Dear Bintel Brief:
Last year and this, we had a Hebrew school carpool with another family — old friends of ours. This year, parents of a boy in the area offered to participate and, hoping to have to do the driving every third week instead of second, we all agreed. Problem is, their son is DRIVING US NUTS, no pun intended.
He aggravates everyone around him, kids and adults alike. Frankly, we would like to drop the other family from the carpool, but don’t know how to present it to his parents without totally alienating them. And we have to see them in synagogue, so we’d like to be able to do this and all remain friendly.
Oh wise Bintel Briefer, what light can you shed on our predicament? Please tell us how to drop them — politely.
Being Driven Nuts in the Bronx
ROB KUTNER RESPONDS
Dear Bronx Nuts-Drivee:
Like any good relationship breakup — and is there any other kind? — you have to make this a case of “It’s not you, it’s me.” Think of a positive reason, for example, “This may sound crazy, but I [parent who drives carpool] actually miss driving my kid to carpool every other week. It was kind of a bonding thing for us. I want to go back to that.”
You might also lighten the breakup by first making casual inquiries about other parents seeking carpool opportunities. Then you can say to Mr. and Mrs. Nutsenberg, “I heard so-and-so is looking to carpool - you should talk to them.”
But before you pull the trigger (I have to stress here, “figuratively”), think if there’s any way to mitigate and live with the current situation. Are there games or distractions that could make the kid more tolerable? Google road trip games, or turn on NPR and quiz the kids on topics and people mentioned in the news stories. If nothing else, this could work a kind of magic: turning the most annoying person car into you.
Failing all that, I’d consider converting to Buddhism. At least when you carpool kids to Buddhist school, it’s for a religion that prizes silence.
*Emmy-winning writer Rob Kutner has written for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” and “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien,” He is the author of “Apocalypse How: Turn the End Times into the Best of Times” (Running Press 2008). His annual New York Purim spiel, “The Shushan Channel” — starring Liz Winstead and Joel McHale — goes live Saturday, February 27 at the 92Y Tribeca. Buy tickets here.
If you have a question for the Bintel Brief, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions selected for publication will be printed anonymously.