DEAR MISS MANNERS: I meet up with some childhood friends a few times a year. We all live in different cities, and we meet at a centrally located restaurant in a city that we can all drive to.
Now that we’re getting older, conversations include aging and future plans. In what I now know was a mistake, I mentioned that I might begin spending winters in a warm, southern state.
One person in this group now brings it up several times at each get-together, telling me repeatedly, “You should buy a place there, and we will come see you.” She texts me and includes questions about whether or not I’ve been real estate shopping yet.
Her demeanor doesn’t suggest that she’s just eager for us to have some fun. She seems to simply want a place to stay in that area. She’s never visited me at my current home, and she’s never invited me to hers. I’ve never even spoken to her on the phone. I don’t think this friend is on a budget or needs a break, because she drives a luxury car that I would never consider buying.
Any suggestions? There are others in the group I’d like to maintain friendships with. None of them make similar statements. I’ve begun simply ignoring her or changing the topic.
I am now thinking that if I do begin spending winters at a rented condo, or perhaps even buy a small place, I wouldn’t invite her. Is this unfair? It would likely mean the end of the friendship, but pressing someone in this way seems rude.
GENTLE READER: How about sending her the name of your real estate agent? “You seemed so excited about the prospect of having a home in a warmer climate that I thought you might like to look for yourself. I haven’t settled on a time or place yet, and you seem impatient to have a place to stay.”
When you do find a place, Miss Manners condones not inviting this person. If she persists, simply state that it is not a good time or you do not have the room -- as many times as it takes for her to understand.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My college senior -- a very capable, autistic young adult -- was traveling by train from Washington to Philadelphia. Seats were scarce. My child ended up seeking a seat in the “quiet car.”
They found an empty seat and asked the woman next to it if it was taken. The woman very loudly and dramatically shushed them and pointed out that it was a quiet car, causing everyone in the car to turn and stare.
My child was quite upset and embarrassed by this interaction, and very much wants to know the correct approach: Simply sit down without inquiring if the seat is available? Inquire anyway and risk quiet-car wrath?
GENTLE READER: There is quiet and then there is ridiculous. Your child was being polite by asking. And if it makes your senior feel any better, Miss Manners has no doubt that this rude passenger would have been just as upset if she had not been asked.