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Trash talk

Would rescuing the neighbors' tumbling garbage cans take the chill off relations?

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Faster than a whirling tornado, five gray garbage cans roll down the cul-de-sac, rumbling as they make their escape from my neighbors' front curb.

"Quick, grab that lid," I instruct my 6-year-old daughter. I dash after the blowing bins, determined to corral them to their proper location.

"I got one, Mama," my daughter grins, sprinting my way with a blue Rubbermaid lid. "But why are you getting those cans? Don't they belong to those funny people who never talk to us?"

I stop in my tracks, right in front of my neighbors' spacious Tudor. The three-car garage, home to a sleek black Mercedes and a red Porsche convertible, seems to sneer at the basic Chevy sedan parked in my driveway. Though just across the street, my neighbors' life seems far removed from my reality. Every week, I peer out my dining room window, envy creeping forward with every housecleaner, doggy groomer, or landscaper that pulls up the driveway.

"Their boys must go to the academy," I remarked one day to my husband, raising my eyebrows as two boys walked out of the house clad in clothing that screamed "exclusive private school": crisply pressed khaki pants and blue sport coats emblazoned with diamond-shaped crests.

Perhaps my face, green with envy, has kept my neighbors from crossing the street and introducing themselves. Though we have lived in the neighborhood for three years, jealousy has stolen my usual outgoing nature, keeping me from stretching out my hand in greeting.

"Those people don't even answer the door," my 10-year-old complained, coming home empty-handed from a Girl Scout cookie sales call.

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