Keeping up with the Joneses

What the hell is this, after all? This “Keeping up with the Joneses”? Recently Welbywife has been fascinated with this concept. I guess it’s because we have new neighbors who 1.) Are those do-it-yourself and do it perfectly types and 2.)Apparently have the boundless energy of a puppy.

It all started a little before Christmas. New Neighbor Guy (hereafter referred to as NNG) sits on his front porch watching me put up Christmas lights. Welbywife and I are modest decorators.

We started off with 10 strings of outside lights, given to us by my mom. We add two new strings of lights and one unique thing every year. The unique things aren’t really unique, just stuff we think is cool, like light up Santas and what-not. We figure by the time we’re 60 it will take a small fusion plant to light our house up.

So we’re at 18 strings of outside lights, a small Santa, and a couple of those little ball light things and we’re set for Christmas. Not NNG. Not by a damn long shot. He strings up (easily) 50+ strings of lights, a full display of Santa and reindeer on the roof, lighted candles in the windows, and a nativity scene on the lawn.

I observe his quick work and dedication to his task, thinking to myself “What a sucker.” Apparently Welbywife is thinking something more along the lines of “Wow, what a wonderful light show.” She breaks the tradition of two strings per year and buys 10 more, which I have to string up. We don’t look as good as the neighbors, but we’re adequate. Just to show me up NNG puts a freaking Frosty the Snow Man with a moving head and arms in the space between our yards. I concede defeat happily, because I hate stringing lights.

After Christmas NNG and his wife NNGW start on the deck. Yep, you heard me. A freaking deck. And they’re building it in winter. Snow? What’s that? Rain? Pshaw! They dig the holes for the posts, set them, and put the deck in over a few weeks. For those of you who don’t know, a deck would be a multi month project for me. At a minimum. There’s a distinct possibility that it could stretch into years. And it would look like shit. I’m gratified to see that they have some problems with the cement setting properly, but this does NOT faze NNG in the least. Welbywife begins talking about how great a real deck would look in the back yard.

After the deck comes the privacy fence, built by hand, beautifully assembled and cut. Even, straight lines, boards perfect, even little designs in the open spaces between posts. I note that it’s about 4 inches on our property line in the back. Welbywife notes that a privacy fence would be wonderful, since our house is positioned funny and three of our neighbors have a pretty good view of our backyard. This had never been a problem before. Now it has reached near crisis proportions.

While NNG is building his fence NNGW has been faithfully working in the garden. She’s planted annuals or perrenials or somethings. Whatever the hell they are they bloom in spring and are beautiful. Thier yard is an explosion of color. Quite a contrast to the brown and black boquet that is my home. During a conversation NNG mentions that he’ll have to start working on the lawn soon. . . after all, they’ve finished the basement (including a bathroom and guest room) and painted the entire house. They might put a new coat of paint on the outside in a few months.

Welbywife is seething, if not with jealousy then with a little bit of envy at the least. All of these things are thing’s we’ve discussed doing ourselves, but we typicaly plan in terms of months, not weeks. The total amount of work that our winter projects amounts to is a new coat of paint in the pool room and a shampooed carpet. And it’s not even an entire coat of paint! It’s just the bottom half of the room, painted to match the pool table’s cloth!

I begin to think. We’re pathetic. We’re not worthy of such neighbors. We should devote as much time as possible to making our home look as nice as thiers. Upon reflection, I decide that perhaps I’m wrong about that. Screw the Joneses!

As far as I’m concerned, those little bastards can keep down with me! As of today, if you’re the neighbor that has the crappy yard, crooked fence, or dead flowers, you can just say to yourself, “I’m down with Welby” and feel better. I may even start a national association of people who suck at home improvement. I’ll call it “Hire a Contractor because you SUCK.” The memberships will roll in. At $5.00 per pop, a thousand people will buy my professionally installed deck. Another couple thousand and the fence will be in. Yearly fees will pay for the landscaper and lawn maintenance. Finally, with the help of all of the people out there who suck at home improvement as much as I do, I’ll be able to keep up with the Jonses without lifting a finger.

As far as I can tell, that’s my only hope. In the meantime, Welbywife has begun sketching plan. We start on the deck this weekend.

Saying loud and proud that I’m “Down with Welby.”

I am a lazy SOB and couldn’t care less what the house looks like (it helps that we’re not really allowed to do anything).

My wife is the hands-on sort. She makes stuff, builds stuff, fixes stuff, sets stuff up. I don’t. The only tool I am proficient with is a hammer, and I will use it - mightily - against anything that dares be broken in my presence.

As you might guess, the missus doesn’t let me do anything.

She likes to garden. She likes to care for the yard. And set up trinkets and doodads for whatever holiday is around the corner.

I don’t give a rat’s ass. She wants that stuff done, she can do it herself.

Recently, she went next door while she was chatting with the neighbors, and she came back all flustered.

She said to me, “Why can’t our house be nice like theirs? All their furniture matches and looks really nice.”

I could see this upset her, so I said the nicest thing I could:

“Yeah, well our living room only cost $15. Deal with it.”

It must be a woman thing.

You know why they have so much energy for these projects welby? They ain’t gettin’ any. Probably sleep in separate beds too. They’re over-compensating for their bleak, loveless marriage with home improvement projects.

Next time Welbywife starts yapping about wanting to take on a project, your course is clear. A night of sweet, sweet welby-lovin’. With all the props. And then stay up to cuddle. The cuddling’s the key.

Just trying to help.
-Rue. (Down with Welby!)

Um, Rue - didn’t you just spend a weekend painting??


Oh come off it ya’ll. There’s nothing wrong with Welbywife wanting their house to look good, like their neighbors. I sympathize with her. Of course, in our case, we don’t get much of a choice. We either fit the mold set by the HOA or we get a big fat fine.
But I am guilty of this kind of home improvement fever, too. I insisted as soon as the weather started to get nice and his bonus came in from work that CG start building a deck in the backyard. It’s smallish and he’s probably 1/2 way done with it at this point.:smiley: I also made CG put big lights on the front of the garage to scare away the bad people as well as an exterior powerplug for the Xmas lights.


I am most definitely down with welby. In fact, I’m downer than he is.

If my girlfriend wants flowers or vegetables, she plants and cares for 'em. That’s too much like work for me. Mow the lawn? Maybe once a month, and probably not at all in August. Trim the shrubs? It is to laugh.

Given all of that, do you really think I’m going to take on any actual home improvement projects? That sort of thing usually involves hefty investments of time, money and effort. I mostly object to the effort. It’s also not really a good idea to let me use power tools.

I always do a good job of making sure the TV works and keeping the couch from flying away, though.

Heck, Exgineer, if I only mowed my yard once a month I’d be covered in kudzu ! :eek:

My home improvement consists of finally getting around to hanging pictures to cover the gaping (sometimes multiple) nail holes left by other pictures that were taken down.

My home improvement consists of washing dishes, vaccuuming, and picking up dirty laundry and forcing twice the load a laundry basket can accomodate into said laundry basket.

My home isn’t a dump. It’s generally neat and tidy (except the bedrooms, but only the owners see those!) But I can’t be bothered to hang xmas lights, or plant a garden, or have shelves or cabinets just to display trinkets or dish sets. It just isn’t me. I’m plain, and I like it that way.

I can admire a home where they do go all out like welby’s neighbours, but there’s a part of me that finds it all quite unnecessary.

Down with Welby!

NinetyWt, you must live in Georgia too!

I’ve never seen anything grow so fast as vegetation does here…I swear that you can hear it growing! If I don’t mow once a week, my yard becomes a jungle…and mowing two acres just plain sucks.

I’m down with Welby! And hell, I’m about to try to SELL this summabitch soon!

However, I have to agree with Gorgon. All that home improvement energy is just sexual frustration. I mean, look at Kathie Lee . . .

Chiming in as down with Welby. I mow only often enough to keep from being fined and I definitely don’t want to spend time on crap like that. When I bought my house last summer there was a “wild flower garden” (I called it my weed garden) I had that plowed under.

That must be it Gorgon! They’re not getting the booty so they do the extra home improvement stuff.

What really irks me is that it’s all so…perfect. I mean, the guy’s a computer geek like me. How in the hell did he learn to build a perfect deck, fence, garden, etc.? I’m lucky if I get a picture hung without a huge gaping hole being left somewhere in the drywall.

I’m down with welby and I will tell you it was not always that way.

My hubby and I bought our first house and did all kinds of remodeling on our own… painting, new floors, molding, painting, new fence, tore out shrubs and planted flowers…

Then something happened. Kinda ties in with the booty thang I guess… we had a kid.

We bought a house last March that was closer to the grand parents. We did the obvious remove god awful wallpaper and paint thing. And hubby has fixed some broken things but we’ve done none of the other crap on our list and we’re entertaining contractors for estimates on replacing the deck.

Now we’re expecting another kid. God only knows how bad things are gonna get around here! :wink:

I’m guessing NNG and NNGW don’t have children … or their children are those fake children ™ that are perfect and never make a mess with toys or anything else or whine or eat or wake up sick at 3 am and puke all over you.

“Never try to keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level…it’s easier”- Quentin Crisp

tanookie, they have kids. Four of them. And you’re right, they’re freaking perfect. Straight A’s, help around the house, even came over and offered to shovel snow for me for a modest price. I didn’t take them up on it, I have my pride after all. And besides, it’s not like I was the last person in the neighborhood who hadn’t shoveled.

I was second to last. The old lady across the way never shoveled hers at all.

Sorry welby… those aren’t neighbors… they are pod people! There is no hope. Just don’t let them colonize your house!

I say become the funky eccentric on the block in retribution :wink:

Damn, tanookie beat me to it. I was going to suggest you fill your yard with tacky garden gnomes and walk around in just your bath robe.

“Merry Christmas! Shitter’s full!”

That’s me all the way. The neighbors are always sitting outside, enjoying the weather, all the little kids are out laughing and running around like the annoyances they are …

I step out the door in the same shredded shorts and flannel shirt I wear every day because I don’t need to dress up fancy to impress my dog, sit on the hood of my rusted, stinking old POS Chevy, sip on my beer, have a smoke and wander back into the house.

And it was Rue who said they must have rotten sex-lives, not me. If they have four kids I can’t see how they have time for sex any more to begin with.

Man, welby, your neighbors make me sick.