One of the things I’ve encountered again and again in my time in the Richard Armitage fandom is expression of hospitality and generosity from my fellow fans. In fact, just last week, I was gifted with the most amazing quilt by jholland of preoccupiedbyarmitage. I think it is safe to say, that in many neighborhoods of Armitageworld, there is a strong sense of ξενία at work.
ξενία – or xenia transliterated into English – is the ancient Greek concept of “guest-friendship,” that is, the courtesy and hospitality shown to travelers, and/or associates of the giver of the hospitality. It was understood to be a reciprocal relationship marked by both the exchange of material gifts, but also of non material things like food, shelter, and various favors. Xenia functioned as an important component of the ancient Greek social and religious system…after all, one never knew when one might be in the presence of a god, so practicing xenia was paramount.
I rather like the notion of offering courtesy and hospitality to those in my orbit. I try to do it as a matter of course. Most of the time it’s pretty easy, but sometimes? Sometimes I end up in a weird xenia sandwich. I have two neighbors…on either side of my house. To the west is Marlene – she’s a bit older than my parents and is more and more in need of assistance with some of the larger tasks of caring for her home – particularly lawn work and snow removal. We’ve been doing all of the lawn work and snow removal for several years now…the fact that she is also our landlord does factor in a bit, but this work isn’t in our lease and we aren’t compensated for it – we do it because it’s the right thing to do. It’s xenia.
In any case, I’m happy to extend xenia to Marlene…and she returns the favor in a lot of ways.
Here’s the problem…to the east there is another neighbor – Melissa. I honestly don’t know what to make of these people. They moved into the neighborhood about 5 years ago. They are about the same age as hubs and me, our kids go to the same schools, but man, I just don’t know…there is just so much weird over there. I’ve tried to be neighborly, but there is some kind of massive xenia black hole centered over her house. I may come off sounding like a giant heel in all of this, so I should clarify just a bit.
The Melissa’s didn’t exactly ease themselves into the neighborhood, which isn’t terribly tightknit, so it’s not hard to “break into.” I’ll give you the highlights reel. Within a week of moving into a neighborhood of 80 year old homes with streets lined with mature maple trees, it became evident that the Melissa’s had some sort of issue with trees – the evidence being the fact that they immediately cut down every tree in their yard – all healthy youngish trees -including the ones that shaded their full western exposed windows. Um – ok, it’s your yard, your trees. However, when they went to their neighbor to the east and demanded she cut down a beautiful old tree because it hung over their yard, they started a tree war I’m afraid. One that persists to this day.
The tree thing is a little weird…so is the raking the concrete slab driveway and the accidently nailing herself in the head with a nailgun (a glancing blow). I admit, I have a bit of an issue with the fact that there is always a car in her garage, but she always needs a ride somewhere – she doesn’t drive you see. She also doesn’t have a printer, a cell phone, a phone book or a sense of discretion about what intimate details of her daughters’ lives she should share with me. Let’s not even get into the fact that Mr. Melissa is apparently something of a peeping tom.
It’s actually kind of a funny story if it weren’t kind of creepier than funny: My laundry area is in the basement and the basement windows face the Melissa’s driveway. One summer evening, I was in the basement at the washer when my husband calls down the steps:
“Hey, are you changing your clothes down there?”
I had indeed just taken off my shirt and thrown it in the washer before putting on a PJ top – not an infrequent event actually…or at least it used not to be. I answered, puzzled:
“Because Mr. Melissa is up on the roof of their new shed watching you.”
Needless to say, I’m more careful about where I drop trou in my house these days, and I’m less inclined to lend a hand to The Melissa’s – xenia is a reciprocal concept after all. The prompt for this post is the latest installment of the weird neighbor show that has unfolded since Christmas.
On the day after Christmas (Hub’s birthday BTW) I foolishly answered the pounding on my back door to find Melissa. I opened the door a wide crack and politely inquired what she might need – we aren’t really friends, we don’t have coffee, etc. Right in front of my astonished eyes, she pushed the door open wider, stepped into my back entry, closed the door and said, “That wind is cold” Um, OK – I usually wait to be invited in, but since you’re already in…Evidently, her washing machine is broken and she wanted to know if she could use my washer. I pondered – I really don’t like her, but if she needs to do an emergency load or two, I could just wash them for her. Except that wasn’t what she had in mind – she was proposing that she troop in and out of my house over the next several hours and do all of the weekly laundry for her family of four.
Three problems with that:
- There is not a day that I’m not somewhere in the process of a load of laundry, so my washer is always busy.
- It was Hub’s birthday and I was hosting dinner to celebrate
- Is she unfamiliar with the word LAUNDROMAT?!
Don’t get me wrong – I can relate. My washer was out of commission for like 6 weeks last summer and then the replacement was a lemon so it was another week. Do you know what I did? I packed all of my laundry in the car and took it to the laundromat. As I have done with my laundry in the past when I did not have a washing machine in my home. As it happens, there are TWO laundromats within 1/2 a mile from our houses. This is not a Herculean task here.
Now, in the interest of xenia, knowing that Melissa does not drive (even though I cannot understand why because she seems to have no handicaps and has a vehicle at her disposal), I offered to drive her to the laundromat and pick her up when she was done with her laundry (her creepy peepy husband apparently doesn’t like to drive her places – reason #576 to learn to drive in my book) She turned me down and we had a short conversation about a nice laundromat that my parents use all the time that Peeper could drive her to. (they have a washer, they just like to do it all in 90 minutes – then go to lunch…*shrugs*). When I told her that I needed to get going because you know, hosting a party in 2 hours, she went home and I thought the subject was closed. Au contraire my friends!
Yesterday, 2.5 minutes after I emerged from the house and was cleaning some trash out of Mini Me’s spot in the car, I hear my name being called and look over my shoulder to see Melissa hot footing it across the street. You guessed it – she renewed her application to use my washer…she is in the loop to get a replacement for what is apparently a lemon machine. I grimaced internally and replied that I was going out, and for all of the reasons I’d already told her, I really thought the laundromat was a better option. I did offer this time to wash an emergency load if she needed something to tide them over – this initiated a conversation about her adolescent daughter’s bras…they are expensive, unpadded and she only has three. TMI Melissa, T. M. I. Especially since this whole conversation is going on in the driveway at the mercy of -20F degree winds. My Melissa xenia tank is getting pretty low at this point! Hubs thinks the laundry issue is closed. I’m not so sure…
Even so, my notion of xenia is still alive and well otherwise…I might even crutch over to Marlene’s tomorrow and see if we can do her computer purchase online –
I was on my way down the steps to go computer shopping with her today when my knee had other ideas and I ended up back in the ER – #meniscusfail.
Truthfully, even though Melissa is making me consider parking my car around the block so she doesn’t know I’m home, if she asks me again, I’ll offer again to give her a ride to do her laundry…but xenia or no xenia, no xenos is getting in my washer!! 😀
Thanks for indulging my rant…perhaps “My Loony Neighbors” will become a regular feature here (who knows, maybe The Melissa’s have a similar feature about the Obscura’s!)