I have a male neighbor who I always had the sense was kinda, um, chauvinistic. For example, he talked to Mr. W in front of me many times without acknowledging me or looking at me, and when other (male) neighbors stopped by while we were all together talking, he’d introduce Mr. W but not me. It was a long time before he’d even thought to ask my name.

Anyway, on Monday evening after Mr. W retrieved our trash bins from the sidewalk, he went in the house into the restroom as I walked out the front door, as we were on our way to meet Claudio to get our whitewater rafting photo DVDs. This neighbor, whom I’ll refer to as A., came walking up across our front lawn smelling of the fat half-smoked cigar in his hand. “Is your better half here? I want to speak to him,” he said not unpleasantly as I ignored the “better half” comment. I answered that he’s inside in the restroom. A. pulled back a little and looked hard at me. “Really,” he said skeptically. “I JUST saw him out here pulling in the trash cans. How can he be in the restroom?”
“He was in the restroom when I just walked by him to come out here,” I answered lightly. Like I was HIDING my husband? A. started yelling Mr. W’s name from our front porch toward the house, and adding, “MARINE! I WANT TO TALK TO YOU, SIR!”
I said I don’t think Mr. W could hear him from inside the bathroom. I had even left the front door open about 1/3 of the way so as not to appear to close communication between the two.
A. kept going anyway. “I WANT TO INVITE YOU TO A MAN’S OUTING!”
I looked inside at the silent empty living room, again said that Mr. W’s likely not able to hear him from inside the restroom. A. finally relented, “Probably not,” then mentioned that he knows we do things on weekends and asked what we’d been doing. I said pleasantly that we had just come back from whitewater rafting this past weekend, and are attending a friend’s wedding this coming weekend.
When Mr. W eventually walked out, the neighbor asked him in front of me, “What are you doing August 21st?” Mr. W doesn’t keep track of schedules, obligations, events, birthdays of his relatives, etc., and had always deferred to the planner I kept in my purse. So now, Mr. W chuckled incredulously at the random date thrown at him by this neighbor and looked to me and said he didn’t know.
The neighbor A. said without ever turning to look at me, “I’m not asking what SHE says you’re doing, I’m asking YOU. What do YOU have planned for August 21?” I bit my tongue, and thought I’d just watch this play out.
Mr. W answered between chuckles that he doesn’t know what he’s doing day to day, doesn’t remember what he did even the night before, and that I’m his “secretary” and I keep track of events and what’s going on.
A. invited him to his house for a 5pm BBQ for that day, named a bunch of people who were gonna be there, some neighbors, some former army friends, some guys in some military position I didn’t catch “and you KNOW these guys took care of you in the service,” jabbing his finger in the air toward Mr. W in an attempt to guilt him into attendance. Emphasized this is a man’s event.
Mr. W was just nodding along, but making his way gradually to the car.
A. said repeatedly he wants to see Mr. W there and he wants to introduce Mr. W to these people, and then after dinner guys who play poker will play poker and the rest of them will “shoot the shit” into the night. I know my husband doesn’t want to meet a bunch of chauvinistic strangers and shoot shit; he’s not particularly interested in socializing with other people as it is, and now he’s gonna have to do it alone. Mr. W looked to me in a quick sideglance, and in a lull of conversation, I still managed to say pleasantly, “And if you drink, you only need to walk a few houses back home so that’ll be easy.” Mr. W said noncommitally that he’s not sure if we’re doing anything that weekend. A. insisted that Mr. W attend his BBQ, and added that if Mr. W doesn’t show up, then they’ll all know he’s “pussywhipped.” I’m not sure if Mr. W responded with something else noncommital or if A. just kept going, because I was too busy forcing my lips closed. A. continued, “Cuz some guys are, you know. They’re pussywhipped and they can’t leave their women behind. So leave your woman behind and be with men for a night. Don’t be pussywhipped.”
We were all walking away from our front porch toward the driveway where Mr. W’s car was parked; A. had his back turned to me the entire time, and I can deal with being invisible and I’m not particularly a feminist, but in this instance was irritated and offended.
As Mr. W walked to the driver’s side of the car and A. started to walk down our driveway to leave, I said, “That is NOT COOL how you put that. I don’t know why you have to say something like that.”
A. said, walking away, “Cuz you know some guys won’t go to something like that, that’s when you know they’re pussywhipped. If we don’t see you there, [Mr. W], we’ll all know you’re one of those guys.”
I called over my shoulder, back to A., “No, some people are just BUSY.”
He said dismissively without turning, “I know, I know, you guys are busy” as he walked off.

WTF. If A. could just leave it on the peaceful note of, “If you’re free, come by, we’d love to see you,” it’s fine and drama-free. But putting it like THAT to make it a challenge on me and insult, it was such an asshole thing to do. Was it really necessary to “call out” Mr. W? There was no indication that I wore the pants in the relationship, or that I would have a problem with this stupid outing. If A. thought he was pre-empting a control battle, did he actually think that creating conflict between a couple was going to HELP a guy get out of the house? He’d get farther by being nice so that the wife would be comfortable letting her husband go hang out with him, assuming that there actually were a tug-of-war of power between a couple to begin with. Now why the hell would a possessive wife (which his rhetoric seems designed to combat) be okay with the way he put that? It’s just causing conflict.

In the car, Mr. W said he didn’t care to spend an evening choking on cigar smoke with this odd neighbor, and he also doesn’t play poker, and asked me to “come up with something for that weekend” so that he’d have a legitimate reason to not attend. I’m thinking Mr. W should make an appearance to shut the neighbor up and leave early, and then he’d never have to go to another thing by this guy again.