Dear Etiquetteer:During the summer, my husband and I acquired a new neighbor, living in the studio next door. He had a tendency to play his radio VERY LOUDLY, STARTING AT 5:00 AM, which made it necessary for my husband to pound on the door, introduce himself, and explain that this was a bad way to get started in the neighborhood. I should note that, although the common walls are in our kitchen and dining area, some sonic phenomenon enables us to hear neighborly noise all the way through the kitchen and into our bedroom.In the early fall, we discovered that Mr. Neighbor had acquired a girlfriend. I have never seen her, so how did I know? Well, if you can remember the famous delicatessen scene in When Harry Met Sally, then you've guessed it. They are both THAT LOUD, and it happens AT UNEXPECTED HOURS, including times when we've had company to dinner on Friday evening. We are hardly prudish, and yours truly came of age in the Time of Free Love, but I'm actually afraid of seeing Mr. Neighbor and Ms. Girlfriend – I don't need for them to have faces, too.Is there anything that we can do, short of leaving a couple of mover's quilts or cork squares (for soundproofing the walls) or three-in-one oil (yeah, sometimes the bed squeaks, too) on the doorstep?Dear Blushing and Disturbed But Perhaps Strangely Excited:This is why they say "Good fences make good neighbors." Reading your query, Etiquetteer’s first reaction is to summon the local authorities – not to arrest Mr. Neighbor and Ms. Girlfriend for disturbing the peace, but to find out if their entertainment license is current. You did say this was dinner theatre, yes?Next Etiquetteer recalls reading (during the turgid moments of adolescence) about the plight of a stewardess on layover in some remote town who faced the same situation you do. Her solution was to bang on the common wall of their hotel rooms and holler something like "If you don’t stop that racket right now I’m gonna come over and take what’s left!" (Etiquetteer believes this was from one of those "Sex and the Single Stewardess" books so popular in the 1960s.)That approach is certainly open to you; it ought to be quite easy during the dinner hour to reach over and bang on the wall. But Etiquetteer thinks it far more Perfectly Proper, not to say chivalrous, for your Big Burly Husband to go knock vigorously on Mr. Neighbor’s door when this tired old duet reaches a crescendo and belt out an authoritative "SHUT UP!" It’s good to have a man around the house, yes?In closing, Etiquetteer can only remind you of the recent adage about home repair making the rounds: if it moves and it shouldn’t, use duct tape; if it doesn’t move and it should, use WD-40.Check for reader response to this question here.
Dear Etiquetteer:I was sick at a party and found myself throwing up in the bathroom sink which immediately got plugged. When the urge hit the next time I tried to make it to the toilet but it hit quicker than expected so I got the walls, floor, the magazine rack and every magazine in it, the back of the toilet seat, and the counter top. It was truly an awful mess and since I needed stuff to clean it up with the host ended up cleaning it up. Yes, in this he is a saint. Especially since it stank.Would it have been better to bring the waste bucket to my face and throw up into it? When I suggested the sink with the garbage disposal the host was horrified. Or should those of us with light stomachs advised to carry barf bags? Where do you get such an item?Oh Dear Dear Dear:There are days when Etiquetteer wishes there was no such thing as total recall, and reading your letter makes this one of them. Alas, even poor Etiquetteer suffered this same sad experience. It was many years ago, and Etiquetteer was inexplicably taken ill at an afternoon party. Etiquetteer vividly remembers crouching on the floor "worshiping the porcelain god" for no little time. Even more embarrassing, thin walls made sure that everyone at the party was very much aware of the situation.It's not always easy to keep your head when you're losing your lunch. But really, when you find yourself regurgitating, the best place to begin is the toilet, not the sink, no matter how minor you think the regurgitation is. As you have seen, it's much easier to clean with a flush than it is with a brush, mop, pail, and probably acres of paper towels. Not to mention that clothespin over the nose . . .Under these circumstances, it's not only Perfectly Proper but Darn Near Necessary to send a Lovely Note With Flowers the next day to apologize for making so much trouble.
Find yourself at a manners crossroads and don't know where to go? Ask Etiquetteer at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Etiquetteer cordially invites you to join the notify list if you would like to know as soon as new columns are posted. Join by sending e-mail to email@example.com.