"Social Q's" is Philip Galanes's advice column in the New York Times. Every Monday in Anti-Social Q's, I will answer the same questions as "Social Q's," dropping at anti-social cues.
We are back on Mondays! This week Philip deals with a mom that has a slip of the tongue, condo owners that have a tenant problem, an untimely passing, and people that like to spend their weekends in exercise classes.
Eating a Little Crow Over Chips
I have a 14-year-old daughter. She is a little plump. I have been so careful not to say anything derogatory about her appearance or diet, which is usually quite healthy. But last week, I blew it. During a hot car ride, I told her she should lay off the potato chips that I saw her eating in the back seat. She asked me why, and I told her to take a look in the mirror. Now I feel awful and don’t know what to do about it. Please help.
Yikes. Well, even if someone tells you how to get out of that situation it is too late now. The only thing you can do now is tell her that it was a momentary lapse in judgement on your part. It seems from the fact that this is something that troubles you after 14 years of raising a child that you may have quite a healthy relationship with your daughter. You may want to offer her a treat or two, just to get the psychological hit out of the way. If you are really concerned about her weight, perhaps the two of you can ditch the car and take a nice walk or a jog.
Two Views on One Room
My husband and I have been trying to sell a condominium for a long time. We finally rented the place last fall. At first, the tenants had some misunderstandings with the broker about showing the apartment. Now, we hear that they leave the place messy, with clothes on the floor and dishes in the sink, and that they stand around brushing their teeth during appointments. We want to keep the tenants in place because we need the money. But how do we make them understand that they have to keep the apartment really presentable for showings?
Elizabeth, Canaan, N.Y.
Perhaps your asking price is too high? If I just moved into a new place and then all of a sudden I hear my landlord wants to toss me out so that the condo can be sold I would be a bit miffed as well. We all know how honest real estate agents are. It looks like yours was living up to the stereotype while trying to get that sweet commission. You can try to talk to them politely and maybe offer a perk in exchange for the cleanliness, maybe a treat after every showing, or a reduction in the rent (which it seems may not be an option you are willing to consider). But try to make an offer on a treat. In the future, do not trust realtors.
Outside the Fray
After my husband of 35 years admitted to an affair, I booted him out. Now his mother, my beloved mother-in-law, has died. I’ve heard that his mistress is listed with the family as hosts of a memorial dinner at an exclusive private club. My in-laws are lobbying hard for me to attend, and my children have offered to escort me and tell me just to ignore him. Any advice?
Everyone around you is willing to make this work for you. Listen to your children and pay your respects to someone that was close to you. If he approaches you, be polite. And do not attempt to try anything sinister. A funeral is not the place for revenge. You want to make sure you give off the impression that he lost out on a great thing in a graceful and elegant manner.
Sweating the Details
I invited a friend to stay at my summer house next weekend. She kindly reserved two spots for us in an exercise class on Saturday morning that fills very quickly. Then I remembered a prior commitment on Friday night that will shorten our weekend and make it hard for us to arrive in time for class. She won’t lose any money by canceling the classes now, but the later classes are full. She is making a really big deal about this. What should I do?
Anonymous, New York
Exercise class? Really? Tell her to calm down. There are far better ways for you to spend your weekend. Maybe invite another friend to the house that can go early with her to the exercise class. This way you get to avoid it altogether and you still do not piss off your friend. But if she were a real friend she would understand, right?