Posted: Thursday, November 12, 2009 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: My husband and I are both retired. A year ago, we moved in order to be within driving distance of our three married children. We mentioned to our minister that we were new to the area, and he suggested social groups that meet at the church.
There are about a dozen women in my group. One of them dominates the conversation to such an extent that I haven’t really had an opportunity to get to know the others. “Helen” talks about her extensive travels, her beautiful garden, her children and grandchildren, and current happenings in the community ad nauseam, and has an uncanny talent for going on to another topic without a break. If anyone else tries to interject, she talks right over them.
Last week, my husband and I went to a free concert at the church. When Helen saw us, she waved for us to sit with her. She talked before, during and after each song. I came home with a headache.
I am about to drop out of the church group. I was taught that conversation is a two-way street. Must I wear earplugs? — Frustrated, Any City
Dear Frustrated: Nonstop chatterboxes seldom realize how irritating they are, and there is little you can do to shut them up. It’s also possible Helen is hard of hearing and talks incessantly so no one will expect her to respond to a question. Someone should take Helen aside and let her know that she needs to give others the opportunity to speak. Perhaps one of you can assign her the task of calling on each person so they feel included in the group. If no one is willing to do this, ask the minister to intercede on your behalf.
Dear Annie: My fiancé and I are getting married in June. We are in our 40s, and it’s not the first wedding for either of us. I am laid off from my job, and my fiancé’s hours were drastically cut. We are trying hard to save for a modest wedding, and as long as we stay on track, we should make it. But here is my dilemma.
I’m not sure what to do when it comes to wedding gifts. We certainly don’t need any blenders or china, but we don’t want to be greedy by asking for monetary gifts that we could surely use.
I have never been to a wedding where the couple is older and it’s a second wedding. Should we state on the invitation that gifts are optional or just leave it alone and see what happens? What is the proper etiquette for gifts at a second wedding? — Confused Bride in Indiana
Dear Indiana: The etiquette is the same for all weddings — it is improper to mention gifts on the invitation. The best you can do is tell a few close friends and relatives of your preferences and let them spread the word to anyone who asks.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Confused and Annoyed Teen,” who thinks her parents don’t remember being young. My teenage daughter has many of the same complaints. But parents need to be extra vigilant nowadays. Many of the mistakes teens make today are recorded and can be accessed by hundreds, if not thousands, of people.
Employers and college admissions officers use the Internet when gathering information on applicants. If someone’s name is associated with a compromising picture, it could ruin their chances of landing the job or getting into the college of their choice. The ramifications of a teenage mistake can last far into their futures.
Teenagers are generally funny, intelligent and capable, but they sometimes lack the judgment to see the big picture. It is our job as parents to guide them, allowing them to make some mistakes, and to step in when those mistakes have the potential to severely damage their future. — Mom of a Teen
Dear Mom: You are absolutely right. Kids really need to be careful in this digital world, or it could haunt them forever.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 11.12.09