Since moving to suburbia our lives have changed quite a bit. Hubby and I lived in a relatively small apartment for the last nine years, so the space and privacy of our new house has been a welcoming and positive adjustment. Yes, we have become proud Stepford Fags and it is quite agreeable. However, not everything has been sunshine and roses, afternoon tea and raunchy pool parties.

You see we have some peculiar neighbours and have found that good fences do not necessarily make for good neighbours. On the one side we have the ‘Undesirables’ and on the other side the ‘Golden Girls Brigade’, both offering great entertainment and some frustration.

When we moved into the neighbourhood we caused quite a buzz on our street. Finally the queers were moving in! Some curious neighbours came and introduced themselves and one particularly inquisitive woman actually asked for a tour of our house, which I courteously obliged as I didn’t want to be rude. She inspected our furniture, queer art and decoration choices as if she was making mental notes.

Later, I would learn that this woman was requested by the other housewives on the street to “check us out”. I was thoroughly interrogated by her and everything was reported back to the ladies of the neighbourhood during their weekly Thursday afternoon tea.

I’ve discovered that in our neighbourhood we have a very sophisticated network for the collection and dissemination of social gossip and news. Fortunately for me, ‘Gossip Headquarters’ is right next door with the weekly briefings being done on the patio right by my study window – and I can overhear everything. On Thursdays, at around half past four, the ladies will get together and catch up on the week’s activities.

First their favourite soap operas and television shows are debated, with Oprah being a permanent fixture. Then they’ll get stuck in with all the truly important news; what has been happening in our street (often expanding to as far as six blocks away). Nothing is left out and everything including husbands, children, grandchildren, the neighbours, neighbourhood tramps (apparently we have quite a few) and us – the queers – are discussed. The gossip is downright fantastic!

“Unfortunately, like family, you can’t choose your neighbours…”

The Golden Girls Brigade is unapologetic, frank and sometimes slightly crude with their observations and revelations – even I sometimes blush and I’m not even part of their conversation. At least they think hubby and I are fine young men; their only concern being that they never hear us fight. One woman actually asked curiously: “Is it normal for gays not to fight? I heard they’re married. That’s just crazy; all married couple have fights now and again!”

Hubby once told me, while I was updating him on all the gossip, that I should peek over the wall one day and ask to join them. He’s sure they would welcome me with open arms…

Unfortunately, like family, you can’t choose your neighbours. Apart from the Golden Girls Brigade, which I quite enjoy, we also have the Undesirables on the other side of our house. They are a young unhappily married couple who are constantly fighting – with their loudest bouts usually taking place between five and six o’clock in the morning.

I never can quite catch the gist of their fights. Not that I particularly care, but they are best heard from our on-suite bathroom and the kitchen. They also have a small farm of pavement-special mutts that regularly add to the noise pollution. If the couple aren’t fighting, their dogs are barking.

Apart from being unhappy they also don’t take pride in their property, probably because they are renting it. Their backyard is permanently littered with dog poo that’s rarely cleaned up – very unhygienic!

The property looks neglected – as do they and their dogs. The woman’s hair is never done and her plastered-on makeup gives the appearance that her face will crack and crumble if she smiles. Alas she never does. I have only seen her twice and neither of those times did she even attempt a cordial hallo, so I’ve decided to ignore them should I see them again.

Once I had to phone the police due to one of their fights sounding like it was spiralling out of control. It was a Friday evening and while watching television the ghastly screams emanating from next door gave me a fright. I first thought they were being attacked, but as I made my way to the kitchen I could tell that it was simply the two of them going at it again.

The police showed up and the ruckus stopped. Later, I was told that the man claimed his wife fell off a chair and that was why she was crying. I didn’t believe that for a second – I know what I heard!

All communications to and from the Undesirables are through an intermediary; the owner of their property. He too has grown tired of the Undesirables’ behaviour and plans on evicting them soon. In the meantime we will just have try and ignore their screaming and barking dogs until they move back to their side of the railway tracks.

Living in suburbia has really been fun thus far. The quality of our lives has improved tremendously and we love our new house. Every Thursday afternoon I make sure to leave work a couple of minutes early to catch up on my weekly gossip and every morning at 5am we are promptly woken up by our living alarm clocks next door. I would never want to move back into an apartment; I wouldn’t trade our lovely home and all its quirks for anything else.

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