‘Aloof’ neighbor has every reason to be
Q: I’m wondering how to make amends with a neighbor who’s aloof and distant. She moved in four years ago. Soon afterward there was a misunderstanding about my friend parking in front of her driveway and she was unnecessarily harsh about it. My husband went over to tell her off, but it didn’t go well. He ended up reporting her big vicious dog to a friend in animal control. Animal control reported back that she and the dog were both ex-military and the dog was trained and under control so no lasting trouble came of it. After that most of the neighbors avoided her.
Eventually it all blew over since she is quiet, keeps her house in good shape and even takes care of the elderly woman next door. But somehow we never really started speaking again.
I have invited her to the neighborhood Christmas party, but she never shows up.
We’re a close-knit, supportive group on this street but she’s missing out. I want to fix this but don’t know how. What can I try that I haven’t already done?
Trying to Befriend My Neighbor
A: Oh you’ve done plenty.
You made her the bad guy when your friend blocked her driveway, yes? You sicced your temper-challenged spouse on her, who then reported her dog as "vicious" with zero facts; you turned the entire neighborhood against her; you made no attempts to apologize even as four years of accrued evidence of her fundamental decency towered over her original offense of being "unnecessarily harsh"; you had the high nerve to describe her as "aloof and distant" and "missing out" on your "close-knit, supportive" neighborhood when her being thus traces directly to the self-righteous shunning you subjected her to.
The answer was to drop by four years ago, to apologize and to invite her over for a pleased-to-meet-you do-over.
Now, the answer is genuine remorse. And pumpkin bread. Bake some and leave it for her with a note apologizing, in full, for the shocking chain of un-neighborly events that you set in motion.