Dear Occupants of 298 15th St., aka My Neighbors,
Well, well, well, here we are, September 7th. The day after Labor Day, aka the official end of summer. Time really flew by, didn’t it? Flew like a seagull or a pigeon or even, I don’t know … a chicken.
Hey, speaking of chicken, you sure had a lot of backyard cookouts this year, huh? Lots of flank steaks and veggie kebabs and even peaches caramelizing on that sweet Weber Spirit E-210 2-Burner. Festive Chinese lanterns strung across the fence. Guests’ joyful cries of “Look how big Eleanor got” and “The dog’s at the cobbler.” The heavy smoke of charcoal and the juicy, thick scent of burgers being placed on the flames. I saw and smelled and heard it all from my third-floor window overlooking your majestic Brooklyn backyard. Now that summer has ended I can finally ask:
Why the fuck didn’t you invite me?
I know we’re not close. We’re barely even friends. But we are neighbors. That’s a sacred American bond between strangers. My parents used to invite the Schmidts over every time we grilled despite my mom being convinced Mr. Schmidt was a former SS officer. It didn’t matter because our backyards touched and human decency dictates that if you are openly cooking food in your backyard you invite your neighbors.
I’m not just any old swinging dick neighbor; I am a GOOD neighbor. I look the other way when your pug shits in the tree beds and you’ve “forgotten” a bag. I once held your front door open for you while you struggled with too many bags from Target. If you went on vacation, I’d get your mail. I’d water your plants. I would even cat-sit if you asked me to, you ungrateful worms.
In addition to my excellent neighbor credentials, I also happen to be a phenomenal barbecue attendee — a fact you would know if you’d ever deigned to invite me over. I have grade-A road-trip stories. I make a dope pasta salad. I’ll talk to your weird coworker for hours. And I am unafraid tell the requisite guy-who-brings-his-guitar that no one is in the mood to hear “Hotel California” again.
Despite all that, here I stand on the Tuesday after Labor Day, never once having tasted the sweet meats of your grill. And so I ask you: Why? Not even an insincere “You should stop by” when I overhear you discussing plans on your front stoop? If God was grilling, I bet he’d ask Satan himself to stop by because they are the closest thing they’ll ever have to NEIGHBORS and that’s what you DO.
The Chinese economy is in freefall. Donald Trump is poised to lead the free world. Singularity can be no more than two decades away at most. We are witnessing the twilight of the American empire and perhaps of human dominance on Earth. The fabric of our existence has frayed at every edge and your flagrant flouting of basic decency might just be the tug that undoes it all. We’ll never know how different our collective future might have been if you had only invited me over. Just once.
I leave you with this truth: This summer it is you with a grill. Next summer, who can say? Perhaps in a year’s time the sweet fires of roasting meat will lap at the heavens in my backyard. Kings of summer rise and kings of summer fall. But do remember: Ashes, ashes, they all fall down.
Have a great fall,