Today is Halloween. The one day a year when it’s okay for children to knock on a stranger’s door, demand candy in exchange for not causing any damage or bodily injury and then saunter away to repeat the process a few dozen more times. At any rate, it’s the one day that it’s not frowned upon. It’s also the one day a year that my neighbors rise from the dead to feast on the brains of the living. I know what you’re thinking: rednecks don’t have any use for brains. Well, you’re right, but it’s not the rednecks that I’m referring to, though we have them in abundance. I’m actually referring to the occupants of the lovely little community behind our house. They’re a tranquil lot, but their guests are always so forlorn and the bagpipes can be really tiresome at times.
Whenever someone learns about the cemetery behind our house, they usually have one of two reactions. Either they state right then and there, for the record, that they would not, could not live like that, Sam I am. As if they were being polled on the issue of living in proximity to a cemetery and they want to profess with great certainty that they could never abide such impudence. That, or they choose one of two clever, and very popular, quips. I shouldn’t even have to state here what the two quips are because if you can muster two quips about living next to a cemetery (and I know you can), these will be the two you come up with. But I will anyway, for posterity’s sake. You might simply observe that the neighbors are most likely, quiet and well mannered, which would be true only of the ones that reside six feet under. Alternatively, perhaps if you were feeling festive at the time, you might remark with a knowing smile and a nudge of the elbow that we must have some interesting Halloween parties. Whichever you choose, you will be in good company.
I’ll admit living with the cemetery took more than a little getting used to. I believe the first weekend in our house I will remember, distinctly, forever. On that weekend there were half a dozen funerals, most of them easily visible from our windows. As I recall, one took place directly behind our master bedroom; as close to our property as it could be without actually being in the backyard. The moment I spotted the first tent that Saturday morning, I became fixated on the spectacle unfolding outside my windows. For two days, I succumbed to my most basal and pathetic, train wreck watching, rubbernecking desires. As each new horror played out in front of me, I just became all the more deranged, peeking through the blinds and squealing nonsense about the dead people being buried in our yard. (At this point, I know you’re thinking we must have never heard of the joyous splendor that is a privacy fence, but I’ll go ahead and mention here, that our house sits about eight feet higher than the cemetery and a fourteen foot tall fence, while making for a kick-ass fort, would not really be a feasible undertaking.)
Since that first, memorable weekend, we have actually gotten used to the funerals and the mourners, Amazing Grace and Taps, even the occasional twenty-one gun salute. It took longer to get used to the sound of machinery digging a grave or actually seeing a casket being lowered, (No one ever really sticks around for that part and let’s just say that they’re fortunate not to.) but even that discomfort lessens with time. Now that we’ve come to terms with the reality of living with a working cemetery, we couldn’t be happier with our new neighbors. They’re quiet, they’re lawn is well maintained, and they always have beautiful flowers. I like to think of living on the cemetery as the poor man’s version of living on a golf course. The grounds make for a lovely view and there are a bunch of old people scattered about the place.