Ex’s attempt to make amends falls flat
Q: My first love e-mailed me out of the blue, after 10 years, to make amends as part of his AA program.
The lengthy e-mail detailed my ex’s love for me, regrets, and urged me to consider a phone call or FaceTime to help free him of pain. It seems narcissistic, especially not knowing what I may be going through in my life.
How do you suggest I respond?
Clueless in Chicago
A: If he’s looking to you to free him of his pain, then he’s not paying close enough attention in AA.
Asking you to help him isn’t making amends. It’s an attempt to outsource his emotional work to you.
So respond as if he were actually making amends: Say, by reply e-mail, that you accept his apology, forgive him, and wish him the best in his recovery. Gentle, brief, goodbye.
Dismiss personal questions from strangers
Q: I am the mother of two very young children. The elder child looks just like me, with dark hair and eyes and olive skin, and the other is the polar opposite — blond hair and blue eyes. People will approach me in the street to comment on how different they look, and ask where my younger child’s coloring came from.
Could you suggest a polite but unresponsive response?
A: You can make this question go away in no words (death stare); one word ("Really?"); two words ("Genetic quirks"); or the smartassery of your choice.
So while I hear regularly from people who don’t endorse the snappy-answers-to-stupid-questions approach to dismissing busybodies, I’m all for it. It’s your life, your business, and others’ boundary blindness — so you have every right to streamline this nuisance away. In snarky words, few words, or none.