My old straight friend, Debra, called me, and asked me for a strange favor.
Debra’s 12-year-old son, Gabe, recently came out to her. Because he doesn’t have any gay men (or any men at all, actually) in his life, she wants my husband and me to spend time with him, as role models.
The thing is that we are not exactly kid-friendly gays. I am not sure I am (or want to be) a good role model to anyone, really. I don’t get very many days off. I don’t even know this kid.
I suppose we could muster a movie, musical, or something at least once or twice, but we might hate it. I know for a fact that we are not Debra’s only gay friends.
So, I am wondering if I really have to do it. I care about Debra, and I don’t want to hurt her feelings.
Would it be rude to say no to spending time with Debra’s kid? What would we say?
The whole thing feels awkward. Help!
—No Daddy Detail, Please
Dear No Daddy Detail, Please:
No one is taking away all your days off, threatening your freedom, or roping you into being a faux Daddy.
More likely, Debra likes you, and admires your relationship. She thinks her son would benefit from exposure to you and your husband.
Is it possible to feel flattered instead defensive?
Maybe it will help to remember that you’re not being asked baby-sit for an infant, and that you do have the option to say no.
Before you make a firm decision, and nix the idea of even an occasional outing, why don’t you at least meet the kid?
Take Gabe to brunch, so he can learn what gays do on the weekends (but don’t serve him a mimosa). One little meeting doesn’t mean you’ll need to have a meaningful relationship with him.
You actually might enjoy yourself, learn something, or feel good about making a new friend.
Of course, it’s always possible that you’ll have a dreadful time, but what’s really the worst that could happen?
If you absolutely refuse even to give it a chance, just tell Debra that you’re an old curmudgeon. She probably will know what you mean.
Dear Ms. Behavior:
My girlfriend, Beth, and I have had some bizarre run-ins with my crazy ex, Vivian, who thinks we are flaunting our relationship in front of her. We’re not. We’ve asked another friend to tell her to leave us alone, but she has made it clear she’s out to make my life miserable.
I realize Vivian is angry, but is it my fault I didn’t want to be in that dead and depressing relationship anymore?
I think a person should have the right to leave if she’s not happy, but Vivian seems to disagree. Of course, her bitterness makes me feel like I made the right decision.
Anyway, yesterday, my girlfriend found a dead canary at the end of our driveway. I’m pretty sure Vivian was sending some kind of sick message. Beth wants to go to the police, but we really have no true evidence that the dead bird is Vivian’s doing.
Should I go along with Beth’s suggestion, and report Vivian to the police anyway?
—Save The Wildlife
Dear Save The Wildlife:
What message do you think the dead bird would convey? You’re a dead canary? This could happen to you?
If the felled canary indeed were a personal message to you, it would mean that Vivian has chosen an incredibly dramatic method of remarking on your new relationship.
Reporting to the police your suspicion of harassment through bird murder would be an equally dramatic response, but not one that Ms. Behavior would recommend.
While it’s always disturbing to come upon a dead animal, your finding it outdoors is a lot less bizarre or threatening than it would be if you discovered, say, a bunny boiling on your stove or a horse’s head in your bed.
Even though canaries normally are not found in the wild in the United States, it seems a lot more likely the dead canary was a random escapee from a domestic situation, rather than the scenario you’re imagining: that Vivian bought, killed, and planted the canary at the end of your driveway to send you a message.
So, unless you really have a substantive reason to believe that your ex is crazy enough to go around choking innocent birds, and tossing them onto your driveway, you have no reason to go to the police.
Meanwhile, avoid Vivian to the best of your ability, and tell Beth to stop stirring up trouble. Meryl Cohn
© 2011 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.