Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bringing back the block party

There’s a conversation that’s surely been had millions of times between the youngins and the old timers in any given culture: Are things better now or back in the day? The answer to this question is simple… it depends on who you ask.

This past weekend the neighborhood I live in engaged in what I believe to be a decidedly old-school activity – a neighborhood block party. That’s right. 2010. Neighborhood block party.

Now depending on where you’re at in life, this may sound like either the biggest drag or a pretty good time. My wife and I, prior to the event, fell somewhere in the middle. We know our next door neighbors names, we have a general idea of how old their kids are, we think we know what they do for a living… beyond that, do we really care?

I mean let’s face it, most people don’t know or want to take the time to get to know the people they share a street name with. We have our group of friends, be they college pals, work associates, church groups or bar buds. We know if nothing else, we have THAT starting point to jump off of to enjoy one another’s company.

But neighbors? What common ground do we have to at least START a conversation? Property tax? Local road work? Whose yard looks like crap?

But the idea of a block party – this throwback to a simpler time – was way too intriguing to pass up, even with the possibility of awkward conversation looking us straight in the face. So we made our side dish (cheesy hashbrown casserole topped with French friend onions), loaded the cooler and made the trek one block up our street.

Man was I glad we did.

After the initial small talk, subsequent adult beverages and “entertainment” (a 12 year old pageant girl singing Taylor Swift, Amy Grant and “I’m proud to be an American” into a crappy karaoke machine – believe me, I could dedicate an entire post to how awkward yet hilarious this was), we had an awesome time.

It got me thinking, what happened to this age old American tradition? Why did the block party disappear? Have we all become so jaded that we can’t even see the usefulness of trusting the people you live around? I know I did, but my eyes are open. Viva la block party.

I seriously feel closer to my neighbors than ever before, but not in some annoying, clingy way… more like in an “I won’t be annoyed next time I feel obligated to ask how you’re doing when I walk my dog” kind of way.

Maybe the block party has become social networking. Maybe it’s just too personal, in a face to face way, for people to embrace. But I’m telling you, if you’re lucky enough to get the chance to attend one, go for it.

What’s the worst that could happen? You find out your neighbors are annoying, shallow or weird? You already knew that anyways.

Have fun guys and gals, hugs and kisses as always. See you back here at 4 p.m. for your essential daily links.

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