I’ve befriended a co-worker at my new job. Turns out, her husband bullied me in high school and caused me great anguish at the time. That was 25 years ago, and I haven’t seen him since. My colleague is now asking my wife and me to join them for dinner at their house. I don’t want to see him, but she is being persistent. I also don’t want to cause problems between my colleague and her husband by bringing this up. What should I do?
Coincidences this rich don’t pop up every day. Isn’t the universe begging you to explore it — or at least commission Taylor Swift to write one of her “gotcha songs” for you to perform at the firm’s Spring Fling?
If you are adamant about not seeing this guy, explain to your colleague that you didn’t get along with her husband in high school and you’re not interested in a reunion. For any follow-ups she may pose, just say, “You should speak with your husband about that.”
But I would urge you to accept this invitation, if it wouldn’t be too painful. (And this from a fellow who took his fair share of bullying as a boy.) In fact, consider this gem from the Horrible Generalizations Department: The kindest adults I know were all teased pretty mercilessly as kids. This creep may be responsible for some of your empathy now.
Twenty-five years have also given him a chance to grow up and become a better person. Doesn’t convincing your new (and presumably nice) friend to marry him suggest as much? And one dinner seems a pittance for the chance to write a new ending to your nasty high school story.
If you do go, don’t skirt the issue of his bad behavior. He may bring it up himself. But if he doesn’t, after 20 minutes of small talk, just say: “You were really lousy to me in high school. Care to apologize?” And just think: what better opportunity to destroy his ship-in-a-bottle collection?
All the Single Ladies
I am getting married soon. My fiancé and I are paying for the wedding and trying to avoid going broke. I have a number of single girlfriends in their 30s and 40s. I would love to invite them to bring guests, but I’m not sure we can afford it. I sympathize with their not wanting to go alone. How should I approach this?
Chris, San Francisco
The moment, to put it more tamely than Martin Lawrence in “Bad Boys II” and various adorable animals on vulgar Internet memes, when (wedding) stuff just got real comes with the question of plus-ones for our single pals. We always invite our friends’ spouses, even if we can’t stand them. Yet we’re perfectly willing to make singletons sit solo for the better part of a day (and sadly, evening) on the theory that they might meet someone — or we can’t afford to do otherwise. I disagree.
First, establish a reasonable budget. I don’t want you going broke, either. Then create a guest list to match (including plus-ones for the single folk), using the surgical precision of Dr. Oz as he replaces some bloke’s aorta. Hurt feelings? Part of the game, I’m afraid. You may explain your predicament to your girlfriends. But don’t expect overflowing sympathy from the uninvited.
Life is full of brutal choices. (Just ask Bill Styron’s Sophie.) Happily, this is not one of them. But I may be out of step. So, readers: send me your thoughts about single guests, and I will boil them down for our blushing bride in short order.
At a small restaurant, I was first on the list to be seated. A couple, whose bill was paid and plates were cleared, sat talking for 40 minutes while people waited in clear view. Should I have said something to them, or should the waiter have done so?
Bill Kopp, Eastchester, N.Y.
Neither — and I say this after standing in your frustrated flip-flops on many occasions. Restaurants are in the business of hospitality, not serving meals on conveyor belts and pushing patrons out the door. After a reasonable wait (say, 15 minutes), approach the headwaiter and explain your plight. Some will offer to buy the lingerers a drink at the bar, thus freeing the table for you. Others prefer to let paying customers choreograph their own exits. If you are unhappy with the solution offered to you, vote with your feet and dine elsewhere.
Hello, My Name Is …
I met my Chinese husband abroad. We recently moved back to the United States. A friend started calling my husband Hank, rather than his given name, Huichun. He even introduces him to new people as Hank. We are uncomfortable with this name change but don’t know how to broach the subject without causing tension.
Are you really writing from the land of Al Capone and worried about offending a man who rechristens your husband without asking first? Just say: “We’ve decided not to Americanize Huichun’s name. Let’s leave Hank for Messrs. Williams and Aaron, O.K.?”
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