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Dear John: Coveted By The Neighbor’s Husband

Tuesday, December 03, 2013


What’s your problem? Write to John at dearjohn@golocalprov.com.

Dear John,

I live in an area with a lot of small farms, one of which is on the property next to mine. We don’t see or socialize with these neighbors much, but when we’ve had any kind of interaction with them, they seemed nice, if not especially warm or outgoing.

I recently learned our toddler daughter is allergic to bees. She has never been stung, but based on her reaction to tests from an allergist, she appears to be severely allergic. Well, our farmer neighbors are also beekeepers – they have one hive in the field between our houses, in fact. I don’t know what to do, but I know I have to do something. Already, this summer, every time I’m outside with our daughter, I am in a state of high alert looking for bees. It’s impossible to relax, yet I can’t very well keep her in the house all the time. I want to talk to my neighbors about this, but what should I say that won’t make me sound unfriendly or difficult?

Beekeeper’s Neighbor

Dear Beekeeper’s Neighbor,

You do have to talk to your neighbors, and if they have kids of their own, I think they’ll understand your concern. You don’t have to say anything but the truth: your young daughter has a serious bee allergy, and you want to see if they would be willing to move their hive. Since you live in a rural area, it seems like a reasonable request to ask them to relocate this hive to a distant part of their property or even to the farm of a nearby friend – many farmers are happy to host other people’s hives so the bees can pollinate their plants. Only the most curmudgeonly neighbors would consider such a request unfriendly or difficult.

Having said that, there is a small chance your neighbors fall into the “most curmudgeonly” category. If that’s the case, I don’t think there’s much you can do except be extremely vigilant and fully prepared to respond to a sting should your daughter receive one. If you haven’t already, you should talk to your daughter’s allergist as soon as you possibly can about what to expect and what to do in the event of a sting. I don’t say it lightly, but if the hive stays where it is, I don’t think it would be an overreaction to consider moving. Severe allergies require families to adjust their lives in many ways, not all of them minor. But the most disruptive measure is still a small price to pay where your daughter’s health and safety (and your peace of mind) are concerned.

Dear John,

A young couple moved in a few houses away from us recently. They seemed like a breath of fresh air because our neighborhood has a lot of middle aged and older people and the new couple was more like us: young, only married a couple of years, professionals, no kids, etc. So we invited them over for dinner. Unfortunately, the husband got pretty drunk and made a flagrant pass at me when our spouses were outside. I was taken aback and made it clear to him that that wasn’t going to happen.

It’s been a couple of weeks now and I keep going back and forth about whether I should tell my husband. It seems like NOT telling him is keeping it from him and it doesn’t sit right with me, but he is also kind of a hot head and this is exactly the kind of thing he would blow up over. I definitely don’t want neighbors we’re enemies with, either. Who needs that? I’ve seen the other couple since then (briefly) and they said how much fun they had, we’ll have to do it again, etc. If I don’t say anything, it will be weird to refuse to get together with them again. But if we do, I’m going to be waiting for this jerk to do the same thing. I’m mad at him not just for what he did, but for making me spend so much time deliberating over it. What do you think?

Putting Out The Unwelcome Mat

Dear Unwelcome Mat,

I don’t think you should tell your husband. What good would come of it? You’re certainly not keeping it from him out of a desire to deceive or mislead him. Instead, I would chalk it up to drunken stupidity on your neighbor’s part and forget about it. However, the next time you find yourself in a situation conducive to a quick private chat with your neighbor, I’d tell him that you don’t appreciate what he did, but you’re willing to give him a pass this time (no pun intended). But if it happens again, you will waste no time telling your husband and his wife. And mean it.

Dear John,

I go out a lot with a buddy of mine who’s, I have to admit, extremely good-looking. All the girls love him the moment they see him, and he doesn’t have to make the least bit of effort. (It’s actually a little depressing how easy it is for him and how even girls you think would know better are giggling, hair-playing-with morons when he turns his attention their way, but that’s another letter.)

So we go out together regularly, and it’s great because it couldn’t be easier to meet girls. There’s a downside, though, and it’s really started getting to me – I am really tired of being the one someone has to settle for! The way it works is always the same. There’s either one really good-looking girl and her less-attractive friend and it’s perfectly clear from the get-go who’s ending up with whom. Or there are two good-looking girls and there’s a bit of good-natured flirting/competing to see who will end up with my buddy and who will get the consolation prize. Either way, though, there comes a point where I will be the recipient of a look that says, “Oh, well, I guess you’ll do.” I’m sick of it! So do I shut up and appreciate what I have, or do I climb out of this rut and stop going out with this friend so much?

Nice Personality

Dear Nice Personality,

What are you saying: you want to go out with your dreamy friend, use his magnetic good looks to attract girls, then end up with the prettiest one? How would that work? You can’t have it both ways, and I can’t decide for you if the trade-off is worth it. I am struck, though, by how unaware you seem of the fact that you’re doing exactly what you resent being done to you! You and she are both ending up with the consolation prize. Do you think you hide it any better than she does? This is the game you’re playing. The best-looking people win, and that’s just how it goes. Maybe you should invite an especially homely friend to join you. Think of how wonderful it will feel when your latest hook-up gives you that inviting look that whispers, “At least you’re not him.”

John is a middle-aged family man from Providence, Rhode Island. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at dearjohn@golocalprov.com . He's away from the advice desk this week, so he's chosen some of his favorite letters from previous columns to share.


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