DEAR HARRIETTE: I am in strange situation with my next-door neighbor, Pete. Pete was injured on the job and has been living unemployed with his father next door for years. He is in his late 40s or early 50s. For lack of anything better to do, he spends a lot of his time drinking. Pete has even converted part of their kitchen into a bar! I do not mind Pete's drinking; what I do mind is his drunk singing. He gets inebriated and sings love ballads to squirrels and birds outside. Pete has a love for animals, but I cannot appreciate the bellowing at 2 a.m. when I am trying to sleep. This has been going on for a year now, off and on. It is so frustrating to me. I know he is allowed to do whatever he wants on his property, but this is crazy. We have a friendly relationship, and originally the situation was comical, but Pete is testing my limits with his ballads. Should I call the police the next time this happens so I am not involved? Should I confront Pete about his drinking and singing? -- Worst Lullabies, Denver
DEAR WORST LULLABIES: Before involving the police, see if you can have a private conversation with Pete when he is not inebriated. Ask him how he is doing and what he has been working on. See if you can find out some of Pete's interests that you may be able to encourage him to pursue. Ease into the challenging part of the conversation. Tell him that you have something sensitive you want to discuss with him. Ask for his permission to let him know. Then go for it. Tell him that you are having a hard time sleeping because of his nighttime singing. Explain that you know he likes to drink, especially at night, and that you have noticed that afterwards his singing gets really loud. Ask him if he would try to stop singing at a reasonable hour so that you can get some rest.
Chances are, he will be embarrassed to know that he is being observed. If you get no positive change from your conversation, that's when you contact the police about him disturbing the peace. Will he be mad if you have to call the police on him? Yes, but you deserve peace of mind, too.