“Dirt On The Neighbors”

Philip Galanes writes “Social Qs,” a modern etiquette column for the New York Times Styles section that I often find way too cloyingly cute for my taste, but nonetheless read every Sunday.

Yesterday, a woman named Patricia — from Westport, Conn. — wrote:

Our new neighbors invited us to a cocktail party. They moved in several months ago. When we arrived, we were shocked at the state of their house: dirty dishes piled in the sink, dust bunnies on the floors and filthy bathrooms. They had set up a drinks table, but all the glasses had fingerprints on them. My impulse was to help tidy up, but my husband told me that would be rude. Your thoughts?

Galanes replied:

You didn’t mention anything about raccoons in the parlor, so I’m guessing this was not a “Grey Gardens” theme party. (No Little Edie-style turbans made out of sweaters?)

Patricia's neighbor's kitchen?

Patricia’s neighbor’s kitchen?

I applaud your kind impulse to pitch in, but agree with Hubby on this one. Other people’s homes are their castles, not ours. And they are free to keep them as messy as they please. Unless our hosts ask us to lend a hand (and they would have to beg me), better simply to take a drink and pretend to put your lips to the rim.

Otherwise, your cleaning-lady act may imply filth and give offense. It doesn’t sound as if you are close enough to splash the ice-cold water of truth in your neighbors’ faces. And for the love of hepatitis, wait to use the bathroom until you get home.

I’m not going to comment on the question — or the answer.

But I’m sure “06880” readers will.

58 responses to ““Dirt On The Neighbors”

  1. Thanks a lot, Patricia.

    We won’t be inviting you over any more !


      Anon, that was hilarious!!! Thanks for the hearty chuckle. 🙂

    • Tarra La Drule

      Hands up all those people who haven’t been to war! This is serious stuff folks!

  2. Oh, boy. This should get interesting!!!

  3. I’ll sign anyone’s petition to the Times to please get Randy Cohen back to write that column.

    • Babette d'Yveine

      I’d sign it, too, but this is a different column. Randy’s was “The Ethicist” and was in the Magazine section. This is about etiquette and is in the Styles section. It’s called “Social Qs,” as Dan mentioned.

  4. Sounds like it is time to move…across town….immediatley….do not pass go…It starts on the interior….and then migrates to “behind the garage”… And then the backyard and sideyard and ultimately the front yard!!!! Blight!!! List your place ASAP!

  5. ooh is Anonymous serious? Hard to believe Patricia didn’t use a pseudonym..She can’t come to my house either.

  6. Anonymous, 1

    Do you really think that the letter The New York Times published was sent in by someone, or was it crafted and published in order to encourage enthusiasm for the column?

  7. The Dude Abides

    Has the New York Times stooped to this kind of media hogwash? Sad. Light the doobie and toss the dirty dishes.

    • Westport Delight

      Hope they toss you with the dishes!

      • I, for one, am glad The Dude has returned to grace this blog with his presence. The key to a quality blog comment section is for the posters to contribute to the conversation constructively – which I believe he has done. Others, not so much.

        • Westport Delight

          “I have been to war. Have you? If not, shut up. I will respond with Pat Tillman’s brother statement at his memorial service: “Fuck the Army. Fuck this memorial. Pat can’t feel anything. Pat can’t hear anything. What Pat would want is for this not to happen to anyone else.” If you want to shed your tears by a grave side, fine. I want to yell from the roof tops for this insanity to STOP!”

          “As I said, if you haven’t been to war, shut up!”

          “If you believe, Mr. Boten, that the parents of fallen victims read this blog to find condolence, you are the bigger ass.”

          These are all comments made by The Doood in a previous post to two other commenters. Does telling someone to “shut up” qualify as contributing to the conversation constructively? If so, please explain. To me, an inappropriate demand such as “shut up” actually does the opposite. But I guess Ned Z. knows all and can clarify. Go ahead.

          • There you go, that was far more constructive than your last comment. Good points.

            • Westport Delight

              You get what you give, Ned.

              The Doodie is using a nice post by Dan highlighting a hometown hero’s tragic accidental death as his political stomping ground. Based on the comments, I’m not the only one offended by it.

              What’s worse is that when confronted about it, he acts half his age (40? 50?) and resorts to telling people who actually knew Roger that they should “shut up.” Don’t you think that’s kind of insulting?

              So if he wants to be that way, there are some of us out there who will gladly throw it back at him. See how he likes it. I don’t mind spending the time to do it.

              • I have been to war, and can’t figure out what any of this has to do with war . Westporters( some ) are still getting excorcised over any littrle comment.

              • Autobiographer

                The Dude is 62. Moved here at age 5 in 1953.
                He has practically written his autobiography on
                this blog.
                You say if he acts poorly you’ll gladly throw it back at him.
                I say ” Don’t wrestle with a pig, you both get dirty
                And the pig enjoys it.”
                Best to ignore him.

                • U. Zooelly N. Trouble

                  Thanks for the first hand narrative from a pig’s perspective. But speak in the first person, OK?

                  • I believe they were speaking to Westport Delight about The Dude. Nothing to do with you, UZNT. Just saying.

          • Thanks for speaking up, West. Del. I have no comment whatsoever on the memorial blog but I will comment about the time period when “THE DUDE” was a daily poster on this blog. I almost unsubscribed numerous times, he’s so out of bounds and unkind not to mention, totally ignorant of many to whom he posted ugly insults without knowing a speck about who they were. He brought the name calling, the false assumptions, and uncivil comments and behaviors on this blog to a whole new level and I’m most sad to see his regular return. Rock on to those who think his return is an added benefit to this blog or the world. I’ll think twice about sending the blog more money this year due to the regular return of this guy.

            • U. Zooelly N. Trouble

              Fortunately Dan has integrity and his work won’t be skewed by your payment or lack thereof. But you could do much worse with your money than helping out Dan.

              • We all have choices as to how we spend our money. I can choose to spend my money where people aren’t name called, where people’s diverse views can be aired without being sent to the slaughter with false assumptions which you just have also done. I also have integrity and have supported Dan and his blog, in spite of the dude and his antics over the years which have sent many packing never to return to the blog or at least not posting — they may still read and support Dan privately. So just don’t assume that because one airs a view that is “different” than yours or the blog’s view, that that one does not have integrity. Again, another false assumption. You’re free to celebrate the return of the dude and I celebrate your right to feel that way. I feel differently. I may have my own views on civility and kindness which differ from yours and I’m allowed. And actually, my view on the dude is that somewhere beneath the angry, crusty exterior of the dude spilling out the sides onto good people on this blog also lies a good person. He just needed to show us that side a bit more, rather than going into attack mode first. The tone of this conversation would have been vastly different, I’m sure. If he’s for peace, then act more peacefully. I don’t happen to disagree with that viewpoint.

                • Your argument is flawed. This is where the personal attacks started on this thread.

                  Westport Delight | March 25, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Reply

                  Hope they toss you with the dishes!

                  • Ummm…. I think the argument started long before the dishes comment. I think the bad feelings started much earlier but let’s not go earlier for this discussion than a blog post or so ago. But not arguing this point any longer on 06880– it’s pointless here — people here argue not to get to a higher understanding with one another but to out do each other — how’s that working for the world? What I was attempting to do was reach a higher understanding considering the topic– perhaps badly but never the less heart felt which doesn’t seem to matter here. So be it. Rock on testosterone in 06880.

                    • The blog was much worse far before the Dude appeared with Jeffxs, Raho and RLS in daily arguments regarding everything. I, for one, will miss the Dude for at least he brought some humor and intelligence to your juvenile discussions.

                  • Emma. The majority of your arguments are flawed, and you spend your time on here stirring the pot. So I would look in the mirror first.

                    • U. Zooelly N. Trouble

                      Ever look in the mirror, WC? If you did you’d wet your pants and go hide under the bed.

      • What was the point of your comment? You really did not add anything of substance to the conversation.

  8. One of my favorite Erma Bombeck quotes:

    “I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.”

    Hopefully, I have friends who “don’t notice” if there are dirty dishes in my sink, especially if I had been cooking beforehand to prepare for the evening. My intent would be to have everything cleaned up and sparkling before the first guest walks in, but life doesn’t always work out that way – at least in my house. And I would hope my friends would remember the great company and laughs they shared that evening, instead of the fingerprinted wine glasses.

    • Anonymous, 1

      I like this Erma Bombeck quote. I might even print it out for my own kitchen before Spring-Summer 2013 parties commence. Thank you for sharing it.

  9. The Dude Abides

    I will gladly throw it back at you. To me, you phonies walk around with no concern about our Veterans or troops in harm’s way. How many Westporters send care packages to our troops, or write letters or visit The VA??? I do. But when one of us dies, you have this huge shock like it is something unique or special. It happens nearly every week and you sit doing nothing. If you have not been in a war zone, you have no idea of what shit these troops go through. Post 911 VETS are killing themselves at an average of ONE per day upon their return and nothing is done. That was my point to DLK and I stand my it. You want to spend your time criticizing me, fine. Why don’t you come up with me Thursdays to West Haven VA and do something constructive?

  10. Anonynmous 98

    It’s a mindless etiquette column. Who reads it? Shows how low the NY Times has sunk. All you 06880 folks should be ashamed that it says Westporter, although most of this stuff is made up by the writer, Philip G.. Shows what he thinks of our town.

  11. How on earth did comments on the NYT”s “Social Qs” column that Dan excerpted veer from a light-hearted first few comments to serious and tragic subjects like Pat Tillman, Roger Muchnick, honoring our troops, and helping our veterans? Six of the 18 comments are off the wall and the remaining 12 have some connection to the article at hand. Westport Delight, Ned Z, and The Dude Abides: what the devil do your comments have to do with a column headlined “Dirt on The Neighbors”?

    • Because I closed comments on the Roger Muchnick memorial story. I will do the same here, if this continues. I’m doing other things tonight, and can’t spend time monitoring it. I’m asking all commenters to please respect my decision to close comments on the Muchnick story, and please respect this blog. Thank you.

  12. Because Westport Delight and The Dude Abides can’t seem to get along on another article. Considering the Dude does many things for our VETS, including free legal assistance and Westport Delight never has served, I don’t get it?

  13. Joyce Barnhart

    Dan, I read the column online. I don’t remember a photo – that’s not your kitchen is it? 😉

  14. Obviously it’s all fabricated but one must wonder “why Westport CT”??

  15. I find it sad that you rack the Dude over the coals when he merely contested the war efforts and the thousands we have lost in wars in recent decades. My father was a Marine General and I had to accompany him with my mother to console the wives of dead pilots. It was a terrible chore. The spouses never understood war nor did I. The Dude was trying to convey this to the readers for he is a decorated war hero from Vietnam. Many took it wrongly. But this personal attack is cruel. The Dude counsels Vets now in West Haven and does pro bono legal work for many of our returning heroes as well as the poor in Bridgeport. He also used to give a $1,000 to Dan every year to support this blog. But you have chased him off again. Like him or not, he does good and speaks his mind. I happen to be in love with him.

    • It is a sad day.

    • Westport Delight

      Ok. So, now I see why Dan allows the Dude’s rudeness and vitriol to run rampant on a blog post honoring a hometown hero who many of us knew. Because he gives him a nice check every year. It all makes sense.

  16. Tom Allen '66

    Yes, it is, Emma. The Dude’s passion and commitment are well-placed and real. I’ve known him since we were 10-year-old Little Leaguers playing against each other in a championship game. JAM picked a good man who served his country for six years and cares desperately for those vets who have returned home maimed in body and spirit, as well as for those who will never return. And he backs his caring and passion up with real deeds. Westport is fortunate to have him back.

    • Westport Delight

      Yes. I’m thankful he is back. Now, he can spend his time telling friends of fallen soldiers on a blog post commemorating his memorial to “shut up” just because they expressed their feelings and haven’t been to war. Really, You gotta love that compassion.

  17. I’ll close this thread too.