Monday, February 20, 2006

Dear Amy:

My husband and I have lived in our quiet suburban Denver neighborhood for six years.

About two years ago two young gay men moved in across the street. They've taken the ugliest, most run-down property in the neighborhood and remodeled and transformed it into the pride of the street.

When it snows, they shovel out my car and are friendly, yet they mostly keep to themselves.

Last month I went out to retrieve my newspaper and watched them kiss each other goodbye and embrace as they each left for work.

I was appalled that they would do something like that in plain view of everyone.

I was so disturbed that I spoke to my pastor. He encouraged me to draft a letter telling them how much we appreciate their help but asking them to refrain from that behavior in our neighborhood.

I did so and asked a few of our neighbors to sign it.

Since I delivered it, I've not been able to get them to even engage me in conversation.

I offer greetings but they've chosen to ignore me.

They have made it so uncomfortable for the other neighbors and me by not even acknowledging our presence.

How would you suggest we open communications with them and explain to them that we value their contributions to the neighborhood but will not tolerate watching unnatural and disturbing behavior.


You're lucky that these gentlemen merely choose to ignore you.

Your neighbors could respond to your hospitality by hosting weekly outdoor "gay pride" barbecues and inviting all of their friends to enjoy life on our quiet suburban street.

I can hold out hope that they will choose to do this, but I'm spiteful in that way. Your neighbors sound much more kind.

In your original petition to these men, you basically stated that while you value them when they are raising the standard on your street and shoveling your driveway, you loathe them for being who they are.

The only way to open communication with your neighbors would be to start by apologizing to them for engaging your other neighbors in your campaign. Because you don't sound likely to apologize, you are just going to have to tolerate being ignored.

Dear Amy:

How do I tell my mother, who lectured me on table manners and politeness, that she is being rude when she calls on the phone and talks to me through a mouthful of food?

This is a woman who told me when I was a child that it was wrong to talk with food in your mouth. But just about every day Mom calls me while she crunches on pretzels, carrot sticks, potato chips, you name it.

Maybe she thinks that snacking on the phone doesn't count as talking with food in your mouth.

I understand that she and I both have full-time jobs and limited free time, but I don't think that is an excuse for calling with your mouth full.

I have tried to say, "Why don't you call me back when you're not eating?" or similar ploys, but she doesn't take the hint.

We're both adults. I've even tried mentioning, "You know, I had the most annoying phone call at work; the person was talking with food in his mouth." She responds with, "Oh, I hate that," but doesn't realize that she is doing the same thing.

How do my siblings and I approach Mom on this subject? She just won't take the hint!

Tired of Chomping

If your mother won't take a hint, why don't you just serve her up a full portion of the truth?

You can say: "You know Mom, you taught me so well not to talk with food in my mouth, but here you are talking with food in your mouth! I can hear it really loudly through the phone. Why don't you call me back when you're done with your snack?"

There now -- on to dessert.

Write to Amy Dickinson ataskamy@tribune.comor Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2006by the Chicago Tribune Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.

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