"Biting Back takes a compelling look at self-care, setting boundaries, and protecting ourselves from friends, loved ones, enemies, and sometimes even ourselves. Written in a page-turning and warm style, Claudia’s refreshing addition to the self-help shelves offers empowering solutions to effectively remind us to stop inviting troubleinto our homes and souls." -- MELODY BEATTIE, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF CODEPENDENT NO MORE


The Natural

My handsome husband Robert and trapeze-swinging 10 year-old Madeline Jane were out running with our dog Agatha this morning. (That's an old picture of the two of them, by the way, measuring off the deck Robert was building some years ago.)

As they returned home and entered our driveway they spotted one of our neighbors, and Robert (in an admittedly unusual outburst of conviviality) waved and called to him, "Hi there! How're you doing?"

The neighbor, without addressing the question, answered, "Is that your dog I hear barking at night?"

To which Robert simply answered, "I don't know."

Evidently the neighbor said something after that and Robert didn't bother to answer him or ask him to repeat himself; he just kept going instead.

Madeline told me the story when they got home and I have to say that I am once again impressed with my husband's natural ability to ward off vampires.

He's always doing this stuff.

Because if that had been me, I probably would have ignored the fact of our neighbor's rudeness and gotten all concerned and rushed over to try and make it better with him -- even without knowing for sure that it was our dog bothering him.

Talk about invitations to vampires!

Listen: I know for a fact that one of our other neighbors has dogs that bark like clockwork every evening at 9:30.

I also know that this particular neighbor who's doing the complaining is pretty weird and maybe even a little looney. I haven't gotten close enough to know for sure and don't care to.

I also know that vampires just love to catch us off guard. If this guy was among the living he would have come to our home and spoken to us directly and politely. But The Undead don't do business that way. They wait for you to open the door and then rush in with their own agendas, just as this neighbor did.

And did you notice what my clever husband did when approached by the vampire? He gave himself time to think before he answered! He said, "I don't know," which is the perfect time-buying tool.

Anyway, I was thinking about all this after Maddie told me the story, and I was wondering: What do you guys think? Do you consider my husband's behavior rude? Or was it just good slayer technique?

What would you have done?


Jaye Wells said...

I sometimes wonder if men just have a natural vampire defense mechanism at the genetic level that us females lack.

If the neighbor had been someone your family was friendly with it might have been rude. But given your description, I think your husband was justified.

claud said...

Oh Jaye this is so cool because I was wondering the same thing about an hour after I posted this. But even for a guy, Robert has unusually good instincts about keeping the vampires off. Or at least I think he does.

Thanks for the input, toots.

Angela said...

It wasn't rude, Claude. I tend to agree with Jaye - it seems like in a lot of cases men are just better at vampire-invitation prevention that we are. I think it was brilliant, but it was just Robert being Robert. Hey, he answered the guy's question honestly and he probably got a hit the guy just wanted a neck. Cracks me up thinking of how baffled your poor nocturnal neighbor must've been.

claud said...

This must be why men, as a group, aren't as interested in pvs as women are. Really, I think most of them are kind of naturals.

And yes, Angela, that was SO Robert!!

Feemus said...

I would have started to apologize and halfway through I would have thought better of it and my apology would have turned into a defence of what a good dog he is.

And then I would have realized that that's a lousy apology and would have backpedaled and said that maybe it was our dog after all.

It would all somehow end up with an awkward invitation to a dinner that no one wants to have.

I blabber my way into some ridiculous situations.

claud said...

Love your tracking on this, Feemus!!! Exactly, exactly.

M. said...

I don't know if us guys are less susceptible to vampires in general. I think it's more that we're affected by different types of vampires, perhaps.

The guy you described wouldn't have made me give him a second thought before politely telling him to go away and come back when he can be civil, but a female vampire who gives out just enough warmth and affection at first to lure me in will get me every time.

claud said...

Wow!! Thanks for this, M. I hadn't thought of that. Hmmm...you have SO got me thinking now.

Sherri said...

I'm really happy to see a pic of your Maddie. She's a beauty!

claud said...

Oh, thank you, Sherri! I'm bound to agree.

ERiCA said...

I think it was well done of him! (Especially since I would've reacted just like you would've. *g)

BTW, my CP is convinced her neighbors are vampires. They have not accosted her, primarily because she has never seen them in light of day, and doesn't leave her house at night if they're on the prowl.

I will advise her to take your DH's example and just keep walking, should they catch her alone outside. =)

claud said...

Hi Erica!!

Wonderful to see you here. I peeked over at your blog today for a minute and will have to return later -- it looks GREAT!!

Thanks for stopping over!

Balone said...

I wish I had Robert's brain to coach my brain.
I probably would have broken my neck trying to rush over to the neighbor, and after my hospitalization, gone over to apologize about being so late.
By the way--I'm having my weekly vampire party tomorrow. I provide the drinks!

claud said...

Ha! Exactly! The feeding just goes on and on, doesn't it?

Thanks for stopping by, Balone.

Mockingbird said...

Just a quick reply to your comment on my blog!

Good to meet you and come back!

jennifergg said...

Hi Skayer! Me waving at you from over here! Nice to see you again!

As for your question about Robert and the neighbor, it sorta stumped me. I think Robert's behavior was, to the outsider, perhaps gruff? Or abrupt? But to the Slayer-in-training, it was perfect...especially in light of the fact that there is a _history_ with this neighbor.

Which makes me think of two points: one, why does giving a simple quesiton a direct answer seem gruff? Perhaps social customs are such that we feel EXPECTED to open ourselves up to strangers, which is nuts! Two, is the history important here? Does the fact that there is prior experiences make Robert's comment even MORE appropriate?

Wonderful post. I shall keep pondering these things...

claud said...

Hi Jen!!!

It depends so much on the relationship already established -- the history you mention is of course so important.

What appealed to me most about Robert's reaction was his non-response to rudeness. Talk about "teaching others how to treat us!" The second this guy got rude Robert demonstrated to him that this was EXACTLY THE WRONG WAY to communicate if he wants to communicate with Robert. If Robert had responded to that in any way --even if he'd been offended, it would be extended what I call in my book an "implicit invitation." I'll do a post on those soon.

There ARE other ways to avoid extending implicit invitations -- it's not necessary to avoid the question entirely.

Now if my blogger were working I'd post about it. Grr. Having trouble here with "saving" anything I try to post. It all disappears.