DEAR ABBY: I met my neighbor "Summer" about 18 months ago when we bought homes in the same development. She was nice; we became very chummy. We'd visit each other's homes for dinner, cookouts, or just to talk and hang out. Summer and her boyfriend and my husband and I had great times together.
Abby, Summer is becoming a fatal attraction! She came over one day while I was decorating my son's room and admired the bedroom furniture. Then she ran out and bought the same bed for her son. That was just the beginning: She has since copied my dining room set, my dog, my hairstyle, paint in the kids' room, wood floors and -- get this -- my living room set in the identical color. I recently bought a car. So did she, same make and model.
I no longer speak with Summer as often as I used to, and I think she's sensing something is wrong. My husband says it's hilarious, but my kids and I don't. If I mention that I want something in casual conversation, before you know it, she's breaking her neck to get it. My kids say I should mention something big and expensive that I "want" and let her run out and get it.
My co-workers tell me I should take it as a compliment, but I can't. When you buy a home, you add your own special touches, and it should reflect who you are -- not your neighbor. Please help me. I enjoyed Summer's company at one point, and now I no longer want her in my home. I haven't spoken to her about this, but how can I without blowing my top? -- FUMING IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR FUMING: You have described a person who is unimaginative and insecure about making her own choices. The poor woman needs help, not banishment. By all means talk to her -- but when you do, offer to help her to make some design and fashion statements that are her own. That way, you could enjoy each other's company and you will not be encroached upon. Before blasting her, please give it a try. It would be a kindness to someone who is obviously less creative than you.