This past Super Bowl was the most exciting game I’d ever witnessed. When Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw an improbable pass that was miraculously snagged, I shouted, “Oh God-he caught it!” Immediately, a guest lashed out at me for taking the Lord’s name in vain. I was humiliated-still am after all these months. But tell me, under the circumstances, was what I did so awful?
My mother still winces if I say God when she believes I should say gosh, and now I find myself cringing when my children do it. Nevertheless, the real violation here is the guest berating you. While it’s fine for a partygoer to quietly inform you that he found something you said offensive, it’s way out-of-bounds for him to take you to task publicly.
I recently had my dog of 14 years put down because of her failing health. Yes, I know all the platitudes: I gave her a great life, her quality of life had declined, blah, blah, blah. And I believe every bit of it. But I’m still devastated. I know it’s time to get over it. The problem is, I just don’t know how.
–Sad and Alone
As someone who curled up in a ball for weeks after my cat Bob died, I’m with you, sister. Grief is grief, and it takes its own sweet time. You may be feeling in a rush to “get over it” because of that other familiar cry: “It’s just a pet!” Let go of that one. You miss your dog, a dear friend. So stop belittling your feelings. They’re normal. And you hurt.
I adore my coworker, but she has a really annoying habit: She talks with food in her mouth. Without embarrassing her, how can I get her to chew, swallow, then talk?
–Stop the Smacking
Ask your friend if you have any habits that drive her crazy. If she says yes, offer to trade complaints and show her the glory of closed-mouth chewing.