It wasn’t long after we moved into this neighbourhood that we heard about ‘the neighbour’. And it wouldn’t be the last either. Any time since then that we’ve gotten together with anyone on our street, someone - sooner or later - will bring up the topic of ‘the neighbour’. Apparently, no one really likes 'the neighbour'. But no one will tell me exactly why this is. They’ll state that ‘she’s done some things’ but what those things are nobody says. Or they’ll mumble that ‘she’s a strange woman’ but no one will explain how. And difficult, too. But in what way? No one expands on this.
Not too long ago, we were invited to a small gathering where I once again heard about ‘the neighbour’. Someone brought up the subject of her and I simply shrugged with indifference. The storyteller’s eyes got big and round at this apathetic response about ‘the neighbour’, and he said to me, almost in astonishment “You don’t know about ‘the neighbour’?”
“I’ve heard about ‘the neighbour’", I said.
And I waited.
I waited for him – or anyone else there - to finally give me something concrete about ‘the neighbour’. Something that had warranted her being labeled as that kind of neighbour; you know the type: difficult, troublesome, standoffish. Something that would explain why no one seems particularly fond of her. Something that would justify her being brought up, sooner or later, time and time again, in some discussion in every single gathering. Something. Give me something. Anything. Explain to me why so many people have jumped on ‘the neighbour’ bandwagon, always eager to bring her up and take a shot but unable - or unwilling - to offer me a good reason why this is.
So I shrugged. Again. And said, again: “I don’t know her personally, and she’s never done anything to me, so I have no reason to dislike her.”
He just stared at me. What can you answer to that, after all? That I should jump on this bandwagon simply because everyone else is doing it? This screams of mob mentality to me. Have they all had a negative encounter with her personally, or are they parroting what everyone else is saying? Which isn’t very much to begin with.
Is disliking ‘the neighbour’ an honest opinion from a direct, personal experience or is it simply the socially popular thing to do? Maybe she is a pill. Maybe she isn’t. Maybe she’s trouble. Maybe she isn’t. Maybe she’s unfriendly. Maybe she isn’t. I wouldn’t know. Because I’ve never had any personal contact with her, never mind a profound experience, and no one offers anything concrete. And even if they did, I would still hesitate to jump on this bandwagon. Any bandwagon. Because I would rather form my own opinion, thank you.