Memorial Day Boor

17 May

Letterbalm Steaks on GrillDear LetterBalm: We have a big back yard and host family and friends for a traditional Memorial Day barbecue.  Everybody brings something, and we have a lot of laughs throwing around a Frisbee and playing softball and badminton and goofy games for the kids. But there’s always one bad apple. Ours is a neighbor who’s a bully and a loudmouth and has his wife and children intimidated. He bosses everybody around and can get mean when he has too many beers. Nobody wants him around, but we don’t want to disinvite him because, frankly, we have to live with him the rest of the year. (Besides, we like his wife and kids.) Can I say anything to quell the situation?


You’ve laid out your problem pretty well. Ms. L.B. can’t add much to it, except to give you some words that can help neutralize your pushy neighbor. Speaking of his wife, does she have a lip-smacking culinary specialty everyone loves? In this circumstance, a tasty food offering will go a long way. Be sure to ask her to bring it – and praise her and her kids for special skills.  And, if you haven’t done so by now, ask two or three calm-natured male friends or relatives to contain the bossy guy as his posse for the day. They might be able to jolly him into behaving better. Give him innocuous chores to make him feel important and keep him out of everyone’s hair. Here are some basic lines that might work:

  • Hey Morris, can you help with the badminton net? We need an extra hand here.
  • Agatha’s German chocolate cake is always spectacular. Morris, you’re lucky to have a wife who’s such a good baker.
  • Morris, you’re so good with tools, can you help us put down the bases for softball?
  • Morris, the kids’ swing set is creaky and unstable. Could you go get your tools and take a look at it?
  • I’m concerned about the loose boards on the deck. Can you take a look with me and Paul? What do you think?
  • We’ve got some loose ironwork on the front porch railing. George, would you and Morris take a look?
  • Morris, your lawnmower always works. Mine doesn’t. Would you take a look at it and see what’s wrong with it?

You get the idea.


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