Today’s column

July 24th, 2011

… is online here.

Today’s column

June 26th, 2011

… is online here. What a sad story that first one was. And I’m awfully proud of this line from my second answer: “If a witty riposte or soulful rebuke could shut down a drunken bully, history would have played out very differently, my dear.”

Column catch-up, plus an extra

June 12th, 2011

Last Sunday’s column is online here, and I apologize for not posting it earlier.

Here’s this week’s column, in which I’m nice to a smoker.

This week’s magazine is a special food issue, and in addition to the column, I also wrote a “Perspectives” piece on food guilt and policing in the office.

Today’s column

May 29th, 2011

… is online here.

Today’s column

May 22nd, 2011

… is online here.

Today’s column

May 15th, 2011

… is online here.

Today’s column

May 8th, 2011

… is online here.

Today’s column

May 1st, 2011

… is online here.

Today’s column

April 24th, 2011

… is online here.

Today’s column

April 17th, 2011

… is online here.

A reader writes (and reads, and writes again)

April 13th, 2011

To my surprise (this has happened perhaps two or three times since I’ve been writing the column) I got a letter from the first Letter Writer from this Sunday’s “Miss Conduct”! She wrote:

Hello again Miss Conduct, this is LV from Walpole (the hysterical woman married to the boor). Painful as it was to read your response this Sunday, my husband and I agreed that you are right. To our surprise, you helped us. You are good at what you do.

But we now have another question: what did you mean with the second sentence of the “looking a gift horse in the mouth” response? You wrote “I’m getting a sense of the kind of person you are.” I interpreted that to mean “I sense that you are a thoughtful person who is trying to make life easier for others.” My husband interpreted it as “I sense that you are a controlling, condescending person.” Just wondering.

I replied:

Dear LV–

How nice to hear from you! And I’m delighted to hear that you and your husband are working things out. I’m glad my words were helpful. I found the dynamic you described rather familiar, I have to admit.

The statement about the second letter writer was deliberately ambiguous, because I wanted her to reflect a bit. Have you noticed that sometimes people who start off like your interpretation (i.e., helpful, wanting to make things easy for others) often turn into the kind of person your husband was describing? I’d hoped to prompt a little self-examination with that comment.

I won’t know if it worked, because most people never write me back. I’m awfully glad you did, though! Best to you and husband–

That second dynamic, of helpfulness curdling, is one I am familiar with as well. I wrote about it here, in response to the Torah portion about Rebecca and Isaac.

Today’s column

April 10th, 2011

… is online here. I wonder what really happened between that couple that night, don’t you? Also, my editor really liked the line about the LW “preferr[ing] not to be left at the table drinking alone, because it made you feel like something out of a Patsy Cline song.”

Today’s column

April 3rd, 2011

… is online here.

Today’s column

March 27th, 2011

… is online here. I felt sorry for the girl in the first question. My best friend in my senior year was this brilliant dude, who I’m still crazy tight with 25 years later. I talked to the ConductMom before I wrote that answer to see if she thought the parents were right to interfere like that, and she said that indeed, they weren’t, and that in her opinion, all they were doing was risking driving their daughter away, not protecting her from anything at all.

Today’s column

March 20th, 2011

… is online here. Both of these questions were so great!