by Steve Allen
A satirical look at local neighborhood "turf wars".
|We've got a serious "gang" problem in our neighborhood. My family and I, we've got to watch ourselves, whenever we go outside. I find myself always anxious and afraid I might stumble upon some of their nefarious activities or find remnants of their constant and ongoing "turf wars". And for some unknown reason, it appears these two ruthless and lawless groups have made one of their prime battlegrounds right where we live! Both are constantly grappling to increase their territory, to lay hold, seize and control that which neither owns nor has a right to, my home. As these two seemingly opposing forces fight over "their" turf, it should be clear, even to the casual observer, just where that leaves us - in the middle. Smack dab in the middle of something that we want no part of.
I sometimes wonder how this whole thing got started. I mean really, why? Have they had a bad home life? Were they not taught well enough? Not loved and nurtured enough? Not given sufficient discipline and guidance? I'm not looking to excuse them, believe me, but there must be some sort of enabling going on somewhere, I think. Something must be broken somewhere, support must be lacking, a hand of love, sometimes "tough love", and nurturing must be absent, or at best, inconsistent. These things don't happen in a vacuum. They weren't born bad. Something in their lives helped make them this way, encouraged them to make wrong choices, to disregard the feelings and rights of others. Sure, they are still responsible for their actions, but are they the only ones responsible? I wonder.
I've also noticed it seems to get worse with the warmer weather. I shudder to think about those unsuspecting victims that live in warm climates year round. They must get no reprieve at all. I guess the increased activity going along with the nicer weather makes sense. I suppose even gangs can get spring fever. They see it as a time to reassert themselves, to redraw lines in the sand, so to speak, and all without the hindrance of the winter cold. It's much easier to "hit and run", to chase and be chased, to abuse, violate and harass, almost unhindered and without consequence. I guess I can understand it at some level, but I don't like it. My rights are being violated here. Sure, they probably don't fully understand what they are doing, having never been shown a better way by those responsible to show and teach them. But meanwhile, my full enjoyment of the warmer months is partly swallowed up in their misuse and abuse of it, running wild and carefree, blissfully ignorant and unconcerned about what mayhem they leave in their wake.
So, as another summer approaches, as I make the rounds to assess and survey the work to be done, I'll once again have to resign myself to the additional yard work as well. Along with the weeding, spraying, pruning, planting and lawn-mowing, there will also be the plucking up of hairballs and the royal scooping of the poop, which, of course, will continue unabated throughout the season, until winter sets in. Winter: my respite. A time when only the most hardened of gang-bangers, like my neighbor's cats, are on the prowl. A time when I like to play the grizzly bear and hibernate inside, postponing the inevitable. Maybe that's one of the reasons the autumn color splash, that slowly fades to the stark beauty of cool winter blues, whites and grays, is my favorite time of year. The height of the "turf wars", the pinnacle of gangland unrest between the "Dogs" and the "Cats", fought incessantly, and at a fever pitch in my neighborhood, and more specifically in my yard, and the warm weather that leaves me little excuse to not get out there and repair any damage done in the ongoing turmoil, is yet afar off. Almost a world away.... until worlds collide!
Listen. With increased time outside and open windows to help cool in the heat, it's much easier to hear and appreciate the inharmonious and jarring din of warring factions, the war cries and infighting of the Cats, and the thundering and taunting call outs of the Dogs. But, I'll stand my ground. I won't be intimated.