Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Way Past High School

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: My husband and I live in a small town, and so we see the same people frequently. We have a group of friends with whom we've socialized for over 15 years. Recently, we invited "Bob and Carol" to join us for dinner. They did not give us a concrete answer, so we assumed they were not interested.

On our way out that night, we passed "Ted and Alice," another couple we socialize with. Ted was in the front seat and Alice was in the back. It was apparent that someone was slumped down, hiding in the front passenger seat, and another in the back seat. We are fairly certain the invisible people were Bob and Carol.

Annie, these are professionals in their 40s. Maybe they wanted to spare our feelings, but it seems awfully juvenile to dive down and hide from us. They could easily have told us that they'd made other plans.

This continues to nag at me. I have lunch plans with Carol this week, but I feel very awkward since she and her husband went to such lengths to avoid us. I don't know whether to address it and clear the air, or let it pass. -- Way Past High School

Dear Past High School: Yes, it was juvenile of Bob and Carol to hide from you, if indeed that is what happened. However, people are entitled to accept or reject invitations without having to explain themselves. It's likely Carol thought you might be hurt if you knew you weren't included in her plans with Alice and Ted. Allow Carol her little deception in the name of friendship, and let it pass.

Dear Annie: This is for "Sharon," who complained that her neighbors had a barbecue and their guests parked in front of her house.

What kind of control freak is she? What does it matter if cars are parked on a public street? She doesn't own it. The taxpayers do. And so what if they parked in front of her walkway? How did this inconvenience her? Unless the partygoers were blocking her driveway or were somehow otherwise illegally parked, what they were doing was perfectly legal.

If I were the neighbor having the BBQ, I would have invited all the neighbors, but I don't think I'd want this killjoy at my party. Maybe the lack of an invitation is what's really bothering her. -- Redlands, California

Dear Redlands: We were under the impression that the guests were blocking pedestrian access to her home, but if not, you are correct that her reaction was unwarranted. However, when neighbors know they are going to be creating an inconvenience, even a legitimate one, a little advance apology can go a long way in maintaining good relations. A small thing for a large payoff.


Dear Annie: You have printed several letters from parents complaining about how their children are always asking for money. I think the way to handle this problem is to put the shoe on the other foot.

When a parent is tired of an adult child asking for money after borrowing many times in the past and never repaying it, this is what he or she should do: Call and say that you are running low on funds and need $100 for medicine, doctor's bills, whatever, and could they lend you the money until the Social Security check comes.

I bet they never would -- but they would stop asking. In the unlikely event that the kids did give the parent some money, the parent should not feel guilty, but simply apply it to their outstanding "loan."

I think this would put an end to the constant friction, while making the point that parents need money, too. Just thought I'd pass it along. -- Paducah, Kentucky

Dear Paducah: We'd love to know if any of our readers have tried "the other shoe" approach, and if it had any effect. Thanks.


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at




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