Feb. 11 Short Answers
Paula Forman and Jeff Johnson
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Dear Short Answers: My father has recently started to make very politically incorrect comments in public. I think he believes that he’s being funny rather than offensive, but not everybody sees it this way. He’s been a liberal his whole life so I don’t think he’s being racist or sexist — just insensitive. I’ve asked him nicely to stop it, but he laughs it off. Should I continue to let him get away with this or take a harder line (which might or might not work)? — Uncomfortable
Dear U: Although we have great empathy for you, it has been our experience that censoring parents meets with unsatisfactory outcomes. Perhaps if you tell him he is hurting his “image” in his community you may be more effective — but maybe not. If not, you need to remind yourself (once again) that he is not you.
CUT THE CRAP
Dear Short Answers: I was invited to a dinner party at the home of someone I really can’t stand. I know that dinner parties are a lot of work, and I feel guilty about accepting. Should I make up an excuse not to go so that somebody else (someone who really likes the host) can take my place? — Reluctant
Dear Re: Go if you wanna go and don’t if you don’t — no guilt or elaborate excuses required. As far is we know, going to a dinner party only requires that you be pleasant and entertaining — not an oath of fealty.
Dear Short Answers: A friend at work recently told me a bizarre story about something illegal that he had done. He laughed it off as a prank, but it’s been bothering me ever since. I’m not completely sure that it’s all true, but if it is, then laws were certainly broken. Would it be wrong to call the police and ask them to investigate? Can I do this anonymously? Or should I just forget the whole thing and pretend it was just a joke? — My Brother’s Keeper
If you think your friend is about to commit a crime such as assault, molestation or murder — then you should go to the police. In other circumstances, you might start with telling your friend you were not amused by his “prank” and that if he insists on telling you more, there may be consequences. And BTW — why do you refer to this person as your friend?
SMILE, NOD, PRESERVE MYSTERY
Dear Short Answers: Even though I just turned 50, it seems that younger men (I am gay) are starting to find me very attractive. Maybe it’s a “daddy” thing. Maybe I just look “distinguished” and “employed.” But what does it matter? Shouldn’t I just take advantage of it while it lasts and fool around as much as possible? My friends all tell me to be careful because these younger guys just want my money. I say “go for it!” What do you think? — Just Me
Dear Me: Feeling attractive and wanted is a beautiful thing. Enjoy it, treasure it, store the feeling for a rainy day. However, it need not translate to fooling around “as much as possible.” Just saying.
LIFE SKILLS 101
Dear Short Answers: What is happiness? — JOB
Dear JOB: Happiness is the capacity to be open to the joy around us. Extra happiness is the ability to help others do the same.
Life is complicated. “Short Answers” isn’t. Send a question about whatever is bothering you to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.shortanswers.net and a psychologist and sociologist will answer. A selection of the best questions will be printed every Sunday in The Daily Reflector.