Since a troublesome neighbor has caused me untold grief, I can't resist reading stories about other people and their neighbor troubles.
Psychologists might say that's not the healthiest approach to take. But I must confess to feeling the slightest tingle of delight when I read about someone else having to deal with a jackass next door.
If someone has been mugged, are they interested in stories about other muggings? Probably so.
With that in mind, I couldn't help but do some rubbernecking when I came upon a story today about a neighbor feud that resulted in three people being arrested and two dogs being shot. (I hate that part about the dogs being shot; one died and the other was injured.)
Guess where all this hubbub took place? In the tony Birmingham suburb of Homewood.
Now Homewood isn't tony as in Mountain Brook or Vestavia Hills tony. That's where truly wealthy people tend to congregate. But property values in Homewood are absurd, mainly because of its "good" (read predominantly white) school system. You can find a "cottage" in Homewood, with lots of "curb appeal," for, oh, about $350,000.
Pretty much the same house, probably bigger and in better shape, can be found in Birmingham's western section for about $85,000. Those neighborhoods have "bad" (read predominantly black) schools.
Anyway, back to the feudin' in Homewood. Seems that four recent college graduates moved in next door to a family on South Brook Circle. A father and son claimed the college grads had damaged the fence between the two homes. When officers arrived on the scene, two dogs (who looked like pit bulls) got loose from the college dudes (I'm assuming they are dudes), and police wound up shooting the animals.
This all happened on Saturday, but the feud was rekindled on Sunday--and that led to arrests. The father and son were arrested on misdemeanor menacing charges for being armed while confronting one of the dudes. The dude, in turn, was arrested on harassment charges because he threatened to get a gun and shoot the father and son.
Here's something interesting about the coverage in The Birmingham News. This clearly is public information, but no names were given in the story. If a similar event took place in a predominantly black neighborhood, I'm guessing names would have been used.
I've noticed this tendency to protect suburbanites before. Some years ago, the wife of a prominent restaurateur died in a mysterious fire at her Mountain Brook home. As I recall, the house was not destroyed or even damaged to a great degree. But somehow the woman managed to die in the fire--and very little was written about it.
About two years ago, a woman from Gardendale was killed in an automobile crash while driving south on Highway 280 to her job at Infinity Insurance. A northbound vehicle, almost certainly a resident from the southern suburbs, somehow managed to cross the median and hit the woman head on. I remember driving past the scene that morning and thinking it was the worst looking wreck I had ever seen on 280. The News never reported the name of the driver of the vehicle that struck the woman's car. And the paper never reported what caused the accident. My guess? Someone was talking on a cellphone.
As for events in Homewood, I'm guessing real-estate agents are already figuring out ways to take advantage of the feud. Imagine this ad for a small house on South Brook Circle:
"Charming fixer upper. 2 BR, 1 BA, carport, wooded lot. Lively, spirited neighbors. Never a dull moment in this desirable neighborhood!"