Couple paints their house completely black to spite the neighbors who complain about their lawn flamingos

Mary Duncan

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.*

I grew up in what I consider to be a regular, happy, middle-class family in rural Connecticut. When I was a kid my mother and I lived in a small two-bedroom Cape with my grandparents and my great-grandmother, so that meant I shared a room with my mom until I was ten and she married my step-dad. After that, my great-grandmother wasn’t able to live at home anymore and went to a nursing home, my grandparents fled to Florida, and my parents stayed in the Cape, which continually rose in its worth as woods were cut down to sprout McMansions up all around it.

Growing up, we were always close to our next-door neighbors, the Mercers. They were my parent’s age, having grown up being hippies at the time of free love and psychedelics, and their bohemian ways shone through their bright blue house and copious lawn ornaments. The Mercers had a herd of pink flamingos in their front yard which they let grow wild with weeds and flowers, and hung hammocks or bird feeders between their trees. To top it off, they had quite a large collection of wind chimes that on particularly blustery days could be heard from blocks away.

One year my parents invited me to come to their house for the annual block party that was held by a lot of the neighborhood natives that had been there since the mid to late seventies. I enjoyed hearing all the hood gossip, particularly how the newer McMansion dwellers in the area couldn’t stand the Mercer’s house, which they considered a terrible eye sore.

People who I didn’t even know came up to me and asked my opinion on the Mercer’s decorative choices, and I silently laughed to myself because I couldn’t care less whether these uptight, bougie judgers were bothered by their otherwise nice neighborhood being blighted by the Mercer’s flamingos and weeds.

“Just wait til they see what we do next,” Mr. Mercer sidled up and whispered into my ear at one point, and I couldn’t wait to hear about it.

The big reveal came the following spring when the Mercers decided to repaint their pretty, sky-blue house the perfect shade of matte black.

The flamingos stood out even more against the black background of their house, and when my mom sent me photos, I laughed hysterically at their gall, because it certainly did look even more out of place than before in the nice neighborhood. Now, their house resembled one that might have been lived in by the Addams Family.

According to my mother, the neighbors went berserk. Some even started a petition to the town to create their own neighborhood Home Owner’s Association so they could vote the Mercers out, but the town denied them.

Something tells me that that family isn’t finished messing with their neighborhood in their own special way.

Hi, I hope you enjoyed this story! I am a freelance writing single mom trying to create a better life for me and my daughter through words. If you enjoyed this, please consider leaving a small donation:

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I write about the weird complexities of relationships to make a better life for me and my daughter through words.

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