Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Neighbor Can Do Without Tricks and Treats

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am the neighbor who never participates in Halloween activities. I don’t have children, so I have never been pressured to do it. Also, I just don’t dig it. The dark imagery of corpses and goblins and all that death stuff doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t begrudge the people who are into it, though. What bothers me is that my neighbors get upset every year when I don’t put out candy or welcome the kids who come knocking. I don’t want to get into a political debate with anyone about my beliefs, but I would appreciate it if they backed off. What can I do or say to get them to have their fun without trying to get me to be a part of it? -- Off the Ghostly Grid, Denver

DEAR OFF THE GHOSTLY GRID: What many people do when they don’t want to participate in Halloween activities in their neighborhoods is to go out to dinner or go elsewhere during the peak hours when children typically come knocking. That way you don’t feel any angst about not opening the door when you hear a knock. As far as your neighbors go, stop trying to convince them Halloween isn’t your bag. You are not the only person who doesn’t go the distance for this holiday. Be clear in your intentions and let it go.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors | Holidays & Celebrations | Etiquette & Ethics

Ancient History Resurfaces to Haunt Marriage

DEAR HARRIETTE: I had an almost-affair with a guy many years ago when I was having trouble with my husband. What I mean by that is, I went out to dinner with a guy and he kissed me before we parted ways. Nothing else happened, but apparently he was really into me. I say that because my husband and I ran into him at an event, and he walked up to us and told my husband he was my ex. What? I don’t even remember his name. I’m not kidding. His comment jarred me into remembering who he was, but I swear our encounter was nothing. How can I squash his overture? -- Long Ago, Seattle

DEAR LONG AGO: Tell your husband what you remember about this guy. As uncomfortable as it may be to reveal your slight indiscretion years ago, you are best off by keeping your husband in the know. In this way, this guy has no power over you. If going out with him helped you to see your marriage was more valuable than a potential fling, be sure to tell your husband that as well.

Use this uncomfortable moment as an opportunity to check in with your husband about the health of your marriage today. Are you both happy? Is there anything you can do to reinvigorate your life together? If you see this guy again, ignore him. By strengthening your conviction in your marriage, you neutralize his very presence.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce | Love & Dating