Nosy Neighbor Or How To Get Out Of The Verbal Tennis Match

by admin on October 10, 2012

About a year ago we moved into our present house in an area that was totally new to us. We have settled in well, mainly because the people around us have been friendly and welcoming. Since our arrival my husband has struck up a burgeoning friendship with the husband of the couple who are our immediate neighbors, due in the most part to a shared hobby. They take turns to drive each other in pursuit of this hobby so over the last few months, this neighbor – I’ll call him J – has called by fairly regularly.

My problem is that he continually makes what I feel are rude and intrusive remarks. Just a few examples: I was hanging the washing out in my dressing gown (our garden is enclosed and not overlooked from the road or any of the neighbors and it is a long thick dressing gown) because I was about to go in the shower. True, it was late morning but it’s my life and I should be able to get dressed when I feel like it. J arrived (early, so unexpected) and asked me why I wasn’t dressed yet and did I always hang my washing out in my night clothes. Another time he pointed out that the grass needed cutting. Technically, it did because it was a little higher than normal but, as I said, our garden is overlooked only by our house. Yet another time he commented negatively on the smell of garlic in the food I was cooking. I had used one clove of garlic. The last time he came around, my daughter had come to stay and the first thing he said to her was to ask her why she hadn’t made her bed. (Because of the configuration of our house, a bungalow, this bedroom is visible to people walking down the path from the gate to the front door, if they look in the window!)

This all sounds so petty and I know we could have much, much worse neighbors but it’s very irritating and it’s getting that I don’t want to be around when he’s there. How should I respond to these remarks? I don’t see why I should have to explain myself to him but I find myself doing so and then mentally kicking myself afterwards. Is it just me? Am I being too sensitive? My husband laughs it off and says, that’s just J, but I know I wouldn’t dream of making comments like this to him or his wife or, at least, not until I knew them a lot better than I do now. 1008-12

You are right, you don’t owe him an explanation so stop giving him one.   Just because someone says something rude to you doesn’t mean you must dignify it with a reply.  I would have completely ignored him and continued to hang the laundry and once done, bid him good bye pleasantly.    By replying to him, you are engaging in the “game” where he lobs the first volley and you hit it right back.  He wants you to hit it  back to him.   It would be much more satisfying for you if you heard the ball coming towards you and then relished the sound of silence as it plops to a stop at your feet. Game over.  Score one for you.

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

siamesecat 2965 October 10, 2012 at 10:17 am

While it may be annoying to have to listen to his comments, I’d just ignore them. As the admin said, he’s looking for a response from you, so he can respond. I work with someone like that, only she will constatnly chatter to me as I’m sitting having my dinner (coming from job #1 to job #2) And while to most, its perfectly obvious I’m reading or doing someone on my phone, she’s oblivious, and continues on. I usually handle it by ignoring or every now and then saying “uh huh” and going back to what I was doing.

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Sarah Paige October 10, 2012 at 10:41 am

I cannot stand neighbors who do this. It is *absolutely* none of his business what you do, how you do it or why you do it. If it’s not creating a disturbance, he needs to shut his mouth.

I would tell my husband that J needs to either keep his thoughts to himself or meet at J’s house or the driveway. Constantly critiquing neighbors and making comments about everything they do is the sure fire way of making an neighbors (or anyone) mad at you.

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jena rogers October 10, 2012 at 10:42 am

Though my first response would be silence, as well, since it does not deserve a response, there’s a possibility (since this happened to me) that the neighbor will then complain to your husband that you’re being unfriendly. My take on this is to nip it in the bud and respond (repeatedly as necessary), with “I don’t see how that’s any of your business” in a serious, but matter-of-fact tone. If you want to soften it, for your husband’s sake (or his wife’s), then change the subject.

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Lisa Marie October 10, 2012 at 10:45 am

Or you could respond, “Why do you care?”

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Jenn50 October 10, 2012 at 11:01 am

I would be tempted to answer all these impertinent questions and comments with a curious and puzzled look, and a statement like “Wow. That’s a strange question to ask!” or “Some people would consider it creepy that you’re peeking into my daughter’s bedroom.” If he commented negatively on the smell of my home, from cooking or otherwise, I think I’d say “Oh, well, then we musn’t keep you here where you find it so unpleasant!” If he commented on the yardwork needing to be attended to, I’d say “Oh, how kind of you to offer! The mower is in the shed.” All should be said with an innocent expression on your face; friendly, but puzzled.

I think it’s appalling that he feels it’s okay to try to control and admonish other adults in this way. You should feel free to dress when you like, cook as you choose, and keep your house and garden in the manner of your choosing, as long as it isn’t an eyesore. If you don’t mind your daughter not making her bed, it’s none of his business, and if you DO mind, it’s STILL none of his business.

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The Elf October 10, 2012 at 11:13 am

It’s hard not to engage in the game. I’m getting better about not engaging, and the rewards are worth it. There can only be a discussion about something if there are at least two people to discuss it. Otherwise it just becomes one person’s complaint. The longer the complaint goes on, the more it sounds like a rant. Most people get embarrassed to rant, so they drop it.

Most people, anyway. There will always be those content to have a discussion entirely by themselves!

Don’t be afraid to bean-dip as a response either. For instance, the comment about hanging up the wash can turn into a comment (from you) about how the weather is perfect for drying the clothes.

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CaffeineKatie October 10, 2012 at 11:18 am

I do that–periodic deafness is my way of dealing with critcism of that nature. However, if you are worried about him complaining like Jena mentioned, how about serving up a heaping helping of bean dip? ” Your grass is too high”–isn’t this lovely weather making every thing grow beautifully, etc. etc. etc. He can’t complain you are ignoring him, and it takes the steam out of his crabbiness (hopefully). Good luck with this–it’s true you could have MUCH nastier neighbors, but being pecked to death by a crabby duck is it’s own form of torture.

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Enna October 10, 2012 at 11:23 am

I like Jena Roger’s suggestion as well as admins – I think it depends on the situation and what is being said. The neighbour is being irrating and rude. Why not try making a joke of it? E.g. about the unmade bed: “it’s hardly going to devalue your property, you make me giggle sometimes!”

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Ellie October 10, 2012 at 11:33 am

The laundry or the garlic can be answered by saying, “Thank you for your concern. Isn’t it a lovely day?” Repeat as often as needed. The bed question is another thing altogether. I think, had I been the daughter, that I would have gasped in horror, “You’ve been looking in my bedroom window?” and then immediately left the room, not to return while he was there.

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Cathy M October 10, 2012 at 11:42 am

My husband had a similar friend, who once found me working a crossword puzzle, and told me what a waste of time that was. My favorite response to any question or comment of the sort is a Minnesota phrase, best spoken vaguely and without looking up from what you’re doing. “Oh, do ya think so?”

Repeat as necessary.

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cleosia October 10, 2012 at 11:47 am

Well, if the neighbor starts complaining to the husband, maybe said husband will stop laughing it off. If husband complains to the OP about the neighbor complaining to him, she can just respond with, “that’s just J!!”

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Cat October 10, 2012 at 11:58 am

I would give him a look of total amazement and inquire, “Why on earth do you want to know that?” if asked about my child’s bed-making preferences or how I dress to hang out laundry. Come to think of it, maybe, “What are you doing looking in my daughter’s bedroom window?” would check his comments on the bedroom.
Comments about the grass would be met with outlandish answers, “The goat wasn’t hungry this week.” or “We’re thinking of getting a lion and want to grow him a veldt.” Garlic in the food? “We’re converting to Italian and I’m in training.” or “We are having such trouble with vampires and the garden supply shop was all out of stakes.”
Let your inner comic go wild and be creative in your answers. Humor goes further and is far more confusing than being rude back to him would be. He’ll learn not to ask questions.

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Angel October 10, 2012 at 11:58 am

I would respond with a long pause, give a quick smile, then change the subject completely. don’t even respond to the subtle barbs. You are right the stuff is petty, and you could have much worse neighbors. It sounds like he doesn’t mean any harm by it, but if you stop responding to them chances are maybe he’ll stop making those types of comments.

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Harley Granny October 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Oh how I hate people like this.
My boss is one…Just today he told me who to vote for after I told him I wasn’t sure yet(this is not an opening for a political debate…all comments towards it will be ignore).
My answer to these are usually a sarcastic..”Oh Gee…I don’t know how I get thru the day without your direction.”
Or…(raise the eyebrow) Thank you…”your opinion is duly noted”…and go about your business.
Or my personal favorite which puts the ball back in their court. …”are you this charming to everyone or do you save it just for me?”

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TylerBelle October 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm

This, “he wants you to hit it back to him,” is the key, and not responding is the solution. You can be polite in how you briefly interact with him, but don’t address the jabs. If J does go complaining to your husband, then your husband needs to react to him the same way he did when told how J behaves.

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Rebecca October 10, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Perhaps it’s best for your husband to meet him outside. If he’s just picking your husband up to give him a ride, there is no reason for him to be coming up to the house anyway.

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Lisa October 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Wonder how he treats his wife…
It’s often the ‘nice neighbour’ that turns out to be very abusive towards their own family. The fact that he feels he can comment on ‘the duties of the womenfolk’ in a negative way says a lot. Don’t let your husband take over that attitude! This guy sounds very unpleasant and the gut-feeling you have about him is NOT wrong. .

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June First October 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Maybe it’s because I’m reading instead of hearing these replies, but some seem a little harsh. (Yes, I would be more than a little harsh if it wouldn’t come back to bite me.)

I’d give a cheerful, “Thanks for letting me know!” and beandip.
Example:
“You must have put way too much garlic in that dish!”
“Thanks for letting me know! Can you believe the Packers lost again??”

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budgie October 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I think I would have to pull out an old Dear Abby or Ann Landers response:
“I’ll forgive you for asking if you’ll forgive me for not dignifying the question with a response.”

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DGS October 10, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Ignore the rudeness, greet him pleasantly and kill him with kindness. Rising to his bait will just give him more ammunition for his inappropriate comments. If he really grinds your gears, cock your head/lift an eyebrow and utter a very cold, “Excuse me?” as you go about your business.

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Meri October 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Cathy M- My favorite responce to people telling me that anything is a waste of time is a quote: “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” Though the Minnesotan phrase is also good.

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Shoebox October 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Mostly, I really like Cat’s suggestion – entertaining on your end and absolutely no way to object on his. Should the cracks about your daughter continue, though, I’d take much more pointed steps.

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Jenny October 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm

This is the kind of situation where I would recommend just looking at him blankly, or saying something like “wow” (Carolyn Hax classic) or “did you really just judge me in my own home?” The last one is a little more aggressive, but I’d laugh in disbelief while saying it so that he probably just laugh back and say sorry instead of getting offended.

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Cat Whisperer October 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm

This is a bit complicated. I’m going to disagree with the admin about just ignoring this boor’s comments; it’s my experience that that’s not going to discourage him, and will likely encourage him.

Since J is more the OP’s husband’s friend than her friend, I think it’s the husband’s responsibility to deal with J’s inappropriate comments. I think husband needs to grow a pair, so to speak, and either tell J that because J’s inappropriate and rude comments make his wife uncomfortable, husband has decided that maybe they need to become more distant. Husband could say something like, “J, I’ve enjoyed your company, but the comments you make to my wife about her appearance, the way she does things, her cooking, and other things about the way we live are just not okay. Those things are not your business, my wife and I don’t like them, and so I think it’s better if you don’t come over here anymore. I can’t drive you to the hobby anymore and I don’t expect you to drive me. I’ll see you there.”

Second-best, in my opinion: husband tells J to knock it off with the comments or they’ll have to call the friendship quits.

I’ve known boors like J, and the reason I recommend ditching the friendship entirely is that people like J are just going to keep pushing it. They are who they are, and J is asserting dominance in a very subtle way: by deciding he has the “right” to insert himself inappropriately into the lives of OP and her husband by making personal judgements and criticisms that are none of his business. J isn’t going to stop doing that without a fight, and the way people like J fight back is subtle. J may back off on the comments for a while to appease OP and husband, but he’ll start up again on a different tack. Okay, the lawn and OP’s cooking and housekeeping details are off-limits, he’ll fix on something else and continue doing the same thing.

J is who he is. He is not going to change. My advice to OP: distance makes good neighbors. Start putting some distance between your family and J, and keep him at some distance. He is not a nice person.

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Lisastitch October 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm

I’d be tempted to give him a bemused look, chuckle, and say, “You’re so funny”.

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Coralreef October 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I call these people nitpickers.

Nitpickers can be the bane of anyone’s existence. Even when you ignore, they can take it as you approving of their wisdom and being too ashamed to admit it. Each comment by itself is not much, but when it goes on and on and on, it’s enough to make you go crazy and tear out your hair.

Since J is asking you a question (why are you hanging laundry in your dressing gown?, ect.) I would say “And this concerns you because…?” He should eventually get the hint that it’s not his business if he is not completely obtuse. As for peeking into windows, I would definitely ask him why he’s doing that and if he keeps up this behaviour, I will complain to the authorities (such as his wife).

My ex’s family was like that. The more I ignored, the more they picked at every percieved flaw, because they just KNEW I needed guidance from what shade to colour my hair (apparently, it was too close to their dog’s colouring) to the proper way to go down stairs while holding the baby. Ex was the worst offender, I think it was a control thing.

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Mariam67 October 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I would call the police and tell them he’s hanging around my house and looking in my windows. That’s really creepy, especially the part about the daughters bed. It’s an invasion of privacy.

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Allie October 10, 2012 at 3:03 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with Admin’s comments. I myself have taken to smiling sweetly and saying “how nice” whenever people say exasperating things to me. It’s especially fun to see the look on their face when they say something racist and I whip out the “how nice.” In my husband’s culture, people seem to think it’s acceptable to comment on one’s weight gain, to which I have taken to replying “that makes two of us” (sweet smile intact of course). To answer your question, no I don’t think you’re being too sensitive. I’d be annoyed too, but it is important to keep it in perspective.

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hanna October 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Oohhh, loved how admin put that! There are some people that just HAVE to say something but don’t really know what that something is–so they say whatever pops into their head “oh the yard needs mowed”. I wouldn’t take it that seriously, but it is irritating.

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abf October 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Cat, love your suggestion of the outlandish answers. If he’s going to be a boor, then mess with his mind!

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AE October 10, 2012 at 4:55 pm

DH and I lived in a duplex next to a guy who had views on how things should be done (mostly things I should do for his convenience) and his misbehavior started with such “innocent” observations. Since then, I have learned that blandly quelling glance with a “This is how *I* do this.” or “*I* like it that way.” followed by a complete refusal to discuss further, “I’ve already told you about that. Lovely weather today…” is polite enough, but makes it clear that you’re not open to their critiques. (Naturally, there have been complaints to DH but it doesn’t cause any friction between us. He doesn’t like people nosing in our business either.)

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Moonlight October 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm

He’s probably pretty rigid and thinks that there is a right way to be and a wrong way. I expect that he won’t get subtle comments to back off either. Because, of course, someone needs to educate you all on the right way to do things. Clearly, your husband, poor guy, is not making any headway.

Since this guy is a family friend and it looks like he will be around quite a bit, you should probably be assertive and very clear. He has no right to voice an opinion on your choices…in your home. Each time he makes that kind of remark, tell him calmly and matter-of-factly, it doesn’t concern him. The more blandly you can deliver it the better. Settle on a reply and repeat it each time. If he complains to your husband, your husband can laugh and say that’s just the way you are.

I had a neighbor, a nice older woman, who also didn’t understand boundaries. She would come over and question workman (paid by the hour) about what they were doing at my house without ever attempting to contact me. The day I drew the line was the day she told me she wanted to be informed any night I would not be spending at home. No. I didn’t say it with outrage. I didn’t give her any explanation. I was very matter-of-fact. No. She looked startled but never brought it up again.

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Libby October 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm

This neighbor would give me the creeps. I’d let my husband know I didn’t want him around my house or yard. I wouldn’t accept him laughing it off or, “that’s just J,” garbage either. And don’t make excuses to “J” if he does criticize you. Tell him flat out his control stops at your property line.

I wonder if you could contact the previous home owners and ask them about him. Maybe that’s why your home was vacant.

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gramma dishes October 10, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I think Cat Whisperer nailed it. This guy is no sweetie-pie. He is trying to assert dominance by implying that he is watching and judging you and that he has a right to “correct” you. With people like him, your silence would just make him think you agreed that he was right and that he does have a right to butt into your personal life and tell you what to do.

But the part about what he said about your daughter’s bed not being made is downright creepy. I’m afraid I would have said with a totally shocked expression “What were you doing looking into her bedroom window?” and no matter what his response was, I would follow up with “If you ever do that again, I will be calling the authorities.”

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Hemi October 10, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Why is the person looking in your daugher’s bedroom window and watching you hang laundry? That is creepy.

I would talk to hubby again and explain that even though he thinks “That’s just J”, it is inappropriate, makes you uncomfortable and needs to stop, especially the looking the bedroom window. Maybe he should meet J in the driveway or at J’s house. Your hubby should should man up and tell his friend to knock it off or don’t come around.

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Rachel October 10, 2012 at 8:28 pm

I think the OP is more upset that her husband is not upset..the fact that the husband dismisses her concerns says a lot.

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Kathryn October 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm

I would approach him from a different angle.
Comments about pjs at day could be answered in a free spirit, saving on washing by wearing clothes multiple times and situations. The grass uncut is because you’re saving on gas by cutting (ha) down on the number of mows it needs. You’re teaching your daughter personal responsibility by allowing her to make her bed when she pleases instead of when she’s badgered too. You absolutely love the health benefits of garlic and have recently started incorporating more into your diet (I personally love garlic and use at least double what’s recommended in recipes. Yum!).

But I’m snarky like that. Bean dip and silence would be best :)

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Kay October 10, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Maybe I’m just thick skinned, or maybe I like stirring the proverbial pot, but I’d meet any criticism with an innocent smile and a “well I’d be thankful if you’d do it for me, to show how it should be done!”
This sort of man, in my experience, is well versed in handing out judgement but poorly educated in actually carrying out the task. So call his bluff!
I know, I know, I should take the high road and not respond, but sometimes that little devil on my shoulder wins!
I wonder what his poor wife has to put up with.

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Cupcake October 10, 2012 at 10:38 pm

I know someone who makes comments like this all the time. Admin’s right – people who say these things are after a reaction. Whether they genuinely think they’re entitled to an explanation or they simply want to upset you, they are trying to make you respond in a certain way, and the key is to respond in any other way you can. My favourites:

Completely ignoring it: OHMIGOD, I can’t believe I didn’t tell you yet, I saw that movie last night!
Disinterested, non-committal mutter: Oh really/do you think so/hmm okay (then move on)
Intentional misunderstanding (innocuous meaning): Yes, it’s amazing how quickly the grass grows in this weather, isn’t it?
Intentional misunderstanding (compliment): Yes, isn’t the smell of garlic just delicious? I love the way it fills the house, like a little promise of how tasty my dinner will be.
Intentional misunderstanding (admission of fault): Oh well, I’ve been cooking Italian for years – I’m sure that with time you’ll be able to create those aromas too.
Turn it around: Haha, yes we authentic Italian cooks sure love our garlic! But it’s not like your style of cooking is completely bland – it’s just different./ You don’t like the smell of GARLIC?! Well I suppose you’re more used to those basic meat and potatoes dishes aren’t you? No shame in that, we can’t all be foodies!

Obviously some of those response are more polite than others but in some instances I think something a little insulting actually works: with people who deliberately want to insult others to feel better about themselves, having the complete opposite effect makes them less likely to try it again (whereas they might actually be empowered by knowing you are offended).

A nice alternative to the shocked “wow.” response is something I recently read on adultingblog.com: allow a brief but obvious silence, then kindly say “I’m sure you didn’t mean for that to come out the way it did.” then bean dip.

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David October 10, 2012 at 11:13 pm

I’m of a few minds on this one. I do agree with the admin in a way, I also agree with cat on the outlandish stuff being ok to say, but at the same time – wow, I wouldn’t want some guy commenting on my wife’s state of undress or looking in my daughter’s bedroom window. That’s just creepy.

So, as the husband in this situation, I would make it a habit to go over to his house rather than have him come over to mine. and let him know that showing up ‘early’ isn’t a good idea.

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Bint October 11, 2012 at 3:11 am

Does J make these comments to your husband about the way *he* does things? I rather suspect he does not. I’m surprised your husband laughs off a grown man looking through his daughter’s bedroom window and commenting on her bed. This is not how most fathers would take it and maybe he should have it pointed out to him just how inappropriate that is.

J sounds to me like a chauvinist telling the little women what to do – how to dress, how to cook, when to do the chores. In your place I would say, “(Husband) won’t be long” and ignore it, although the bedroom one I would have had to tell him, “Susie’s bedroom is her personal space. I don’t expect anyone to be looking through her windows.”

I’d put blinds up on Susie’s bedroom as well. Creep.

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Angela October 11, 2012 at 6:42 am

We used to respond to this sort of thing by asking “Why are you interested? Are you writing a book?”. Thankfully my life is absent those people right now.

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Sarah Paige October 11, 2012 at 8:09 am

I cannot stand neighbors who do this. It is *absolutely* none of his business what you do, how you do it or why you do it. If it’s not creating a disturbance, he needs to shut his mouth.

I would tell my husband that J needs to either keep his thoughts to himself or meet at J’s house or the driveway. Constantly critiquing neighbors and making comments about everything they do is the sure fire way of making an neighbors (or anyone) mad at you.

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Lo October 11, 2012 at 8:33 am

I get so flustered when people do things like this that my common response is a nervous laugh that lasts a little too long.

But when I reply the scenario in my head it goes like this:

Neighbor “Why aren’t you dressed yet?”
Me: “Dude. SERIOUSLY. You have issues.”

Somewhere between these two reponses is a happy medium. I wish I could learn to master it.

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Bibianne October 11, 2012 at 8:41 am

The bathrobe in the yard and the lawn… I would bean dip. The checking out the girl’s bedroom ? now THAT is creepy. That would be one occasion where the foot -in-mouth would come in with the “So… YOU”RE the neighborhood peeping-tom?” come out…
As for the hubby… “So you’re ok with J peeping in OUR daughter’s bedroom? ” Are you serious???

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LauraP October 11, 2012 at 9:06 am

I think I would approach it somewhat differently. Since the backyard isn’t easily viewed from his house, he’s clearly making the point to see into the yard. After the comment about the daughter’s bedroom, I think I would say something like, “Wow. Are you stalking us? Because clearly you’re making a point of keeping tabs on us.”

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Dani313 October 11, 2012 at 9:28 am

It may seem a bit much but I would report to the local police about him looking in your daughter’s window. Patterns of behavior are usually never recognized until they are documented. As far as saying anything I would say something just as outlandish as his comments are completely out of line.

It may seem rude but he needs to be told that his comments are completely out of line. An old neighbor of mine told me that he did not want my BF spending the night because it set a bad example for his daughter (She was 3 and only there every other weekend). Also he wanted to know when I would be away “for safety reasons” and thought it best if he had a key. I told him that what happens in my house is my business and that he would never in life have a key to my home. I said it harshly because I wanted him to realize that he was totally out of line.

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Enna October 11, 2012 at 10:01 am

Does your husband know about the comments J made about your daugther’s bedroom? He might not think “that’s J being J” then. It is rude what he is doing and disrespectful and your husband is backing him up in that. Evil Enna would be more outlandish “Do you speak to your wife in the same demeaning way or just the wives of your firends?”

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Lerah99 October 11, 2012 at 10:43 am

These sort of subtle put downs are like being pecked to death by ducks.

If I just find them socially awkward and annoying, I tend to deal with people like this with humor.

J: “Why aren’t you dressed yet?”
Me: “I’m actually wearing a ball gown under here, but I didn’t want you to feel uncomfortable for being so under-dressed.”

J: “Your grass is too high.”
Me: “You are so sweet! The lawn mower is in the shed. It may need gas though. Let me get you a dollar so you can fill it up before you mow the lawn.”

J: “Your daughter’s bed is unmade”
Me (to my daughter) “Shame on you. You know J is a married man. Next time I expect your overnight guests to be of a more respectable sort.”

On the other hand, if you find him CREEPY as well as annoying, I’d deal with him in a much more uncomfortable way:

J: “Why aren’t you dressed yet?”
Me: “Why do you care?”

J: “Your grass is too high”
Me: “Is this your way of offering to mow the lawn for me? If not, I did not ask for, nor do I require, your comments regarding my property.”

J: “Why didn’t your daughter make her bed?”
Me: “Why do you feel entitled to look into our windows and make inappropriate comments? My daughter and her bed are none of your concern.”

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rgramma2 October 11, 2012 at 11:04 am

I, too, have a neighbor that continues to make comments and ask questions about my personal business. She lives across the street and has full view of my home, which allows her the opportunity to see all the coming and goings. She has never been married, lives alone (with her cats) and must get her enjoyment from watching what goes on at my house. I am divorced (mid 60’s with back problems) and often times get help with back breaking projects from another neighbor who is known in the neighborhood to lend a hand to anyone in need. She consistently makes comments to me about seeing him in my yard helping out with the more physically demanding tasks. Little does she know that I normally pay him for helping me out. She also makes comments about seeing me talking to other neighbors or merely a passer-by walking a dog.

She suffered a stroke 8-10 years ago and it left her with some paralysis on her right side and I know she sometimes has a problem verbalizing her thoughts so I don’t know if her behavior is a result of this stroke or if she has always been so critical and bossy. Therefore, I find myself offering a response to her and then I am disgusted with myself for doing so.

She calls me at least once a week (if she doesn’t catch me outside) and wants to go to lunch/dinner, a movie or shopping. I realize she doesn’t have much of a social life and evidently enjoys my company, but all the personally invasive questions that come up are annoying. There has been a few times that she will just show up at my door or after we return from lunch and invite herself to come in for a visit. She will ask questions like: “Why do I see G working at your house so much?” or “What is going on with S because I saw you talking to her yesterday?” or “Why don’t you put in a sprinkler system in your yard and quit hauling that hose around?” or “Why don’t you just go to the marble and granite retailer and get your kitchen remodeled?” and she has even been so bold as to inquire about my retirement income and how much I pay for things. I even tried turning the tables by responding with the same question to her – only to have her say “I’d rather not say”. She must watch out her window quite often to know so much about what I am doing. Sometimes it drives me crazy and then I feel badly because all this could be the result of her stroke.

One thing I do know is that when she was working she was a insurance attorney and that may have something to do with her badgering nature.

I have trouble saying “that really isn’t any of your business” or even being as rude as she. I do see some comments from you guys that I will try to use in the future with this “butt-insky” of a neighbor. Any comments would be appreciated.

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