Oddly, I get along pretty well with Crazy Margaret. Or maybe it's not so odd. You be the judge.
Crazy Margaret is how some in the neighborhood speak of the aging single woman living across the street. She is by no means a lunatic—just somewhat eccentric. Marsh keeps mostly to herself. She rarely, if ever, attends neighborhood picnics or other events, and her most notable actions come during disagreements with her immediate neighbors to the north and south of the family home that she inherited when her mother passed away some 30 years ago.
Quite a while back, Margaret picked a rather serious fight with her immediate neighbor, Fred, over the low mechanical noise generated by his whirlpool hot tub in the backyard. The noise was terrifically offensive to Margaret—a call-the-police-and-file-a-complaint kind of thing. At Fred's suggestion, I once stood in his backyard and listened to the hot tub while it was running; its low hum was barely audible to me, and I'm a guy who generally detests mechanical noise.
The feud eventually grew heated enough that Fred and his wife packed up and left the neighborhood, but the memory of this battle is what others in the neighborhood remember to this day, and it colors how Marsha is viewed by pretty much everyone. Actually, though, Paul was a kind of stick-up-the-ass Republican, so I'm not altogether sure Margaret didn't have point somewhere there.
Still, there are reports of other neighbors across the street and along the next alley who have had similar strange disagreements with Margaret over petty matters, so perhaps she is a bit on the batty side. Her wild mane of gray hair blowing every which direction does a lot to feed the sense that she is a bit "off." And she is the one person in the neighborhood who shuts off her lights and refuses to answer the door on Halloween. Her reputation as an iconic curmudgeon, then, is somewhat deserved.
The unfriendliness to kids alone should color my perception of Margaret, but inexplicably, we get along pretty well. She has a deep appreciation for my front yard garden beds, and very often when I'm digging in the dirt in the afternoons, she will make her way across the street to exchange admiration and pleasantries for a few minutes. And I have an appreciation for the classic Camaro owned by her father, which Margaret occasionally brings out of the garage for a spin around the neighborhood in the springtime. She hasn't yet offered me a ride, but there is still time. When I run into Margaret at the local ice cream shop, our exchanges are always quite friendly.
I am the exception here, as Margaret doesn't seem to get along too well with many people. Not that she is unfriendly with everybody, but unless she has a bone to pick with you, she generally ignores you and rarely seeks you out for conversation.
Or maybe she sees something of a kindred spirit in me. I'm not without occasional surly grumpiness myself, especially when it comes to my neighbors across the alley who cavalierly blow their driveway snow into my own carefully shoveled driveway. And I've been known to be "assertive" with the teenagers who stomp on our garden flowers as they retrieve basketballs.
Dammit. There goes that joker with the pit bull who never has a plastic bag when his dog craps on the boulevard. Pardon me while I go discuss it with Margaret.