Originally Published: February 20, 2017 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: I go to a small school, with only a handful of people in my graduating year. We’ve all known one another since kindergarten and first grade, and we all spend our time talking and interacting as a group.
Sometimes at the lunch table — or when a conversation dies down and we’re sitting in comfortable silence — one of my friends, “Laura,” starts singing to herself.
This is bad enough on its own, but she is not a very good singer. She takes voice lessons and was taught to do something weird with her voice that is extremely annoying to listen to. Sometimes someone in the group will try to ask her to stop, claiming to be tired or have a headache and saying the singing is aggravating it.
No one likes her singing. But she just doesn’t seem to get the hint. She keeps doing it whenever she isn’t actively participating in the conversation. I don’t think this is socially acceptable, but how can I tell her it isn’t without hurting her feelings?
— Sick of the Singing
Dear Sick: Time to close the curtain on these lunchtime musicals. We all do embarrassing and annoying things from time to time, and someone has to tell us it’s become too much. That’s what friends are for. As for hurting her feelings, you don’t need to be brutal to be honest. Tell her that it’s nothing personal — that even if she were Beyonce, the singing routine would get old.
If the little nightingale can’t abide by that, she’ll have to fly off and find another table. You’re her friends, not her audience.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Child Forever,” who is feeling pressured by her parents to live closer to home even though she is enjoying life in her new city. I just felt compelled to give your initial response to this writer a thumbs-up.
I had loving yet smothering parents who seemed to think of me as a perpetual 10-year-old. When I went away to college, they would make frequent unannounced visits. When I secured a job in a neighboring town, they made frequent surprise visits there, as well. The reason they gave was that they wanted to check on my welfare. They often said something like, “We haven’t heard from you for a few days.” So there was some passive-aggressive guilt tripping.
I know that their intentions were good, but I realized it was up to me to get control of the situation. I arranged to meet them weekly, sometimes in a neutral setting to buy them lunch, sometimes in my home so they could feel reassured about my living arrangements and frequently in their home to help with projects and more.
This virtually eliminated the unexpected visits. It also let them know that I valued time spent with them. And the lesson I took away from this is that that was what they really desired — time spent together.
— Previously Smothered
Dear Previously: Way to take the bull by the horns and promote communication over passive-aggressive behavior. If your parents didn’t see you as an adult before that, they most certainly saw how grown up you were afterward.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.