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February 23, 2006 Edition

Dear Max:

I highly regard your advice and thought I’d ask what to do about my horrible neighbor. She complains that we’re too loud all the time, that we walk too loudly, that we hang mirrors too loudly, etc. Meanwhile, we hear her screeching and talking to her little toydog (don’t know what breed—i’m SO sorry—but i KNOW you wouldn’t want to put your nose in its butt!) and stomping around in her high heels…and we can practically smell her blond dye through our walls. We don’t want a war with her but we have one. How do we get her to stop interfering in our lives??


Dear AVA,

Your first problem emerges early in your question: you highly regard my advice? Truth be told, my view of the world is quite limited. I’m easily pleased, and I don’t stay mad for long. Throw a squeaky toy across the floor, and you’d think that I won the Power Ball jackpot. But your situation is very tricky indeed, and it doesn’t please me. When people live in close quarters, tolerance and mutual respect are critical. If it’s war, and you don’t fret over the risk that UPS deliveries will start disappearing, or a hint of smoke in your place will be allowed to grow into a major blaze before the authorities gets a heads-up, I think the time for sheepish smiles and “Sorry!” in response to her complaints is done. Tell her to live and let live; you’re not breaking any laws or even creating a real nuisance. And if she wants to enjoy total silence, she can move to Saskatchewan. Guaranteed – her little “snowball” will appreciate the soundness of my argument.

Hey Max:

I have a boyfriend named Dewey, and I love him dearly, but your picture is so sexy, I am wondering if it is OK to have more than one boyfriend at a time? I wonder if I were to ask you to meet me in the dog park, would Dewey be jealous? And would you consent to meet me there? I just don’t understand all the doggie etiquette rules for dating. I think it is OK to play the field, but what do you think?


Dear Zoe,

So, you’re into the Maxman? You need an injection of canine perfection? You got bit by the underbite? You … okay, moving right along. Let’s put it this way: what if Dewey were to ask if he could see other Zoes from time to time? And you saw him laughing, and fetching stuff, and getting the behind-the-ears finger dance with that zombie smile on his face. (If he’s a boy, this is even *more* unsettling.) Apply the golden rule, and nearly every seemingly “harmless” thing we do in life loses its innocence. I translate it this way: having more than one boyfriend at a time means having no boyfriends at a time – and that may be fine. There’s a time for playing the field, and there’s a time for settling down to a routine of mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges, and fertilizing regularly. Wait — that sounded totally sexual, and I’m as shocked as you are. Anyway, I utterly deplore this whole dog park suggestion, and I’m going to distance myself from it now, by walking right over … here. In conclusion, what time were you thinking, and what will you be wearing?

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