Category Archives: People & Politics

Outraged

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Next month I am supposed to have a reunion with my best friend from high
school. We recently reconnected on the internet and I was really looking forward
to seeing him again. He planned to stop over for a weekend on a business trip.
My wife and I invited him to stay with us. We had planned lots of fun activities
and some hang-out time. Now I find out he’s planning on staying in a motel. He
told me it was because of allergies to our pets, but when I spoke to his wife (also
an old friend), she said it was the first she’d heard of them. It turns out that he’s
planning on bringing his girlfriend along. Am I a prude because I don’t want to
pretend it’s all okay? Should I tell his wife? They’ve been together for 25 years
and she’s put up with a lot, but I am pretty sure she doesn’t know about this.
Now I feel like I am lying to her.

Outraged

 
Dear Outraged:

What angers you the most: your best friend knocked off his pedestal, being used
as a shill in this adulterous sideshow, or that the weekend is blown?
You’re only part of this if you want to be. But get clear on what’s appropriate.
Your job is to tell the truth. And so is his. The good news is that you get to tell
him that. While it is marginally possible that his wife already knows about the
girlfriend, it is your friend’s responsibility to tell her, not yours. You can hold his
feet to the fire and tell him that, and do so without a shred of equivocation. I’d be
very clear about what your own values are, and that you’re not going to
compromise them because his morals are a lot more elastic. But I wouldn’t email
or voicemail a message like that to his home.

 
Communicate your views with only a few tablespoons of self-righteousness,
though my guess is that it will sound loud to him. But you don’t have to pull any
punches. And you don’t have to host his affair.

In the Middle

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m caught between two feuding friends and unsure how to help reconcile them.
It’s not a shooting war, or even a war of words. It’s more like the Cold War in its
waning years: lots of snippy sniping comments, judgmental jabs, and (at least
from my point of view) a distancing that has become habit, instead of the habits
of confiding in one another, going for quick walks or coffee dates to catch up, and
generally feeling like the other is an ally, not a rival. To top it off, one is in a long-
term crisis with two members of her family having significant health issues (a
dying mom and pre-surgical husband), while the other just bought a new house
and got a promotion. I can see the stressed-out friend getting more and more
weary as she struggles and the on-the-rise one getting less tolerant and
impatient as she pursues her new and busy future. They both talk to me, and I try
to be a friend to both of them. Should I try to bring them closer together or let
nature take its course, whatever that is?

In the Middle

 
Dear In the Middle:

There’s a limit to what any third person can do to untangle two feuding parties.
But that doesn’t mean don’t try. Think peace talks in Ireland or truth and
reconciliation in South Africa. The only thing that matters is getting folks to talk to
one another. It’s critical that you NOT, repeat not, try to talk for either of them to
the other. You can listen, and you can make suggestions. But you should not
carry stories back and forth nor should you try and tell either of them what to do
or think.

 
Instead, you should talk from your own point of view, expressing to each
individually the sadness you feel seeing two people whom you know love and
respect one another being unhappy about the state of their friendship. To the one
who is up, express patience for the one who is down. For the one who is in
stress, ask what you and/pr others can do to help. Suggest that you all go out for
drinks, with other friends, as a way of normalizing some social time. And if all
else fails, just say, I think you two need to talk. This has gone on too long. I hope
they listen.

Worried Patriot

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My grandparents were immigrants. My grandfather ran a deli in St.
Louis for most of his life (after starting out sweeping up and washing
dishes in one. He served in WW2, which was scary because of what his
family had fled to come to America. The Jewish cemetery where he is
buried was just vandalized in a horrible way that made national news.
Headstones were topped and many defaced with swastikas and
horrible horrible slogans.

 

For a long time I was willing to give our new
President a chance, even though I didn’t vote for him. But now my
eyes have been opened wide in a brutal way. The number of hate
crimes is up, weekly there are rashes of bomb scares called in to
Jewish community centers, and people seem to feel emboldened to act
in anti-Semitic ways with impunity. My friends and neighbors joined
hundred of other volunteers to clean and rectify the cemetery but we
were all left shaken. We were grateful to have other volunteers join us
from different faith communities, both those who are also targeted for
hate crimes and others who would be safe even if the country goes as
badly as the Germany my grandparents fled. I’m too old to run for
office and I doubt I would be very good at it. But how can I help
educate people about how bad things feel like they’re headed?

Worried Patriot

 
Dear Worried Patriot:

You are certainly not alone. Even before the election many progressive
groups were commenting on the rise of the “alt-right” which is to some
at least a fancy name to conceal a very old and dangerous set of social
beliefs, beliefs that have cost many millions of Jews their lives in the
last century alone. Those commentators were dismissed as partisan
politicos at the time, but in the months since November the chorus of
those writing about these issues has grown, and media networks as
politically diverse as The Huffington Post and Fox News have observed
the phenomenon with increasing concern and voice. I agree, this is a
matter that goes far past party or religion.

 
I’m a strong believer in local action. You may be too old to run for
office but your own family’s experience is a story worth telling. It
shouldn’t take you long to identify local groups who are as worried as
you are. If your synagogue has a Tikkun Olam or Social Justice
Committee, start by asking there. Or post something on a social media
site asking about groups in your area where you could attend to talk
over your concerns and learn how to take action. I’m not talking about
armed self-defense. I’m talking about talking, sign making, letter
writing, phone calling, and petitions signing as simple starting places.
There are places to sign up that will send you emails detailing whom to
call about what issues, and will provide phone numbers and info on the
issues. Make sure your synagogue is reaching out to other religious
groups, from mosques to churches, to change local culture and make it
unwelcoming to hate.

 
Retired or working, decide how much time you can devote each week
to making sure your grandchildren aren&'t fighting the same battles, in
America or another country.

Just Wannna Play

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m part of a Jewish music group that formed three years ago when several of us
wanted to jam and play songs from our Latino and Yiddish heritage. We have a
great sound together and although we are a mixed bag in terms of musical skills,
our love of the music and different strengths in singing, researching, organizing,
etc have helped us create a very likeable and charming group. We get invited to
do small gigs at people’s houses and local fundraisers. A woman joined us three
months ago. We said yes because she plays at services weekly and we thought
she would help us. She is a superb musician but not a great member of our
band. OY! She is constantly telling us what we are doing wrong and doesn’t
seem to understand that this isn’t her group to order around. We didn’t tell her
this was a trial period, and now, after three long and heart-rending sessions of
personal processing, the group is more interested in dissolving than staying
together. Can you help me salvage something that was very precious to me?

Just Wannna Play

 
Dear Just Wanna Play:

You’ve hit on the key mistake that your group made: not having a clear period of
trying things out (and an exit strategy) before making a firm commitment to
include her. Many prima donnas don’t show their true selves until they are past a
probationary period. But this one has done enough for you to know that you
prefer how it was to how it is. You are going to have to level with her if you want
your band to continue. The conversation goes something like this: We were so
excited to incorporate your wonderful skills into our band. But what works well
musically isn’t so good interpersonally. We’ve tried to make this a match. But it
very clearly is not, so we’ve unanimously decided that we want to turn to our
original configuration. Thanks for trying to make this work what us. Sorry it wasn’t
a good fit. There will be some tears and many more words, but hold firm.
“Unanimous” buys you that solidarity. Be sure no one says anything else.
If you could go back in time, or next time, what you should say is this: We have
very tight chemistry. Sometimes we invite guests to play with us for a certain
song or occasion. But we are unlikely to expand very quickly. Come jam with us if
you like and we will try things out. But no promises beyond a song or two. That
should keep you safer.

Impasse

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Four of us gals have been friends for a dozen or so years. Each original
twosome in any direction was good and over time we bonded as a
foursome independent of the hubbies and significant others. We go out
for happy hour maybe once a month, and talk about all the usual gap
pal things that you can imagine. We had a break over summer
because of various travel plans, and also because Friend A had helped
Friend D’s husband get a job when he was unemployed and desperate.
All the same reasons he was fired from previous jobs showed up, and
he turned what could have been a great opportunity into another
losing situation. Now Friend D is angry because Friend A won’t go to
bat for him with the big boss. But she isn’t his supervisor and could
her own job in jeopardy. So D isn’t speaking to A. A says she “doesn’t
want to have to beg” to have someone be her friend, and the other
two of us are sad because it all seems overblown and solvable. They
are willing to talk to us, but not to one another.

Impasse

 
Dear Impasse:

Strong friendships can weather storms. Doing so requires honest
communication, time, probably some tears, and a willingness to be
vulnerable at all stages until the friendship feels solid again.
Neither you nor the other one of the foursome should indulge the
feuders in much one-on-one time. The message you should repeat
over and over is this: You two need to talk to one another and hash
this out. Neither of you is all right or all wrong. But you are both
wrong about reusing to communicate. Neither of us is going to side
with either of you. What we care about is clearing the air. We suggest
you go out for drinks or coffee and work it through. If you need us
both there are facilitators we would be happy to help. But we think it’s
sad and short-lighted not to invest more time and caring into this
friendship. Start talking to each other now!

No ^&%&$ Way!!

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

For the past ten years or so I have had a very up and down friendship with
someone I will call Michelle. I met her in a social context where we were the only
two Jews in a room of otherwise like-minded folks. But when the atheists and
agnostics started decrying religion we both defended the idea of being spiritual
people. In the interim I have watched her go through many life changes, even
dated one of her exes, and generally have been supportive of her attempts at
self-care, even when I had mixed feelings about choices I would never have
made. She had just rebranded herself as a life coach and called to pick my brain
for ideas about a workshop she is doing in my town (she’s moved away but
keeps ties here). I just got a FaceBook request asking me to publicize her
workshop to my friends (none of whom do this kind of thing) and to “hold the
date.” I stopped reading that kind of self-help advice decades ago nd never go to
workshops. I was also horrified to learn she expected me to pay $85 to hear my
own ideas parroted back to me. How much or little should I say when I decline?

No ^&%&$ Way!!

 
Dear No ^&%&$ Way:

Send her a very prompt, polite, and specific response to her request.
Tell her that your friends burned out long ago on networking for
events that they would not attend. Say you agreed to a mutual pact to
relieve one another from information about everything from bake and
candy sales to workshops unless they were the presenter.
Explain that you’re happy that she’s happy to be remaking herself into
a new career. But that as you said in your conversation with her, the
material she is going to present is about life issues that you feel you’ve
resolved long ago to your own satisfaction. Tell her also that you’re not
the type to attend workshops at all, and that while you sometimes
read self-help books, that’s a part of your world that feels very much
in the past. Tell her that, if she’s holding a place for you, to please
give it to a paying guest who’ll benefit from her wisdom. Wish her luck
and let this friendship die a natural death, unless you want to continue
to be her unpaid teacher.

No More, Thanks

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have a long distance friend whom I have known for since college
(read, several decades). We lost contact for a while but for the past 15
years we have been in email and phone contact. She stayed in her
hometown; I stayed with her as each of my parents died, as she was a
mile from the hospital. While I was her guest I purchased some
reasonably expensive jewelry from her, in part because I wanted to be
a good guest and also because she was transitioning her career to
becoming an artist. It was far more than I would have paid at a fair or
gallery but she was definitely helping me out. Now she’s planning to
visit me to show at a holiday arts fair she got juried into. Her work is
lovely and I don’t mind putting her up. But I cannot afford to be a
patron at this time, for financial reasons and because I am swimming
in unneeded things. I’m giving away my jewelry and scarves as gifts,
not acquiring more. How can I demur without hurting her feelings? I
think she’s done a wonderful job in reinventing herself. But saying so
and being her B&B is the limit of my ability to support her.

No More, Thanks

 
Dear No More:

Tell her what the logistics are in terms of transport, her room etc. Ask
if she needs help with show set-up; if it’s more than you want to do,
tell her you have folks on tap for $x an hour to help. Ask if she has
food sensitivities or preferences so you can stock the frig. Confirm
which times you expect to be available to be social together.
Explain that you’ll go to the show to see her in her evolved role as a
professional artisan. But go on to say that you’ve stopped purchasing
anything at shows like that, both for financial reasons and because you
are downsizing in every category. Reassure her that you’re happy to
be her hostess and looking forward to quality time together, but that
there’s no need to thank you even with a token gift because you are
swimming in all the jewelry and accessories for this and your next
lifetime. She should get the message. If not, repeat it as needed.

PTSD-ed

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

How can we plan a family Thanksgiving when everyone is traumatized by the
recent elections? We are a surprisingly diverse family in terms of or political
views. My side was raised as knee-jerk liberals but some of the cousins (whom I
will confess I do not like for this reason as well as others) voted for many (though
thankfully not all) Republicans. All summer they were coy when discussing their
vote, which of course just made me suspicious that they were doing what would
have our grandparents spinning in their graves. I was a nervous wreck for
months. You know what’s going on out there, from threats of militias and
impeachment to people swearing they are going to leave the country. I know we
cannot put the genie back in the bottle, but is there any way to have a family
holiday that will not rupture on the very dysfunctional ship of state? I’m tempted
to only invite the people who agree with me, but I recognize that’s as divisive and
polarizing as opposition pols who swear they will be obstructionist for the next
millennium or two. Helllpppppp!!!!

PTSD-ed

 
Dear PTSD-ed:

If we cannot heal families we are going to have a helluva time healing a country. I
too cannot remember an election that felt this divisive and that had so many
people binge-eating, hysterical with hyperbole and fear, depressed and anxious,
and un-friending friends and relatives at a rate that would make Einstein
reevaluate his theories. We’ve all lived through “this is the most important
election of our lifetimes” more often than I want to count. But this one was a
colossal disaster in so many ways that I hope America never repeats it. I still
have hopes (fantasies?) that democracy will raise her weary head and enough
people of reason will say Enough!! But that will have to start with each of us.

 
You should not un-invite or not-invite relatives who you might otherwise share the
holiday with. You can impose some rules for social interactions and distribute
them before the day. They should be unambiguous and even-handed, but most
importantly enforced. If you say you are going to fine anyone who talk about
politics, disparages candidates and their supporter, etc, then be prepared to do it.
Ditto if you say you will toss someone unceremoniously for rudeness. Having a
strict policy might cause a permanent rift, so be forewarned. Better would be to
set aside some specific period to go around the room and have everyone share
their feelings without crosstalk, then try to continue with family as usual. Try to
avoid the Thanksgiving disaster in the classic film Avalon, where brothers fight,
and one chases the other into the street waving a drumstick; sadly, they lose five
decades of familial caring.

Not Yet Voting Age

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

One of my cousins overheard his father joking to another uncle about
“having tossed the old fool’s absentee ballot into the trash because she
was going to make a stupid vote for that &;^% woman.” I know that’s
hearsay of the worst kind, but hard to listen to since the elders in my
family (who live in nursing homes) are Holocaust survivors and gave
far more to live in a democracy than any of the rest of us could ever
dream of surviving. What should I say or do, because I know that is
also illegal? I am not a snitch but I am upset.

Not Yet Voting Age

 
Dear Not Yet:

You could try to talk to your uncle directly and ask if this is true, but
the odds that he would admit committing a crime to a young relative
are low to zero. You could suggest that your cousin ask his dad if he
heard him right. Then, even if the father denies it, he will learn the
value of discretion if not honesty. Sadly there is no way to protect
against this kind of fraud. But it takes much more focused hacking to
sway a whole election.

 
You should very much go to visit your ancient elders as often as you
can, both to make them happy to see the progeny so many were
denied, and to harvest the stories of their lives, which are passing
from us more quickly each day. You can say that you heard from your
cousin that she had felt it was important to vote and say how proud
you are of her for being such a good role model for you and your
generation. You can tell her that the next time there is an election you
would like to sit with her while you both vote, and then you would be
proud to carry her absentee ballot to the collection place.

Depressed Beyond Reason

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m traumatized to the point of tears by the election results and the aftermath. I
am your basic knee-jerk liberal and had such pride and hope for America for the
past eight years. But the eruption of swastikas from NYC to Oregon, and vile
anti- brown, black, Asian, Hispanic, gay, and Jewish incidents make me feel
unsafe in my own country. There is a difference between electoral politics and
outright oppression. And a campaign that said it would “clean up the mess” is
appointing only bigoted insiders and doing nothing to allay the eruption of hateful
racist bile. And why is no one talking about the Russians? My office place has
many pro-Trump people and many people of color. I don’t know if we will witness
anything like what I am seeing in the news, but how can I speak out when I feel
so unsafe?

Depressed Beyond Reason

 
Dear Depressed:

All the reasons you cite are very legitimate and reasonable responses to the
post-election eruption of ugliness. No one who is a caring compassionate
person–of any religion—would be reacting with anything but horror. I can’t
address the political aspects of your concerns, but I can help a little with the
sense of fear and isolation. I don’t know if you are aware of the safety pin
campaign or not. People who wear a safety pin are showing others they are
willing to stand up if they see racist baiting or bullying going on around them. It’s
an act of affirmation but it also requires that you actually speak up, which could
make you even more afraid and uncomfortable, so don’t wear one unless you are
more secure and ready.

 
There are also support groups springing up everywhere to help people deal both
with grieving and eventually with political organizing to reverse the one-party
control of every branch of government. Support politicians who represent the
values you care about. Do it by donating time, money, and energy as well as
words and tears. Be prepared for a long haul on this process. That’s the good
news as well as the bad. It is especially important that you keep an open
dialogue with all the people you know. Keep your relations at work broad and
sincere. Be kind to the people you fear with be harassed and be brave about
speaking up if you see something happening that is inappropriate. You might
preemptively talk to your human resources folks to learn what is okay and not, so
that you can cite policies if needed. Somehow we are all going to have to learn to
talk to people we disagree with if we are going to re-establish dialogue. But take
the time for tears and grieving first. It will make you stronger and you will need
that strength, as will we all.

Naysayer

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I go to High Holiday services, have an annual Seder, light Hanukah
candles, and believe in (one) God. A friend insisted that I go with her
to a lecture/meditation by a guru that she just “discovered.” If this
woman had dressed and talked differently, she could have been in our
bridge club. Instead she has a crew of acolytes, a series of books, CDs,
DVDs, and a radio show. Nothing she said was wrong or bad, but also
not much different than the psychobabble I read in any magazine at
the hairdresser’s. The audience of several hundred appeared rapt,
even enchanted, even when all she did was parrot back what they said
and murmur “Yes, yes, yes.” I was mostly bored, occasionally
annoyed, and generally surprised about how easy such a lucrative gig
seemed, not to mention confused how it pulled in so many including
my sharp-as-a-tack attorney friend. She’s now after to me to enroll in
a weekly study group, go to a retreat with her, or otherwise
demonstrate my support while she explores this new path. She’s
offering to make this my Hanukah gift. How can I decline without
insulting her?

Naysayer

 
Dear Naysayer:

Clearly this person has had a very meaningful influence on your friend.
Be kind and polite. But don’t draw out the period of ostensible
consideration. Ask to borrow one book or tape to follow up the lecture.
Keep it for a week and read the first five pages. Then return it. Say
you tried out of respect for her judgment, but have decided to decline.
Be clear that you gave it due thought, but that your friend’s teacher is
just that, hers not yours. Say your spirituality is more traditional, that
you’re not against the guru, just more indifferent than enthused and
that you don’t want to invest more time seeking if her influence.
If, and only if, pressed, say that you were a little turned off by the
slick packaging and adoring rapture. But sincerely go out of your way
to be gentle and indifferent rather than cutting or belittling. Then go to
services a little more often and talk Jewish at your friend for a few
weeks. She’ll back off. Who knows, you might like services.

Undone

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

How am I going to get my mojo back? I was on such a happy creative roll. I was
eating well, exercising often, in a happy and positive mood. And then the election
laid me low. I felt sad and in almost a clinical depression for weeks. Lots of
staring, and several pounds of sugar and carbs later I feel like a big sad sack. I’m
over the crying but still flying at half-mast. What can I do to feel whole and
hopeful again?

Undone

 
Dear Undone:

You are certainly not alone in your sense of despair over the recent elections.
Some people are in a fearful state because of perceived and actual threats
happening because of their religion, color, orientation, or just because they were
vocal “blue” advocates in “red” districts or even families. This election is a chance
for greater healing or greater division, but I would caution you not to venture into
the arenas for dialogue with folks who are opposed to what depressed you in a
hard-core way until you feel stronger and more resilient.

 
What to do: Start by eating better. It’s an amazingly simple truth that how we fuel
our bodies can severely impact our moods. So set limits on what you put in that
isn’t good for you, whether you count calories, fat, carbs, or sugar. Exercise
more. Simply going to a class at the gym will get you back in touch with your
body as a vehicle for energy, not just tears. Find a support group of people who
agree with your political views and regularly participate in activities that empower
your feelings about American democracy. We are a complex country with a
complicated political process. Look for ways to express what matters to you and
organize some of your time around healing your community. Start local and work
your way up. And don’t discount the healing value of grieving. Jews sit shiva for a
week and say Kaddish for a year exactly so there is a mechanism for staying in
touch with their feelings and slowly coming to terms with the new reality. There’s
a saying going around, “Don’t normalize.” You can find your own new normal
while still advocating the values you feel were under-represented at the polls.
Think long haul, not just this week.

Patriot Too

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I guess my world is very compartmentalized. I have close friends who know
everything about me and what really matters to me, and social friends with whom
I share general commentary on the world, the weather, and whom I treat like
slightly annoying relatives. Mostly I keep the conversation focused on them
because I don’t think they agree with me or even value what increasingly matters
to me. Now, in these troubled times, I think I need to be very clear with everyone
that I have decided to become far more politically involved. I wouldn’t say
become an activist, but I know to some of my colleagues, relatives, and even
social friends, I will be seen as some kind of deranged radical. All this because I
care abut peace and justice. Can you help me educate them about why it matters
for me to be involved? I haven’t gotten past “I’m going crazy that people with
guns and hoods and swastikas are trying to take over my country. All my dead
Holocaust relatives and people who died fighting Hitler are applauding me. I want
you also.”

Patriot Too

 
Dear Patriot Too:

That’s not a bad way to end, if it comes to that, but it might be a very abrupt way
to begin. A lot depends on what your goal is. If you simply want to break off
contact (harder to do with colleagues and relatives than social friends), sure, go
ahead and truth-blast without regard to what happens next. But if your goal is to
foster dialogue, you might want a softer opening.

 
Start by focusing on individual relationships. Next time you have a date for a
meal or a movie, bring up the subject of priorities for the year to come. Ask what
your friend is thinking about doing with extra time and energy. Listen, engage,
and then tell them that you’ve decided to be much more socially and even
politically engaged. Explain that you have deep concerns about the way your
country is headed, and that if people of conscience don’t step up to act, and
speak out for the values you hold dear, that they might have fewer opportunities
in the future. As you step out into this new world of greater honesty, you will
probably find new friends to fill in the gaps that the departure of old ones may
leave. But you will also find a strong sense of community among those who
share your values and commitment.

Almost Homicidal

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

What’s the etiquette for dealing with a boor? I am an author who attends various
artists and authors’ fairs. Usually it’s sitting on a bad chair for the better part of
the day and schmoozing with interested readers who might also buy my books.
But occasionally, like yesterday, I get tabled with a loud, annoyingly interrupting
boor. He tried to talk my ear off even though I said, “When I’m not with customers
I am trying to write.” Whenever someone approached me, he would interrupt the
conversation and try to snare them (his material was nothing like mine). I asked
the coordinator for a table swap and she rolled her eyes. Apparently other people
had made not being seated next to him a condition of participation. Advice?

Almost Homicidal

 
Dear Almost:

This is the same etiquette advice I would give to a person with a bad airline seat
neighbor, or other randomly assigned seat in which you are temporarily trapped.
Be polite. Be firm. Be clear. That’s when you talk to the boor and to people with
the authority to move you or the boor or to enforce more polite action on his part.
Boors do not train easily. They’re used to commanding attention by their noise or
actions, and surrender airtime and the attention of others only if there appears to
be no other option. Even if you score a victory early, assume the behavior will
continue. If you do ask for help, try to identify if there is any penalty for continued
bad behavior. For example, recently airlines have ejected or banned such people
after inappropriate outbursts.

 
Travelling with noise cancelling headphones is a solution in some situations. But
unless you’re willing to also put a sign on your table that says, Writer at work who
will happily stop to talk to you about her book., they won’t help you attract new
readers. But they will keep you out of court if you crack and injure a boor.

Dunned

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

This is a very small amount of money but an ongoing problem. I have
a friend who earns maybe twice what I do. But she is what my father
used to call a schnorrer, a word that in English I think means a cadger,
someone who’s the last to reach for the bill. She always suggests
splitting the check down the middle, even though I rarely order a glass
of wine and she always does. You know the type I’m sure. Each year
the local symphony does an outdoor concert. It’s free but if you get
tickets over the phone there’s a $2 per ticket charge. They sell out in
hours. I get the maximum number of tickets per household because
someone is always short tickets. This year she begged for them,
saying she promised to take a friend for her birthday but had not
gotten through to the box office in time. I gave them to her when we
met for a movie, saying, You owe me $4. She didn’t pay me then, or
when we parted. Is it too late to ask? I don’t want to seem cheap, but
I’m irked. The “last straw” is small but weighty.

Dunned

 
Dear Dunned:

It’s okay to send an email saying, Hey we never settled up for the
concert tickets. It’s only $4 but I’m on a new budget plan and starting
to keep careful track of my money so I can see how much I am
spending on what. No need to send a check, but next time we go out
I’ll remind you. Also, from now on, I am going to suggest we eat on
separate tickets or split the bill based on what we order. It’s all part of
what I am called The Year of Living on My Budget. Thanks for
understanding and helping.

 

There’s always a chance she complains about you to mutual friends.
But the odds are that you’re not the only sap she’s had subsidize her
dining tastes. So they’re as likely to adopt your model as to judge you.
Even if they do, the word is out that you’re generous only to a point,
not to a fault. And if she won’t cooperate, order tea not food.