Singing to the Choir

Posted on | February 7, 2016 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
I have been singing with my church choir for over 10 years and I think I have a pretty decent voice. We recently got a new choir director who has decided that he wants everyone in the choir to “audition.” I’m not good under that kind of pressure and I don’t feel that I should have to “audition” for a volunteer job.  Do you think that the choir director is within his rights to do this?  I’d be sad if I couldn’t sing with the choir any more but I’d be really upset if I auditioned and didn’t get selected.

Dear V:
Yes, he has the right to do this but why don’t you have a chat and tell him how you feel in the nicest possible way — perhaps you two can find common ground.

Gender Rules

Posted on | February 7, 2016 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
I recently read an article that said that knitting is very good for your brain and your hands, especially if you have arthritis. I decided to try it and I love it!!! The problem is that I’m a man and people give me quizzical looks when I take my knitting out at church or in a restaurant.  Is there a snappy answer that will stop the gawkers?
Knit 1 Purl 2

Dear Knit:
Oh, don’t sweat it. Consider it “sensitivity training” —  stepping out of traditional gender roles always has a price.

Virtue Is It’s Own Reward

Posted on | February 5, 2016 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
My neighbor recently went on vacation and hired a dog walker to come by twice a day to walk her two small dogs. After a couple of days the dog walker came to my house and asked it I could possibly walk the dogs in the morning because she was no longer able to do it.  I don’t really like dogs but I felt bad for them so I agreed.  When my neighbor returned about a week later, she thanked me profusely for my help but never mentioned any kind of payment.  I don’t know what she paid the other dog walker but I feel that I deserve half.  I was hoping that my neighbor would offer me something but since she hasn’t, would it be out of line for me to ask?
Good Neighbor

Dear Neighbor:
Yes, we think it would be quite out of line.

Give Pitch a Chance

Posted on | February 4, 2016 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
I live in a small town that has a lot of amateur theatrical events. At some point or other, just about everybody I know is in a play or singing at a piano bar. Since I used to be a professional musician myself, I know how bad some of these singers are.  I don’t mind attending these events but I do mind having to tell everybody how “wonderful” they were.  I can feel my face getting red from the embarrassment of lying.  Is it better to stay home and pretend to be sick or attend and lie through my teeth?  Or should I just tell them what I think and never get invited again?  None of these seem like great choices to me.
Horns of a Dilemma

Dear Horns:
You are thinking about this in the wrong way.  It is not about virtuosity, it’s about friends having fun.  And lies are not necessary if you had a good time. Try harder.

Bystander at the Break-Up

Posted on | February 4, 2016 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
Two friends who I’ve know for a very long time have recently had a very contentious break up. I don’t really know who’s right and who’s wrong because I intend to stay friendly with both of them.  One of them, however, has decided to throw a “break up” party to celebrate their split.  I have very mixed feelings about going to such an event.  If I go, am I siding with one person over the other?  If I don’t go, I am insulting the person who is throwing the party?  Which way would you go?
Considering My Options

Dear Considering:
We would go where the fun is.  Their contentious break-up  does not require that you join in the hostilities. Be mindful about not talking to either one about the other, and it should be fine.

Nose Blind

Posted on | February 4, 2016 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
As my husband has gotten older (he’s in his 70s now), he has started to ignore his personal hygiene. He goes out in public with stains on his clothing and actually smells bad at times.  I’m sure it’s because he can’t see or smell as well as he used to so he just doesn’t notice.  But I do and I’m sure everyone he meets does as well.  I have mentioned this to him but he tells me that I’m wrong and just being overly sensitive.  Whenever I can, I wash his clothes but I can’t stop him from taking dirty clothes out of the hamper and putting them on.  He is an adult, after all.  Should I just give up and let him wear what he wants?
Wife with Issues

Dear Wife:
We are of the view that one of the rights and responsibilities of marriage is protecting the other from avoidable signs of aging — poor hygiene, grooming and dirty glasses all signal impending decrepitude. Tell him that even if he doesn’t care, you do and that you expect him to check you out before leaving the house.

If You Miss This, You Miss It All

Posted on | February 4, 2016 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
Why are relationships important?

Dear Hermit:
Relationships are not just important, they are what it’s all about. Not all of them are intimate, but all of them have  the possibility of enriching your life.

National Health Emergency

Posted on | February 4, 2016 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
Last week when I was in the grocery store, I saw a mother with her four very, very fat children. As she loaded her cart with candy and sugary cereals and potato chips, I wanted so badly to say something to her but I didn’t.  I am still thinking about it and certainly not sure what I could have said.  Is there any way to be helpful in a situation like this?  I even considered buying some healthy food and giving it to her for free.
So Concerned

Dear Concerned:
Childhood obesity is now an epidemic. The causes and the solutions are very complex. Sorry, no short answer.

Get Over It

Posted on | January 26, 2016 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
Last month my wife and I had planned to go on a cruise. At the last minute, our dog got very sick and needed to spend a few days at the vet.  We had no idea when our dog would be returning home and we didn’t want to leave him at the vet. On the other hand, it didn’t seem to be a life-threatening illness and certainly did not require that we both stay home.  The cruise company refused to refund our money and would not allow us to even give our tickets away to another couple.  I suggested to my wife that we draw straws so that at least one of us could go and one of us could stay at home.  She was appalled at this idea and said that we would either both go (and worry about our dog every minute) or both stay at home.  We stayed at home but I am still furious about the wasted money.  Which one of us was right?  Our dog, by the way, recovered fully and is just fine.
Need Closure

Dear Need:
There is no right or wrong in these things but for you to continue to be angry after the fact seems mean-spirited. Let it go or figure out what else is bothering you.

Accept Defeat

Posted on | January 26, 2016 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
My husband has the worst table manners I have ever seen. Most of the things he does I try to ignore (like tucking his napkin into his collar or slurping his soup).  But there is one thing that drives me crazy.  He pushes his food around on his plate with his fingers!!!  I have tried to explain (nicely) that a normal person pushes his food against his knife so as not to get his hands covered in sauce or butter or mashed potatoes.  But he refuses to listen to me and does what he wants.  Then, of course, he licks his fingers which is disgusting.  We have been married for over 25 years so I know he’s not going to change.  Should I stop taking him to restaurants or dinner parties?  Should I sit as far away from him as possible and just ignore it?  I know that everyone else notices because I can see the looks on their faces.

Dear Em:
We like your idea of sitting as far away from him as possible. Offer no explanation. He will figure it out — or not.

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