Yes I am. Because I need your help and advice.
First, as is my custom, some background.
My brother Juan married into Money. I mean real money. His father-in-law is a world-recognized leader in his field and has literally written the text book on what he does. He's a self made man and has earned all the wealth and acclaim that he currently enjoys.
My sister-in-law, Juanite, is following in his footsteps and has a bright, debt-free future.
Her parents are divorced, and her mom is in a position of authority. She also has a huge alimony income in addition to her own family money.
Juan and I are from a blue collar family. My parents worked hard and they were able to put us through college for our first degrees. You know I just put myself through school again (with Mona's invaluable help) and Juan earned his MBA on his own. We also bought our own houses, cars, and other material possessions by earning the money we made.
My sister-in-law has two siblings. We'll call them Heckle and Jeckle. Both are attorneys. Heckle has a small practice and has gone to his Mom for cash to prop up the business recently (She sold a very expensive house in a resort type community on the east coast to cover him). Heckles wife is in sales and recently talked Heckle's dad into paying for her breast implants. Heckle is a bit of a jerk, but he's generally harmless.
Jeckle is married to an attorney. He practiced for about a year then married and decided to stay home to raise his son while his wife works. His some has some developmental issues, but I'm not sure if they're organic or have been created by Jeckle's numerous neuroses. His daughter has a significant development disorder and requires constant supervision. I have no issues with his decision to stay home with her. As far as his overall character however, Jeckle is in my opinion a huge pussy.
Both sons received a gift (according to my brother) $75K each from their father for the purchase of their homes. According to Juan, both boys have their hands out to Mom and Dad on a regular basis.
Juan and Juanita are currently house hunting. They want to move out of the blue collar neighborhood where we live (just a couple miles apart) to one that is more white collar / professional. They have the income and the ability, and I think they should live wherever they like. They've had some difficulty finding homes they like, had one deal fall through and are in the midst of negotiating for something they like.
The home they're bidding on now is on the opposite side of town (about 40 miles) from Juanita's family. Her family doesn't really like to leave their old money enclave, but Juan and Juanita feel that they have good reasons for searching in the area they've chosen. The area is about 20 miles from me, and fairly convenient. Mona and I talked about living in that area (in a much smaller, less expensive neighborhood) for some time, and like it a great deal.
All the time they've been shopping I've joked with them (especially when in school and unemployed) that I hope they find a house with a room in the basement where I can live when I lose our house (we were never in danger of losing our house). Juan and I both think the idea of me being the sponging, unemployed brother-in-law who lives in the basement is chuckle worthy.
I have approached the idea in a serious manner when talking about Mona and I moving. Because of the current credit climate I'm hearing that it's hard to buy a house when you still own a house. If that's true, then when it comes time for us to move it might be best for us to sell and stay in J&J's basement for a short time while we get a mortgage and find a new place. I figure that would take 2 to 3 months, and with 3000+ square feet (not counting the finished basement) we'd be pretty out of the way. We'd pay them some rent, of course, and Mona would do some child care for them while we were there too. But really the talks were all very hypothetical and no one requested or offered any sort of commitment. It was a big game of “What if..?”.
Which brings us up to the present.
We went to the Patriarch's place not long ago for an Easter visit. Mona and I were invited because it was also a birthday party for Juan's son, Luis.
The house hunt came up in conversation (most of the family was in the room discussing it) and a comment was made either by me or Juan that had something to do with me living in the basement. It was of course made in jest.
The next week, J&J found a house and are negotiating for it. The price was a little higher than planned, and Juanita called her mom to ask about a loan of some cash to cover some move-in expenses. Mom told her that she was uncomfortable with that, because she heard that I was planning to move my family in with them. Apparently Jeckle heard Juan and I joking and ran to mommy to tell her that I was looking for a handout. Juanita later heard the same thing from her father, who mentioned that Heckle was pretty upset.
Now, Heckle has annoyed me in the past with little shots, like pointing out at the Easter gathering that I'm overweight. He's right. But he's fat too (fatter than me, according to Mona). I blew it off. Jeckle's personality or social anxiety keeps him from doing much more than saying hello and goodbye to me while staring at his shoes. We've never had a conversation. Neither of these guys know a thing about me.
But now, Jeckle is out there impugning my character and suggesting that I'm some kind of gold digging bum. And apparently Dad and Mom are buying it. Juanita was not supposed to tell Juan any of this, but I think most wives would share this kind of thing with a spouse. Juan and I are tight enough that he calls me to vent when he's pissed. And of course I told Mona.
This how thing makes me angry. Juan is pretty fired up and Mona has decided she'd rather not see any of them again if at all possible. We certainly won't attend any more family functions on their home turf.
Now, if this were the Romantic age, I could ask Jeckle for satisfaction. I would not be expected to tolerate a slight to my honor. If Jeckle were more of a man and less surrounded by lawyers, I could just whip his ass (I'm not a tough guy at all, but Jeckle makes me look like Chuck Liddell). Both options are closed to me.
Mona says I just need to ignore it and stay away from them. It's too far removed from me to have any need to act. Juan may have to have some words with Jeckle, but really it ought to come from Juanita. My best friend Jaime agrees with Mona.
Juan is 75% of the way to whipping Jeckles ass.
I know that really, Mona and Jamie are right, but the blood of my ancestors and the teaching of my parents inclines me to partner up with Juan and teach Jeckle what happens when he decides that slander seems like a good idea.
What I'm looking for is a third option ideally. I'm leaning toward calling Jeckle a girls name whenever I see him from now on, along with finding other ways to torture him. I like the idea of causing him some social discomfort, engaging him in conversation (while obliquely letting him know that I know it makes him uncomfortable), finding ways to draw attention to him and occasionally causing him some physical pain (extra firm handshakes, “friendly” arm punches, etc). I would never, however, use his children to get to him. They and his wife, are and will remain, completely off limits.
So what I need is your advice. What, if anything, do I do? How shall I handle this?