DEAR READERS: I'm marking my 10-year anniversary of writing the "Ask Amy" column by rerunning some of my favorite Q-and-A's from the early days of the column. Today's letters deal with tension between friends. I return next week.
DEAR AMY: What is the protocol when people invite themselves to stay at your house?
We frequently have people from out of town who want to stay at our house (friends and relatives). We don't invite these people. Some stay for a week, others for four or five days.
While we enjoy their visits, it breaks us financially for food costs.
What are our responsibilities, and what's your advice?
— Vexed in Virginia
DEAR VEXED: Here's a script for you:
Home Invaders: "Hi, Betsy. Doug and I are coming for a week to hike the Blue Ridge Mountains and wade in the clear running streams of your beautiful state. We'd like the three-egg omelet, popovers and blueberry jam for our first morning."
You: "Unfortunately Stan and I can't have you stay with us this time, but there's a nice bed and breakfast in town. Do you want the phone number? We'd love to see you."
If there are family members whom you simply can't refuse (or genuinely want to host), let them know that you can only host them for a limited number of days, and say that you need them to help out by going on a grocery run on the first day of their visit. (2006)
DEAR AMY: An old friend and I are arguing over his not returning phone calls.
It took him two months and several message requests for a return call regarding an invitation I issued for him to attend a very special party. Three months later and a week from the party date, I again had to make two requests for a return call, at which time he berated me for asking for a return call.
When I told him I thought he was being rude and self-centered, he told me I was being self-centered in insisting on a return call.
I understand he is busy, but what is the time limit on returning a call?
— Fed Up With Mr. Big Shot
DEAR FED UP: Mr. Big Shot doesn't seem to want to speak with you. If he did want to speak with you, he would.
You know all those people talking on their cellphones while they wait in line at the movies or the grocery store? Those people are making or returning phone calls to people with whom they want to speak.
In the future, if you invite someone to something and don't hear back, rather than hector this person for a call back, you should just go ahead and find a friend more worthy of your attention and invite him instead. (2004)
DEAR AMY: I was late in sending a 50th-anniversary card because I wasn't sure of the anniversary date after all these years. After my friends' calls from the West Coast indicated the anniversary was past, I apologized and sent a card that evening.
The card I sent was returned in another envelope with this note on it: "Nice afterthought — we should not have to ask for a card to be sent on our 50th anniversary, especially from our best man!"
We used to visit with one another via telephone, but now there is real "shortness" on their end.
What to do?
— Bachelor in Chicago
DEAR BACHELOR: Let me get this straight: These are friends of yours for 50-plus years? Since their rudeness more or less takes my breath away, your concern over what to do next is somewhat baffling. Still, I appreciate your desire to try to fix things.
Consider sending your friends a warm and newsy note containing the following:
One fond reminiscence from their wedding day.
One fond thought about your friendship over the years.
And one expression of affection and good wishes for their future.
If they continue to respond to you with such gracelessness, I feel you should turn your attention to your other friends, who no doubt appreciate you and would be more forgiving of such a lapse. (2003)
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.