Dear Amy:

My mother received a fancy invitation to my cousin's daughter's wedding. It is to be held in a mansion rented for the occasion in Northern California.

The invitation was addressed to my mother and to my son, both of whom live in the Midwest.

Because I live in Southern California and another first cousin lives along the California coast (the only relatives of this family in California) my mother told the bride that my cousin and I would be happy to attend the wedding in place of her and my son.

To which my cousin replied, "Oh, we never really thought that you were going to show up, the mansion's already crowded and there just isn't any more room."

Translation: We want a present for my daughter, but you're not really invited.

Mom said that it was very rude and that she would not be sending a gift.

I know what I'd send.

Memo to relatives: Because we're not good enough for your tawdry wedding, we won't be attending your scurvy funerals, either.

Not Lost in Translation

Memo to you: If you're not invited to a wedding, then you're not invited to a wedding. Wedding invitations are not fungible, transferable or otherwise up for grabs.

Your mother and your son were invited to this wedding. You and your cousin were not. It isn't up to your mother to decide who will be included in this celebration. I imagine that this is why the bride responded to your mother as she did.

Considering your low opinion of these cousins and your reaction to being stiffed, I'm not surprised that you weren't invited to this affair.

Translation: I doubt you'll be missed, either at this wedding or at the funeral.

Dear Amy:

About a month ago, while eating out, I had to use the men's room. When I entered, a man was standing by the sink with his young daughter who appeared to be about 5 years old, drying her hands. There was only one stall, which was occupied, and one urinal, which was essentially in plain sight of where the man and girl were standing.

I walked up to the urinal and just stood there while I tried to make up my mind about whether I should proceed with what I needed to do.

After maybe 30 seconds (it felt like minutes!), the man and his daughter left.

I'm in my thirties and not at all conservative about gender roles, so I tried convincing myself that I had merely experienced the reverse of what women have encountered for decades when mothers bring their small sons into women's rooms. But really, it's different.

Women's rooms are entirely stalls. Little boys whose mommies take them to the bathroom are extremely unlikely to see things they ought not see.

Little girls whose daddies take them into men's rooms are in a different situation.

Is there a correct protocol for this? I recognize that it may just be that more fathers are alone with their daughters or are less hesitant to share bathroom duties with mothers, but I thought maybe you or your readers might have some insights about the right way for someone in my position to deal with this.

Pee-Shy and Polite

You should not urinate in front of a young girl -- you did the right thing to give this father and daughter time to finish.

Fathers are in a terrible spot when it comes to using public restrooms with young daughters. I've noticed that more institutions are responding to this by installing "family" bathrooms, in addition to men's and women's rooms.

Young children should never be allowed to go into a public bathroom by themselves, so dads need to find creative ways to deal with this pickle, either by letting a trusted mom take their daughters into the women's room or by using a stall in the men's room.

Dads with daughters in men's rooms should ask for other men to wait long enough for them to hustle their girls out.

I hope that you and other gentlemen will continue to be patient with dads and their daughters until they have more acceptable options.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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