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National Editorials & Columns

You never get a 12th chance to make a first impression

I am pretty terrible at making a first impression. Realistically, I am terrible at making a twelfth impression, but that’s beside the point.

In the history of worst first impressions I generally rank somewhere in between Benito Mussolini, Crystal Pepsi and the Segway. Hannibal Lecter accidentally stumbling into an American Vegetarian Association meeting still isn’t as bad as a first impression that I usually end up executing.

Making a stellar first impression is a critical characteristic to posses when one lives next to a rental property like I do.

I’ve seen renters come and I’ve seen renters go. In their wake I have managed to leave behind a jarring series of embarrassing first impressions that would leave even Kim Jong-un envious — before he would strip you naked and feed you to starved hunting dogs that is.

So it stands to reason the relationships I have forged with neighbors in the past have been somewhere between astoundingly atrocious to outrageously awful — and that is putting it mildly.

I mostly blame my inability to make a good first impression for this.

Either that or it is my chronic anti-social behavior and my desire to be naturally mistrustful of outsiders that is to blame. It is one or the other that much I know for sure.

Loving thy neighbor might have been the par for the course in the Beaver Cleaver days of yore, but society has changed since then. Loving thy neighbor is optional and subject to a thorough social media background check.

My mentality on the matter at hand is to secretly observe new neighbors through the blinds. Then, after carefully considering whether or not it is worth the trouble of getting to know them, properly introducing myself as a member of polite society.

As a result it usually takes me a couple of months before I bother bidding a new neighbor with a kind wave hello or a general nod in recognition of mutual coexistence.

Or sometimes none of the above. Don’t believe me?

Two neighbors back, my first impression involved a call to 911 concerning my brand-new neighbor. I was sitting on the couch when I noticed a man clutching a large butcher knife walking up to my neighbor’s porch and he began frantically banging on the front door.

I try not to be a super nosy neighbor, but I tend to pick up on those sorts of observations if for no other reason than self-preservation.

My neighbor after that was a woman who kept weird hours. I think a whole year went by before I even considered introducing myself to her. What would I say to her anyway after such a long passage of time?

Then one day I had to introduce myself to her because my large maple tree fell over and nearly squashed her car.

Let’s just say it was a terrible first impression I left that day and leave it at that.

A year later my other large maple tree tumbled over, nearly crashed on her house, and caused a considerable amount of property damage. Again, let’s just say it was a terrible second (and last) impression and leave it at that.

Hoping to learn from the past I aspire to soon properly acquaint myself with my new neighbors before too much time passes. I just hope the first impression that I leave with them proves better than it has in the past.

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