Help! My Elderly Neighbor Is Always Naked in His Backyard. Can I Get Him to Stop?

Advice on manners and morals.
May 28 2013 2:51 PM

Southern Exposure

In a live chat, Prudie offers advice on an elderly neighbor who likes to go nude in the yard.

(Continued from Page 1)

A: I was only a few sentences in before I thought, "And he wants to stay married so he can screw around at will but no girlfriend can bring up the subject of marriage because he already has a wife." It's fine that you wanted to embark on the divorce in a collaborative way, but now he's trying to turn you into a collaborator in his continuing deceit. I say forget informing his girlfriend of his true character. If she hasn't figured out what a liar and manipulator he is, it's not your job to enlighten her. What you need to do is get your legal situation taken care of. I don't know the ins and outs of matrimonial law, but your lawyer does, and you need to inform him or her about this stalling and get a plan to move forward. Yes, it will probably make things more difficult and expensive, but this guy will never be your ex unless you force him to stop leaving you in limbo.

Q. Re: Friend's Terminal Illness on the QT: Please check with a family-law attorney regarding her end-of-life wishes and how to state them. Your state might have restrictions on who can call the shots on her treatment once she's no longer coherent. Might be immediate family only.

A: Yes, the best friend needs to make sure she doesn't get herself into a legal situation with the parents. She needs to tell her terminally ill friend that as painful as it is, the time is now for legal decisions to be made.

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Q. Noisy Co-Workers: I've been at my first postgrad position since January. My department is a small, fun group of people—sometimes too fun. A few of them have trouble distinguishing between private and work settings. Often, a group of two or three will hang out in one office with music, laughing, weekend planning, and general fun. The managers do not always see the problem with this. In many ways, it's a very collaborative environment, so it makes sense—to a degree. However, I've heard too many inappropriate conversations (some sexual in nature) to believe that it's all work-related. I'm not sure how to handle it. I've mentioned this to my boss a few times, but she's nonconfrontational and will mention it to the offending parties but then not follow up. Especially since I'm one of the newest, I don't want to make waves. HR is not an ideal solution, since that department is newly restructured. Please give me some suggestions—and I already have headphones and earplugs. I'm afraid of hearing loss from trying to drown it out with my music. I'm in a cubicle—at times, I will go to my boss' office and close the door. That's not always an option, however. I need a longer-term solution, please!

A: The conversation may be loud and raunchy, but you're the newest person in the office, and it's unlikely you'll change the office culture, but you could make yourself a pariah. This doesn't mean that it's acceptable for people to gather and make it impossible for others to work. First of all, forget drowning out the party with music and invest in sound-canceling earphones. That technical fix might allow you to do your work. Second, if everyone gathers in an office for the hilarity and it's too loud for you to work, go over and with a smile on your face say, "Guys, do you mind if I just close this door? I'm unfortunately easily distracted by sounds. Thanks!" You could also try to lighten up. On a Friday afternoon when people start planning their weekend, try to join in the fun. Ultimately, though, the longer-term solution may be finding a place of work where work is the priority.

Q. Friend's Filthy Home: I recently stayed with a friend while on vacation. I am not by any means a neat freak. My friend's home was filthy. Papers and stuff was strewn everywhere. The whole place smelled. I stayed in the guest room, which doubles as the place my friend keeps her cat's litter. She did move the litter out of the room while I was there, but there were clearly remnants still there. The tub was dirty, and you could see dirt on the floorboards. A few years ago, she mentioned that a couple of her friends had staged an intervention about her home. She was living in a different place. I had visited briefly, and while it was messy, her place wasn't dirty. She no longer speaks to those friends. My friend is a truly wonderful person. I have known her for many years, and I would have never guessed she lives this way. I am not sure how to approach this with her.

A: Never, ever accept her hospitality again. That she is so oblivious to her surroundings she would invite you to stay says how out-of-touch she is. These kinds of disorders are sad, bizarre, and resistant to treatment. There's something wrong with your friend, but you already know her admirable qualities. Stick with getting together in public settings.

Q. Re: Naked Neighbor: Why can't she just knock on his door and tell him, or send a note with her name and let him know that she can see him? This is offensive behavior. If he doesn't comply, then she can take the next step of contacting the authorities.

A: True, just telling him, "I can see you!" is the most direct way of dealing with it. And I generally agree with direct ways of dealing with things. But I'm trying to imagine having that conversation with one of my elderly neighbors. Certainly if I was unloading the dishwasher and got an eyeful, I'd call to my husband and say, "Dear, hurry, there's a red-cockaded woodpecker right outside the window!" But the idea of then knocking on said neighbor's door would fill me with dread.

Q. Job Interview Etiquette: I am a recent college grad who has a rare interview on the horizon. The position is entry-level at a large company and pays well for someone looking to pay loans rather than begin a career. While researching the company, I've found they are currently going through a major lawsuit that many sources are quoted as saying could shut down the company. My question is whether I should inquire about the lawsuit during my interview or just hope that the verdict favors the company. I wouldn't want to receive the position and get situated so that if the company does go belly up, I'll have passed on other opportunities in between.

A: If the company's hiring it appears they're betting that at least for the time being they aren't going belly up. It's unlikely anyone at the company can comment on the pending lawsuit except to say they hope for a favorable resolution. You say this is an entry-level position that you see as temporary and not the beginning of a career. (But why not? If you impress your bosses, you should be able to move up, as long as there's a company to move up in.) If you're concerned that this company is not a going enterprise then keep looking. Otherwise, if the job is a good fit for now, take it with the knowledge that if the company folds, no one will hold your subsequent unemployment against you.

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