It can be impolite to spy on neighbors though few do not indulge in some respects. Sometimes, it is, after all, the neighborly thing to do. Is that a mover's truck? And if so, who said they were moving? Maybe a burglar? Anybody hurt in there? Side and back fence discussions can end up with neighborly snow removal or lawn work. No reasons neighbors can't be friends.
Sometimes the itch to know something more intimate about the neighbors comes up and for that itch there is no scratching more fun than the many neighbors in the comics pages.
For the senior citizen who may have a little more time to examine the paper before heading off for the day's activities, there is nothing to compare on these pages with "Pickles," the first home to spy on in the left upper corner. Eavesdropping on this couple offers an exchange of bantering wisecracks: "Why didn't I say that? Hmm, couldn't have gotten away with it." Almost always rueful reminders of the advancing disabilities of age.
Down the block live Blondie and Dagwood, what an addle-headed guy. How does he stay so thin when he eats like that? Look at the way he and his neighbor Woodley bicker over borrowed tools. And for a forty-something, what a babe that Blondie is. Such nice kids.
Compare them to that teenage monster the couple across the street are saddled with -- Jeremy. What a slob, never paying attention to his parents. And his friends, especially that kid with the tattoos and rings! Was my boy that bad? Glad the girl settled for an erasable. It was a different era back then but still, that ultra-messy room still brings up memories.
Moving down past the corner to Chickweed Lane -- Whoa! -- what will those babes be up to next! If you think the comics are for children, think again. From top to bottom, these columns are filled with sexual innuendo and humor.
Down the block from the leggy Chickweed gals is the dummy that lets his cat get away with murder. I love my pet but do I let it walk all over me like some of the neighbors?
Another block over there is Zonker and his family. As open as they are about it, it's surprising they haven't been busted for pot possession. They mean no harm and you have to feel for the guy that got banged up in the war and admire the other vet who came out whole.
Nearer in are two families that restore your faith in the values of normalicy but they sure do have their problems. There's that Sally Forth. Don't know how she does it. Got a difficult mother who comes and stays too long. Then she has that boss who was a bit of a tyrant. Never had either of those issues but sure know some that do. That young teenage girl and her girlfriend, they sure do remind the wife of her own childhood friendships.
Have you ever noticed that weirdo hippy who writes a comic strip himself and has enough personality disorder that he can walk in and out of his own mouse-infested house talking to the rodents, evidently smarter than he is?
Not every house on the block is worth spying on. And of course, different strokes for different folks. Some homes just don't seem that interesting. Maybe you don't like a particular brand of humor or lack of it. Still it's not a bad start for the day to see how other folks are doing down the block.
Don't ever check out without a glance at Tundra -- all about animals we find around here and, while not part of the neighborhood, the funniest of the funnies on a day-to-day basis, a comic to be proud of too since its author is an Alaskan already and justifiably in national syndication.
Off course, for some of us, the comics are beneath our attention and in some company, maybe it's best not to admit you do this kind of neighborhood spying.
John Havelock is a former Alaska attorney general and monthly ADN columnist.
By JOHN HAVELOCK