Dear Mouthy Housewives,
How do you dump a so-called friend, who happens to live across the street, and who has shown signs of being a bit of a stalker for a few years now? Her child and my child are friends and I do not want to involve the children.
Won’t You Stop Being My Neighbor?
Dear Won’t You Stop Being My Neighbor,
Why do I get the feeling you are leaving out some really juicy details? Did you start out fast friends, and she started getting on your nerves? Is she actually watching your every move and popping up out of the bushes every time you open your front door? Is she passing off your signature recipe as her own at the annual block party? Or has she cut her hair to look like yours and sneaked into your bedroom at night and pretended to you be you while snuggling up to your husband?
I’m going to have to assume that whatever this woman is doing that you qualify as “stalker” behavior is more along the lines of a Real Housewives-esque situation of wanting to “wear you like last year’s Versace.” After all, if she was truly a threat to you or your family, you probably wouldn’t want your kid staying friends with her kid, right?
So, my advice is to make like an ice cube and chill. If your kids are young, and you still need to be involved in arranging play dates, be cordial, but maybe a little frosty. Don’t make plans that involve just the two of you hanging out together. I don’t think there’s a way to full-on “dump” this woman without it affecting your kids’ friendship. On the other hand, you could always move.
Mornin’, Mouthy Minions! Another Guest Mouthy Thursday is upon us and this week, we’re hosting the very funny Kim from the blog Let Me Start By Saying. You may love her for her inspiring posts or funny parental anecdotes, but I love her for saying things like, “Get your vulva off my throw pillow.” (It should be noted, however, that she wasn’t saying that TO ME. Ahem.)
Take it away, Kim! –Kristine, TMH
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I am married with two kids (5 and 10). We live on a small dirt road in the country. My husband and I are private people. Due to the nature of our jobs, we have unlisted numbers, are careful about our friends and are not super social. Add to this that I can be OCD and view my home as my escape, I am not a fan of guests unless I invite them, and I tend to want a criminal background check before I let you in my home.
Recently, a woman moved in behind us with her 12 year old son and he started coming over uninvited. This has escalated, however, and one morning I came downstairs in my robe to find him and my kids in the living room eating breakfast. Now, he’s usually here all day, coming with us on every outing, and eating all my food.
What has really pushed me over the edge, though, is that his mother is now doing the same! She has started coming over almost daily, unannounced, through the gate, in the yard, on my porch and in my house. No knock, no nothin’. Then it’s – can I have ride here, can I use your phone long-distance to call there, can I use some garlic, Motrin, band-aid, butter… borrow a movie, etc. I come downstairs and she is there! One day she needed butter while I was not home, and just walked in and helped herself!
I have never locked my door during the day, but we do now. I feel invaded. My sanctuary and privacy are gone. I am stressed. She has not taken any of my not so subtle hints (like, ‘look, we have guns and things upstairs, so please don’t go up there without one of us; my bedroom is really private; we’re leaving/eating/sleeping soon; I’m working right now, etc.) I don’t want to burn bridges, but JHC I am at my wit’s end with this woman! Obviously she was not raised with the same manners as I was, and she just does not get it. I am an introvert who is all but anti-social and super private. Which I have told her. Three damn times. I am ready to serve her with a no trespass order, or cite her for felony burglary over the butter! Help!
Fed Up & Fired Up
Dear Fed Up & Fired Up,
Ahhh . . . the country. So beautiful. So quiet.
So full of crazy-ass neighbors with boundary issues.
Finding the right balance between politely excusing yourself from such an intimate friendship and causing the kind of rift with a Nut Job Neighbor that will make it hard for the police to find where your body is hidden can be quite tricky.
But do not lose hope, my peculiarly private pet, for I have a few ideas.
The next time she comes a-plunderin’, answer the door while scratching your head violently, declaring a massive lice infestation. This should buy you 48 hours to hang blackout curtains over every window of your home, thereby making dodging her approaches much easier.
Rush-order customized Welcome mats for your front and back doors that say, “Nope, Still Not Home” and hang seasonal wreaths with delightful arrows pointing to freshly installed deadbolts, cheerfully declaring, “This Lock’s For You!”
If finances are tight due to your super-secret job, a less costly approach would be to (wo)man up and say, “I believe I haven’t been clear. I am a boring, practically mute, butter-hoarding Agoraphobic who hates people and knows how to use the many guns stashed around my home. Please stop coming over.”
If none of these work? Taser that freak sandwich and call the cops.
Someone who’s that determined to borrow your Band-Aids can only be interested in one thing: creating a life-sized doll version of you out of the dryer lint and stray hairs she steals from your home whenever she pops by. I can’t imagine you’ll sleep well knowing the woman bagging your butter by day is lovingly spooning your linty Doppelgänger at night. So be strong, sister. Be strong.
Best of luck exorcising the Demons,
Kim, Guest TMH
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
My neighbors have a pool in their backyard and it’s just a few feet away from our house. They frequently have pool parties that last until 10pm or so, and the noise level is really loud. I know it’s summer and they have every right to do this, but I hate it. I want to say something, but I’m scared they’ll get upset with me and it’ll forever change our neighbor relationship. Should I tell the Home Owners Association or the police? Or just wear earplugs until winter?
I Hate the Pool People
Dear I Hate the Pool People,
Ugh. Confrontations like this are usually awkward and uncomfortable for all parties involved, which is why I typically advocate for building a ten-foot brick wall around your property line, and generally avoiding any neighborly interaction.
But not everyone understands my methods.
Your approach to this particular issue is going to depend mostly on the type of relationship you have with your neighbors. Here, let me break it down for you.
Scenario #1: You guys are like, so totally BFFs.
Approach: This should be an easy fix. Mention the issue to them in a reasonable and light-hearted fashion. I suggest something along the lines of, “Sounds like you guys were having fun last night! What, did the law firm give Bob the whole summer off? HAHAHA! Anyway, that’s what went through my head when I heard my alarm go off FOUR HOURS LATER.”
Scenario #2: You don’t talk much beyond the neighborly head nod or pageantry wave.
Approach: This type of relationship will complicate things, but depending on the dynamic, you could still approach them. First, consider when they are partying. Is it on a Saturday night? Because if that’s the case, you have a weak case and will probably come off as a Complaining Cathy. Instead, maybe invest in some sedatives. (I have some you can borrow. My neighbors like to party too. Hi, Jenni!) But if this is happening during the week, and they seem like reasonable people, I’d suggest something along the lines of, “I hate to do this, but my husband/kids/mother-in-law/parakeet has been having trouble sleeping during your pool parties. Is there a way to keep it down just a bit after dusk?” Then maybe bake them some cookies to balance the scales.
Scenario #3: You guys are like the Hatfields and McCoys.
Approach: Do not confront. I am of the school that believes if two neighbors cannot get along, one of the parties is unstable, and it’s best not to approach such people with expectations of rational, adult behavior. A noise machine may help you drown out their partying. I have one to mute my husband’s snoring, the house settling, and prospective serial killers trying to pry open windows. Another option is to talk to the HOA. If you know for sure that your neighbors are in violation of your HOA’s covenants, file a complaint. This way, the snitch remains anonymous, and you don’t need to set up surveillance equipment out of fear of retaliation.
It’s Guest Post…Thursday? Honestly, now that most of my shows are in repeats, I have no idea how to keep my days of the week straight. The underwear thing never works. But no matter because today I’m thrilled to welcome the hilarious women behind one of my favorite blogs, Quirk Out! Cary Goldwasser and Diane Kline are marketing executives in St. Louis and one day during lunch they were comparing their quirky behaviors — like leaving five pair of shoes at their desk or packing two suitcases for an overnight trip — and they created QuirkOut! Crazy Things Women do to Stay Sane. Follow them at Facebook.com/quirkout and at www.quirkout.com. Thanks, ladies! — Wendi
Dear Mouthy Housewives,Recently, the post office left a package on my doorstop that had my address on it, but my neighbor’s name. When I took it over to her, she said, “I hope it’s not a problem, but I don’t want my husband to know I’m taking these pills, so I had them delivered to your house instead.” When I asked he what they were for, she nervously mumbled something about “weight loss,” then shut the door.
She’s always been a little spacey and now I’m wondering if it’s because she’s a pill popper? Anyway, I don’t feel good about this. Should I tell her to stop? Tell her husband? Move? Help!
Not a Drug Connection
Dear Not a Drug Connection,
Hiding purchases from a husband is a time-honored tradition that began when Cleopatra sneaked her Sephora eyeliner past Anthony at the palace. There are lots of QuirkOut strategies to help us.
We know of one wife who hid six shoes boxes in the trash can in the garage, planning to sneak them into the house when her husband was at work the next day. Who could have predicted this was the one time he took the garbage out to the curb without being asked? It was a crushing blow when she heard the garbage truck crushing her stilettos. Bye Bye, Blahniks.
Or another mom who hid her jewelry purchases in her son’s book bag, essentially turning him into a “mule,” but potentially giving him a career option. All this to avoid conversations about budgets and shopping, which always seems to escalate into whose mother is more annoying.
But to aid and abet in sneaking possible contraband past your neighbor’s husband… that ups the ante. Accepting packages for neighbors used to be such a — well, neighborly thing to do. You sign for my new coffee maker from Williams Sonoma and I sign for your Not Your Daughter’s Jeans from Nordstrom. Then I’d make you a cup of espresso (one or two shots?) while I told you how skinny you looked in your jeans. See? Neighborly.
But taking on mysterious contents is a whole other kettle of fish (which would be way too smelly a package to accept). Who knows if these are really “diet pills” or decongestants used for making meth, or just embarrassing ultra-strong deodorant pads? Either way, we just don’t like being pawns in this game.
So we’d keep it light and say, “I really wish I could help you out, but my husband has banned me from making on-line purchases for a while and I don’t want him to think I’m doing anything behind his back.”
See how that works? You get to blame your husband. She gets to sympathize with you about him preventing you from shopping. And you both get out of a sticky situation.
Cary and Diane, Quirk Out
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
My neighbors have three large (100 lbs) dogs that constantly run and jump on our shared fence when we go outside. This incessant jumping is tearing our old, rotting fence apart and I am terrified that one of the dogs (or the whole pack) is going to come into our yard and attack someone. I have talked to our neighbor about splitting the cost of a new fence (though we do not have any animals) and she agreed but now alternates between avoiding us or telling us she needs another month or so.
I recently noticed ANOTHER dog has been added to her pack. How do I get my neighbor to be responsible for her pets and other people’s safety without shelling out for the fence myself?
Also, I talked to our Home Owner’s Association and they said our best bet is to call Animal Control – but the dogs haven’t broken through the fence YET. Do I have to wait until they do so to take some action?
Sick of the Doggone Neighbors
Dear Sick of the Doggone Neighbors,
I thought there was an adage that went something like, “If you want something to get done, do it yourself,” but Google didn’t seem to think so. Maybe I just made it up. Or maybe that’s just what my husband says to me when I hand him his Honey Do list.
Regardless, I think the answer here is pretty clear: fix the damn fence yourself. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to go out there with hammers and nails, but you should hire someone, bribe someone, or otherwise make this magic happen. If your neighbor is giving you the runaround, he or she either really doesn’t have the money or otherwise does not think of the fence as a priority. The fact that it is YOUR top priority will not change your neighbor’s mind. I don’t know if there is a legal route for you to take, but even if there were, the process would be lengthier and more costly than a fence, I’d wager.
The alternative is to continue this game of doggie roulette every time you and your family are in the backyard, and that sounds about as fun as playing hide-and-seek with some grizzly bears. And if you need visual encouragement, just imagine what would have happened here if THIS fence were not properly tended to: