The Sleepover

I’m reading a book right now called, In the Neighborhood, by Peter Lovenheim.  The authors’ hypothesis is that in order to know our neighbors, we need to sleep over at their house for a night, so he asks neighbors, previously unknown to him, if he can come over for a sleepover. It’s kind of a sad and quirky little study of the breakdown of community in the suburbs, and has me wondering if I’d let a random neighbor sleep here.

That was in my head the other day when I had 15 minutes to spare at the local library.  I went to the magazine section to see what my neighbors are reading, and picked up Backwoods Home Magazine.  The cover advertised stories about the best guns for the winter, making soap, how bad will the economy get, and cutting your own hair.  Sort of a paranoid version of the Whole Earth Catalog.

I dove right for the article about cutting your own hair, because I had this incident several years ago that my boss keeps bringing up in which was facilitating a meeting with an applicant, explaining a bunch of stuff about one of our more complicated processes.  After a few minutes, I stopped and asked if she had any questions.

“Yes, I do.  Do you cut your own hair?”

I know.  I’m pretty sure that’s not a good thing.  My boss asks me that pretty routinely now, usually on the days he comments that trained monkeys could do my job.

So I read the article, which really didn’t have any tips except for, “it’s just like cutting someone elses' hair, but on yourself.” I then read the piece about guns for winter, and learned is that skateboard tape on your glove helps with grip, and also, you don’t want to cut a slit in your glove for the trigger finger, because snow gets in there, and your finger might be too cold to move quickly when needed.  The pictures were all of handguns.  I’m not really an expert in these matters, but that’s not what you use for hunting, is it? Are they used more for hunting our own species?

So I skip to the letters column, and a woman has written in asking if cows milk can be substituted for goat milk in the soap recipe.  She goes on to clarify that she followed the recipe last year, and loved the soap except for that it smelled very bad.  (I guess everyone looks for different qualities in soap – I’m not so much a fan of stinky soap, but the writer was very pleased with its abundant lather.)

I’m not really sure if I want the readers of this magazine coming by for a sleepover, with their guns and bad smelling soap, but I’m trying to keep an open mind.  What do you guys think?  Sleepovers in the neighborhood, pro or con?


  1. You should give it a try. My crazy, rifle collecting, bad smelling neighbor once came over to watch his Time Life video about ghosts on my "video tape playing machine", and it was kind of awkward for me when I couldn't tell if he was sleeping or dead on my couch. But after the video he told me about all of his ghostly visitations, and I certainly got to know him better, and then when he died and I went to his funeral I found out many more interesting things about him. And it turns out that I miss him, and I don't think the people who bought the brand new soulless house they build on the ruins of his master garden will be quite the same.
    But perhaps I should ask them if I can sleep over, and give them a good chance.

  2. I like the tone of the previous comment, but I'm going to cast a no vote. Our large, oddly shaped city lot borders on six smaller home lots, and I can barely force myself to manage a small smile and a semi-friendly nod when I see any of these people. Thinking back, my parents had a great relationship with our wonderful neighbors when I was a kid, but I'm sure a sleepover would have put an end to that. Fences make good neighbors, etc.


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