When my husband and I moved to the southern California desert in 2000, our first home was in one of those active adult communities for those “55 and better.” Hubs had just turned that age and I was a relatively youthful 47 (only one of us had to have attained double-nickel status to become residents).
We’d never lived in a gated, age-restricted community before and, at first, it was pretty cool. There was a golf course, so Hubs was thrilled to be able to play as much as he wanted (a golf cart even came with our home as an incentive to buy). There was a community pool, an amenity we transplanted New Englanders delighted in. The guarded gate gave us an added sense of security. And frankly, vain person that I am, I kind of liked being the youngest kid on the block.
But after just a few months, the bloom began to be off the rose. In hindsight, the two-inch-thick book of neighborhood covenants we were given when we moved in should have been a clue. Neophytes to the gated community scene, we didn’t read them all that closely.
For example, the rules said that your guests couldn’t park on the street unless all the spaces in your driveway were filled. This meant that if a guest parked in the driveway departed, someone parked on the street had to take the vacant spot in the driveway. Who thinks this shit up?
Also, because it got so freakin’ hot in the desert, folks (including us) would often leave their garage doors open a few inches to vent the hot air. This, however, was verboten. But the real kicker was that some self-anointed covenant enforcers would drive around the neighborhood on their golf carts to “catch” offenders – and then report them to the powers-that-be. Does the phrase “Get a life” resonate here?
The busybodies revealed themselves in other ways, too. Hubs and I liked to roller blade back then (it was 15 years ago) and our community was ideal because it was nice and flat, and there was little traffic. One day we’re out blading – kitted out in our knee and wrist pads and helmets – and a woman frantically yells from her front door, “You better watch out, you’re gonna break a hip!”
And our next-door neighbor…she was a nice enough lady, but if we sat out on our back patio and she heard us, she’d hoist herself up, peer over the six-feet-high concrete block wall that separated our yards, and insert herself into the conversation. It got so we’d whisper when we went outside – or we’d avoid going outside altogether.
Disenchanted, we began looking for – and found – a new home in a “regular” neighborhood. The real estate market in the desert was beginning to take off at that time so, thankfully, we didn’t have any problem selling our existing home. We even made a little profit.
As we packed up to move, however, we were sorely tempted to figuratively thumb our noses at the covenant enforcers. See, there was another rule in the book (which by now we’d read thoroughly) that said a man couldn’t be in his front yard without wearing a shirt. But…it didn’t say anything about a woman having to wear a top. Nor did it specify that either gender had to wear pants.
So Hubs and I actually toyed with the idea of sitting on our front lawn – him sans pants and me topless – to see how long it would take for someone to report us for violating a covenant that didn’t exist. We figured we could have gotten busted for violating a state law about indecent exposure, however, so we refrained. But it sure was fun to think about…
gets easier as we age.
Who cares what “they” think?
What about you? Are there any ridiculous rules you’d like to break – or have broken? Do you find it easier to flout convention as you’ve gotten older? Please share…