The fight moves to print on a lawless snow-covered street

Why are those people on my TV? The one with a giant ass makes a sex tape with Moesha’s brother and this is the price we all have to pay? The producers have given each sister one defining characteristic — the vamp, the mouth, and the sasquatch — so the audience can easily tell them apart. You know, like they did with Smurfs.

Preppy argues that I haven’t gotten to know the Kardashians like he has, and cannot see the fine people they really are. When their mother wanted grandchildren, they got her a monkey.

I left him to following their exploits as they apparently “took” Miami, and went outside to let the dog experience snow. It was not to her liking. Daisy has spent the better part of a year burying precious objects all over our property for later use, and the blanket of snow messed with her nose. Unable to pick up the scent, she got seriously stressed out, assuming someone had absconded with her bones and pig ears.

And then I saw the sign.

We live next door to a paranoid schizophrenic, which is simply not as entertaining as it sounds. We call her Crazypants, in order to keep a sense of humor about it. About once a month she has an episode, becomes convinced we’re putting listening devices under her house, and police are called. About six weeks ago we built a privacy fence separating our back yards, and things have been quiet ever since. But now there was a sign, taped to the side of her house, scrawled in magic marker, addressing us by name.


Without the names, I would assume this was a request to the world at large. But someone apparently poured herself a glass of wine and got to Googling, because she had our names as they appear on the deed of the house. I grabbed Preppy. We stared at the sign together.

“This is slander,” I said, fuming. “Or libel. Something like that.”

“I don’t think it is,” he mused. “I don’t know if she’s breaking a law here.”

“She can’t go posting signs like a damn Lutheran saying whatever she wants, Preppy. Call the lawyer.”

But it was a snow day. The law office was closed. The police would be dealing with genuine emergencies, and all the roads were shut down. We were outside of society, and it was time to show who rules The Yard.

My sign is lavender, with little sparklies on it. It’s laminated. It says:

“If someone is vandalizing your home, we encourage you to contact the police. The sign you have posted is offensive and wholly inaccurate. We have done nothing to you.

Your harassment, however, has been shockingly consistent and thoroughly documented. Making defamatory accusations toward innocent individuals will not improve your circumstances. Also, it’s just not very neighborly.”

Instead of a signature, I put a large photo of us on our wedding day. It shows we’re happy, approachable, fine people if you get to know us. Also she’s an intolerant crazy person, so I know she’ll hate that picture, which is a bonus. Give me some downtime and a few raw materials, and I can rule The Yard.

Topher Payne's neighbor puts up sign, Topher responds


Topher Payne is an Atlanta-based playwright, and the author of the book “Necessary Luxuries: Notes on a Semi-Fabulous Life.” Find out more at

Photos: Courtesy Topher Payne