Love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus said that sums it all up. Then, he embarassed some smart aleck who asked him, “who is my neighbor?” So now we have the parable of the Good Samaritan.
But today, “who is my neighbor” isn’t such a smart alecky question. If you’re anything like most people, you probably really don’t know who your neighbors are, much less how to love them as yourself. I know I’m being narrow with what “neighbor” means, but you get the point.
Yep, people are closed off these days. Americans especially work all the time. When we’re not working, we’re driving the kids to non-stop activities to ensure that they become “well-rounded.” Let me tell you, I was a complete square as a kid, and I turned out fine. But that’s beside the point. We don’t spend any time on our front porches, we don’t join clubs like people used to, and we sure don’t know who our neighbors are. In just the ten years I’ve lived since high school, I’ve shed a lot of friends, and as an adult male, I feel that there is a definate lack of a system for adult men to make new friends. I don’t know how you ladies feel, but I’m sure you probably feel the same. If only there was some sort of male to male speed date friend hookup service…or not.
So today, in honor of your neighbor of ten years who you’ve not communicated with outside of a wave of the hand at the mailbox, I decided to come up with some very practical ways to meet new neighbors and friends, all of which are less creepy than just marching up to the front door and telling your neighbor, “I’d like to tell you about Jesus.”
“Friend” Them Before You Become Friends
Modern protocol for new acquaintances is to consummate the new friendship by making it official on Facebook. Ideally, you should do this before actually meeting in person. Simply find out the new neighbor’s name via easily to obtain property tax records, which your local courthouse can help you with, and verify with a quick Google search. If you really want to roll out the red carpet for your new friend, create a “fan” page, and list yourself as the only fan. Be sure to draw up a quick bio of your neighbor based on all the random bits of knowledge you’ve culled from their online appearances, to show you really care about getting to know them. It allows your neighbor to size you up and choose “accept” or “ignore” on your friend request in a totally low pressure, non-creepy way. Plus, you’ll have a funny story for them about how you were able to find their personal tax reciepts.
Make Yourself Available
And by “available,” I mean “impossible to ignore.” All of television’s best neighbors/friends never had any life outside of bombarding the star of the show with their presence. Tim Allen had Wilson. Jerry Seinfeld had Kramer. So just try to be a seemingly unemployed, ever-present weirdo with a knack for wise sounding sayings.
Send Someone Else
Sometimes, you need someone to do a little recon before you storm the neighbor’s yard for yourself. For guys, this is where a wife, or at least a girl who will pretend to be your wife is great. Women can approach a new neighbor with a pie or flowers, and everyone’s appreciative. A guy can approach a new neighbor with a pie or flowers, and that’s the last you’ll hear from that neighbor. Send a woman over to snoop around the neighbor’s home, see how they live, look in their medicine cabinet, and you’ll be much more prepared to make your grand entrance.
Do a Good Deed
Hopefully, your neighbor is the type of person who likes to keep the yard clean. If not, you can always go over when you know they are home, but not outside, and just start picking up trash, washing their trees, or cleaning the gutters that are now growing a small forest. Makes you seem like a stand-up person, and gives the neighbor a sly hint that they are not living in a junkyard, and should behave accordingly.
Sell Some Junk
Do you realize how amazing yard sales are? People are always embarassed of how their homes look when they have unexpected company. They wish they had cleaned up a bit. But when it’s time for a yard sale, people just pile their embarassingly outdated, sinfully tasteless, broken, or just plain useless junk all over their yard in the hopes that someone else will want to clutter their hovel with it. Yard sales are a great way to get personal with the ridiculous inner lives of your neighbors with no obligation.
Everyone likes to feel that someone is taking a genuine interest in them. You don’t want to forget important details about your new neighbor friend. So take along a notepad and script everything they tell you, including full name, gender, and a detailed physical description. Include ratings from one to ten on how you feel about them as a new friend. Include a sketch of their face if they agree to hold still long enough, or a simple photo will do, if they have some extras laying around.
Be Fun and Amazing
Above all else, people like to hang out with people who are fun. So make extra efforts at being awesome when attempting to attract your neighbor’s attention. Why walk to the mailbox when you can skip there? Why mow your grass in stupid old straight lines when you can mow crop circles? Why keep your friendly dogs to yourself when you can let them greet the neighbors in their yard? Tell a very long and elaborate joke. Even if you forget the punch line, your neighbor will be thankful for the good story, even without the ending. It’s little things like this that tell new neighbors “I’m glad I moved here.”
Now that you’re an adult, do you find it harder to make friends? Are you good at making friends, or are you on the shy side like me? How many good friendships do you currently maintain? How do you make new friends?
Coming up on Friday, I’ve got a sweet interview with a well known author, and I’ll be giving away a couple of copies of his new book. Don’t miss it!