Ask Amy

Monday, August 20, 2012 at 10:05pm

DEAR AMY: I have lived alone in my house for the past 15 years.

A friend of 10 years recently got divorced and needed a place to live, and since I have a three-bedroom house she asked if I wanted a roommate for about a year.

I agreed to let her move in and am charging her a minimal rent.

I'm a smoker, which she knew and said wouldn't be a problem.

The very first night when we were watching TV, I lit a cigarette, and she informed me that she was having a problem with my smoking, so I went into another room.

She said she didn't want to put restrictions on me in my own home, and I agreed that we may have a problem.

I have an evaporative cooler that circulates fresh air and keeps the room free of smoke; I don't smoke in her presence, and I either go into my office or sit outside on the porch.

My question to you is, how much am I supposed to restrict myself, if at all?

We get along very well, and I don't want to damage the friendship. On the other hand, I want to be able to live the way I want to.

I'm considering suggesting that she get a cable hookup in her bedroom.

Is that too much to ask?

— Smoking Mad

DEAR SMOKING: It's your home. If you want to smoke in your own home, it's your right. But because your friend is paying rent, she is a tenant and she has rights too.

You should check with a lawyer to see if you have any liability if your friend develops medical problems related to your smoking.

You seem to have taken steps to try to minimize the effect of your smoking on her, but you (and she) should know that cigarette smoke is toxic, even when you're not blowing it toward someone.

You two need to communicate clearly what you are prepared to do regarding your smoking.

She may have thought this would be tolerable before she moved in, but now that she is having a problem with your smoking, she should be given a realistic and truthful answer: That you don't intend to alter your habits all that much.

She may need to move.

DEAR AMY: A male cousin on my mother's side is getting married in a few months.

My mother (his aunt), whom he has seen once every three to four years, received a call from a friend of the future bride's mother requesting that she send "a check for $125 to contribute to covering the cost of the band for the reception."

I was floored. Is this a new thing?

My mother sent the check, but I think she should cancel it before it is cashed.

If the hosts of the party cannot afford a band, they should not expect their guests (who are traveling across the country to celebrate their day with them) to foot the bill!

Am I overreacting? Have you heard of this before? This doesn't seem polite.

— Cheapskate?

DEAR CHEAPSKATE: I always urge couples to finance their own weddings, but charging guests upfront to defray the cost of the band is not quite what I had in mind. Essentially, this couple is trying to sell tickets to their own blessed event.

Doing this gives guests a real stake in the band's performance, however. If they don't play their "Earth Wind and Fire" covers with sufficient vigor, could your mother demand a refund?

So no, I have never heard of this before, but I'm sure readers have.

I'll let them weigh in. In honor of the dog days of summer, let's amuse ourselves by sharing our worst wedding stories.

DEAR AMY: I was amused by the letter from a pregnant woman whose mother-in-law was insisting on calling her baby "Skipper," regardless of the child's actual name.

I would have said, "Great. And we'll teach him to call you Gilligan."

End of discussion.

— Suggestive Reader

DEAR SUGGESTIVE: Bang. Zoom. Everyone's a comedian!

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.

Filed under: Lifestyles
Tagged: ask amy

1 Comment on this post:

By: NewYorker1 on 8/21/12 at 8:54

DEAR SMOKING: Girl, put her out or charge her an extra five hundred per month for your inconvenience. If you are going to have to make adjustments, then you should be getting paid for it.

DEAR CHEAPSKATE: Your mother is stupid as hell for sending them a check. I hate weddings and this would have been my excuse to not show up.