Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have two friends who used to be very close. One (A) is like a sister to
me, and the other (B) I have bonded with more recently, starting in
the middle-school period for their sons, who grew up like brothers, in a
semi-competitive but loving way. A moved away from being down the
block from B, to get her son into a “better” school. A moved back to
the original house for high school and they were neighbors again, but
less close. The boys are now both college grads, having ended up both
in the honors college of a nearby university, and been roommates
most of the four years. A’s son moved away for grad school; B’s son is
looking for work in the same city as his girlfriend, which, believe it or
not, is in the same town as the one A bought a few hours away,
because she is moving again, this time probably for good. A said no,
because she is letting the daughter of a family friend stay there for
free while she recovers from losing a job and fiancée, and wants to go
there herself on weekends so she and her husband can get it ready for
their relocation. The house is huge and the lower floor is a rentable
two-bedroom apartment that B’s son would pay for. Appreciate that I
hear these stories from both of them and if I did not I would never
believe it was the same story. Both expect me to validate their point of
view and I am unsure what to say. There’s more details but that’s
enough for the outline.


Dear Hellppp:

I actually got out a pencil and paper and tried to keep track of the
characters in this little drama until I realized the issue has less to do
with anyone’s relationship but A’s with B and B’s with A and both with
you. So here’s my advice to all of you, which will be yours to
implement by saying to both of them: Stop talking about one another
and start talking to one another. I refuse to carry tales between you,
but if you ask my opinion I will start telling you the truth and stop
nodding so you think I agree with you.



I can understand A’s reluctance to fill a house full of twenty-
somethings if she is planning on living there. But if she visits only on
weekends, I would assert that she is responsible for setting all the
ground rules, including telling all the kids that when she is there, they
need to find different crash pads. Coming down from that draconian
stance, she should treat B’s son and the distressed family friend pretty
equally, especially if B’s son is like a brother to her own son. The kids
can share the lower part, all for free for a month or so. After B’s son
gets a job he and the girlfriend can agree with A on rent or find a place
of their own. But the big lesson here is simple: don’t be the person in
the middle.