A while ago I had occasion to meet a man who has a carpeted garage.
This must be so the tires of his two cars can rest more comfortably. He parks the cars on the carpeting, which is Kelly green of the indoor-outdoor variety. The carpeting is spotless, thanks to vigorous and repeated vacuuming.
In this same garage this man has built cabinets, which he has painted white. Only those intimately acquainted with this man have ever seen anything else in the garage besides the cars and the cabinets. Everything else is probably stored neatly in the cabinets. In alphabetical order.
This man, in addition, has a beautifully landscaped front yard. Sturdy little bushes with geometric haircuts lead to the front door. They come in pairs, these bushes.
The yard looks like it should be featured in a brochure for one of those South Countyish developments with a name like Nirvana Ridge. This yard alone, a year-round deep green, probably brings up the property value of the entire neighborhood.
It goes nicely with the red tile roof, which in a place like Nirvana Ridge would probably be called a burnt coral tile roof. The rest of the house is white, or maybe it's winter frost .
At Christmas, the neighbors report, even this man's tree is white. It is placed directly in front of the large living room window, the white curtains pulled back tightly so as not to obscure the view. White doves nestle on its branches, which twinkle with little white lights.
It is nice. Tasteful. It is just right.
But, alas, such is a standard hard to match, at least in this neighborhood, and as such, Mr. White House and Carpeted Garage is often disappointed in his neighbors.
Don't get me wrong. All the neighbors seem to adhere to the CC&Rs;, the covenants, conditions and restrictions, of the homeowner's association.
Except for one person down the street, they all seem to water their lawns.
There are no unsightly RVs parked on the street, or even in specially made enclosures on the side yards. The one guy who did own an RV, or at least the only one who attempted to store it on his property, has moved away, apparently to the relief of many.
But this is not a contentious group of neighbors. You can't picture anyone actually saying anything to the guy with the RV, for example, although things were said after he moved away.
Perhaps because the neighbors seem to have so few axes to grind, the board of the homeowners association meets irregularly. There is an annual meeting that all homeowners are invited to attend.
This meeting was in the neighborhood park on a weekday after work. I was there too. Most of the neighbors showed up, some out of curiosity and some to discuss the one or two issues that were somewhat important.
There was the matter of a new bench in the park, for example, and the prospects for a speed bump. And, did anyone know the identity of the teen-agers who were sprinkling the neighborhood with beer cans seemed like every Friday and Saturday night?
But by then, Mr. White House and Carpeted Garage had waited long enough. He was well-behaved, to be sure, but he really couldn't hold it any longer.
"What about that fence ?" he demanded.
Heads turned toward this man. He was asked to explain.
Well, it seemed that one of the neighbors, a newcomer, had just erected a fence. It was a wooden fence, in the process of being varnished at that very moment, and as one of the board members of the homeowner's association confirmed, it had been given an official stamp of approval.
There was a problem, however, as Mr. Immaculate Neighbor pointed out. The CC&Rs; state, quite clearly, that all fences in the neighborhood be of a certain type of masonry. Wood fences, he said, were against the law.
"Where is this fence?" someone wanted to know.
Mr. Clean supplied the address.
"Oh, yeah," someone else piped up. "I've seen that fence. It's not a bad-looking fence."
That was not the point, Mr. CC&R; snapped back. You bend the rules for this, who knew what was next.
"You want us to look like La Paz Road!" he said, the veins of his neck popping out.
So the subject of the fence was thrown open for group discussion, in a manner of speaking.
The wood fence had to go, Mr. Law and Order argued, mostly to the wind. The rest of the group seemed to be standing around with their arms folded. A few mouths were agape. The owner of the fence did not seem to be in attendance.
So the next thing you know, Mr. Masonry had presented a motion. It passed, on a voice vote. The homeowner's association would pay to knock down the wood fence and put up a stone one.
The presence of a carpeted garage in the neighborhood is an intimidating thing.