Ask Amy

Monday, August 3, 2009 at 12:00am

DEAR AMY: I took my sister for a routine colonoscopy recently. This is an annual event.

That day, a relative asked me where I had been, and I told her. Later, when this relative saw my sister she mentioned the colonoscopy.

My sister had a fit and screamed and yelled that I had violated her privacy.

I did not realize that getting a routine procedure was so sacrosanct.

Most people I know tell when they have procedures. I really did not think I was violating anything.

My sister said she can't trust me and will never again ask me to do anything for her. I said I was sorry, but I still don't think I did anything that horrible.

Had she told me not to tell, I wouldn't have, but how was I supposed to know this was a secret?

She often takes me for shots in my spine, and I don't keep it a secret.

Am I wrong to feel hurt?

— Confused Sister

DEAR CONFUSED: While a routine colonoscopy might not seem like a matter requiring discretion in your life, surely you can imagine that someone else might not want this broadcast to other family members.

What I'm saying is that there is a difference between privacy and secrecy, and you don't really get to decide what personal business your sister should and shouldn't keep private.

Her medical procedures are her business, even if she shags a ride with you.

My spouse and I have dear friends we enjoy going out to eat with on a regular basis. We have a unique problem, and I just don't know what to do.

Our friends insist on paying the bill every time!

They will never accept money, so the only way we have been able to pay is by getting to the restaurant before them and handing the server our credit card immediately.

They even tried to pay the night we took them out for their anniversary.

It was one of the few times that I put my foot down and literally had to strong-arm them into letting us pay.

I'm worried about how to approach them, for fear of hurting our friendship.

I don't want to seem ungrateful — it is nice to get taken out sometimes, but we also enjoy picking up the tab sometimes.

My spouse and I are not destitute and are perfectly capable of paying our way at a restaurant.

Any suggestions?

— David

DEAR DAVID: Generosity is a virtue, but your friends don't seem to realize that true generosity accommodates another person's need to also be generous. They are denying you the opportunity to give, and that's not fair. It is also throwing your relationship out of whack.

Extended tussling over the check is only cute in the movies. In real life, it's a graceless power struggle.

This issue will only hurt your friendship if both parties dig in and refuse to do things a little differently. Bring this up the next time you both want to go out.

Tell them you appreciate the generosity but that their good-hearted refusal to let you pick up the check makes you uncomfortable, and then ask if they will agree to hold their generosity at bay every other time you go out.

I have the perfect solution for "Disgruntled Coach," who was concerned about parents heckling a young umpire at a ballgame.

There should be a policy for parents of children who participate in the sport that if they voice any complaints about the umpiring, they are welcome to umpire the game themselves on the condition their own child cannot participate in the game they umpire due to fairness.

Preachy parents will be silenced realizing that they aren't really there to umpire the game, but that their child is there to play and have fun.

— Sports Fan

DEAR FAN: Your solution sounds perfectly reasonable on paper, though I can imagine it creating a donnybrook on the diamond if it were actually put into practice.

Hotheaded parents should be kept far away from the field of play — preferably banished to the parking lot.

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