Annie's Mailbox: Open-Minded
Dear Annie: Several years ago, my husband of 45 years took an aerobics class composed of six students -- four women and two men. The instructor, "Lynette," is single and in her late 40s. Over time, the group became friendly and would socialize for an hour or so after workouts. Even when my husband stopped taking the class three years ago, they continue to invite him to these gatherings. I am acquainted with all of the women, and they have attended our birthday parties and an anniversary party.
Here's the problem: The group recently had a birthday breakfast for Lynette. My husband was invited, and several days before the event, mentioned buying her a gift. I suggested a gift card. He suggested cash, but I said a gift card would be better. He ended up giving her $50 in cash inside a card that he signed with only his name on it. When I said I didn't think it appropriate for him to give her cash, he asked me to get your opinion. (I also thought $50 was a bit much, but we didn't get into the amount.)
Was this an appropriate gift for a married man to give a single female friend? Am I living in the dark ages? -- Open-Minded
Dear Open-Minded: We think your husband is a bit lazy. He wanted to give a gift, figured $50 was good, and didn't want to bother determining what kind of gift card to get. Since he's been friends with Lynette for several years, the amount is OK unless it was a strain on your budget. But while cash is fine for an employee or your child, it is a bit crass to give to an adult friend unless that is the custom among that group of friends. A gift card would have been classier. We assume you don't consider Lynette a threat to your marriage, so please let this go. It's too late to do anything about it, and you can show him this response so there won't be a next time.
Dear Annie: How do you tell a group of women to stop talking during a singing program?
Our senior center is a wonderful place. They give us good food and good entertainment. One program consists of two ladies who come to the senior center twice a month and sing. These ladies volunteer their time and perform for an hour.
Some people who attend the performance talk the entire time. I find this rude and disrespectful, and it upsets me and others. I go to listen to the music. I have asked the officials to speak to the attendees, but nothing has been done. The officials are afraid the yakkers will stop coming to the senior center. Do they ever think that the rest of us might stop coming?
Why do we have to put up with people talking? We are just as important as the inconsiderate ones. How do I handle this? -- Logansport, Indiana
Dear Logansport: It is terribly rude to talk during a performance of any kind. It is disrespectful to the performers, as well as to the audience members. It is the job of those in charge to set decorum, but since they won't, it is perfectly acceptable for you to politely ask them to be quiet so you can hear the performance, and if they are not able to do so, to please take their conversation outside.
Dear Annie: Holiday celebrations with a large gathering of family do happen only a few times a year, as you pointed out. But I disagree that we need to be tolerant. These parties should be events filled with joy and love, not exercises in walking on eggshells, hoping that the mentally ill guests not erupt in anger.
My mother solved this problem by having two get-togethers, one with the challenging relative, one without. -- DTDT
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.