Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com every Monday at 1 p.m. to chat with readers about their romantic, family, financial, and workplace problems. (Read Prudie's Slate columns here.)
Emily Yoffe: Good afternoon. I'm looking forward to your letters.
Greenwich, Conn.: My husband and I went on a long weekend vacation to celebrate our anniversary.
Trying to relive our honeymoon, we ordered an in-room couples massage from a reputable establishment in the area. When our masseuse showed up, she was a—to put it lightly, a working girl and proceeded to lay across our hotel bed offering her services. This took us by surprise and we immediately ran into the bathroom to discuss how to kindly ask this woman to leave.
My husband went out to the room and asked her to leave but she wouldn't without $300 in cash for her time—which he gave.
Was this the right thing for us to do? Should we have given her money or forced her to leave?
We were also a little traumatized by the event and have had some trouble "getting over it."
Thanks, Prudish But Progressive
Emily Yoffe: Maybe this "reputable establishment" is used to getting calls from politicians, and so it had a different idea of what's involved in releasing stress than you and your husband had in mind. No, you should not have had to pay for the young lady's services—unless she developed a sudden expertise in shiatsu. You should have called the place that sent her, explained you didn't know it was an escort service, and told them unless they gave young lady orders to leave immediately, you would have her escorted out by hotel security and/or the police. Then you should have reported the incident to the hotel management, especially if they're the ones suggesting the establishment. You could have said that on no list of gifts for significant anniversaries does "prostitute" appear.
As for your trauma—I can understand you were shaken, but look at it another way. When you tell your friends the story of this memorable anniversary, they will be shaking with laughter.
Dear Prudie, a coworker (closest to me) had a baby about 4 months ago. Two months before that, the office threw her a shower and a group of 20 coworkers pooled our money and bought her her dream crib (for $700 if it matters). She thanked us profusely during the shower, but never sent around thank you notes (neither a group one nor individual notes). I don't believe she sent any notes to anyone in the office.
She returned to work 2 weeks ago, and I'm getting pressure from my coworkers to tell her to "do her duty" and write a thank you note to each of us. We all signed the card, so there's no mystery who contributed to the crib. Personally, I am a sender and lover of personalized thank you notes, so I see their point; however, I'm feeling awkward about approaching the new mom 6 months after the gifting to say that she owes us written thanks. What should I do?
Emily Yoffe: People who don't write thank you notes think they're just some relic from a day when people left calling cards, and dipped their hands into finger bowls. They're right that thank you notes have an ancient lineage, but they should look further back, to the mists of time when our species first emerged as social creatures. All social beings have a deep-seated need for reciprocity, and if that sense is violated it's a deeply taken offense.
Your friend and colleague doesn't know it, but because of laziness she is forever damaging her relationship with her co-workers. They banded together and made an extravagant gesture for her, and she hasn't take the time (write five notes a night for four nights, and she's done) to properly thank them. Yes, I think you should pull her aside and say you know how overwhelmed she has been—blah, blah, blah—but explain there's a simmering resentment at the office because people haven't gotten thank you notes for the crib. Tell her it may seem silly, but the good feeling she will engender at even this late date if she writes a few lines to each person will be well worth it.
Boston: My husband and I have a friend with high-functioning autism. He is kind, funny and endearing, but has trouble navigating social situations. He has confessed several times in the past that he feels uncomfortable in larger groups, and he also feels awkward when people around him are drinking alcohol, which he has never done before. For these reasons, we decided not to invite him to our wedding, which took place several weeks ago. The next day he wrote on his blog, which many of our friends read, about how disappointed he was not to have been invited! This was very upsetting and embarrassing, and though his public complaint was inappropriate, we felt awful for having excluded him. Our wedding was not large, and he's not one of our closest friends, but now I realize we should have let him decide whether he would be at ease at the wedding. My husband wrote him a heartfelt apology, and it seemed that we had made amends. But now I feel like I must include him in every social gathering to show him that we like him, and another friend expressed his surprise that our autistic friend was not at the wedding (seemingly accusing us of insensitivity).
For an event that is supposed to be joyful, weddings certainly seem to generate their share of agita. Were we awful to have left our friend out, and how can we make it right?
Emily Yoffe: You're right your friend should not have complained on his blog about not being at your wedding. (It's a separate issue that more and more things that once were kept private—like wedding guest lists, and hurt feelings about not being on the list—play out on the Internet for everyone to see.) However, if he, and everyone else, would have expected him to be there, and you didn't invite him to save him "discomfort" then you made a mistake. Probably the discomfort was mostly yours—I have heard from other couples who leave out friends who family who might mar their "perfect day." You have apologized already, so now it's time to move on. But at your earliest chance invite your friend out for dinner, or out with a small gathering, to let him know how much you enjoy his company.