Dear Annie: I live in Southern California and have two kids. The oldest is 12. She has a brown belt in karate and two of her friends (they’re brothers) also have brown belts.
The 15-year-old brother has a habit of talking to me every time I take my daughter to karate class. He comes up to the car window and says “Hi.” I always ask how he’s doing in school. I’m beginning to think, however, that he doesn’t see me as a friend. The younger one told my daughter that his brother has a crush on me. The younger one also mentioned a vague threat that if the boy can’t talk to me, he’ll pick on my daughter.
Both of these boys attend the same school as my daughter. I’ve talked to their parents, and the karate instructor has talked to the older boy, but nothing is getting through his head. Is it just hormones, or is he reaching out for some other reason? This is starting to go a little too far. — Concerned Mom
Dear Mom: Sounds like hormones, but we don’t like the “vague threat.” It’s possible that his little brother is telling tall tales, but if your instincts say the boy could take out his frustrations on your daughter, you need to take it seriously. Make it clear that you have no interest in him. Cool the small talk. Be less friendly and chatty. If you are married, have your husband drive your daughter to karate for a while, or put her in a carpool so you don’t see this boy as often. (Make sure the school and the karate instructor keep an eye on this kid.)
Dear Annie: I own a restaurant in a small town and am wondering what the correct protocol is for eating with my patrons. Since I know many of my patrons socially, we sometimes get together for meals. When discussing dinner plans with a friend last week, we decided to have dinner together and chose my restaurant.
After dinner, my friend simply left without offering to pay his share of the bill. This ended up costing me not only the food price and the loss of revenue from the dinner, but also the tip. This happens fairly often, and I guess people just presume the food and service is free since I am the owner.
How should I deal with this? Obviously, I do not want to end the social situations, but I am tired of always paying for dinner. This is especially difficult if there is liquor involved, because of the taxes. I could use some guidelines. My restaurant is my income, not a hobby for entertaining. — Perplexed in Foodland
Dear Perplexed: Your friends don’t realize you have to pay for the food and drink served at a restaurant you own. The solution is quite simple. The next time you go out with friends, select a different restaurant. If they say they’d prefer yours, reply that eating in your own restaurant is like working overtime and it’s much more pleasant for you to sample the other places around town. If they truly enjoy your company over the free ride, they will be more than happy to go elsewhere.
Dear Annie: I am writing in response to “Aging With Dignity,” who was upset by the rudeness of a former high school classmate about the baldness of her husband.
I, too, am a balding man in my early 50s and have received a few barbs from time to time about my thinning hair. I find a quick-witted response is most appropriate in these situations. My favorite is, “I guess I’m just receiving my halo early.”
A little humor goes a long way. — Proud to Be a Skin Head in Indy
Dear Proud: Very cute. We agree that humor is often the best response when confronted with rudeness, intentional or otherwise.
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, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger on 11.30.07