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Tallying the quirks of living life on the edge -- of town

There's a running joke in our neighborhood on the Wellesley-South Natick line. It goes something like this:

Across-the-street neighbor calls on the phone: "Hey, Natick just called off school because of the snow. Wanna take the kids sledding?"

My wife: "Snow? What snow? It's sunny with blue skies over here. Maybe even a hint of a rainbow. Love to go sledding, but sorry, my guys have school today."

Such is our life, being the only highfalutin Wellesleyites on a street otherwise occupied by scrappy blue-collar Natick residents (well, actually, I think half of them are lawyers).

The difference really hits home as the school year starts afresh. The Natick kids head off to Memorial Elementary School down the road, while our young scholars bid farewell to their neighborhood chums and hop on the bus for a 2-mile trek in the other direction to Hunnewell School in Wellesley.

See you next summer, pals.

Actually, it's not quite that drastic. No, our kids won't be on the same schedules, and we won't have the same teachers or school issues to fuss and gossip about. But we'll see plenty of our neighbors in their yards and at assorted block parties.

Sure, we make clear to passersby where we live through the Wellesley Historical Commission plaque on the front of our 144-year-old former shoemaker's shack, but we have nothing against Natick. We lived there for 10 years and, even now, pay property tax to Natick for a sliver of our current front yard (we literally paid our latest Natick tax bill at town hall in cash: two quarters).

We might breathe the Wellesley air, but we drink Natick's water.

Dual citizenship does have its quirks though.

Although we live in Wellesley, the town's Municipal Light Plant won't serve us because of the way the electric grid is laid out, so we're stuck with a more expensive, big-name provider.

Our Wellesley friends and town officials always do a double take when we reel off our phone number with its 508 area code, rather than the 781 area code shared by most of Wellesley.

And since we're served by a cable company that won't deliver us the Wellesley local access channel, we resort to replays of Natick Selectmen meetings instead of Wellesley ones when we really need to get to sleep.

I also could swear the Natick kids always hit up our house first for fund-raising, figuring we Wellesleyites have money to burn. I can hear what they're thinking: "Really Mr. Brown, you only want one stinkin' wreath?"

Then there's the situation where, for years, we had two mailmen: Johnny delivered letters sent to us under a Wellesley address, and Charlie brought us mostly junk mail labeled with a Natick ZIP code, until we finally got the Natick Post Office to put an end to that.

Speaking of mail, you know those fancy computer systems that FedEx, UPS, and the other delivery companies like to boast about being able to use to find someone in a hut in the jungles of Africa? The technology doesn't do them a lick of good when it comes to navigating the wilds of the Wellesley-Natick line. Each deliveryman and customer service rep winds up more baffled than the next. At least it comes in handy as an excuse when a birthday or Christmas gift ordered by mail doesn't arrive on the big day.

The list goes on. We check with the Wellesley police every time we hit a meeting or open house at the station to make sure they can find us on their gee-whiz computerized town map. We always stump them. Of course, that won't be so amusing if there's an emergency.

Then there's the jealousy factor over our fancy-pants dump (I mean recycling and disposal facility). Word is out that the brand new goods from the Natick Collection mall can't compete with the bargains from the take it/leave it area of the Wellesley RDF.

Our Natick neighbors also drool over the official Major League Baseball caps our Little Leaguers sport. "Must be nice to live in Wellesley," one neighbor recently griped. "We all just get different colored hats."

But don't get me wrong. We stand by our Natick neighbors, whether it's in their fight against a local nursing home seeking to expand down the street or pushing the town to ditch Redmen as its sports team nickname.

Hey, we'll even help them shovel out next time it snows across the town line.

Bob Brown lives in Wellesley and runs The Swellesley Report website, theswellesleyreport.com.

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