Until last weekend, our relationship with our neighbours had been harmonious, in that they had all but ignored us since we moved in.
But now? We’re at war. All thanks to two innocent wetsuits.
Allow me to explain.
Last Saturday, my fiancé and I arrived home after going scuba diving. While I cooked dinner, he washed our wetsuits and hung them in our courtyard to dry.
Half an hour later, we saw a middle-aged woman hovering near our gate, so we went to investigate.
She introduced herself as our neighbour, Lou (that's right - after nine months of living mere metres away, she still had to introduce herself).
She then informed us - politely - that her little dog could see our wetsuits hanging up, and that for some reason, she was spooked by them - so would we mind terribly if we took them down?
My fiancé and I are dog lovers, so the last thing we wanted was to scare our neighbour's pooch. We suggested moving the wetsuits across a little, and asked if the new position would be out of the dog's line of sight.
In an instant, the fake smiles were all gone, as was any pretence of politeness.
Lou turned stone cold, and snapped "I'm not standing in my courtyard right now, am I? So how would I know if she can still see the wetsuits?"
We were stunned and confused by Lou's tone, and stood in awkward silence for a moment, until my fiancé started to explain what he had meant again, thinking she had simply misunderstood us.
But Lou completely ignored him, and started aggressively repeating "It would be NICE if we could just leave our laundry UNDER THE FENCE LINE" several times, before stalking back to her apartment.
Suddenly it clicked - her dog didn't give a crap about our wetsuits. Lou did. For some reason, the sight of two wetsuits hanging up in someone else's property for 30 minutes was enough for Lou to cut off any possible neighbourly relations between us.
Now, I know, in the scheme of things, it's a fairly small complaint. Maybe Lou was just having a bad day. Maybe we had inadvertently offended her in some other way, and the wetsuits made her snap. Maybe she has a mental illness. But even though I've tried to reason with myself, I still can't let it go.
Because when you live in apartments in the inner city, you have to expect minor inconveniences every now and then. Even the most considerate people can be irritating at times when you live so closely - it's just part of the deal. Since we've moved in, we've ignored Lou's dog constantly yapping. We've ignored it when their TV was up loud. We've ignored the extreme mould covering their outdoor umbrella, (which, quite frankly, is way more disgusting than a couple of wetsuits). Because that's what neighbours do - they cut each other some slack, right?