Ask Amy: Tailgating with pond scum leaves bitter taste

September 10, 2013

DEAR AMY: My husband and I belong to a genial group of people who enjoy tailgating together before our favorite university’s football games. Last week one of these “Friends of Football” sent a preseason e-mail to everyone who ever tailgated with us, saying that he and his wife have separated.

This fellow, who’s in his 60s, went on to explain that his marriage ended because of his unusually high testosterone level. He said this is why he’s had affairs for the last 10 years (which his wife only now found out about).

Amy, I don’t care to share even a picnic table with this pond scum. I’ve written to his wife (who was horrified and embarrassed by his e-mail) to tell her my husband and I hoped she would come to all the games. Apparently they’ve already split the tickets. We love these get-togethers, but right now I feel like skipping the tailgates Mr. Testosterone will be cruising.

What say you? -- Female Football Fan

DEAR FAN: When it comes to football, I can take it or leave it (oops — Go Bears!), but human awkwardness? Now that’s a sport I can really get behind.

Don’t let a little pond scum get in the way of your good time. If you miss one moment of enjoying your own life and relationships because you’re trying to punish someone else, then the bad guy wins.

If you have something to convey to someone, you should find a way to do so directly to the person.

Mr. Testosterone most likely doesn’t really care what you think of him, but you might introduce some clarity on your own position if you say, “You know, Bud, I think dumping your wife was a really lousy move, but that’s your business. However, in the future, if you have something embarrassing and hurtful to announce, I’d appreciate it if you kept me off of your e-mail list.”

DEAR AMY: My sister’s second husband died suddenly two weeks ago. He was not a nice person and verbally abused and controlled her. Several years ago, at a family event, he lost control of his anger and loudly threatened my husband and me. We almost called 911, but he jumped into his car and left.

My sister chose to stay with him, and this has affected our relationship.

She is planning a small memorial service for him and said to me that, “even though this is awkward,” my husband and I are invited.

I am torn. We would have a hard time listening to anyone’s memories of this guy, which are bound to be funeral-appropriate (i.e., flattering or sugar-coated). My sister’s sons will be there (even though they were not fond of him) to support her. I’d love to go just to see them but I’m in a quandary about what to do, and how to talk to my sister about it. -- In a Quandary

DEAR QUANDARY: Go to the service. I have been to plenty of services where the memorials are not sugar-coated — but even if they are in this case, you should attend to support those family members who need you. This presents an opportunity for you to reconnect with people you have been forced to avoid.

Your sister has already acknowledged the challenge for you, and I hope you will rise to it.

DEAR AMY: I am writing regarding “Worried,” who was concerned that the man she was dating “still” has pictures of his wife and family on the walls of his home (only) 21 / 2 years after his wife’s death.

My sister passed away several years ago. My brother-in-law has since married a delightful woman who added her family photos to the walls, not removing the past but celebrating what has made them the people they are today.

Worried needs to understand that departed spouses are not the same as an ex; they did not choose to end their marriage. His first wife may always be in the picture and her memory is not to be feared or competed with, just accepted as graciously as he removed the photo from his bedroom. -- Ellen in Verona

DEAR ELLEN: Very wise; thank you.

Amy’s column appears seven days a week at www.washingtonpost.com/advice. Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

by the Chicago Tribune

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