July 22, 2006

There Goes The Neighborhood

Where can I begin to tell the tale of the Faux’s housing situation? It is a tale worth telling, simply because it is a situation which brings out the characters of Faux Ma and Faux Pa to the fullest. As you know, we aren’t normally privy to their personals, such as their feelings, their general health and health history, or their opinions regarding matters of greater depth than gas prices and gardening techniques. But in the circumstance of the ever-changing neighborhood, they find it hard to contain their true selves while expressing current happenings.

I think it’s best to start with an incident last winter when Boyfriend and I were visiting his parents at their house. They were telling us about how their neighborhood, as they have known it for decades, is changing. Lots of the people they have known for years and years are now dying, being committed to insane asylums, or moving into housing more convenient for oldsters. It’s not so bad that these people are leaving the neighborhood (although they’ll be missed), but other people are actually moving into the houses once occupied by “regular people.”

First came the Tibetans. I’m not sure how Faux Ma and Faux Pa knew they were Tibetans, but that’s what they are known as in the House of Faux. Then came Carrie, a woman who insulted Faux Ma by telling her the interior of their house should be more colorful. Apparently Carrie had been adulterating one of the old neighbors’ homes by painting the interior vibrant colors. (Faux Ma believes that the interior walls of a home that are anything but white or eggshell will never sell. She mentioned that fact knowing I decorate my home in a style similar to Carrie, with interior walls ranging from gold to brick red.) Then there arrived more new neighbors, the Ecuadorians, who ended up right next door to the Fauxs.

To review: we have The Tibetans, The Ecuadorians, and Carrie. Once this information had been relayed to Boyfriend and me, Faux Ma looked me right in the eye and asked, “Are things diverse in your neighborhood?” I was stunned. Like, stunned. I didn’t know how to answer her question. I stumbled with the only response I could muster, “Diverse?” Faux Ma specified her question by saying, “I don’t mean your Germans and Swedes.” As my eyes grew wider I looked to Boyfriend, and with a facetious grin he said, “she means your coloreds.” He and I broke into laughter while the mocking humor of Boyfriend’s statement was completely lost on the Faux parents. They saw nothing funny about their concern over the ethnic heritage of their new neighbors.

About a month ago Boyfriend placed his biweekly call to his parents and they informed him that yet another of the neighborhood homes had been sold. Faux Ma saw the new neighbors and informed Boyfriend that they are “blacker than black.” They aren’t Africans, which you might expect to her to say in the spirit of her previous labeling of Tibetans and Ecuadorians. They aren’t African-Americans. They aren’t even Black. They are “blacker than black.” Yikes. I guess they’re black. Like, really, really black.

So now, in the presence of Tibetans, Ecuadorians, Carrie-Caucasian-But-Insulting, and Blacker-Than-Blacks, Faux Ma made the announcement that it is really time to get serious about finding a new place to live. They’ve been half-heartedly looking at townhomes for years in view of Faux Pa’s declining ability to ambulate, but now it’s become more than a matter of convenience. It’s a matter of fear and disdain.

Up until now I’ve overlooked the bigoted attitudes that sneak out of Faux Ma and Faux Pa once in a while. Their opinions of anyone who is different from them (racially, occupationally, religiously, politically, fashionably, etc.) are so outrageous they’re laughable.

But I’ve stopped laughing. There is something much more serious with which to contend, now that a realtor has been named and the search for oldster housing has begun in earnest. Boyfriend informed me that they are looking for townhomes in neighboring areas to us. While we have always lived in the same metropolitan area, it was nice to know they were at least a half-hour’s drive away. Now it is possible they could be ten minutes away, or less. They actually looked at a place not more than one mile from our house.

Best case scenario, they’ll settle upon something outside my fifteen-mile radius comfort zone. Worst case scenario, I’ll be talking to my neighbors, discussing the diminishing property values since those dang North Dakotan immigrants moved in.

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