Tuesday, February 29, 2000

Gory Details

(In which Jen and the Prick Upstairs - a.k.a. P.U. - continue their riduculous feuding)

To understand the current encounter, it's necessary to have a soupcon of history. When P.U. first moved in, he and I got along fine. We worked together on some community projects and seemed to have similarly cynical humor. He was helpful to us when we moved from a rental unit to buying our own unit, hooking us up with his realtor. In return, we helped P.U. move furniture and baked him cookies from time to time. Unfortunately, the unit we bought was diagonally downstairs from his, and the proximity led to the present state of affairs.

On several occasions in the past year and a half he has disliked various actions or inactions we have taken with regard to the exterior of our unit, and P.U. has not hesitated one bit to share his opinion with us. He tends to do this by e-mail. While his requests are rarely unreasonable, the manner in which he communicates them often is. He seems unaware that the tone he takes (whether spoken or written, but particularly written) is often peremptory, patronizing, and judgmental. Many neighbors have had similar experiences and privately agree with me, though most are more Zen about it than I and don't get into these scenes with him. Last summer, one message he sent was so inflammatory -- and CC:ed to many others in the community -- that it led to a community-wide uproar and a strongly encouraged mediation session involving P.U., Cait and me.

Since then, there have been occasional minor disagreements during a general state of detente. However, on Friday P.U. sent an e-mail demanding the removal of a bicycle from our front porch, as he is (thank god!) trying to sell his unit. It's an old, beloved bike in lousy condition, particularly since the front tire was stolen a while ago. It's out there waiting for me to have time to take it to donate to a bicycle rehabbing charity. And I admit, it's ugly. But again, the tone of his message was mildly unpleasant (though probably because of failed humor on his part), and I reacted angrily in my reply. As soon as Cait got home, she moved the bike. He never acknowledged that, but has spent the past 24 hours trying to "work things out" with me.

His version of working things out involves convincing me that I was wrong and he is a wonderful guy. He dug himself in deeper by beginning yesterday evening's attempt by patting me on the head. No shit. Since we were in the presence of friends and many children, I refrained from clocking him. (He's kinda big and would probably trounce me, martial arts experience notwithstanding, so that's just as well.) But it did nothing to improve my mood, and I ended up furiously telling him, "I don't want to continue this conversation," three times before he finally left.

Today as I was finishing mowing the community lawn, he tried again. This episode ended in an even uglier fashion, with him admonishing me, "You need to go see your therapist." This led me, finally, to scream at him in rage, "You self-centered, arrogant..." and then I sputtered as I did not want to finish the sentence with small kids distantly in earshot.

Five minutes later, he was back, and the final interchange consisted primarily of HIM hollering down from his balcony that I needed to grow up, get over it, and so on and so forth. I was livid. If this weren't all happening because he's moving, I don't know what I would do. As it is, I would love to do some Grrl-style Competitive Boy humbling, but I couldn't even begin to come up with something that good. Suggestions welcome....


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