DEAR AMY: My 16-year-old daughter hosted a party with about 20 of her classmates attending. The party was on our outdoor deck and my wife and I checked on them a couple of times and saw no alcohol. The kids were all very well behaved. At about 9:30, two police officers showed up and indicated to us that one of our neighbors reported underage drinking. They went around to the back deck and found a few cans of beer. None of the kids were drunk, and the party was to be over by 10:45. At that point they made every kid take a portable breathalyzer test. If they blew anything other than 0.00 (or refused to take the test), they were given citations. Nine of the kids got citations (fine of up to $700, and possible suspension of driver’s license). They all had to get lawyers and go to court. My problem is that the police would not tell me who called them. I’m angry because these neighbors did not talk to us first and give us a chance to handle the situation. I am about 80 percent sure it was our next-door neighbor. Now I don’t trust them. I think they are cranks. There is now a full-out cold war between us. I don’t like living like this and it is very uncomfortable when I see them outside (which is a lot). Any suggestions?
Distrustful and Angered Neighbor
DEAR DISTRUSTFUL: Are you seeking this information in order to contact the neighbor to apologize for hosting a party with drinking teenagers bordering their backyard? I hope so. Did you notify these neighbors in advance to let them know of this (potentially noisy) gathering at your house? I think not.
You should count yourself lucky that these police officers didn’t cite you and your wife for hosting a party with underage drinking (and if your daughter is 16, then they were underage by a mile).
You should count yourself further lucky that none of these underage drinkers chose to drive home under the influence. According to you, the police broke up this party quite early. If these teens had continued to consume (and people generally increase their consumption closer to “closing time”), the result could have been disastrous for everyone.
According to the National Conference for State Legislatures (ncsl.org): “Thirty-one states allow social hosts to be civilly liable for injuries or damages caused by underage drinkers. Thirty states and the Virgin Islands have criminal penalties for adults who host or permit parties with underage drinking to occur in the adults’ homes or in premises under the adults’ control.” You are responsible, even if you weren’t aware of this alcohol consumption.
Your neighbor might be a “crank,” but you are irresponsible.
DEAR AMY: You asked for readers to weigh in on the letter from “Left Out Liberal,” who was in a politically “mixed” marriage. I was raised by a very conservative mother and a very liberal father. My father wouldn’t ever consider voting Republican, nor would my mother ever vote Democratic. I remember very well the arguments at election time, every time. We had many loud political conversations around the dinner table. So what happened? My brother is now a Democrat and I am a Republican, and my parents were married for 65 years.
At Peace With Dissent
DEAR AT PEACE: I maintain that this political season is “special,” in that both sides seem to be assuming the very worst about one another and are only locked in to their own echo chambers. Several readers advised that “Left Out Liberal” should simply leave her husband. That is not what marriage is supposed to be about.
DEAR AMY: I’m responding to the question from “Appalled,” who was with her aunt during a surgical procedure and was very bothered by the “chitchat” the doctor and nurse engaged in during the procedure. I was a nurse. The surgeon and I would engage in idle chitchat during local anesthesia procedures. Our aim was to soothe the patient and make it all seem routine. We also would give progress updates, and if a family member was present we would engage them in light conversation. Consider how fraught with tension a procedure is when all you hear is the clatter of instruments on a metal tray, and the pull and tug of removing tissue and placing sutures.
DEAR NURSE: I see your reasoning; however, it is important that patients and family members feel comfortable enough to ask you to do things differently, if necessary.