Busted by the HOA!
Tuesday afternoon I went to play tennis with my friend who, sadly, lives in suburban Virginia. His neighborhood has tennis courts but we decided to play on some courts a few neighborhoods down Rt. 7 so I’d have a shorter trip from DC. I do not want to give the name away, but this is a neighborhood I’ve had friends in for over 20 years and that has courts that are seldom used and would certainly be empty on a hot weekday afternoon.
On the drive I get a call from my friend, telling me that he had just been kicked out by the homeowners association president. “Well, stay there,” I say, “Let me come talk to him and ask if we can play as guests of my friends who live there.”
My friend said, “I’m just leaving. He’s a complete ***hole and I don’t want to deal with him anymore.”
I should have been smart and taken that as a warning to stay away, but living in the city has made me soft and forgetful that dealing with a homeowners association board member is in no way like dealing with a regular human.
I pulled in to see a man who looked like an angry Hank Hill. I said, “Hi there! I think you just talked to my friend. I’m friends with some homeowners here, can I play as a guest?”
Dumb, dumb, dumb of me.
He got in my face, at least as much as someone standing outside a car can, and asked, “Who are you?” I gave him my name. “Who do you know here?” I gave him their names. He shot back with, “Who?!” He was really pissed off. I repeated their names. In a tone that would have gone well with him grabbing my shirt collar and shaking me, he asked, “Where do they live?” I gave their street and even street number.
The veins popped farther out of his head and he said, “Well, they aren’t here so you can’t be here either! They have to be on the court playing, or you can’t be here at all.” This was news to me as there is nothing of that sort posted there. And it made me wonder what the point of asking whose guest I would be playing as if I still coud not be there regardless.
I figure, OK, fine. It’s his court, I should not have been there. My bad. I would have been more than happy to have left at this point. I was ready to play some tennis and my friend was already on his way to the courts in his neighborhood. Mr. HOA wasn’t done though, he had a lot more to yell at me about.
“If we let any homeowner’s guest just come and play here whenever they please it’d be a madhouse!”
I could not bite my tongue at this. It was too ridiculous. I’ve never seen anyone waiting to use one of these courts. One of the nets is badly broken, they’re built east-to-west so the sun is always in one player’s eyes and they’re often dirty. There are superior public courts within minutes in every direction. I said, and yeah I know this was stupid and pointless and I was just asking for it, “Well, I don’t think you have to worry about that. These aren’t exactly premium courts here.” This set him off.
“We pay a lot of money for these courts! They’re private. You know, if you want premium courts, you need to … you need to go back to…”
He looked at the sticker on my windshield. I think he expected it would be a subdivision’s sticker, but it is my DC inspection sticker.
“You need to get back to DC and tell…”
Here he paused, the wheels in his head turning while trying to come up with an appropriate name.
“…and tell Marion Barry to build some premium tennis courts up there! If you want to play here, then you can just buy a house here!”
I did not correct him on DC’s political leadership. I also did not point out that no one who is not in some way connected with his neighborhood is going to drive in all the way from DC just for the sake of using his magical tennis courts. I also did not say how I would never want to buy a house somewhere that has people like him on the homeowners board.
He went on and on, explaining with convoluted reasoning why he has to defend against the ever-present threat of invaders from far-off lands, such as DC and Loudoun County. My memory of it starts to become a blur. I think you can only process so much of a tongue-lashing.
I managed to drive away uninjured, leaving behind a pair of empty tennis courts and a homeowners board president riding high with the righteous rush of power. I played on better courts where no one would view me as an evildoer for being there. I lost 6-1, 6-0.