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You Know the Neighbors I’m Talking About, Volume Two: The Profilers

After being overwhelmed for the past decade by my “sabbatical into suburbia,” and after many false starts in trying to write down my experiences in the field, I finally broke down a few days ago and started a series of essays dedicated to the curious people I live near known as “neighbors.” After writing my first essay a few days ago, dedicated to “The Social Climbers,” I’ve been overwhelmed at who to examine next. Really, at the speed of a cautious minivan full of kids, the different categories of neighbor-type carefully drove by my brain until I could take it no more. So here is my second installment of the series. Perhaps you may even know this/these neighbor(s). I know one or two of them. I call them “The Profilers.”

Now in this day of intense police television drama, the term “profiler” takes on an exciting new meaning. It is not the meaning I’m referring to here in my bland cul-de-sac. When I say “profiler” I literally mean that this is the only part of the face you will ever see on these neighbors. For reasons unknown, as soon as The Profiler spies you out of the corner of their eye they turn away and pretend they have no idea you are standing next to them.  Now I must emphasize that not all neighbors are a Profiler.  There are many different crayons in the box. Even I am a crayon in this box.

The Profilers are a neighbor that took me a while to recognize. At first you wave hello, or look in their direction to catch their eye, but they are always too busy to notice or slow down to return your “hello.” You think, well they have a lot of children running around or must be on their way to an important business meeting. I’ll say “hello” next time. But the next time it’s the same, this time they’re juggling groceries, on the cell phone or dashing into the house like they are improperly digesting a rich and spicy lunch. “Next time,” you say. But the next time you see them they’re with some other Profilers. This time they are in deep discussion in their front yard about who knows what. Something flashes and you’re hopes are elevated, “Was that a wave?” As you return the gesture you notice by the grimace and shrieks from The Profilers that they are actually swatting at a bee that has decided to attack them. “Good Bee,” you think.

Slowly it begins to sink in that The Profilers want nothing to do with anyone other than their select group of Profilers. You start to wonder, “What would happen if we were trapped in an elevator together? Would they speak to me then?” Seems that as long as a cell phone was handy the answer would be “no.” Maybe it’s for the best.

Here is a true story. One of the worst Profilers in my neighborhood and I were in an interesting social situation a few years ago that should have rightly resulted in an exchanged hello. I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery store when I recognized the back of the head directly in front of me. I knew that back of the head! It lived across the street from me. As this person turned around and faced me I realized I’d never seen their full-face before. I seriously was looking at a stranger. We locked eyes, and I knew she knew who I was because I’m not a Profiler. As soon as she saw me, and in textbook Profiler haste, she said not a word, about-faced and continued unloading her cart. Never to turn around again. True story! It really is quite funny.

So, why are The Profilers so exclusive? I can only make guesses. I’ve never spoken to The Profilers directly in more than two or three word hurried and awkward sentences at a time.  These exchanges are at the mailbox or bus stop. Here is the exchange after nearly a decade: “Hi! How are you?” Neither of us sticks around to hear the other’s answer.  I’ve come to accept it.

About Fortyteen Candles

oh, let's see...distinguished Gen-X'er, frustrated writer, suffocating in the confines of a small town that thinks it's a big deal. A few years ago we were home to the second largest Walmart in our state, don-cha-know. Oh, and I was voted "Most New Wave" in my senior high school year book. Actually, that last sentence alone is really everything you need to know about me.

13 responses »

  1. I like this series – there are profilers in my neighbourhood –but I think I am a half profiler myself

  2. Glad you enjoy this series! I think it’s something everyone can relate to. There’s nothing wrong with being a half profiler. I think being friendly too often to everyone at all times is another problem all together…LOL!!

  3. Great series! We have a couple of others: Leaf Blower Man (the man on the wooded lot who obsessively blows leaves 365 days a year including during Thanksgiving Dinner — ours not his); the invisible people (who don’t really live there apparently. Someone else turns on the lights); Killer Dog Folks (no explanation needed). Life in the suburbs is so relaxing …

    • I am utterly stunned…how do you know my neighborhood so well? LOL…there are so many neighbors. I am so excited to continue on with my next essay….but which one next? which one? Hmm… 😉

      • Neighbors are always good fodder. My husband gets very nervous when I write about them, even though I am relatively anonymous. But here is my favorite neighbor story:

        If people are going to be weird, well, then a mirror will show them what they’re like.

      • Fabulous post! Wow…he’s a one-of-a-kind neighbor, right? RIGHT?!? LOL…I picture him walking around in period costume most of the year. Hopefully that cannon isn’t loaded. Maybe you could put a symbolic flower in it a la the 1960’s anti-war protestors? 😉

      • So far, the cannon hasn’t gone off, and the house is well away from the road and from us. I do expect to see a reenactment any day now, though!

  4. Teresa Cleveland Wendel

    I love the name you’ve given to my across the street neighbor. I’m so glad I’m not the only one being snubbed.
    Recently I thought that I would break the silence. When I saw them pull into the drive, I snipped a half-dozen stunning long-stemmed roses from my bush and rushed across the street to deliver them. They didn’t answer the door.
    I’m looking forward to meeting more of your neighbors.

    • Ha Ha Ha…I thought I was the only one being snubbed! Who are all these snubbers and what gives them the right to be so snubbery? What a thoughtful gesture of bringing flowers to your neighbors. But if they were PROFILERS, then your kind efforts would be a sight to see: You, rushing towards the Profilers with an armload of flowers. They turn around in slow motion to see you sprinting towards them. They scream in a low-pitched slow motion scream to each other “NNNNOOOOOOOO!!! RRRRRUUUUUNNNN!” And they head inside, slam the door and clutch each other while crouched down in a fetal postion behind the locked front door. Tearfully shaken by the close call that they almost had their entire faces seen. Shudder!!! LOL!! Oh, don’t worry. You’ll meet more of my neighbors, soon! 😉


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