It began with something small, something most people have done – an outdoor meal.
But that one summer day, nobody could have predicted an innocent shindig would have been the catalyst for a “nuclear level Kathy event” that the entire country would have to witness with shock and disbelief. All it took was a piece of seafood.
The Vu family looked forward to any sunny day they could go out and light up the barbeque.
It was a great way to hang out with friends and family. The father grinned as he turned the fish and watched his kids play. Then, over the fence, he saw a familiar, glaring face.
It was Cilla Carden – the vegan massage therapist from next door.
Mr. Vu raised an eyebrow at her scrunched, angry expression – akin to sucking on a very sour lemon. She let out a loud huff as she climbed down and walked away. The first few times it happened, he brushed it off. But then she showed up at his door.
“Stop barbequing,” she demanded. “What do you mean?” The thin woman pointed to the backyard and turned up her nose.
“That disgusting meat smoke is all I can smell. I can’t even enjoy my backyard.” He was about to answer when she added something that he couldn’t believe.
“If you don’t’ stop. I’ll sue you.” She spun around and stomped back to her home.
The father stood there, stunned. Was she serious? Sue him for cooking outside? He went in and told his wife, who also happened to have a friend over for coffee. The friend rolled her eyes and said, “Oh god, HER again.”
Apparently, the vegan woman was notorious for complaining about pretty much anything that happened around her.
One time, she threatened someone for not pulling the weeds in their garden. The family had a meeting and decided to ignore her. Then, an envelope arrived in their mailbox … from a lawyer.
He stared at the letter, at a loss for words. Carden was indeed trying to sue them over their continued cooking (meat or not).
Over the months, the drama continued all the way to the dreaded court date. Even as he stood in front of a judge, he still wondered if it was a dream.
The judge listened to each side. Mr. Vu smiled as the judge said there were zero grounds for her actions and she should mind her own business.
For most, that would have been the end of it. But the angry neighbor took it to an astonishing new level that no one saw coming.
The Vu family was dragged to the Supreme Court – yes, Carden took it to the top.
They had already agreed to move their grill to the far side of their property, just to keep the peace. But the unpleasant woman was determined to control it all. The final verdict?
Mr. Vu let out a final sigh of relief. The request was denied. The woman stormed out of the courtroom, muttering more promises of retribution.
One day, as they were enjoying their breakfast, the family saw something unbelievable on television. His wife spat out her coffee and he slumped forward in his seat.
There was their neighbor, on camera, and complaining about how horribly her neighbors were treating her.
She claimed she couldn’t sleep. People were blowing cigarette smoke over the fence on purpose. There were also strong vows of keeping the case alive in appeals court. The news team uncovered her extensive list of demands.
“They’ve put [the grill] there so I smell meat and fish… all I can smell is fish,” she said. “I can’t enjoy my backyard, I can’t go out there.”
“It’s been devastating, it’s been turmoil, it’s been unrest, I haven’t been able to sleep,” Cilla said. And what she said catapulted the clash into full-blown public outcry.
Not only did she want to control how the Vu family (and the opposite neighbor) used their back yard, she wanted to deny their children the ability to play outdoors and bounce their basketball.
Apparently, the sound of the ball hitting cement and kids having fun annoyed her. Naturally, when the story reached Facebook, all hell broke loose.
The case has sparked debate on social media, with many users siding with Carden’s complaints about the smell of cigarettes and burning wood.
“BBQ is a little too far, but the other things are important everyone has the right to quiet enjoyment of their living space,” one Facebook user said. However, not everyone agreed with Carden.
“You’re breathing in the concentrated smoke before your neighbors receive it. If you wonder why you are feeling unwell all the time — it’s probably because you are burning everything else other than wood,” another user wrote. But then, the outcry began – and escalated quickly.
One user wrote: “Lost for words. Can’t stand kids playing basketball. What next.”
First, there was overwhelming support for the poor people who had to live next to her.
Then, there was the argument that if it had only been the meat smell, she might have had grounds. But when she tried to control every aspect of their private property, she lost all credibility. Because there were more complaints from Carden.
Not only did Carden point out how her neighbors’ gardening “should” be done, in her mind, but she also said that the shared fence should also be painted entirely at her neighbor’s fence.
Also, any “damage” to her plants from the cooking smoke should be paid for by the Vus. News outlets, Twitter, and YouTube aired the story. Then, the community also came up with its own idea of retribution.
Facebook users said Carden had no right to complain about barbecues while living in suburbia and should not be allowed to stop children from playing in their own backyards.
Then, someone had an idea about how they could serve her some payback on her neighbors’ behalf. And they didn’t care about how furious Carden was about to get…
A Facebook page called “Community BBQ for Cilla Carden” set up a virtual event asking people to BBQ at their own local locations around the world and share pictures with the group.
The Facebook event says: “Cilla Carden has a problem with her neighbors cooking meat on their BBQ because she’s a vegan. Don’t let Cilla destroy a good old Aussie tradition, join us for a community BBQ in protest of her actions.”
The event page says: “BYO hotdog buns, p.s. NO VEGANS.” The response on Facebook was explosive. Over 4,600 people of Perth promised to show up to a street barbeque right in front of Carden’s house.
Additionally, 10,000-plus say that they’re interested. “Throw a nice big steak on there for me! We all have that one miserable lonely neighbor who just hates quality family time,” one person wrote on the event page.
Incensed by this recent development, Carden has vowed to continue the fight in the courtroom against Vu and his family… but now, she has thousands of people against her and the situation continues to escalate..
The Facebook BBQ event gained so much traction that it also got the attention of John Hammond, Carden’s attorney.
“Any person who seeks to attend Ms. Carden’s property on Saturday October 19, 2019 or at any other time in relation to this event or matter will be referred to the [Western Australia] police on the grounds of trespass,” he commented.
“Security cameras will be installed to obtain vision of any person attending the property and the vision will be provided to the police.”
The event page also posted an updated note to make clear that the BBQ is a “peaceful protest” and that no one should plan to actually take their meat onto Carden’s property. “Instead the front yards of participating neighbors will be available for use [and] food trucks will be parked in participating neighbors’ driveways throughout the street,” the organizer wrote.
Shortly afterward, another edited post in the group said the planned street event would not be held because of logistics, but they hope hundreds, if not thousands of people across the globe will BBQ that day.
“Exactly what I’ve wanted…. is to live my life in peace,” Carden said of her ordeal.
Meanwhile, Mr. Vu has said in an interview that he also only wants to ‘keep the peace.’ He invited reporters into his garden to see that he has removed the grill from the back yard. He said that he has also stopped his kids from playing basketball in the garden.
Despite the planned “peaceful protest” outside Carden’s house getting canceled, the Facebook event’s page is still going strong.
The drama eventually boiled down to her continued tantrums, and everyone else (except for a few sympathizing vegans) ignoring her “beef”. The families are doing their best to keep the peace and carry on with their lives.