What Do You Do When a Neighbor Sours on You?

Because all advice goes down easier with a drink (even a non-alcoholic one). Especially when it's picked at random from our columnist's extensive collection of community cookbooks.

Dear Pink Lady,

I have become friends with two people in my small apartment building, "Sara," who lives upstairs, and "Howard," who lives next door to me. Last night Sara told me that Howard has told her he is not sure if he wants to be my friend anymore. Apparently the cause of Howard's anger stems from a girls' night Sara and another friend and I had a while back in my apartment—we drank some wine and complained about our love lives. Howard must have overheard some things, because he later told Sara that we hate all men. He was so mean he reduced her to tears about this. We weren't even talking about him, but even so, it's my apartment, so I can talk about whatever I want to in here. And girls gossiping on a Saturday night till midnight? Why would that upset a person to the point he'd scream at one of his friends but never say a word to me about it? I don't know what to say at all, but I don't want to just leave it and have him go off on Sara again.

—My Lease Doesn't End for Six Months

Dear Leasing,

The old adage, "Good fences make good neighbors," has some basis in fact—when one doesn't know all the comings and goings of one's next-door neighbor, it's much easier to stay friendly with him. In an apartment, though, it can be incredibly challenging to maintain the pretext that you know nothing at all about what is happening on the other side of the wall. However, Howard seems to have issues beyond just eavesdropping. Even if you were saying really terrible things about him, it still wouldn't excuse his behavior. There's only one reason Howard would scream at Sara after overhearing a conversation that had nothing to do with him: He is bananas. If Howard's behavior has been normal up until this point, and you want to try to be friendly, you might try to find out if he does have history of mental problems—maybe a new medication is altering his behavior, and he doesn't realize it. It's also possible that he's showing the early signs of schizophrenia. If you feel like he could be dangerous, I would register your concerns with your landlord. And for your next girls' night, whip up a batch of "frosty banana mist" (though you might want to cut the recipe in half and substitute champagne for most of the ginger ale) and make a toast to the fact that you aren't renting to own.

Cheers,

The Pink Lady

Frosty Banana Mist

6 c. granulated sugar

3 gallons water

10 bananas, mashed

Juice of 10 oranges

Juice of 4 lemons

2 qts. pineapple juice

6 to 8 qts. ginger ale

In a very large pot, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Mix the fruit juices in a bowl with the mashed bananas; add to the syrup. Remove from heat and pour into ice cube trays to freeze. Just before serving, crush the fruit ice cubes and add ginger ale until the desired consistency is obtained. Garnish with strawberries and sprigs of fresh mint. Yields 60 4 oz. servings.

This week's drinks are from Atlanta Cooks for Company (Atlanta, Ga., 1968)

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