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February 20, 2007

Welcome to the crazyhood.

Finally, finally, someone bought the house next door to me. It had been empty for months and months on end, growing spookier and scarier by the minute. I sometimes sit on my back patio late into the night writing on my laptop or just thinking my thoughts, and that house next door became the repository for scary noises. I swear there were night gnomes back there burying bodies.

So, anyway, a nice retired couple from Korea bought the house and moved in. They have a bird named Julie. I know this because the woman half of the couple walks around with this big bird on her hand, and she's always saying, "Julie, give me a kiss." She once wanted Julie to give me a kiss but I said, "Oh! I don't kiss birds!" then because I thought that was a rude and dumb thing to say I apparently decided a good save would be to add, "... because I have cats?"

Nice one there, slick.

In the spirit of being less hermity and also more neighborly, I wanted to get my new neighbors a little housewarming gift. After some hemming and hawing I decided that a small handmade fruit basket would be just the thing. People like fruit! And baskets! Then I was at Trader Joe's loading up my buggy with assorted fruit when it dawned on me that I actually know zip, zero, zilch about the Korean culture and I might be unknowingly buying them fruit that has meaning, bad meaning, like... THE FRUIT OF DEATH!!!! or something.

And you know if some dumbass, and I mean "dumbass" in the finest and most loving sense of the word, would end up accidentally inadvertantly handing their new neighbors a basket full of THE FRUIT OF DEATH!!!! it would be me. Hello, Good intentions! I will follow you on your paved road!

(This is a logical train of thought if you're from the South. I mean, Lord knows you do not spill salt without some type of superstitious action to correct it, or break a mirror or walk under a ladder or open an umbrella inside the house. And if you a feel a possum walking on your grave, everyone you tell the story to will get shivers.) (We love our spookiness down south. We are very in touch with our ghostier selves.)

Anyway. There I was standing in Trader Joe's frozen in mid-reach with a Meyer lemon in my hand. I looked around but I felt odd questioning the first Asian shopper I happened upon for random fruit-related Korean superstitions. So I called Coworker L., who is Chinese but lives with his Girlfriend C., who is from a rather traditional Korean family. Besides, Coworker is used to my cracked-out questions. Nevermind that this one was happening over the weekend and did not involve work.

Coworker: Hello?

Me: Hi Coworker! It's Laurie. How are you? Having a nice weekend? Hey, is there a bad luck fruit in Korean? Like a fruit of death or anything?

Coworker: Hi Laurie.

Me: Because I want to buy my new neighbors a housewarming gift, a little fruit basket, but I'm scared I might accidentally pick the wrong fruit and send the "I am a psychotic white girl" message instead of the "Welcome to the neighborhood" message.

Coworker: Let me ask Girlfriend. (Holds his hand over phone) (likely saying, "My coworker is a weirdo.")

Coworker: She said there is no fruit of death, you should be fine.

Me: Thanks! Seeya!

And we hung up and I assembled my basket and took it over to their house. Said my hey-to's and all was well.

Except I'm not sure they knew this was a one-sided thing, welcome wagonning. Because just today the nice lady and the kissing Julie came over to my house to give me a lily plant as a thank you for the fruit basket. Which was sweet ... except am I supposed to give them something as a thank you for the thank you to my basket?

ARGH!!!!! It is much harder anti-hermiting than I thought. Yes, having my new neighbors is better than the imaginary gnomes rustling in the bushes at night, but we need some kind of printed, bullet-point list of etiquette that we all follow and there are no lingering doubts for the etiquette confused (read: me). I had to put the lily plant outside because I learned my lesson the first time around, on Cat Death Watch episodes #368 and #369. I don't think I will send them a thankyou to the thank you gift because if I do we might spiral out of control and it will never end, so I am hereby stopping the cycle of thanks. It is far too stressful.

I am going to just sit here and eat my hand. But not the lily. Because that would be wrong, and probably fatal.

Posted by laurie at February 20, 2007 7:25 AM