Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Neighbors Obsess Over Sprinkler Systems

DEAR HARRIETTE: My neighbor has been having sprinkler consultations for the past few weeks because he doesn't want even a drop of his water to land on my lawn. I have my own system that works just fine and has been great for years. It's not fancy, but it keeps my lawn healthy.

I honestly think that this guy is crazy, but my wife is encouraging me to have a conversation to see why he is truly doing this. I don't think this is some sort of hidden issue with boundaries -- some neighbors are simply unbearable. Do I give in to the urging of my wife or take this man for who he is? -- Grass Is Greener, Pikesville, Maryland

DEAR GRASS IS GREENER: Start by taking a deep breath. Stop assuming what your neighbor's motive is, especially since you tend to assume the negative. You cannot know what your neighbor's intention is without asking. But please do not ask with anger or hostility in your tone. Before asking, consider the range of reasons he may be doing this. One could be that he should not be watering your lawn without your permission. In truth, he really should be able to control where his sprinklers direct their spray.

Go with curiosity. Ask your neighbor why he has been interviewing so many sprinkler businesses. What is he looking for? Be curious about his research. If you firmly believe he is trying to keep water off your lawn, ask him if that is the case. Let him know that it would not offend you if some of his water touched your grass even as you point out what system you already have in place.

Know that he may not tell you what he has in mind for his lawn, and that's his prerogative. Ultimately, you may have to ignore his research efforts. As long as he does nothing to harm your lawn or your property, you may have to shrug this off as him just being an obsessive neighbor.

DEAR HARRIETTE: For my boyfriend's birthday, I got him tickets to a sports game. After his birthday and before the big game, I found out that he was cheating on me and ended it with him. I spend hundreds on the tickets and want them back. How can I ask him to return them? I would love to be civil with him but also want to make sure he does not make use of those tickets. -- Game Over, Syracuse, New York

DEAR GAME OVER: Cheaters are not honest people. What are the chances that your cheating ex will do the right thing? Probably slim. But it's worth a try.

Call him and ask for the tickets or the money for the tickets. Be direct. You bought that generous and thoughtful gift for him when you thought he was committed to you. You are devastated that he would cheat on you. While you are dealing with his deceit, you do not want to reward him for bad behavior. Ask for the tickets or a check.

(Harriette Cole is a life stylist 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.)