A: Thanks for conceding the alcohol is not an excuse. I think this young woman should know what kind of man she is hoping to marry. But then your enlightening her would also mean your close friend would have a different understanding of your character. You're right that if you were to tell, since you don't know the sister that well, your go-between should be your close friend. Because if you were to tell the sister directly, she'd immediately tell your friend, who would be hearing an ugly story secondhand. But telling what a creep the boyfriend is reveals what a creep you were. Bad as this all was, in the end, it didn't go beyond the locking of lips. It's likely that if you were to tell, the boyfriend's alternate version would be that you got drunk, came on to him, and he pushed you away. You are ashamed of yourself; let's hope the boyfriend is, too. If this is a pattern for him, that should become quite apparent over time. So I say zip your lips. And that goes for the moment when you're tempted to order that third martini.
Q. Bothersome Boss: I share the sole office at work with my married boss. He loves to make jokes about me looking at porn (I don't), he frequently comments on my FB posts and talks about the affair he had while he and his wife were separated. There've been numerous other flirtatious incidents that combine to make me squirm in discomfort on a regular basis at work. It took months to find this job and the market is dismal at best, so finding another job isn't a solution that'll happen anytime soon. I'm unsure how to handle it in a diplomatic manner that won't pollute my generally easy-going work environment.
A: Start looking, because this guy is a creep. The next time he mentions porn or his affair you firmly say, "Fred, this kind of discussion is not office appropriate. I cannot do my work in such an atmosphere, so please let's stick to normal office banter." You block him on Facebook. You stay polite and professional, and you get your resume out there because creeps tends to stay creeps.
Q. Mother-in-Law's Dementia: I take my mother-in-law who is suffering from dementia out for errands and coffee about once a week. She enjoys these outings and usually they go well. She is unable to answer most of the questions we are asked from servers and clerks, so usually I jump in with the answer when she stumbles. But sometimes she has to answer a question—"Do these shoes hurt your toes?"—and sometimes she says something really inappropriate out of the blue. She might comment on a person's weight or other body characteristic. Occasionally she will just blurt out something really mean to someone halfway across the room. The other day she yelled "Will you just shut up?" to some kids and parents playing nearby in the park. She knows she has dementia and repeatedly calls herself stupid, dumb, and occasionally mentions she should just die. I hate to explain her condition in front of her, but I really feel I need to for the sake of the person trying to help us or to just plain apologize when she's really hurtful. How do I handle these scenarios?
A: You are a really good daughter-in-law and I hope your husband appreciates what you're doing. I think you should bring your mother-in-law in on the conversation. You should tell her she's not dumb and you don't want her to die, but sometimes her illness makes her say impolite things to people, so you're going to explain to them that she suffers from a disease. It's true she probably won't remember this conversation, but the next time she has an outburst you just say to the object of her derision, "I'm so sorry, my mother-in-law has Alzheimer's and that's the disease speaking."
Q. Work Friend Turned Work Spy: A woman I work with used to join me and a few others for drinks after work occasionally, and her company is fine enough. However, over the past six months due to a minor promotion, she has become insufferable. She is constantly ratting people out to our principal (I work at a school,) looking for ways to get those she doesn't like in trouble, and even going as far as to make up things that aren't true. None of this has been directed at me personally, so I have stayed out of it, while remaining sympathetic to my co-workers who are victims of her power trip. The root of this issue is the way the principal handles HR, but I'm not interested in speaking with her about that. My problem is that this woman is always asking me what I'm doing after work and trying to invite herself along with me and another friend I work with. We both feel uncomfortable socializing with her since we're disgusted at her behavior, however, I don't feel I can be direct with her since she has the ear of my boss. She's starting to become more persistent and I don't feel comfortable lying and making excuses indefinitely. Any advice on how to handle her?
A: I understand wanting to give wide berth to this loon, but if several of you know she's making things up to hurt "her enemies" it's disturbing that no one wants to call her out on it. However, you allude to the fact that the principal may be equally unreliable. Oh, your lucky students! Since school is out, even if you are all administrators, surely everyone's on reduced hours and a summer schedule. That makes it really easy to tell this nut that over the summer you're taking advantage of the long days of sunshine to garden and walk your dogs. Then just disappear at the end of the day. If you are getting together with your pal, you two should make plans via email, leave separately, then rendezvous. Let's hope several months of this stops the spy from asking when she can get together.
Q. Re: Regarding the returned gift: This might be the opening you need to suggest an end to the gift exchange altogether. Gift giving like that can tend to become a burden, might as well end it now.
A: Good point! Although a book of stamps might be an appropriate gift.
Emily Yoffe: Thanks, everyone. Time for a cocktail. Talk to you next week and have a good July Fourth.
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