Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I am an intelligent person with professional training beyond college,
various degrees and certifications in my field, and generally regarded
as well spoken, articulate, and worth talking to. I have a new friend
that I met in a recently formed book club organized by a mutual
friend. This woman (I’ll call her Hannah) and gravitated towards one
another very quickly and bonded on literary taste, politics, and
becoming movie buddies. We’ve taken to checking in with one another
several times during the week by text, sometimes to make plans and
others just to trade hellos and good wishes, accompanied by pictures
from a walk or home, recipes, and Face Book posts or jokes. In the
last month she has chastised me several times for what she calls
“incomprehensible texts.” Once she was correct: I had used the
dictation feature and failed to check its interpretation of my voice. But
the other three times she has pulled rank from her retirement as a
professor of communications. Frankly it rankles, but the one time we
got into a conversation about related matters it turned sharp and
brittle very quickly. Is there a way to handle someone with sharp
edges, whom I would otherwise enjoy as a friend?


Dear Cut:

There are several ways to communicate with person who likes to feel
superior to others. One is not to give her anything to criticize, and see
if she reflexively needs to critique you anyhow. That would give you a
lot of information about her personality. If it remains sharp, I
personally would limit the friendship as well as the texting, regardless
of whether we ended up discussing it. Another is to limit your texting
to visual images, and one-word or one-sentence replies. It is a little
punishing, but she might get the hint.

The most honest is to say, It feels like a put down when you correct
me. I’m not your student and I don’t want to have a friendship in
which we’re not equals. I’ll do my best to communicate clearly, if you’ll
do your best to communicate kindly. Does that seem fair? Then see
what she says and trust your gut on how to proceed.