somewhat capable/intelligent person, when I stood up and saw this man and woman arguing outside I literally could not stop myself. I had to stand there and watch. Which is exactly what I did. Except I also moved up closer to the window and pressed my nose up against the glass in an effort to hear more - my theory here being that if you're going to watch the cheesy soap opera you might as well full-on watch it - and not just let it play while the TV is muted.

I don't know exactly where the conscious part of my brain went (maybe it went to its therapy session so it could understand why I was behaving in such a ridiculous fashion) but where ever it was - it wasn't doing it's job. So when the man, who is still chewing out his wife for one reason or another, turns and looks at me (Face: Still Pressed Into Glass) I didn't immediately realize that oh yea - he's looking at me. Moments later - brain came back from therapy and figured out that OH SHIT HE'S LOOKING AT ME. At which point I proceed to drop to the floor like some sort of retarded sloth that woke up on the wrong side of the tree branch.

I haven't felt that dumb in a really long time. It's actually kind of refreshing. However I topped it by feeling even more stupid as I crawled out of my living room on my hands and knees (to avoid being seen by Arguing Man, his wife, or anyone else who could laugh at me) into my bedroom where I spent the remainder of the night contemplating the fact that I could never leave my house again.

This is what happens when I'm left alone for the weekend with no one to talk to but the Puppy.


Kristi said...

LOL. That's such a great story!

Spying is uncontrollable. I live in an apartment, and one day I left the balcony door open and was privy to my neighbor fighting on the phone with his ex girlfriend. (i assume the ex part...i used to see her at the apartment all the time and then she just stopped being there) Anyway, the fight was him saying that he didn't believe her that the baby was his because he didn't trust her and everyone said the baby didn't look like him.

There's nothing like a little neighbor baby mama drama to perk up your night!

Dustin, Katie, and Jack said...

Hahaha. Your story reminds me of getting caught people-watching. I really enjoy people-watching but get caught way too often. I will have to work on that.

Anonymous said...

That's probably the best story I've "heard" in awhile... I know exactly how you felt; whenever I look at my window (even if it's just to check out the weather or to see who's dog it is this time that's barking its head off) one of my neighbors always looks back at me from the street, which totally creeps me out.

La Voyageuse said...

Hello Lizabell,

I happened on your blog through Working Girl, and I'm glad that I did. I've had a problem with "accidental spying" before, and can definitely sympathize with this situation - enough so that I almost erupted into laughter at my desk while reading your blog at work - which brings its own set of problems. Anyways, thanks for the laugh. Hope you can face your neighbors again soon!

Mike said...

Suggestions to try next time:

- Stick out your tongue
- Give him the "thumbs up" sign
- Give him the finger
- Pretend like you're washing the window so you can keep watching
- Hold up Sammy and repeat the same argument back to the man
- Provide him some entertainment in return, such as doing "the robot" or pulling lint from your belly button
- create props for the scene by drawing them on your window in dry-erase marker

Dad to Two said...

Thanks for making my day seem better. Seriously though, don't feel too bad, everyone has been there at some time. Yours might be a little more funny though than most. Hopefully they are more embarrassed to have been arguing in public than you are for watching, and neither of you will have to discuss it again.

MisterMasonCA said...

great giggle, this is a great story and I would have to agree with everything Mike said... thanks for the story

Lela said...

this was a great story! being real makes it even better! i think "spying" is just something natural. humans are naturally curious.

nice way to end my day, great laugh!

PS sounds like a great episode for Curb Your Enthusiasm.

JCampbell said...

Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant. Can we set up our own spying station with one way glass to spy on the neighbors? Pleeeease?

The Pink Chick said...

Your story makes me laugh! It sounds just like something I would do! Thanks for a great story to brighten my day! Love your blog!

Folding Bike Destinations said...

What a hilarious post! I definitely agree that you were the victim here. What do people expect it they are arguing on their front lawn? Now if you were watching them through their window, I might not sympathize with you so much. Great post! You captured the moment well. I had a mental picture of the entire thing.

Elizabeth said...

Heh. I've done that. It's just human nature.

I live across the street from a package store, so I get all the good stuff. A few weeks ago this couple was arguing in the packy parking lot, so my mom and I sat in the living room and listened. It's not hard to do.

I'm too lazy to sign into OpenID, so I hope this posts. :D

Andy said...

I love that your nose was pressed against the glass. Kind of like a beagle or golden retriever. The question is, will you do it again?

stealthnerd said...

That's an awesome story--totally hilarious. Especially the bit about dropping like a sloth haha!

Audrey said...

I like Mike's ideas! They were great. Our kitchen window happens to face the neighbors yard so when I want to spy I pretend I'm doing the dishes! Good fake-out.