Dear Margo: Recently I received an email from an author inviting me to a reading. I was delighted.
But then I noticed that my personal email was included in the “cc” line along with a long listing of the others who had received the invitation. Some of these people were famous — much more famous than I. Isn’t this an invasion of their (and my) privacy? — Jane Doe (Guarding my privacy!)
Dear Jane: It is considered correct to “bcc” a sizable send list, especially if everyone is not in the same social circle. Email addresses of well-known people should be treated like private telephone numbers. On the other hand, only a whack job would get ahold of, say, Jack Nicholson’s email address and write him hoping for an answer. In addition, showing all the addresses can be problematic because some people choose to “reply all,” something I seldom do because, let’s face it, often the responses are pointless — or only concern the person who sent the email. I must confess that I (from laziness) infrequently hide the send list. If everyone on the list were famous, however, one might be able to get away with all the names showing. But in the instance you mention, it was simply careless, if not dumb, to reveal a bunch of famous names and their e-mail addresses simply because the author was flogging an event, thereby inviting press interest. The e-mail you refer to, by the way, did make its way around and, in fact, wound up in “Page Six.” Some of the sender’s famous friends may now be former friends. — Margo, discreetly
Dear Margo: My sister and I love our father. The problem is our stepmother, “Helen.” From the first time we met her, she has been jealous of the love our father has for us and has never treated us as though we were welcome in her home, which turned into their home. It cost my father our no longer spending weekends with him/them. Now we see him every week or every other week, if we’re lucky. Whenever we are at their house, she makes rude comments about things we like or what we watch on TV. (These remarks are always directed at us when my father is in another room.) Considering that we’re older, this shouldn’t bother my sister and me, but it does. How can we handle her rude remarks when we’re at her house? Is there a way to “politely” tell her off, or must we always bite our tongues? — Cinderellas
Dear Cin: I don’t think there’s such a thing as “politely” telling someone off. One is either polite, i.e., non-challenging . . . or one decides to tell someone off. I don’t, however, think you and your sister need to bite your tongues. I would recommend that the two of you either ask for “a family meeting” when you go to see them, and then bring up your discomfort with her thinly veiled hostility.
If you choose the en famille route, you might say that you are grateful that this woman makes your father happy, but that his children are an important part of his life, too, and you have already curtailed your visits because you do not feel welcome. (My guess is your father knows the score.) If for some reason you decide this is not viable, take your father to lunch and tell him why you have been seeing less of him.
My vote would be for the family meeting. I think that will get you better results than trying to have your father straighten her out — which he may be reluctant to do.
Alas, yours is an unfortunate, though not uncommon, situation. — Margo, empathetically
Dear Margo: I am writing about my 24-year-old daughter I’ll call “Florence,” who is in a four-year relationship I am extremely upset about. I have spoken with Florence about how I feel, and I also know I am powerless to change her mind. I have been so upset that I think this has affected my health adversely, as I have been a cancer patient for two years. Florence is beautiful, talented and intelligent. She could have just about any man she desires. This boyfriend with whom she is seriously considering marriage cannot find full-time work in his field and works part time, eking out just enough money to support himself rather than finding work in another field that would enable him to support a family someday. He is grossly overweight, as is his mother, so this genetic tendency could be passed along to his children. He is not of our religion, which could add difficulties to a marital relationship. I feel strongly that Florence will “wake up and smell the coffee” too late, after marriage and children, and live an unhappy life. One cannot choose the mate for one’s child, but I need advice about how to stop worrying so I can become happy and, hopefully, healthy. — Worried Sick
Dear Wor: You know the words but not the music — something I think most of us experience at one time or another. You know Florence is going to do what she wants, you know you should disengage, but it’s hard to watch what you view as a mistake and not make yourself heard. It is important for you to accept the fact that — for four years — beautiful, talented, intelligent Florence has been involved with a man you do not find promising, to put it mildly. But I will tell you this: Florence knows he is fat, underemployed and of a different religion. It has so far not changed her mind. And realistically, it’s never “too late” to undo from a mate who’s proved to be the wrong one. (Don’t ask me how I know this.) Since you can’t control Florence, I recommend that you work on attaining the gift of acceptance. It is her life. I have always believed that we each get one life (unless you are Shirley MacLaine) to do with as we choose. If you can adopt this way of thinking, I predict you will be happier and your health will improve. — Margo, purposefully
Dear Margo: I have somewhat of a potbelly that makes me look like I’m about three months pregnant. I’m not pregnant, never have been and never will be (at least not for a few years anyway).
Some people, mostly family, keep asking if I am pregnant. It’s embarrassing and annoying. While I’m not always happy with my figure, I’m comfortable enough with it. Is there anything I can do to stop getting asked this? — Absolutely Not Pregnant
Dear Ab: You need to close down these “well wishers,” and I offer you two approaches.
One is to answer, “Nope . . . just been hiding in the jelly donuts.” Another would be the announcement that you weren’t the last time they asked, and you’re not now. Smart people learn (often the hard way) that it is not wise to ask people with discernible bellies if they are preggers. Nine times out of 10, what could be perceived as a “baby bump” is actually the 10 or 15 pounds a lot of us would like to lose. If you can keep yourself from bopping the clods who ask you this question, humor is very effective. — Margo, lightly