I understand pack mentality. We have two dogs and a 15 month old. Our household is a little pack, and there’s no question who the alpha is. Our dogs won’t listen to me if my husband is in the room. If I give them a command, they look at him and await further instruction. Our son isn’t much better. I’m barely holding onto the beta position, and at the rate that the boy is growing, he’s going to present a serious challenge for it by the time he’s, say, two.
I read recently that human males resemble closely (in terms of behavior) either the lion or chimpanzee, depending on what kind of men they are. Strong males (men who exhibit leadership and self-confidence) are like lions. Men who are babied by their mothers or other women are like chimpanzees. My husband is lion. Our neighbor is a chimpanzee. Recently there was a rumble in the jungle.
When we were young and unmarried, what would have been an acceptable way for my husband to deal with a neighbor who broke one of his man rules? Beat him up? Sabotage his cable? Pour sugar in his gas tank? All of the above? Yes, probably some combination of the above. But dammit, now that he’s saddled with a wife, a kid, and a property, he’s got to think about the pesky and long arm of the law.
We don’t socialize with this neighbor – the rule he broke was Rule #3: Stay Out of My Yard. Unless you are the one person I noticed on my Stats page from Guam reading my Blog, you probably know Hurricane Irene slammed the East Coast on Sunday. We were fortunate in that it meant minimal damage at our house, but we did get lots of wind and some limbs down in our backyard. And lots and lots of leaves. We have two massive trees in our back yard which provide both shade for our house in the summer and an abundance of leaves for our yard and our neighbor’s.
I wish I could say that Monday, the day after Irene hit, was the first time said neighbor had raked the leaves that originated in our trees and fell into his yard back into ours. Sadly, it was not. It was simply the day my husband finally had enough.
He’s been waiting for the opportunity to put the little chimp in his place, but I’ve asked him to wait, knowing what kind of temper he has. So, he’s been doing recon – gathering evidence of the neighbor performing the offenses. Monday night, my husband called a friend who is a State Trooper to confirm that it is not only bullshit the neighbor is trashing our yard with leaves Mother Nature put in his, it’s also illegal. Armed with this affirmation, he marched over to the simian’s house and knocked on the door.
Husband: I just want to let you know that I spoke to a cop before coming over, and not only does it cause drainage problems when you rake leaves into my storm drain, it’s illegal.
Neighbor: (nervously) I didn’t rake any leaves into your drain (and thinking: please don’t kill me).
Husband: Yeah, you did. I have footage of you doing it, and I have footage of you dumping on State land. And I’m here to tell you if you rake leaves back into my yard, I’m having you cited (thinking: I’ll crush you, you omega).
Neighbor: Well the guy up the street dumps lawn clippings across the street-
Husband: Well I don’t have footage of him. I have footage of you.
Neighbor: Well, my mother feels those trees should come down.
Husband: You want to pay for them to be cut down?
Husband: Right. The trees shade my house. They’re staying.
Neighbor: Well when I lived here before and Mrs. Scanlon owned your house she didn’t mind if I raked the leaves into her yard.
Husband: Mrs. Scanlon doesn’t live there. I live there. I own that property. I pay taxes on it. Stay off of it and don’t rake any more leaves onto it. Do we understand each other?
Neighbor: Gulp. L
I was a little nervous, I will admit, sending my husband over there, because he loves a fight. He thrives on confrontation. But when he got back and relayed what had happened, I was proud of him. He asserted dominance and defended his territory without any chance of legal reprisal. I’m beginning to see the bigger picture: this is how responsible grown-up men fight. They intimidate. My husband relied on the fact that he’s five inches taller and 75 pounds heavier than the neighbor to set the tone of the conversation. Then, he let the fact that the 50 year old neighbor lives with his mother do the rest.