Dear Ann Cannon • Now that summer has officially arrived, one of my purest pleasures is relaxing or doing yardwork in the relative quiet of my backyard. My millennial neighbor also enjoys spending time in his backyard, but turns up his outdoor sound system and plays country western music for all to hear. Country western isn’t my first musical choice and I find I can no longer enjoy the time spent in my backyard. What do you suggest as a good approach with this young buck?
— Not a Fan
And this ...
Dear Ann Cannon • My neighbor’s favorite yard toy is his leaf blower and he almost always uses it in the early evening when we’re trying to enjoy a quiet dinner on our patio. It’s so incredibly loud we have to go inside and close the door. This is particularly enraging when we have guests over. Surely, he can hear the voices in our yard, but he turns it on and blasts away. Any suggestions short of mayhem?
— Backyard Blues
Dear Not a Fan and Backyard Blues • Because you’re both asking essentially the same question — what do you do with a noisy backyard neighbor — I’ve decided to roll my answers for you into one.
OK. Basically, you have two choices: Talk to your neighbor or learn to live with the situation. If you decide to talk to your neighbor, you also have two choices: You can be offensive and aggressive (“DUDE! GET OFF YOUR LAWN!”) or you can politely explain that their choices are affecting you in a negative way. Remember this formula for having a difficult conversation: Start with something positive, then say your difficult piece, and (finally) wrap it up with another positive statement. A positive. A negative. A positive.
Meanwhile, it’s probably not a bad idea for all of us to do a little self-reflection and ask ourselves if we’re guilty of doing something that annoys our neighbors — especially during the summertime when we’re outside, living large.
I can’t promise your neighbor will change his behavior, but I hope this helps and that you both can find a little bit of summer peace and quiet.
Dear Ann Cannon • I was amused by your column about the stinky boyfriend. His resistance to bathing because “it dries out his skin” reminds me of comments in the press in the mid-1800s when a highly influential movement called Popular Health Reform proclaimed the revolutionary idea that we should be bathing at least once a week. Many worried comments were concerned about such frequent bathing causing “the loss of all the health protecting oils” on the skin. Nevertheless, her boyfriend has a legitimate concern. As a physician, a very common query I have received was how to best deal with the “winter itch,” caused by dry skin occurring when furnaces come on, particularly in our dry climate. The answer may also be a win-win solution for your “Nose-y Girlfriend” and her beau.
The best way to treat such dry skin is to bath daily with very mild soap, or preferably bath gel. Then, on getting out of the shower, towel off lightly and apply skin oil over the damp skin to seal in the moisture. (Creams and lotions are not as effective as oil.) Possibly even more effective, and cheaper, is to use a very light coat of Vaseline over the damp skin.
Doing so may solve both of their problems! (I suspect she has already used her feminine wiles to entice him to bathe more!)
— A Reader