She likes to shop, eat and drink a lot (starting at lunch), none of which appeals to me. I really don’t mind them coming and using our house as a home base, but I am starting to dread having to entertain her every day.
Is there any way to tell them that? My choice would be to go our separate ways during the day and then meet up for dinner. My husband is totally supportive and is willing to address this with his friend.
As long as what your husband communicates is your regret that you are otherwise engaged for the week — and not that you find his friend’s wife a shopaholic lush. Then Miss Manners suggests that you become quickly and convincingly occupied, even if it is only with a good book at a remote cafe.
Dear Miss Manners: There’s nothing I can do about it now, but my mishandling of an awkward situation plagues me to this day.
My husband and I had been dear friends with our neighbors since we moved to the neighborhood and our children were small. Years later, when their daughter was studying art in college, she came home on a break from school with a surprise for me: a giant abstract painting that she’d done.
My husband and I are minimalists. We have very few pieces of art, and the ones we do have are small and personal. If you want to imagine our house, picture empty white walls and no drapery.
I’m not sure I did a very good job hiding my shock when I realized she expected me to take this painting home and hang it up somewhere. I gushed as profusely as I could about how beautiful it was and about her talent. (I was lying, by the way. It was not my cup of tea.) Then I asked her to keep it at her mom’s house for me until I decided where to hang it.
I never retrieved the painting.
Since then, her mother has died and the daughter has moved away. I am constantly wondering how I should have handled this. I know, for sure, that I handled it badly. But, as it says on my bracelet, WWMMD? (What Would Miss Manners Do?)
Remind you that it would have been just as easy for you to keep the painting in a closet as it was for your neighbor. And less hurtful.
Present-givers are generally a well-intentioned lot, but even neighbors cannot be expected to memorize your home’s aesthetic. Most likely, the girl thought your bare walls could use some art. In any case, she undoubtedly saw through your ruse, especially since you said you were not very good at hiding your true feelings.
And what about the fear of getting caught with the painting not on your walls, you might ask? Miss Manners would have suggested using the time between the girl’s visits to practice saying, “We are trying to figure out the exact right place to put it.”
But first, practice your delivery.