Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Nip It in the Bud

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I am a 54-year-old lesbian in a 23-year relationship. My partner and I have begun to hate traveling. Don't get me wrong. We love and enjoy exotic places, but dealing with stupid and rude people is getting old.

Our problem has to do with the ladies room. We are often mistaken for men and questioned. I don't get it. Some women seem shocked by us and occasionally make a scene as if we chose the wrong bathroom. While we don't wear makeup or frilly clothes, we also don't wear suits, ties and wingtips. I wear earrings, female clothing and a wedding band set. Think Ellen DeGeneres.

These ignorant women need some education. Please tell them they are rude and hurtful. If our presence makes them uncomfortable, maybe they should leave the bathroom. Many of the encounters make me feel bad for days. I just want to be left alone. What can I say to nip this in the bud? -- Santa Cruz, Calif.

Dear California: Unless you want to act super-girly when you enter a foreign bathroom, there's not much you can do to head off such an encounter before it happens. Try working on your response instead. This has nothing to do with you personally. You are simply bumping into women who don't often have the opportunity to interact with those who appear to be different -- whether in dress or manner -- and so they react with various degrees of surprise, some of which can be quite hurtful. Use these encounters to educate these women by ignoring their shock, holding your head up and being exceedingly polite and possibly charming.

Dear Annie: My wife, "Gert," and I are in our mid-80s, retired and in good health. Gert worked for the same company for nearly 40 years and was well-liked. She still goes back to visit every Wednesday and sits in the coffee room and gabs all day with the workers when they take their staggered breaks. I can't help but think this has a tendency to lengthen break times and disrupt productive company time. If I were the manager, I would not allow this, but he doesn't interfere.

My main concern, though, is that this habit interferes with our being able to get away together for a few days during the week when hotel rates are lower and traffic is lighter than on weekends.

I have asked Gert to stop this practice, but she refuses. Am I selfish to think she should spend more time with me so we can plan and enjoy mutual activities during the time we have left in this life? -- Husband


Dear Husband: Well, no, but this activity gives her a great deal of pleasure, and it would be considerate of you to work around it. In fact, she might resent your forcing the issue, in which case, those little vacations won't be as much fun as you'd like. And perhaps if you stop pressuring her to spend more time traveling during the week, she'd be more willing to do so on occasion, especially if you give her plenty of notice to rearrange her office schedule. Be supportive of her emotional needs, and hopefully, she will be equally supportive of yours.

Dear Annie: So, "J" is afraid she might have to tip the clerk from the grocery store if she gets help while shopping with her two children. She states that she always returns her cart. While she is doing that, who is watching her kids?

This policy could very well be management's way of offering protection to parents who might otherwise leave their children unsupervised in the car while they return the cart. Would she rather have her children snatched by a pedophile just to save a tip?

I sure wish this service had been available when I used to shop with our children. She should quit looking a gift horse in the mouth. -- M.


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2018. 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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