I have some of the best friends I could ever ask for, but they have one habit that absolutely drives me up the wall. Every time we are out doing something as a group, one of them always has to be attached to his or her cell phone, text messaging people who are not with us. I don't use text messaging, and I don't consider myself to be a very demanding person. Is it unreasonable for me to request that they have a conversation with the people who are there instead of spending a half-hour texting with someone who isn't? At times, I just want to get up and leave. I've brought it up once or twice, and it stopped for about a week at most. I've thought about bringing some stationery with me and writing out a letter to somebody the next time it occurs. How can I reach them without having to go to such extreme measures?
I love your idea, especially if you write your epistles on parchment using a quill pen and an inkwell. However, the result would probably be that your friends start snapping your photo with their cell phones and sending text messages about you to everyone who's not there. I wish someone could explain why a banal text message from a disembodied person is so much more alluring than a conversation with the friend in front of you. Perhaps if you were to leave the room and start texting your thumb-wagging friends, you'd suddenly become the focus of their attention. I endorse the rule promulgated by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe, authors of the e-mail etiquette guide Send: Are you in a situation in which it would be rude for you to be doing a crossword puzzle? If the answer is yes, then stop texting. Since you've brought this up before, and everyone tried to reform, raise the issue again, and mention the crossword-puzzle edict. Let everyone agree to some ground rules. For example, it's fine to send a text to someone who's joining you to alert them to your location. But if people are too addicted to refrain from lengthy exchanges on their PDAs, they should banish themselves from the table and join the smokers outside.
I'm a 50-year-old female. One of my dearest friends, who is just a few years older than I, has recently given up wearing a bra. Unfortunately, this is causing no small distress to several of her friends, as it is rather distracting. Recently we all went on a trip together, and when we went through our snapshots, she kept discarding pictures because "I look terrible in this one." As far as we could tell, the only problem was that her bust line is now at the level of her waistline. She is a feminist and seems to really enjoy the freedom to hang loose, as it were, but how can we tactfully tell her that this is not a good look for her? I thought of a sports bra with a birthday card that says "Only your friends will tell you" but am afraid that it wouldn't go over well. Any suggestions?
—She's a Bust
This reminds me of a friend who, noting the effects of age and childbirth, said she could stop buying brassieres because it would be cheaper just to stick her breasts in her pants pockets. And wasn't there an episode of Maude in which the well-endowed Bea Arthur explained that she had a black eye because she was jumping rope without a bra? If your friend is old enough to have gone braless back in the day as a protest against repression, she is too old to go braless now. Maybe the reason she's going National Geographic on you is out of some physical discomfort. Ask if the reason she's suddenly braless is because there's a medical issue she needs to address. If there isn't, then tell her that since you're bosom buddies, you have to let her know that she really needs to resume containing herself.