Best Behavior Hero 4

Too Close for Comfort

We’ve moved into a new house with new neighbors in their own new house next door. They invited my husband and me over for drinks a couple of weeks back. Quite honestly, I didn’t like them at all. The woman was obnoxious. She started talking about politics the second we sat down, and no, my husband and I don’t agree with them. Her husband kept his opinion, if he had one, to himself. Now, she’s invited us over for dinner. They live next door, but I don’t want to go. I know I may be starting this relationship off on the wrong foot. How do we get out of it?Anonymous, The Nations

This relationship — if it’s going to be salvaged — is in need of counseling, immediately. Politics is one of a handful of topics we don’t talk about at the dinner table, much less over drinks. The outspoken woman next door seems not to understand that unspoken rule. She — and you — might have well kept your first conversation on safe ground, but at least you know where the bodies are buried now. Since you’ve been invited for dinner, you have to say yes. There’s no believable excuse to be offered. Go ahead and clear the air. Call her, thank her for the drinks and put it straight. Tell her that politics isn’t a topic the four of you are likely to agree on. Give them another chance. Maybe she’ll give you one too. There are some things more important than politics. Like finding a good plumber.

Twice the Fun

Last month, my daughter was invited to a birthday party for a girl in her fifth grade class. The party didn’t happen last year, for obvious reasons, so this year, her mother threw a “double birthday” party. Everybody was expected to take two gifts. It didn’t sound like a good idea, but I went along with it. Now, a couple of other fifth grade girls are planning on a “double-double birthday” party for both of them. My daughter wants to go, but I definitely don’t want to see this becoming a tradition. What can I do? What do I say?Anonymous, Hillsboro Village

These double-dip parties aren’t likely to become an every-year tradition. Let’s trust that we won’t have an annual coronavirus to celebrate from here on. The first party was a clever idea, at least on the part of the greedy-ish girl and her party-desperate mother. After a party-free year, it at least provided an excuse for the entire fifth grade (masked, one assumes) to get together. There was probably a lot of unwrapping to be done — fun for the entire afternoon. But nobody needs a rerun of the same event — especially with four gifts from everybody who shows up. (Am I understanding that right?) If your daughter’s already given her RSVP — without asking you — you’ve been painted into a corner. But one gift per birthday girl should suffice. Your daughter can accept that tough news. Who’s to know, except the ladies of the day? At least they, or their mothers, should get the message. This bad idea needs to die. Just let it lie.