Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

This is in part the confession of a guilty pleasure: I’m a woman who
loves watching college football. My home team is winning, but that’s
icing on the cake for a football addict. I know that’s not what I’m
supposed to do on Shabbat, but when I get home from Torah study
and services, that’s what I choose. I have an assortment of friends
who’ve come over to watch with me. Recently a neighbor who’s also a
close friend started to join us, in part so she can join the local fan
fever. The problem: my neighbor has a very loud and shrill voice, and
loves to cheer, but knows nothing about the game. I find it annoying
but still love her; the other folks find it pestilential. They’ve each said
they prefer to watch elsewhere if she’s going to be there. I like my big
TV and the comfort of my own home. I don’t want to have to run from
someone whom I otherwise enjoy and value. What to do?


Dear Fan:

This is a chance to apply commandment #7: Say what needs to be
said. It’s a useful dictum, because it encourages you to say what you
need to, but no more than that. Take your neighbor aside a few days
before the next game. Explain that her volume and lack of
understanding of the game is a fatal combination for watching with the
folks with whom you’ve shared football for years. Tell her you don’t
want to un-invite her because you value your friendship. But you’d like
her to make a conscientious attempt to talk at half volume. Also, offer
to have her over for tea and explain the basic rules of the game, or
suggest she restrict her comments to echoing what the others are
exclaiming until she knows more.

Appreciate she’ll likely be defensive and embarrassed. No one likes
being told that all who meet them do not warmly love them. But you
should slightly oversell the long-term relationship among the other
watchers. Also say they’re a little elitist but very important to your
social life. My bet is that the neighbor will choose to watch elsewhere,

at least some of the time. You should do the same, both to spare
yourself the weekly hostessing duties and to get yourself out of the
center of the bull’s eye of this issue.