needed: a fence to keep out inappropriate disclosures

Recently my neighbours' dog died. It wasn't actually their dog, it was their daughter's and son-in-law's dog, but Daughter often dropped off H-Dog at her parents' house for daycare. Mr Neighbour especially spent a lot of time with H. Poor H died suddenly, at the dog park. Making it worse for H's parents, their previous dog had also died young. When we lost a dog suddenly, only 8 months after another dog had died, our hearts were unspeakably broken. I can easily imagine how bad they must have felt.

I rarely see Ms Neighbour. I can count on one hand the number of conversations I've had with her, and none of them lasted more than five minutes. Allan sees her a bit more, because our homes share a front yard and they do the lawn mowing. I can't even call Ms Neighbour an acquaintance, because I don't know her name. (I once asked, but have forgotten.) We are friendly neighbours, nothing more.

The only reason I knew that H died was because Mr and Ms Neighbour came over with H's treats for our dogs. Allan went over to say thanks and got the story. So the next time I happened to be outside at the same time as Ms Neighbour, I spotted her through the cedars and said, "So sorry about H."

So Ms Neighbour told me the story of H's death, and how upset Daughter and Son-in-law are. In that context, she said, "The dog was so important to them, because they can't have children."


This was completely inappropriate, for so many reasons!

The pain of suddenly losing a beloved animal needs no further explanation. If the couple had children or not, I would expect the loss to be horrible.

And not having children requires no explanation! I don't have children. Does this woman assume I "couldn't"?

And this inappropriate disclosure isn't even her information to give. Why is she sharing this very personal information about her daughter, who I have never even met? Does she tell everyone her daughter and son-in-law can't have children?

My guess is Ms Neighbour is not comfortable with Daughter's childfree state. It probably requires explanation in her own mind. So she needs a little lag time between thought and speech!

I didn't say any of this, of course. I said something like, "We also don't have children, so I know how much her dogs mean to her." It was just the first thing I could think of. What I really wanted to say was, "Why the fuck are you telling me that? Does your daughter know you're such an idiot?"

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