Category Archives: People & Politics

Out of !!!!s

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My former best friend is royally angry with me and I think she is very
in the wrong. We’ve been neighbors for 20 plus years. Our husbands
used to work together. Our sons grew up like brothers; both are
getting married this summer to wonderful young women. But she and
her husband have decided to move to where their son/daughter-in- law
will live. In the year since she made this decision our relationship has
deteriorated, in part because her attention is focused two hours north,
and in part because she’s started to treat me like chopped liver, as the
old saying goes. She assumes I am on tap for whatever she needs,
and has never once asked if I needed anything because she is so
preoccupied with her transition. She’s putting her house on the market
(for sale by owner) soon and asked if I would stand in for her. Why?
Because she and hubby are going to be out of town attending their
son’s Frisbee tournament! If it were the Olympics, I would stretch but
it is &*%^ frisbee and I work 60 hours a week plus care for my
own family. I told her “Sorry. No can do. Not enough time.” Now she is
accusing me of not being supportive of their move.

Out of !!!!s

 
Dear Out of:

Twenty years is plenty long enough for big asks, and I put hostessing
an open house in that category. But her request reflects a lack of
understanding of the status of your friendship. It’s not the same as,
say, Can I list your address for a package delivery? Or Can you fill in
for me when the cable guy comes in case I can’t make it home in
time? Selling a house requires not just a warm body to open the door
but being “on” socially with prospective buyers, and also being
knowledgeable enough about the home to be able to answer questions
that potential new owners might ask. No was a thoroughly legitimate
answer. She should reschedule the open house or pass on the Frisbee
trip.

 

I understand that your No came not only from not having much
discretionary time for yourself but also from your sadness about the
changes in the friendship. That seems like a worthwhile conversation
to have before she moves away.

Liberal

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Every year at Passover I am confronted by the fact that my relatives
are bigots. This despite that we’re a family of immigrants. The story
should be a cautionary tale: both sides of the family escaped Nazi
Germany in 1939, with the assistance of my father who had emigrated
a few years earlier. They worked amazingly hard their whole lives so
we kids had it easier. I live a life of privilege compared to the rest of
the planet so do all my family. So why should I have to sit without
speaking up at a ritual that’s supposedly about liberation from slavery
and hear my aunts and uncles say words my first-graders aren’t
allowed to us about people trying to immigrate here now. My parents
give me the eye-rolling looks that say I am not supposed to cause a
scene and confront anyone with their hypocrisy. How can I educate my
relatives that the door did not slam shut on America right after our
meshpochah landed?

Liberal

 
Dear Liberal:

Some families have rules forbidding discussion of politics at
gatherings, especially holidays. Others indulge in free-for- alls. While
it’s always possible that one or more are talking that way to annoy or
provoke you, the more possible truth, and sadly embarrassing
knowledge, is that they probably don’t realize how bigoted and
hypocritical their language is.

 
Given that it’s after the Seder, I’d send a follow-up email to the
offenders, or even to the family as a whole. Say very simply what you
tell your students when they use inappropriate language: that it is
dehumanizing and cruel, and reflects more poorly on the speaker than
the spoken of. Draw the obvious parallels between your family and
current immigrants, and ask some open-ended questions to spark a
dialogue. You might or might not have an impact, but at least you’ll
have served notice that you’re not going to be quelled from expressing
your own views. At a minimum, they’ll have to listen.

Tired of Gossip

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I know you get this question, or a variation of it, every year. But
please remind your readers about the etiquette of family events like
Seders. Every year I end up embroiled in the post-Seder round robin
conversations between various siblings, nieces, aunts, cousins, etc
critiquing the quality of so-and- so’s cooking, the inappropriateness of
someone’s attire, who said what to whom about what, etc etc etc for
every possible way that one human being can criticize or kvetch about
another. And this in a family that generally gets along and likes one
another

Tired of Gossip

 
Dear Tired of Gossip:

The irony of turning a holiday that’s about liberating ourselves from
slavery into enslaving ourselves to criticism is beyond sad. We’re
supposed to be about celebrating the end of 400 years of brick-making
and servitude. Not turning up the heat on those near and dear to us.
I’m reminded of the scene in Avalon, a movie set in Baltimore in the
mid-19th century, about two brothers who feud on a Thanksgiving.
One drives off in a huff while the other screams at him, waving a
drumstick, and they don’t talk for fifty years. (At least that’s how I
remember it.) Imagine 50 years without a sibling. You might smile for
a second after winning a small argument, but it would be a collassal
loss for you and your family.

 
So here’re the rules for all family events, from Passover through
Chanukah: Thou shalt not criticize others. That includes their cooking,
their clothing, their children, their homes, their cars, their choice of
vacations, or their choice of souvenirs for the meshpochah. Thou shalt
not say anything that can be misinterpreted by someone with a grudge
against someone else. When asked about anyone’s cooking, say, It
isn’t as good as I remember my mother’s but a very interesting new
way of doing that dish. When asked about someone’s atrocious new
sofa or dress say, It’s not my taste but it suits her and seems to be
making her very happy. Express joy for the satisfaction of others. Do
not appear to take any pleasure in the misfortunes, shame, failures, or
other life traumas of anyone in your circle. That’s actually a pretty
good way to improve your adherence to lashon hara, the mitzvah that
proscribes gossip. It’s also a good way to get people to like you more,
relatives or not. Kindness breeds kindness, not rancor.

Overwhelmed With Worry

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

What can I do to help a friend who has just been diagnosed with ALS?
Her health has been declining for the past two years. She has gone
from a vibrant public figure to a woman who needs a walker to get
from her recliner into her wheelchair. Her husband is overloaded
already caring for his 98-year- old mother. She has no biological
children, but does have adopted grandchildren (long story). I am her
friend and neighbor and usually run quick errands for her like library
books (my office is a block away) and specialty items from a favorite
store. But now she needs more and more help every day, and I’m
concerned the people who have been bringing her meals etc during the
most recent spate of testing and treatment may fad away with this
news. She is very appreciative for help but also very frightened, and
there is so very much to do around the house and in the bigger
picture.

Overwhelmed With Worry

 
Dear Overwhelmed:

There are two levels of support people who have received a terminal
diagnosis need. And be clear, even if it is a slowly progressing form of
ALS, there is no cure at this time. That doesn’t mean that any one of
her friend or family might not go first, but the prognosis is of
progressive decline until death. So the emotional level of support,
among family and the inner circle of closest friends needs to be
addressed first. Because the disease is not linear or predictable, it is
useful to first establish big criteria of needs: assists with meal
preparation or companionship in the house in the earlier stages,
compared to assists with bathing, eating, etc in later stages.

 
Fortunately there are many websites set up to support exactly this
kind of situation. One I know best is caringbridge.org, though I am
sure others are also good. It allows people to identify specific tasks
(e.g. a gluten free vegetarian dinner for two on a specific date, of two
hours of housecleaning) and friends to sign up to provide them. These
sits also allow the patient to give medical updates to people who care
about her welfare. Ask your friend if she wants help setting that up,
and perhaps offer to be her site manager (or recruit one). You are
right that a long haul will wear folks down. But it takes a village to
support us all in hard times.

Teach

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I work in a relatively poor rural school district. Most of us who teach
here do it for love of the children. Certainly not for the very low
salaries and bad working conditions. Last autumn we finally got a new
superintendent, who replaced an arrogant and I suspect corrupt
predecessor. He diverted all the money that souls have improved
academics to sports teams. The new one is all about classrooms and
getting students access to technology. This week, for Teacher
Appreciation Day, he personally went to each school and put a giant
Snickers bar into each teacher’s mailbox. He also sent a sweet email
acknowledging our professionalism and commitment. I was away at a
training, but came back to an empty mailbox, if you don’t count the
normal detritus of district announcements. A friend reported that a
much-unloved colleague had gone around harvesting the candy from
the boxes of those of us who were away or sick, cheerfully gloating,
“You snooze, you lose!” in front of several other teachers. She missed
any sense of irony, given that she is about 100 pounds above a
healthy BMI. I don’t even like Snickers, but I know folks who do. And
I’m annoyed at her behavior. Say what to her?

Teach

 
Dear Teach:

I’d avoid fat shaming, because you’d feel almost the same if she were
skinny and a chocolate thief, though perhaps a little less self-
righteous. Simple post a sign in the teachers lounge that says this:
Dear Candy Thief: Among the values we try to teach our students are
integrity and honesty. The candy bar you removed from my box while
I was away at a teacher training was a symbolic but meaningful thank
you. I would like to appreciate it in my own way. Please return it to my
mailbox without further ado.

 

Most folks would be shamed and comply. Those that would not be are
so inured to public opinion that virtually northing will impact their
psyche. Either way, thank the new superintendent.

Second Chance at Life

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

This question is at the intersection of family of origin and family of
choice. Or perhaps at the intersection of clashing cultural norms and
politeness. Long life story made very short: I was a happily married
woman for thirty-five years before my husband died. I was single for
ten years. If you can add that puts me in my late sixties. For the last
year I have been in a warm and loving relationship with a woman who
has been my best friend for two decades. She was also widowed, and
we had a long history of taking vacations with our husbands, theatre
and dinner dates, etc, which we continued after the funerals. One
night we had a conversation about very personal and intimate things,
and within a month we were lovers. Now we think of ourselves as
“married” although we live in a state that doesn’t even recognize civil
unions between same-sex couples. A nephew, who used to be a
favorite, is having his third wedding. He’s a successful NYC lawyer and
likes showing off to his colleagues and clients. The invitation received
came with a reply card already checked off in the “Will come
unaccompanied” box, and a quick handwritten note from my nephew
that read “I’m sure you’ll understand.” In fact, I do not understand
and feel both slighted and annoyed. The reality is that my honey has
as little interest in attending as my nephew does in hosting her. But
the idea of a great weekend in NYC seeing some shows and museums
sounds like a grand anniversary weekend. I’m hurt and want to wring
his ears. What’s the right reply?

Second Chance at Life

 

Dear Second Chance:

You have a variety of options. No matter which you choose, it should
be accompanied by a blunt burst of education for your socially
conscious nephew. Tell him in no uncertain terms that your current
partner is your life partner, for better or worse, for nephew or worse,
just as his fiancée will be to him. Assure him that your relationship will
be damaged in some measure if he fails to understand that and
acknowledge that.

 

As for the wedding, you can choose to not attend at all, and the same
with a gift, or nothing more than a token. You can tell the truth about
why, or say you and your honey already have plans to be in NYC
another weekend and cannot do both. (You could ask if he’d like to
meet her, if only to goose him a little.) You could choose to attend the
ceremony, because, after all, family is family, but skip the party. But
in no circumstances should you let him off the hook for his rudeness.
You don’t need to trash him to your common kin. But if a little guilt
seeps into his head, maybe he’ll grow up, as he should.

Stunned

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

What, if anything, should I say to a friend who is breaking the law?
Since I have known her (twenty-five years, first as work colleague
then as social friend) she has always been an upstanding person:
reliable, honest, and the type of person not even to run a yellow light,
let alone break a serious rule. I was at her house for a party and used
her personal bathroom because the other was busy. Then I looked at
the new décor in her bedroom, which she had told me she wanted me
to see. While I was looking around, I saw a marijuana pipe and a jar of
leafy herbs on her nightstand. I wasn’t just surprised, I was shocked! I
know the younger generation uses pot like we use alcohol, and doesn’t
think twice about it, but to find a respected senior and member of the
temple board with a pipe seems strange. Ask, or keep my big mouth
shut?

Stunned

 
Dear Stunned:

Pot-smoking, among all generations, is becoming more common, and
in some states legal as well as socially more acceptable. Like other
social trends, the national acceptability of gay marriage for example,
society is changing fast. Conspiracy theorists have hypothesized that
big pharma and big tobacco see this as the next big cash crop. While
many people smoke for recreational reasons, many others do so for
medical ones, from pain relief to a cure for insomnia. In the absence of
more information that would be my guess for your friend. Given your
summary of her life, I’m sure she hasn’t advertised this.

 

The reality is that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in
their own home and in their bedrooms. So for you to open your “big
mouth” in an accusatory way to her, or, worse, to gossip about her to
others, would be a true violation of the friendship. Either let it be, or, if
you suffer from insomnia or some other ill that pot might help, bring it
up casually in a conversation, saying that an anonymous friend had
suggested it to you as an option for remediation and that you are
curious what she thinks. She might suspect something, so if she does
ask you outright, confess and say you didn&'t know how to bring it up.
If she declaims all knowledge, let her off the hook and let it go,
keeping your mouth shut to others, even in what you might think
would be a subtle probe. We are rarely as opaque as we hope. If you
want to gossip about someone, let it be you, not her.

Hostess

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

What’s the etiquette of setting boundaries around politics and
discussions of same at Passover? I have a noisy, boisterous family that
includes to my shame supporters of Donald Trump as well as rabid
Hillary and Bernie people. I’m a liberal Democrat, but I am not doing
to disinvite my brother because he has outed himself as a right-wing
jerk. But I do not want the serious festivities to devolve into a political
food fight. Can I just ban all talk of politics?

Hostess

 
Dear Hostess:

You can set down any dictum you want. But the chances it will be
honored are pretty small, at least as far as I can tell, in this particular
election year, where everyone talks politics as often as they discuss
diets and which body part is aching and aging. In addition, Passover is
a holiday that is very much about liberation from oppression. I suspect
each guest will have his/her own view about what oppression means,
and feel very empowered to express that view, perhaps even more so
if you try to set boundaries that are perceived as harsh or strict.
If you try to make it humorous, you might get more traction. You
could say that there will be no political commentary during the reading
of the Haggadah, and that if anyone violates that rule they will suffer
some public shaming punishment, like no dessert. I doubt there would
be a serious food fight. But you can and should tell each of the
explicitly vocal people that you do not want your holiday disrupted,
and that if they cannot keep their comments civil and their voices
down, you would prefer that they not attend. That alone should be
enough to show them where you set the bar. If you need to, you could
send a reminder email the day before, with your confirmation of food
assignments. The PS should read, Remember, if you are tempted to
wave any political banner at this Seder, you will also have
responsibility for all forms of cleaning up the table and washing all the
dishes. That would convince most rational people to play and speak
nicely.

Time’s Too Short

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m a senior living on a limited income. My congregation has a policy of
reduced dues for seniors, and also an option to pay 2% of one’s
income as dues, with the understanding that part of the “missing”
revenue will be made up for in volunteerism. I have served on a
variety of committees and just volunteered to be a “Welcome Mensch”
for new members. I was assigned a couple who moved here a year
ago, who joined a few months ago, and whom I met yesterday. To say
there was no fit is not even close. While we shared some common
background, and should have gotten along, the hour plus coffee klatch
seemed to last forever. Finally, in attempt to either bond or create
distance, I brought up politics. When his first words were about
privatization and then a long tirade denouncing “political correctness,”
I suspected another problem. The wife pursed her lips grimly, and
declined to speak. To break the tension I said cheerfully, “Bernie and
Elizabeth Warren is my dream ticket!” They excused themselves soon
after. In theory I am to see and/or call them monthly for a year. Do I
have to?

Time’s Too Short

 
Dear Too Short:

This particular election season is bringing every bad type of feeling and
behavior front and center. Not just from the politicians but among
ordinary folks as well. If you truly cannot stand these folks, you have a
legitimate reason to talk to the committee chair and ask that they be
assigned to a different person. But if the true point of the role is to be
both welcoming and a mensch, this is a wonderful opportunity to
practice tolerance and compassion, two Jewish values that might have
more of an impact on these folks and on you than rudeness and
running.

 

Follow up your meeting with a bread-and- butter note saying again how
much the congregation welcomes new members. Suggest some
committees they might volunteer for, or other activities that will get
them more engaged with the community and less dependent on you to
be their personal guide. If you know other members with whom they
share interests, send an email to both suggesting they meet for coffee.
In your next meeting with them, which you can push off at least six
weeks, find a place that’s distracting, like an art fair or farmers’
market. And avoid talking politics. There’s enough of that all around
us.

Stretched Thin

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Help me out of a pickle. When I worked, which is until I retired a year
ago, I was the contracts manager for a small company. I worked
primarily with two people: the president (who is now a consultant to
the same company) and with a man who was like my twin brother. We
saved each other’s lives emotionally more often than I can count when
working with the president got rough. I just walked into two vmails:
one from former coworker who’s managing a contract with my ex-
boss, and one from the ex-boss. They disagree about how much
money he should get on a project and what he should do. Each is
calling on me for help but nobody’s paying me yet for my insight and
advice. My sympathies are with my co-worker, but there’s a lot of
complicated history, and my ex-boss hinted he would pay me to be his
negotiator. What should I do?

Stretched Thin

 
Dear Stretched Thin:

You have a variety of choices about how to respond to each. The
simplest is to politely return both phone calls and say, You know I’m
really enjoying being retired. You two are going to have to learn how
to talk to one another without me. Say what needs to be said, and
keep talking until you agree. Option two is to decide whom you
genuinely like better, and if you can afford to let go of the relationship
with the other. That changes what you say on the calls. If you have
any interest in working for your ex-boss again tell him you’re happy to
serve as his contracting agent but here’s your fee. Make it high
enough to compensate for hazard pay. If you prefer to help your friend
and say the hell with the money, then tell your ex-boss No thanks, and
tell your friend your opinion on how to manage the work and the ex-
boss.

 

Even if you help solve this contest, everyone needs to recognize this is
a one-time pass, and that in the future you will politely decline to be in
the middle of any such dramas. Your simplest answer both of them is
really this: You know working together was great but retirement is
even better. I’m sure you can work this out. Your voicemails reminded
me how much I prefer my watercolor class. Good luck!!

PC Too

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I work in a school in a poor rural district. Most of the teachers are
kind, caring, and dedicated professionals. The few that are not are
given a very wide berth by the rest of us, so it is very uncommon to
hear racial slurs or other forms of insensitivity. A colleague just placed
a problem in my lap involving two friends. One, A, my friend who
works in a different classroom reported that the other, B (one of my
best friends), said something close to the N-word and that she was
horrified and wanted to report her. A said that B said it in a joking,
almost friendly context, referring to her weekend as “I’m going to go
out in my yard and work like a field hand.” A is from South Africa of
mixed race and very sensitive. B has never, ever, ever exhibited any
racist tendencies. If anything she’s among most politically correct
people I know. But A was legitimately shocked and wants to make an
object lesson of B as a warning for the real racists. If she succeeds in
getting something put in B’s permanent file, B might never work again.
I think it was a very unfortunate slip of the tongue, and I don’t want to
see her chastised too harshly. What, if anything, can I do as an
intervention?

PC Too

 
Dear PC Too:

You can sit down with the two of them and hope that the conversation
works. The message you want to deliver is: You may have thought you
were joking to a friend, but you are not black and you cannot know the
impact of hearing a word that’s been used not just as a racial slur but
is also close to a word that’s been used as a form of violence and
intimidation for centuries. Please apologize now. Please promise you’ll
never do this again. Please ask A’s forgiveness. Then be quiet and let
B speak for herself. A is going to have to hear the sincerity in her
apology and a deep desire to participate in some form of remediation,
not just to A personally but as part of a social context.

 

The three of you might also go to the administrative powers that be
and ask that the whole school (teachers, staff, students) receive some
racial sensitivity training. You don’t have to go into the details of the
incident. Rather declare it a matter of common concern that you would
like to see addressed by the whole community. Ask for a special
assembly with invited speakers, and workshops where teachers and
students from mixed age groups can participate. Also ask that a
procedure be put in place where violators of the no-insults policy by
given a graduated series of warnings and censure. I doubt that B will
repeat the offense, but think a permanent mark on her record is too
great a price to pay for misspoken attempt at bad humor.

The Ref

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’ve gotten in the middle of two friends who are having something
more than a spat and less that a full break-up and I’m trying to figure
out what to do. Both of them have taken to calling me to air their
grievances about the other. The specifics range from sheer pettiness
to legitimate sources of concern. But as this has escalated it has begun
to verge on the comical, or would, if I didn’t genuinely care about both
of them. The lack of honesty and closeness between them has been
happening over several years, but now has escalated to a point where
when they hang up with one another both of them dial my number
almost immediately, starting their conversations almost identically,
“You’re the only one I can talk to about this. You won’t believe what
she just did or said….” I’ve tried to tell them they should talk to one
another more kindly and cut each other some slack over the small
stuff, but it feels like I am talking in Swahili. Neither one responds and
just rants about the other. What else can I say or do?

The Ref

 
Dear Ref:

Take yourself out of the center of the ring, unless you are enjoying it
ways you aren’t copping to. The next time each of them calls and
starts to rail, just keep saying Stop! Stop! Stop! until she hears you.
Then deliver as blunt a message as you can. My script goes something
like this: I know you two used to be closer. I certainly know you are a
long way from appreciating each other’s finer qualities. But the war of
words isn’t helping either of you and frankly I’m starting to like you
both a little less for it. Please stop using me as your sounding board or
source of perceived rationalization for what you say and how you feel.
My advice is that the two of you go off somewhere and talk or shout it
out until you are hoarse from yelling and end up laughing about how
silly you have been. But if you can’t get it together to do that at least
stop making me unhappy as well.

 

That’s unlikely to win you any brownie points with either of them. But
at least you’ll have had the satisfaction of getting your frustrations
out. The alternative is to try and broker a peace accord, inviting them
both over for tea (probably without revealing why in advance) and
trying to say something more softly that conveys the same message.
The only thing I can promise is that the odds you will be thanked for
your efforts are slim, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a try.

Tongue Tied

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I am an exceptionally competent and hard-working person. I don’t
know how to work less than 50 hours a week and often closer to 70.
Not for pay, because no sane employer would pay for that. I left my
last job out of stress and overload and am now starting to look for
another professional job. My resume is excellent and I have no
problem getting interviews. But I am realizing that my menopausal
brain (I’m 55) is starting to trip me up. I am having issues around
finding the right words when I need them. Then I get flustered and
red-faced (both from embarrassment and hot flashes) and things go
downhill from there. My counselor is helping me learn how to cope
better with stress itself. But can you help me with the interview
problem so I don’t have to add financial woes to the other issues?

Tongue Tied

 
Dear Tongue Tied:

The single most important aspect to job interviews, beyond
demonstrating competence in the field you’re being hired to work in, is
that indefinable quality of “fit.” Fit means whether people like you,
want to work with you, feel you are someone they can rely on to show
up and do a good job, and are comfortable around. Unfortunately
that’s led to decades, even centuries, of white males running
boardrooms and on down the corporate food chain; though we’re on
the road of diversity, there’s still along road ahead. Gender
notwithstanding, people don’t feel a sense of fit or comfort with people
who are nervous. It’s contagious, makes folks uncomfortable, and shy
away. So the only thing you should focus on is making yourself
comfortable so they lean in, not away.

 
Interviews are a way to showcase your history. Do it through stories.
When you’re telling a story about your life, you won’t get tongue tied.
I suggest giving yourself one 4×6 flashcard that is easy to read. Have
two dozen keywords on it in two columns. Left column is a list of
typical interview questions: a big success, failure, challenge, deadline,
etc.. Right column are one word prompts: a name, a project, a date,
whatever will prompt you to tell a succinct and articulate story. Make
them laugh. Make them like you. Make them see your true self. That’s
the best you can do.

Very Very Peeved

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have a friend with whom I seriously disagree about politics. It took a
long while after the November elections for us to reestablish quasi-
normal friendship conversation about non-political things, and only
slowly did we start talking very cautiously about matters we disagree
about. Yesterday she sent me an article from FOX News (which I never
listen to) about Jews with Israeli flags being ejected from the gay
parade in Chicago. When I try to explain to her that I disagree with
that position but that in my view it is the corrosive attitude of hate
that has become validated over the last year in our country, she
replied with a rant ending about how “pathetic, absolutely pathetic”
my ideas and attitudes are. I did not respond. I know she had a giant
fight with her daughter last fall over the same issues (the
fiancée/future son-in- law is an immigrant), and managed to
reconstruct that relationship only by threatening to cut the daughter
out of her will.

 

I’m not her daughter; I’m not financially dependent on
her; and I think she’s not only mean but hypocritical, because her
husband is receiving medication valued at $2000 a month on a subsidy
because they are supposedly poor enough to qualify. These people on
their own home, and have a pension of several thousand dollars a
month beyond social security, were both immigrants too, and seem to
care only that they got theirs and the rest of the needy be damned.
How should I respond?

Very Very Peeved

 
Dear Peeved:

Lots depends on how much you value this friendship. I’m all for talking
across the giant chasm that separates many people in America today
regarding political matters. I think if we can’t learn to talk about these
things we are unlikely to resolve them. But how we communicate
matters. And having a peer treat you the way she would treat her child
is a legitimate reason to be peeved.

 

 

You need to first establish ground rules for communication and mutual
respect. I recommend a couple days cooling off period to see if she
comes toward you again in anywhere more of a conciliatory tone.
If/whenever she does contact you, tell her your feelings were hurt and
that you wish ground rules for how you to talk to one another. If she
doesn’t come close you have the choice to initiate contact or let the
friendship slide away. Where it goes from there is a function of her
future flashpoint. Giving her examples of her bullying and hypocrisy
will not endear you to her. But you may be ready for that outcome. If
not, decide how far over to bend.

Not A Fun Day

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Every year I go to an annual local arts and music festival (a three-day
weekend) with a certain friend. We have a way to get in early by
helping a mutual friend set up her booth, and then get to stroll for
several uninterrupted hours before the “tourists” come. While the
paths are crowded (think 10,000 people) we tend to camp out in one
of the music venues, alternating between saving seats and going for
food and bathroom runs. We walk about 5-7 miles all told, hear great
music, and often find unique art to bring home. It is a start of summer
tradition that we both value.

 

This year another friend asked if she could join is, and, against both of our
better judgment, we said yes. She was no help with set-up, and slow and
whiney most of the day, particularly when we didn’t want to change our habits
and brave the overcrowded afternoon hours moving through crowds. Then she
wanted to leave several hours earlier than we did and complained
bitterly on the ride home several hours later (after we had parked her
in the shade by some good music to chill out) about what bad
hostesses we were and declared “After today, I don’t even like you!”
Should we attempt to ameliorate this situation or just see if it blows
over?

Not A Fun Day

 
Dear Not A Fun Day:

I always advocate communication instead of passive-aggressive
silence. Your friend sounds like a handful in the best of times, and in
the worst, someone I too would want to park in the shade and walk
away from. I’m assuming you told her the rules of the days when she
first asked to come along, as in: This is when we leave, how long we
stay, what we do, etc etc. If she came along with full knowledge, most
of the responsibility for the angst is on her, though you bear some
burden for not predicting her meltdown in advance and having had her
agree to a default plan to get an early ride home or take a nap till you
were ready.

 
As for now, write her an email that says basically: I’m sorry you had a
hard time. We told you what the day was like and that’s what it was.
Maybe this isn’t your scene but it is ours and perhaps we erred by
sharing it with someone who’d never been there before. I hope you
recover from your fit of pique. Call me when you’re ready to chat
about other things. As the old saying goes, that puts the poop in her
pocket, and you can close the door on this chapter with an easy
conscience.