Dear Annie: My husband is very close to his sister, “Cynthia.” I also like her very much, as does our 16-year-old daughter.
Since Cynthia lives in another state, we see her only a few times a year and she usually stays in our home. We often spend two or three hours sitting around the dining room table talking about our families, our lives, our jobs, etc., but then the conversation turns to the escapades Cynthia and her brother had as teenagers.
The two of them were rather wild back then. On her last visit, Cynthia told a story I hadn’t heard before. It was sexual in nature and much too graphic for a 16-year-old girl, but there was our daughter, hanging on every word. I tried to change the topic several times, to no avail.
The next day, when my husband and I were alone, I told him I really like Cynthia and am glad she visits, but some of her conversation is inappropriate for our daughter to hear. I was surprised that he agreed with me. Now we are wondering how to get Cynthia to edit her stories without offending her. Any suggestions? — Puzzled in Pennsylvania
Dear Puzzled: Cynthia sounds like a great gal with an interesting past. We don’t think she will be offended if you take her aside when she next visits and say, “Cynthia, we love your stories, but we’re afraid some of them are a little racy for our daughter. You and your brother survived those times and came out fine, but she looks up to you and might imitate your escapades and not do as well. We know you’d feel terrible if that happened. How about saving those stories for the adults?”
If you explain your concerns, we think she’ll get it. You also should discuss these stories with your daughter, who finds tales about Daddy extremely interesting, and help her understand that what is fun in retrospect is less innocent and more risky than it sounds.
Dear Annie: I am a medical receptionist at a clinic. I like working here and my boss thinks I do a pretty good job. Recently, however, things just aren’t right.
A nice raincoat of mine was stolen from a closet that was not accessible to the patients. I reported it to the office manager, but nothing happened. Last week, the manager called me in and said I had been accused of discussing private medical charts with other employees. Annie, this is a complete lie.
The clinic is a little hotbed of gossip and I don’t get involved in the drama. I simply keep my mouth shut and do my work. I am currently seeking other employment, but I really can’t afford to quit this job. Any advice? — Disgruntled
Dear Disgruntled: You sound a bit aloof from the rest of the office staff. This tends to engender an us-against-her mentality from the nastier and less secure crowd, leading to jealousy and backstabbing. You can ignore it while looking for a new position, or you can try a different approach. Invite one of the troublemakers to join you for coffee and conversation. It might keep things calm until your resumé gets some attention.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Not Sure in California,” whose husband of two years had never let her see him naked, meet his family or see pictures of him as a child. He also changed his name and hid all his financial information from her.
I strongly suspect this man is in some stage of gender reassignment. He very likely does not want her to see (via pictures) or find out (via family) that he once was (or still is) a woman. It would also explain the name change as well as the lack of insurance, since that usually requires a medical examination.
“Not Sure” needs to consider this possibility and respond accordingly. — M.H.
Dear M.H.: An interesting possibility. Certainly, his secretive behavior indicates he’s hiding something. We hope she can find out what it is.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 4.25.08