I once got into a grudging Nice Off with a neighbour. This crotchety old bastard had moved in across from my grandma and within a week became legendary for his sniping about every tiny thing. Kids sitting on their front steps weren’t respectful. Someone’s cat got into his yard. The mailman stopped in front of his parking space for two seconds. The man was impossible.
So I baked him a cake. Not like a Duncan Hines box cake either. I made an angel food cake with whipped cream and strawberries between the layers and lemon buttercream frosting entirely from scratch. I was and still am crap at cake decorating, but pale yellow frosting with star shaped sprinkles on top looks pretty good no matter how uncoordinated you are. Then I put on my nicest clothes, marched over, and apologised for not welcoming him to the neighbourhood sooner.
He slammed the door in my face. Then the next day he came over with cookies. I offered to mow his lawn. He told me he wouldn’t pay me then invited me in for lemonade. I took him cupcakes I had “accidentally” made too many of. He loaned me a book on Irish history. I read him the newspaper. He (rudely) told me how to improve my English presentation. I raked up his leaves. He told me stories about his time in Korea. Eventually the fucker gave in and actually started being half-way pleasant.