"Social Q's" is Philip Galanes's advice column in the New York Times. Every Tuesday in Anti-Social Q's, I will answer the same questions as "Social Q's," with a greater regard for the sad state of the human condition.
This week Philip offers advice to a variety of souls. One is a nosy nagger, another a mountain master of ceremonies, a dining dork, and a pitiful parent.
Loneliness of Secrets
Here’s my situation: Two sisters have been enemies for years. Neither one speaks to the other. Recently, their father, who lives far away, was found to have cancer and admitted to the hospital. One of the sisters knows about his condition, but the other doesn’t because the father made the one he told promise not to tell her sister or anyone else in the family. Should this promise be kept? Doesn’t the sister who knows have a duty to tell the other?
Anonymous, Hampton Bays, N.Y.
Okay, first of all, what the hell are you doing taking some other family's personal problems and parading them around in the newspaper of record? Are you going to take Philip's advice and pass it off as your own? Did these sisters even ask you for your opinion (which is not really your opinion anyway, seeing as it will be Philip's)? Having said all that, we cannot answer this question because in your haste to send this to the Times you did not bother with any of the pertinent details. Why did the father make this request? Perhaps the other sister is a hysterical maniac that loses all control of herself when confronted with news like this? Perhaps she is a money hungry deviant that would do anything to get her hands on whatever is left to her on her father's will? Since the sisters are enemies, perhaps the father does not care to deal with family drama as he tries to deal with his illness, although he seriously needs to reconsider his position. The sister who knows has a duty to tell her father that his decision, assuming there are no details like those above, is a bad one, and that he should be the one to tell the family about his condition. He should also add, "I am going to need a united family to get through this." The least he could do is unite his two daughters while he has their sympathy.
Price of Friendship
I own a mountain cabin and occasionally invite friends for weekend visits. I appreciate and sometimes expect my guests to contribute to the cost of meals, gas and cleaning fees. What is the appropriate way for guests to pay their share? I often end up feeling resentful and penny-pinching, which is unpleasant for me and my guests.
Sandra, New Mexico
Expecting something from others? You know you live in early 21st century America right? If you are not able to pay for the costs of your get togethers, do not have them. You are right that it is the duty of your guests to contribute, but as it seems your guests are assholes, do you really want to resort to begging from assholes? Is not the whole point of a mountain cabin to get away from these jerks anyway?
Retrace Your Missteps
My wife and I invited a couple we want to cultivate as friends to lunch at a restaurant. When we arrived, I instructed the waiter to bring me the check at the end of the meal. He agreed. But when the time came, he told me it had already been taken care of. I lost my temper at the table and told him to fix it or I would make sure he lost his job. He apologized, but nothing was changed. How could I have handled this better?
J. P., Seattle
Hmm, by not being a dickhead perhaps?
People gush over my baby’s appearance. I am biased, but I recognize that he is quite cute. What should I do when another mother compliments his beauty, but I don’t feel the same about her child? I sound insincere returning the compliment, but just saying “thank you” feels wrong.
Anonymous, New York
Oh, you are an insufferable bitch, are you not? No wonder you went with "Anonymous." And let me guess, an insufferable bitch from Park Slope, right? Go to hell. Your baby may be cute, but it has an ugly person for a parent.
Image courtesy of misocrazy.