weekend free-for-all -September 1-2, 2018

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school.)

Book recommendation of the week: Having finished Crazy Rich Asians, I’m now on to the second in the series, China Rich Girlfriend. It’s throwing off all my norms for decadence.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,235 comments… read them below }

  1. Cristina in England (visiting Scotland)*

    Mint tea lovers:
    I was in a fantastic tea shop a couple of weeks ago and asked the person “why is spearmint tea so hard to find? I only see it in health food shops.” He told me that Moroccan Mint tea IS Spearmint tea! I had no idea. Bought a big bag. I’ve also seen it as Nana Mint. Anyway, I’m going to make some later, whatever it’s called.

    1. Ms Cappuccino*

      Yes spearmint is the regular mint you find in supermarkets in the UK. I make my own spearmint tea at home.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Hm… I usually buy tea that is labeled Peppermint, but I will look out for just “Mint”, thanks!

    2. DrTheLiz*

      YESSSSS someone who understands! Peppermint tea is inferior! My understanding is that “Moroccan Mint” is spearmint with green tea (also delicious), but “nana mint” is just the Arabic (and I think Hebrew) for the plant we call “spearmint”. I, too, find it very difficult to source.

      1. Cristina in England*

        My understanding prior to that conversation was that Moroccan Mint was always what you said: mint blended with green tea. The one I bought at that shop was pure spearmint but I suppose I will have to keep an eye on the label since I like all-mint most of the time.

        1. Ann O.*

          Moroccan mint tea should refer to gunpowder tea and spearmint, but companies are fast and loose with their labeling in my experience. (well, real IMHO, real Moroccan mint tea should be brewed fresh with a lot of sugar)

          I can confirm that nana is Arabic for mint. I’m not actually sure if it’s mint in general or spearmint specifically.

      2. Specialk9*

        THAT’S why I hate Moroccan mint tea! I assumed it was the green tea. (I hate spearmint and adore peppermint. I’m a mint taster of extremes.)

        1. yeslets*

          Do you also dislike cilantro by any chance? I hate spearmint and cilantro (and Japanese shiso). They don’t necessarily taste the same, but they all make me gag in the same way.

    3. Lcsa99*

      You know it’s also easy to do your own tea. Especially if you just want something straightforward like mint. Just buy the dried leaves in bulk, and you can buy bags that you can just tie up once you fill them. I made several flavors as Christmas gifts last year and it was so easy!

        1. Lcsa99*

          You can probably use more if you use dry leaves so it’s easier to make a stronger tea. I think fresh would give a more delicate flavor. Dry would also last longer if you have to store that and don’t just have a mint plant.

      1. Merci Dee*

        I love Constant Comment. I always have a supply of that at work. I can get a cup brewing, and it’s not ruined if I get pulled away from my desk for 10 or 15 minutes. Some teas are just undrinkable if they’re stewed like that, but Constant Comment stays smooth and delicious no matter what.

        1. Specialk9*

          It really is a great tea. My dad loves tea, especially Earl Grey and Constant Comment (and now PGTips). I desperately wanted to love his teas too, but as a kid I tasted bergamot – and cilantro – as soap. So Constant Comment was our thing. I was so stoked when my taste buds changed (which is not supposed to be how that works) and suddenly as a teen I loved both cilantro and bergamot, with passion. It doesn’t even remotely taste like soap now. But I still love Constant Comment!

          1. Specialk9*

            Have you tried Stash Earl Grey? It’s more of Lady Grey than Earl, in taste – more of the purple flower Earl Grey, but I love it.

            1. Merci Dee*

              Stash makes my second favorite tea for work – the Spice Dragon Red Chai. It’s a rooibos with cinnamon, clove, and ginger root. Rooibos is still pretty new to me, but I’ve been enjoying it so far.

          2. Minta*

            F&M is my favorite Earl Grey, too. I like that it’s straightforward and classic. I don’t like the EGs that have that touch of barnyard funk–kind of like a puerh flavor.

            Stash makes my favorite bagged green tea. I think it’s their Pemium Green Tea.

            1. Anonymosity*

              I’ll have to try that Stash stuff.

              OMG F&M Earl Grey smells so GOOOOOOOOOOOD. You can get their teas at Williams-Sonoma stores, and my mum keeps buying it for me, which is nice but also annoying, as I will NEVER drink it all! Plus, I like to top up my tin when I go to London. I wish I could do it later this year–winter’s the only time I haven’t been.

              I love F&M because it’s a very nice posh store but yet I can afford stuff there, and the clerks are not snobby at all. The candy counter is divine and they have the cutest little ice-cream parlor upstairs.

    4. Chaordic One*

      In the countryside near my house there are a lot of wild mint plants. It is always pleasant to walk by them and smell the fragrance. I suppose that you could pick some plants, dry the leaves and make tea out of it.

  2. Ruth (UK)*

    I was recently was thinking about how people’s perception of another person’s age is more than just how they ‘look’ / their base physical appearance and looking young or old can be caused by lots of things including how they dress, act, talk etc.

    So, I’m 28 and I would say generally, I look a little bit younger than I am, but not much. I’m a small person with small features (which adds to it) and I also have good skin etc. People generally guess me at 23-25. Add that people usually err on the side of guessing too young (it’s safer as people consider it a compliment to guess young and an insult to guess old) and actually, day to day, I probably look about my age.

    However, sometimes people guess me WAY younger. That’s when I perform folk dancing, often at festivals etc. Then, I’m dressed with kit with ribbons etc and I like to do my hair in pigtails or high bunches, with more ribbons. I recently acquired a rainbow headband. (On normal days, I usually wear a low ponytail). I am often in a good/happy mood and act playful/bubbly/silly etc. A couple within the group I’m part of have ‘adopted’ me as their ‘daughter’ (within the group) and will often introduce themselves as my parents to members of the public who have no reason to believe they’re not (they’re old enough to be [young] parents of me). I think this makes people even more likely to mentally put my age down in their minds. In this situation I am regularly perceived to be 18-21 or so.

    Recently at such a festival I was talking to a teen who, during conversation, asked me about my piercings [5 in one ear, 3 in the other] and my parents’ reaction / permission. I said “well, they don’t really care and anyway, I didn’t get my first one until I was 24 so it wasn’t really their decision”
    “What – how old are you?!”
    “oh. I thought you were like my age”
    “how old are you?”
    “15. Are you REALLY 28?”

    I ended up with a badge announcing my age as 12 at some point. A guy on a tea stall peered at me suspiciously – “you’re not really 12 are you?” – interesting that he needed to ask. His tone said he didn’t really quite believe it but… he wasn’t totally sure!

    And eating tea and cake later, I ended up chatting to some other random members of public. They asked if I was a uni student. “No, I graduated in 2012”
    Again, we had the “wait, how old are you?” question.

    They asked me, “does it cause problems for you, looking so young?” – they expanded saying they had thought I was maybe in the range of 18-21 and wondered if it caused me problems of not being taken seriously eg. when applying for jobs etc.

    I said that actually, when I take out the hair and stop dancing around and acting a bit silly, people tend to be a lot more accurate with their perception of my age.

    And another thing I thought of: at a volunteer project where I am a leader, some time a few months ago one of those “how old do you think [x] is” conversations came up (most volunteers are uni students and/or young 20s). Interestingly, they consistently guessed me in the early 30s – so older than I actually am, and were surprised the opposite way. When people know me only in my capacity as a project leader, and meet me in a hairnet and apron, people perceive me to actually be older than I am.

    Anyway to sum up, I found this in interesting to think about. People often say about how someone looks old/young for their age etc, but just like how you behave changes depending on whether you’re with your parents, workmates, friends, strangers etc, it’s interesting how not just how you behave but your actual perceived age can change in different situations, suggesting that people ‘looking’ young or old relies a lot more on how we behave (for example) as opposed to just our base physical appearance.

    I also wonder if others have similar experiences of being perceived different ages depending on the situation.

    1. The RO-Cat*

      I had a similar experience just recently. A work acquaintance, whom I see 2 – 3 times a year in person, was shocked to find out I’ll be 51 this autumn. She guessed me at about 42 – 43. If I look in the mirror the signs are there, my body is sincere. While in my professional capacity, I’m placed in the correct age bracket. Only when I allow me to be myself does this age gap (between real and percieved age) appear, so I’d guess behavior and clothing do have an impact (then again I can be quite childish sometimes, so…).

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Ruth, I agree that behavior affects how people see your age. One of my coworkers comes to me for advice and said he always forgets that I’m younger than he is. Not only did I help train him, I’m a married, settled-down type while he moved into the city to go out to the clubs more often. (I’m 24, he’s 27. Yes, I know it’s not a big age gap.) I guess I just act old? Let’s pretend by “old” we mean “mature and responsible”

        Ro-Cat, you’re only as old as you feel!

      2. PhyllisB*

        I used to work for the phone company, and was sitting in the break room with an 18 year old who was making a comment about an “old lady” who was all of 24. I started laughing and said I would hardly consider 24 as “old” since I was 28. She got all round-eyed, and said she thought I was her age.

    2. TL -*

      I constantly get read as very early to mid twenties, and I’m nearly 30. The older I get, the more surprised people are when I say my age – I get “No way!” or “Really?!” a lot.
      I actually think it caused a little bit of tension with some of my professors, because they were thinking of me as 22/23 like a number of kids in my program and I definitely act a lot closer to 30 confidence-wise and professionally. Once I clarified a few times that I was in my late twenties, things got a lot smoother.

      I have a really intense face and a fair amount of confidence – my friend recently sent me an article on BDE* and was like, “This is you. You have BDE.” and literally everyone I know laughed and agreed with her. So not sure why I get read as young, except I’m generally in a good mood and pretty friendly, but I do.

      *big d*ck energy.

      1. Specialk9*

        I’m 40 and people are convinced I’m young 20s, even people of that age, but I don’t really find that flattering. I’m an expert in my field, and I don’t really care about whether I seem forkable to random dudes (hubby excepted), so… But absolutely, wearing casual clothes vs a sheath dress makes me look younger. Bright colors vs dark. Pigtails vs hair down. Etc.

    3. WS*

      Because I’m tall and fat, I was perceived as much older than my real age as a kid – sexual harassment on the street while wearing my primary school uniform was not much fun! But once I got to about 25, my chubby cheeks have had people put me as much as 10 years younger than my real age. I’m in my 40s now and I started getting a few grey hairs, so I was hopeful that would give me some age and authority…but I only grew about 3 of them, so it’s not helping yet!

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I am medium to tall and fat and now I’m 36 with baby cheeks and magically no wrinkles but a big ol’ shock of gray hair up front. No one has any damn idea how old I am because my face is mid-20s but my hair is mid-40s. Fortunately I read solidly as An Adult so I kinda don’t care how old they think I am.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        People regularly think I’m in my 30s or even mid-20s, but I’m 43, soon to be 44! I attribute this to being fat in some ways (more filling for my wrinkles, I guess) but most of the women in my family look a bit young for their age. My Grandma didn’t start turning grey until she was in her 70s, my Mom is in her late 60s and still doesn’t have any grey hair, and fewer wrinkles than you’d expect for someone who was a sun worshipper and a smoker for many years. The fact that we wear casual outdoor gear at work probably adds to this. If I were coming to work in business clothing with my hair styled I’d probably appear older, but wearing jeans, a pony tail, and a scruffy baseball cap every day enhances the youthful effect.

        However I also think that I read as younger because I’m insecure about my job performance and have a bad habit of talking about it at work. It’s a lingering effect of the intense feelings of failure and incompetence I developed during my PhD study, which also put me behind my peers by about 10 years in terms of work experience and skills. It sucks, and I’m trying to work on curbing the urge to seek reassurance from my colleagues, but I still do it all the time.

    4. Red Reader*

      A couple years back, my daily neighborhood stroll – usually done in jeans and a hoodie at the time, around 3:30 which was both my work ending time (I work from home) and the time all the neighborhood school buses unload – was interrupted by a very nice young lady who had seen me walking around.

      My Facebook post at the time:
      Today, while I was on my walk, I had the following exchange with a young lady (looked to be about high school aged) getting out of her mom’s car:

      Her: “We’ve seen you around the neighborhood, have you lived here long?”
      Me: “We moved in about … six months ago, maybe?”
      Her: “Oh, which school do you go to?”
      Me: *pause*
      Her: “Because we have a youth group at our church for high schoolers, fifteen to eighteen, if you’d be interested.”
      Me: *pause*
      Her: “I can get you the information?”
      Me: “Well, uh, I really appreciate the thought, but um … I’m 35?”
      (Her mom muffles a laugh.)
      Her: “…. Oh. Well, that would explain why I haven’t seen you around school.”
      Me: “Thanks for the thought though! You guys have a nice afternoon!”

      I don’t think people who have seen me have ever guessed me as older than I am (except my nephew, who at four guessed I was 62, but I figure that’s a different situation than you mean), but my presentation can and does apparently range widely from my actual age to 10+ years younger, and the usual guess is 26-30. I’ll be 38 in December. I also come from a long line of folks who live forever and never show it; my great gran was 104 when she died, gran was 93, daddy is 70 and looks to be going on his mid-50s.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I was always perceived as much older. Mostly because I was almost 5’11” when I was starting high school, but I think it’s also because my youngest sibling is 12 years older than me, so my family is much older. I was always the one hanging out with the adults when the kids (my niece and nephew, who aren’t much younger than me) were playing. Also, my best friend is at least three years older than me so I tended to hang out with her friends. I was always mature for my age.

      When I was 13 I went to the pub & cinema (long defunct unfortunately–I miss that place) with my best friend and we both ordered daiquiris along with our popcorn and candy. We assumed they knew we meant “virgin” since we were 13 and 16. They brought me one with alcohol and didn’t card me, but brought my older friend a virgin daiquiri.

      And when I was 13 I had people asking me if I was pregnant. I was already overweight, but was starting to gain more by that time. Plus I looked older.

      1. SpiderLadyCEO*

        I’m also very tall (5’10) so I was perceived as older when I was younger, but now that I’m closer to 30, I’m getting pegged down a lot. I have really awful skin, no matter what I do, so I’ve been asked which high school I attend, as well as the much more reasonable which college.

        It cracks me up! I have found if I’m in jeans + hoodie, they age me down, whereas lipstick plus dress they are more able to correctly peg my age.


    6. Jack Be Nimble*

      I’m 23 and people usually read me older (27 or 28). I’ve been pretty consistently read as 4-5 years older since I was 10 or 11 (I hit my growth spurt very early), but a couple weeks ago, I was mistaken twice in one day for a recent highschool grad/college freshman. I’ve literally never had someone guess younger before.

      1. nws2002*

        This is what happened to me when I hit 30. I was always told I looked older than I was when I was in high school and college but now its younger, like I haven’t aged. I’m 34 now and frequently get carded and told I look like I’m in my mid-20s.

    7. Les G*

      I would say 90% of the time folks who think they look unusually young for their age are doing that thing we all do where we assume that a fairly universal experience is unique to us. I always have to laugh when a 30 year old marvels at being mistaken for a 25 year old, for example. The way the human body works is that after puberty physical differences between people close in age are *way* less pronounced. Like, way less. It’s that simple.

      1. Alianora*

        Agreed. Plus, the tendency Ruth mentioned to guess younger is very, very common. Physical appearance doesn’t factor much into my estimates of other people’s ages. It’s more of a behavior/life stage thing.

        1. Specialk9*

          I found that moving from the South to up North made a big difference in my estimate of female ages. Much lighter makeup up North means I underestimate ages by a lot. I would have thought the opposite but apparently not.

          1. PhyllisB*

            That’s funny about the make-up. I don’t wear heavy make-up, but when I do, I always have to ask for my senior discount. (Have even been carded for it!!) If I don’t have on make-up I get it without asking. :-)
            Note: I didn’t mean when I wear heavy make-up; I don’t ever do that. (It works for some folks, but not me.) I meant just make-up vs. no make-up.

    8. Overeducated*

      I got mistaken for younger reliably in professional contexts until around when I had a baby and finished my PhD. I really hope that catching up to “looking my age” is more a matter of professional advancement than rapid, stress induced aging….

    9. Younger*

      I generally read as younger in my 20s. Then I got braces as an adult and I really got read as younger! I got carded for something limited to 14 and above! Even post-braces, I was regularly carded in Vegas and at bars until my mid-30s.

      I’m now 46. People still seem to think I’m younger, but age doesn’t come up nearly as much in conversations so I’m not sure how prevalent the impression is.

    10. Wren*

      Funny this is a topic of conversation with the book recommendation this week. Google Kevin Kwan, the author. I thought he was at least a generation younger.

    11. Tiff*

      I take age guesses with a grain of salt because I am atrocious at guessing ages.

      When I was co-oping in college people mistook me for the manager, now that I am older I have people sometimes mistaking me for a recent graduate. Once someone thought I was the wife of my 55 year old boss – I was 25 at the time!

      I have no skill at guessing how old someone is… I would be useless in a police investigation. My age guess would either be under 30, 30-60, and over 60.

    12. Even keel*

      I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’m 27 and often get mistaken for 20-22 by strangers. Part of this is because my husband also has young face, so as a pair we look underage. We frequent bars and our servers are always surprised when they check our IDs.

      People that know me perceive me as much more mature than my age suggests. I’ve always been the level headed one that has her shit together. Lately I’ve been thinking about the concept of “acting my age” and what that even means.

      1. RockyRoad*

        People have been telling me I have an “old soul” since I was a kid. Not sure if it’s a reference to my love of historical things or if I just seem mature compared to how old I look.

        Does “act your age” have to do with levels of responsibility? Like, a high schooler’s parents will probably handle all of their health care and doctor issues. In college, you’re expected to start handling it on your own with support from others (like your parents or college resources). By the time you’re 25, you should be able to handle your own doctor appointments and health insurance. If you’re still relying on your mom to schedule your dentist appointment by then you’re not acting your age.

        1. Ann O'Neamus*

          I still really wish someone else would do my adulting, including making appointments for me! (I’ll be 60 within a year.)

    13. RockyRoad*

      I’m in my late twenties and get mistaken for someone in my teens/early twenties. I think it’s because I’ve very petite and upbeat.

      The most embarrassing incident happened a few years ago when a guy at work I’d never met before stopped me in a hallway to ask how old I was. When I told them they were shocked because they thought I was 15 and doing an internship “this whole time” (the year I’d been working there so far). Seriously–are there 15 year olds that do full time internships at large corporations? It seemed rude that a stranger would stop me in a hallway just to ask my age and then proceed to make a big deal out of it.

      I’ve read the advice that when you get asked your age a lot you should give an obviously ridiculous number (like I could say 73). I think I’m going to start doing it when people ask me out of the blue.

      1. Specialk9*

        I feel like the difference between 2 and 8 is big, and 12 and 18 is big, but 22 and 28 really isn’t. After childhood, being mistaken for someone at the early end of a decade when one is on the later end of a decade seems like it’s within the plus or minus range.

      2. PhyllisB*

        Rocky, I like the idea of giving a ridiculous answer to the age question. I have an 8 year-old grandson who is small for his age. People are always asking him how old he is, and when he answers, they always say, “Really!!! I thought you were 4 or 5!!” (Just what an 8 year old wants to hear!!) I’m thinking about telling him next time someone asks him that to say he’s 13 just to see their reaction.

    14. Youthful*

      I’m also 28 and get my age mistaken all the time. I’ve literally looked the same since I was a freshman in high school. That was a problem back then as everyone thought I was unintelligent because they assumed I was a super senior who just didn’t get school. It’s still a little irritating people assume I’m younger just by looking at me. Once people talk to me, everyone tells me I act older than think. And it’s because I’m actually older. Oh well. I try and take it as a compliment that I will always look youthful.

    15. Lissa*

      I used to think I looked really young for age, but the Internet has taught me that nearly everybody thinks they look young for their age/get pegged as much younger than they are, so now I wonder if I really do. I mean, just looking at this thread, the vast majority of people replying are saying they look young. I think perhaps maybe it’s that people in general are really bad at guessing ages and are more likely to speak up if the person looks much younger than they assumed? Or the other possibility is that we have a mental picture of age 30, say, but most people at age 30 actually look younger than that perception in our mind?

      I mean, I have this thing where any time I see somebody I used to go to high school with I’m convinced they look so much older than I do, but I think part of that is my brain telling me they’re older because they have kids and look professional/polished.

      (and in case anyone is getting offended I’m sure there are really some people who do look super young for their age, so just imagine I mean you!)

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I believe there is truth in that. And honestly people between say 35-50 could go either way in most cases.
        But it is also true that I have seen quite a few people who look prematurely OLD. Sometimes it’s hair, clothes or makeup, but it’s also attitude and willingness to learn.
        My mom was a good example of someone what acted prematurely OLD. She never wanted to do anything, learn anything or expand her life. She often dressed like an old lady when she was only 30. I don’t get this, but she was definitely from a different generation. Maybe acting old was expected?
        But don’t get me wrong, I also hate to see middle age people trying to look/act like a 21 year old too. I also see women like that (well mostly women, but I’ve also seen men try to do same).

      2. LJay*

        I wonder if sitcoms and TV shows in general have contributed to us thinking that people that are a certain age look older than they actually are, because we see supposedly teenage and early 20s characters being played by people who are in their 30s, etc.

        (All ages in this are rough).

        Like, in Friends, they were supposed to be in their early/mid twenties when they started the show, but Courteney Cox was 30 when she auditioned, Jennifer Aniston was 25, Lisa Kudrow was 31, Matt LaBlanc was 27, Matthew Perry was 25, and David Schwimmer was 28. So by the time the episode where they all turn 30 aired in season 7, half of them were closer to 40 than 30.

        In the second episode of that 70s Show, Eric is supposed to be turning 17. Topher Grace who played him was 20. Mila Kunis was actually 14/15 when she auditioned. Ashton Kutcher was 20. Danny Masterson was 22. Laura Prepon and Wilmer Valderamma were 18.

        In season 6, Eric is supposedly turning 18. Grace is 25, Kunis is 20, Kutcher is 25, Masterson is 27, Prepon and Valderamma are both 23.

        I really think this is one of the factors that has my perception of what people who are a certain age look like rather mis-calibrated.

          1. Julia*

            Mean Girls had a 30-year-old play a high schooler. But yeah, Glee – and actually most teen shows – was pretty bad about age-appropriate casting.

            1. Curly sue*

              A lot of the time shows deliberately cast over-18s to play teen roles to avoid regulations for working with child actors (school time, breaks, etc.)

      3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        There is probably some truth in this! When I was about 32 or so, someone commented that they thought I was much younger because I didn’t have a lot of wrinkles. I was bemused because even though I have an outdoor job I don’t really think of one’s 30s as being the age when we develop a lot of noticeable wrinkles. But on the other hand many women’s magazines, skin care advertisements, etc etc seem to project this idea that women in their 30s need to be “fighting wrinkles” and worrying about dressing in age-appropriate ways, whatever that means, and so on. So I will accept that we have this notion that people (especially women) in their 30s are well on their way to being wizened old crones.

    16. moql*

      Your comment about dancing is really interesting to me! I’m a former dancer and I’m always read young, and I’m beginning to think it has to do with body movement somehow. Like, maybe agility, or expressiveness, or some quality I can’t quite put my finger on? Now that I’m late twenties it really is starting to hold me back at work because people don’t think I’m old enough to be an authority on anything and I’ve been working on consciously changing my body language to be larger, and more still.

      Had anyone had much changing their movement to be read differently?

    17. Dan*

      A bit. I’ll be 40 next year, but can pass for 10 years younger. Physically, that’s always been true, and the way I carry myself and dress certainly doesn’t match my age.

      One of the more amusing stories was a little over 10 years ago, when I was going to school out in California. At the time, I had top tier status with Northwest Airlines, which got me free upgrades to first class “if available”. They were available a lot. There were times when I would be at the top of the list, and there’d only be one or two seats for upgrades. Keep in mind that being first on the list is usually the territory of people who fly *a lot* (as in once or twice a week) and spend a lot of money. TBH, think “old white guy, probably in a suit.” Then there’s mid-twenties me in shorts, a t-shirt and a backpack.

      The way they process upgrades (back then anyway) is just start calling names at the podium. They have no idea who you are. Once, at LAX, they called my name, and I approached the podium. Me, in my shorts, t-shirt, backpack and backwards hat. Gate Agent: “What do you want?” Me: You called for “XXX”. I forget her exact response, but it was something like “I mean the other XXX”. I just said to her, “I know you’re processing upgrades, and I’m first on the list, so let’s just get this over with.” She didn’t even apologize.

      Separately, one of the more culturally fascinating experiences I had was on a flight to Tokyo with my Dad. We flew JAL and had business class seats. I kid you not there were 48 Japanese dudes in suits, and two white guys in rather casually looking clothes. There was not a single woman in business class.

    18. Wishing You Well*

      If you look like you’re retired, no one will bother to guess your age unless they’re asking if you qualify for the senior discount! Between ages 50 and 100, it’s all one category!

    19. Mimmy*

      I’ll be 45 in October but I’ve had people think I was in my 30s. I’ve always looked young (thank you family genes!) and I don’t think I always carry myself maturely, especially when I get excited or anxious.

      There have been a couple of funny instances years ago. When my now-husband and I were first dating, I was in my early 20s. One time at a bar, the bartender carded me, saying “you have a young-looking complexion…”. I think he was trying to be cute, but looking back, it was a bit of an “eww” moment.

      Several years later on a flight, I was carded. I’m in my late-20s at this point. I think it was because another woman was seated next to me and my husband, and I think the flight attendant thought my husband and the woman were my parents.

      Not sure how I’m perceived nowadays though as my body begins to show its age, especially on my face :(

    20. MissDisplaced*

      Yes. I’ve always tended to look a bit younger than my actual age. I got carded well into my 30’s! LOL!
      I’m 52 now, but even in the workplace most don’t know it. They generally place me at early to mid-40s. Most are shocked to find I’m past 50 now. My hair is natural with no grey and the color/cut is kind of punk-ish, skin looks pretty good, even though I’m pretty chubs now. Actually, I think being kind of fat helps retain the youth in a weird way. Some of my friends look much older, though they are in better shape. (my unscientific opinion of course!)
      When I dress casually, I retain my Calli beach bum look, and probably seem younger than 50. No, I wouldn’t pass for a twenty-something anymore (or try to), but I’m happy to subtract 10 years or so!

      1. Specialk9*

        Agreed! A bit of fat keeps us looking young as we age. A friend looked late 20s/30s, in her mid 40s, when she was overweight. She lost a lot of weight, and now looks 50s/well aged 60s.

        1. Julia*

          I think that makes sense. My younger brother looks older than me (people often say that) because he’s much leaner, and I think my higher body fat fills in the winkles. Well, or it’s the fact that I wear sunscreen and stay indoors a lot, and he refuses “icky cream” and just burns as summer.

    21. Not So Little My*

      I’m 52 and come from a family with good skin genes, plus I stay out of the sun a lot. The undyed part of my hair has salt and pepper but I usually have the ends dyed unusual colors. Also I still dress like a grad student. I think I usually get read as early-mid 40s, but there is a lady at church who says she thought I was 35. I think being plump smooths out the wrinkles so maybe that’s part of it. I work in tech, which is pretty ageist, so I’m glad I can fly under the radar.

      It’s funny that tattoos and piercings and unusual hair are read as young, because I totally remember GenX doing all that stuff in the 80s.

    22. Book Lover*

      When I go in to see patients, I know how old they are. Pretty much everyone ‘looks their age’ except for smokers or people with serious tans. It is just that between about 20 and 45 people don’t look that different. Somewhere in the mid 30s you start to see some wrinkles and white hairs up close, I guess.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        I agree in that range people don’t look wildly different which I suppose is why people’s perception of age seems to change so much based on behaviour, etc as with people thinking I’m much younger when I’m dancing but when I’m running a volunteer project. They’re not going on my looks alone but the way I’m dressing, acting, speaking, behaving, etc.

        I once guessed a woman to be 34 and it turned out she was 32 (the context made it not weird that I guessed). I said something about there not really being any physical difference (in general) between 34 and 32 year olds. She was very insulted. In retrospect I didn’t make the best comment there but… It’s true and I was forgetting about the context where people like to look young but not old.

        She made some sort of odd retaliation but I forgot what it was now. It was something like saying I looked 30+ and there was no difference between my age and whatever she said. It didn’t really work as an insult though because a) I actually agree about that and b) I don’t find it an insult to be perceived as older.

        When the volunteer project people guessed me older I was a bit flattered to find they perceived me to be ‘more’ of an adult than I actually was. Some way that I came across caused them to mentally increase their perception of my age.

        The acting silly / dressing more kid-like (eg. Bunches and hairbands) that causes people to perceive me as much younger at events shows it’s not ‘good genes’ or whatever causing the young age look, it’s just that they’re perceiving me as less mature and therefore younger. In that context I don’t mind (and sometimes enjoy it) but I don’t find it a ‘compliment’ exactly.

        People always say I should feel complimented when guessed young but I suppose the reason I don’t is because I can see it’s not necessary just a ‘looks’ thing. There’s more at play

    23. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Weirdly enough, people considered me a high school senior or college freshman until I got fat… and then start assuming I am a 30-something housewife (!?) with several kids (!?).
      The weirdest episode was back when I was 23, when a flight attendant asked my mum (!) if I was legally allowed to drink a beer. All that fuss for a can that was about a third of a pint, not enough to make me blush, let alone drunk. Now I have to dodge people trying to sell me baby stuff.

    24. Triple Anon*

      Yes and no, for me. I tend to be read as about the same age no matter what I’m wearing. I get read as more “innocent” when I dress more maturely. People think I’m a very sheltered young person.

      I’m about 40 and generally thought to be 20 – 25. It has created a lot of problems. I also come across as younger because I have joint and muscle problems that create a more youthful appearance. So that’s kind of an interesting thing. Sometimes the lines on my face make people think I’m a young person who parties a lot or has had a rough life. The physical limitations + youthful appearance create a “lazy young person” kind of perception. I’m working on being more forthcoming about my age, disabilities, and other things so that these misunderstandings can be avoided.

      I get how this would be situational for a lot of people. I think it’s weird that I seem to come across as the same age in any context. I guess it’s an individual thing.

    25. Manatees are cool*

      Oh I’ve experienced this. I’m 21 however I do look young. I ride the bus a lot however it’s different in school holiday time. Out of holiday time I get an adult bus ticket. In the school holidays I get given a children’s bus ticket. You start paying for an adult bus ticket from 16 onwards.

    26. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      My experience tallies very closely to yours. At age 23-27 in jeans, tee, a ballcap I passed for a young teen. Same period in business clothes in my line of work, I was pegged for about late 20s or early 30s. How we project ourselves makes a huge difference.

    27. rogue axolotl*

      It’s funny you mention it, because I recently had a run-in with persistent mis-aging. I’m also 28, and typically this doesn’t come up, but I recently went on a road trip with my mother, and for some reason I totally shocked several people when I told them my age. Based on their reactions, I think they were expecting me to be a teenager. Maybe this was just because my mother and I were travelling together, but I’ve never gotten that kind of reaction before, so I’m wondering what I did that made me apparently look so young.

    28. Llellayena*

      I have always been guessed at at least a decade younger than I am, some of that is because my parents look younger than they are too. But the best age story is:

      My mom taught third grade and refused to tell the class her age until her birthday when it would be a math lesson to figure it out based on her birth year. I would occasionally help in the classroom so I was fair game to ask what my age was so they could try to guess mom’s. One kid asked, I responded “31”. His eyes got wide and he said “then your mom has to be 32!”

      Yes, yes she is.

    1. Lcsa99*

      I was thinking they look more suspicious. Like maybe she was cleaning up their toys, and they were supervising to make sure she didn’t take them too far away.

      1. Kuododi*

        My mini daschunds give me a similar look when I am not moving fast enough to get the food dishes filled. ;)

  3. Marion Ravenwood*

    I get this a LOT. I’m 31 next month, but still regularly get IDed when buying age-restricted products (most shops selling alcohol in the UK operate a policy where if you look under 25 they’ll ID you, even though the legal drinking age is 18). The last time it happened the checkout assistant asked for my drivers licence, looked at it and went ‘Oh sorry!’ before handing it back.

    I think it comes from the fact I’m quite short (5’2″) and have quite a ‘baby’ face, plus I dress like a teenager a lot of the time which probably doesn’t help.

    The one that sticks in my mind though is when I worked in a hotel bar and the kitchen porters refused to believe I was over 18. I had to go and get my ID to show them that yes, I really was old enough to serve alcohol and had been for some time.

    1. .*

      I get asked for ID sometimes too. The last time whilst I was looking through my wallet the cashier said I bet you’re goig to tell me your 25 or something, I just laughed and doadnim closer to 40 than 25.

    2. Jess*

      Also in the UK, I still get ID’d at 35-nearly-36 if I’m dressed casually and not wearing makeup. I’ve had to leave bottles of wine behind in the shop because I was just nipping out for a couple of things and didn’t have my drivers licence or anything with me.
      Same shop never IDs me on my way home after a long day at work though, I’m assuming I look tired and fully my age then!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Here a lot of places have just given up and ID everyone. I carded a guy that looked to be at least ten years younger to me (at that time) this put him around mid 30s. He said, “Aw com’on. We’re the same age.” I looked at his ID and said, “I am 13 years older than you.” He said, “Boy, ya really can’t tell, can ya.” He shook his head.
      I had a 75 year old neighbor who could probably pass for 60. It was her clothes, her activity level , her general state of mind that could really throw off an estimate.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Same here. I’d say almost all stores in my area require ID for everyone, and they have to input the customer’s date of birth into the register before it will let them proceed. It seems a bit overboard, but it’s really the only way to avoid underage purchases since it’s really hard to tell someone’s age by looking at them sometimes. So many stores have been busted, and it’s not intentional sales to underage people.

      2. kc89*

        yeah, there were many times at my old job where I was like “I don’t need to ID this guy he’s like 37 at least…” but then just to be safe I would check his I.D and he would only be like 22 or something. You can’t always tell.

    4. Aphrodite*

      I once worked for Trader Joe’s and was very careful. Twice it ended up where I carded two women (two different times) who were, respectively, 40 and 43. They were amused and flattered.)

      1. Triple Anon*

        I’ve worked the door in bars and worked in retail where cigarettes or alcohol were sold. After some experience with it, I decided to card everyone. You never know for sure, and older people tend to be flattered or at least understanding about it.

    5. Triple Anon*

      I got denied entry to a bar when I was 25. The door guy thought my driver’s license was fake. Thankfully he let me keep it! I looked older in the photo than in real life. They have those flattering lights at the DMV . . .

  4. Ms Cappuccino*

    Lucky you ! I know it must be annoying in some circumstances but I hope you enjoy looking very young because it won’t last.
    I am on my 40’s and sometimes my local shopkeeper pretends asking me to show my ID as a joke but he’s just flattering.

    1. foolofgrace*

      There comes a time when it’s not funny, it’s an imposition. Fer criyi, I’m 62. And they still sometimes card me at the grocery store. Just gimme the stuff.

      1. Someone Else*

        The law where I live is they are required to ask everyone. It’s not meant to be funny or flattering to request ID even when someone is obviously old enough. You could be 80 and if authorities were present/doing an inspection and caught the cashier not asking, the store would be fined.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Years ago I was a cashier at a gas station, and we were required to ID absolutely everyone for cigarettes, alcohol, and lottery tickets. In orientation they said “even if it’s your own grandfather, you still have to ID”. We’d get fined and fired if they checked the security tape and saw us ring up a purchase that we didn’t ID for.

        2. Ms Cappuccino*

          Shopkeepers never ask people who look older their ID here. They are supposed to request it only from people who look under 25. But I leave in the UK. Are you in the US ?

          1. Someone Else*

            Yes I am in the US. Even before the “ID everyone” statute went into effect, I remember when I was a child there were little signs near the register in stores that sold alcohol that said they were supposed to ID anyone who looked under 50. That was in the 80s.

        3. rogue axolotl*

          Yeah, sometimes the policy is that they get in trouble if they’re caught selling to anyone who doesn’t have their ID with them, so it doesn’t really matter what your age is in that case.

      2. The Doctor is Out*

        I am 62, and I find that Burger King NEVER asks a woman to prove she is old enough to qualify for the senior discount (60 I think). Rare for a woman to claim to be older.

        1. London Calling*

          I have no hesitation asking for the senior discount and I don’t even get asked to prove I qualify :(

        2. Thursday Next*

          Bc that’s a store/corporate policy, not a law. They’re not going to get in legal trouble if they don’t card someone for a discounted Whopper.

          London Calling, It’s in BK’s interest that you remain a happy customer, so if you ask for the senior discount, and look older than 16, there’s no reason for them to verify it. It’s not personal.

          1. London Calling*

            I didn’t even know they had one and I eat there once in a blue moon. Lots of other places do a senior discount and I don’t get carded so obviously I look my age.

    2. Triple Anon*

      Looking younger is bad when it causes you to get denied housing or treated badly by your landlord, or denied a job or promotion for that reason alone, or otherwise treated as less experienced than you are. Or paid less.

      Those are some of the more tangible drawbacks. On the other hand, it does come with a lot of advantages. Overall, it isn’t something to complain about.

  5. Perpetua*

    I need help with reframing a situation so that I can move forward with a friendship with less sadness.

    TLDR: So, one of my best friends got married and let me know only afterwards. I feel hurt and question our closeness.

    Now, there are several “extenuating” circumstances. Her new husband is from another continent and this turned out to be the only way for him to be able to stay here. She mentioned earlier that this might be a possibility, but they were pursuing other options and we talked about them, so I figured she’d say if something changed. She keeps saying that this wedding was just a formality at this point (so that they can continue with the relationship and see how it goes) and that she couldn’t handle the stress of including anyone else in any capacity, but somehow, the picture that she sent me, of her with a white lace dress and a bouquet, makes it quite real for me and I’m sad that the person with whom I’ve shared life for 15 years didn’t feel the need to share that this step was happening.

    I am well aware that her marriage is not about ME, and it’s obvious that we have different emotional/friendship needs. What I would like to do is find some inner peace about this situation so that I can be a support for her moving forward and not resent her for something that wasn’t personal, but feels like it.

    Can anyone relate?

    1. Ms Cappuccino*

      My father got married to his partner and told me after. My first reaction was a bit hurt but I knew for him it was just a formality (they did it for some financial reason I will spare you the details). They invited nobody except the 2 witnesses (a legal requirements in France).
      Isn’t knowing she sees this wedding as a formality helping you to get over it ?
      Could you also share your feelings honestly with your friend? Not by blaming her but taking responsibility for your feelings when you speak.

      1. Perpetua*

        The legal requirements are the same, I’m guessing her sister was the witness, but I don’t know any details yet, she said she’d share them when she recovered a bit from everything.

        I think one of the reasons I’m having difficulties with accepting this as just a formality is that I can’t imagine myself doing it as 100% tell-no-one formality. But as someone mentioned below, that says more about MY view of such a step, and isn’t necessarily related to hers, and I need to accept her perspective as it is.

        I will share them when we talk in person, if the moment will seem right. I mentioned them just a bit when she let me know, because I was just too taken aback to not say anything, but still I didn’t want to make that moment about me and my feelings. So I congratulated her and said that it was a shock and that I wished that I could have been more of a support in this stressful time, but that I hope that things go more smoothly for them from now on and that I’m here for her.

    2. Lcsa99*

      If this is a green card marriage, I think the white lace and bouquet are to make it look as real as possible for the people who have a say in whether he stays or goes. I think you need to take her at her word that it was just a formality. If it was more than that, she probably would have said it was only family or close friends or something. You can consider that maybe having you there would have made it more “real” for her, and even if she’s just trying to convince herself of that, it might help you too if you play along.

      1. Dan*

        Yeah, the other give-away is the phrasing “get married and see how it goes”. That’s putting the cart before the horse — you *know* how it goes, and then get married.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          Sometimes getting married is the only feasible way to see how it goes, in relationships with immigration issues. :/

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        Yes, I read this as she’s hedging her bets — a white lace dress in case everything does work out beautifully and then in 20 years she can show everyone that wedding picture, but keeping everything quiet in case it doesn’t. But the explanation of making it look as real as possible for the authorities’ sake makes even more sense.

    3. families!*

      I can totally see how hurtful this would be. But I think there might be room to read her actions more generously (and really not personally). First, the whole immigration thing is right now super super stressful. Even for people who are here totally legally. I’ve talked with people who are not immigrants and they just can’t understand the level of stress others might be having. It’s real. Stress makes you have a sort of tunnel vision.

      The other aspect (and here you would know better) but maybe she didn’t want to involve her family for whatever reason and might have felt that involving a friend and not family might either not work or maybe be too painful and so she decided to not involve anyone else.

      1. Steve*

        I was thinking similar – I have a friend who could invite 10 people to the ceremony (city hall) so friends were not included. I don’t know what I would do with 5 seats – how would I decide between my few friends? I would probably end up inviting all family.

        I can see how the hardest part for me would be not being told ahead of time, but agreed that stress has strange effects. But the ‘I might have to do this’ convo ahead of time might have been that sharing of info.

        I agree with others that the lace is likely for show, if the wedding itself was for show.

      2. Perpetua*

        Thank you for some additional perspective. We’re not in the US (Eastern Europe), so the atmosphere around immigration is not quite as tense, although our bureaucracy has many faults as well and I can imagine (and I know from talks with her) how it’s still very stressful to be so dependent on various institutions and their papers in order to physically be with a loved one.

        I’m not yet sure if her family was involved (we’ll talk tomorrow, we didn’t get a chance to see each other before that), but I’d expect that it was, since they seem to have accepted him very openly. But she did mention that it would be sad for him to have no one there and for her to have friends present, so that might have played into the decision (I don’t agree with the logic, but I can respect it).

        I’m mostly hurt by not KNOWING about it, or even just knowing that that was what she decided to do after all, without specific info about the time and place, if that added to the stress. I’m okay with not being there in these circumstances.
        But all these perspectives and inputs are actually really helpful, so I think I’m on my way to feel much better about the whole thing, and I’m relieved. Thank you very much, everybody!

      3. immigrantwifeanon*

        “the whole immigration thing is right now super super stressful. Even for people who are here totally legally”


        the wife of a legal immigrant who is still 1000% stressed out about the whole thing.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Different country, but that was one of the reasons why I became a citizen here. Even though I was 100% legal and had permanent residency, the government keeps moving the goal posts and jacking up the fees so I decided to just be done with it.

    4. KayEss*

      My husband and I got married at the courthouse without telling anyone until after the fact, but we were planning to (and eventually did) have a big church wedding and celebration with our families about a year later. I remember reading a lot of wedding blogs and forums at the time, and there was a huge split over whether or not it was “acceptable” to do that–there’s apparently a vocal faction of people out there who for some reason feel entitled to be deeply offended if it turns out the ceremony they’ve been invited to share in does not include the magical moment when your union becomes legally binding. (Not saying you’re being like that, just noting that a lot of people feel really strongly about weddings and wedding-related stuff in weird ways. They can cause a lot of surprising emotions! Nothing brings out the weirdness like weddings and funerals!)

      I didn’t have a white dress or flowers or even rings at our courthouse wedding, because for us it was literally a “legal contract so we can share insurance” ceremony rather than a wedding. But I’ve heard that (at least in the US) in order to enable a non-citizen fiance or spouse to stay in the country you need to provide a ridiculous amount of documentation to prove that your relationship is real–like old chat and text logs, photos of you together, etc.–so she may have gotten a bit more “done up” in order to make things more solidly credible for that purpose? I kind of wonder if she has told a lot of people or if you’re one of a select few who knows, since presumably she doesn’t want everyone making a big deal of things if she’s not sure they’re going to stay together.

      1. Murphy*

        Yes, I talked below about doing something similar, and my Mom asked me not to tell my extended family so they didn’t think that the wedding ceremony they attended wasn’t my “real wedding.”

        1. KayEss*

          I don’t know if our families were chill about it because they’re all moderately religious, so to them the church wedding would naturally be the “real” wedding either way, or what? Not that they wouldn’t consider us properly married if we didn’t do it in a church, but it was assumed we’d probably have a church ceremony and we confirmed that we were planning to do so, and that was that. I don’t think we announced it beyond immediate family, but I don’t really remember… it wasn’t like a shameful secret, though.

          We didn’t tell anyone beforehand because my mom had a lot of feelings about my then-fiance (now husband) and I didn’t want to listen to or deal with them, and I knew she’d be too polite to voice them if it was a done deal. Family, ain’t it grand!

          1. Murphy*

            Yeah, my mom is super religious. She didn’t want me to do it at first, but when I’d explored some other options to no avail, she was fine with it. I think she was more concerned with appearances.

      2. Temperance*

        Yes. I had to do the same thing, also for insurance, and I didn’t tell anyone outside of my witnesses. I was accused, here, of perpetuating a fraud on my guests by “tricking” them into watching my “vow renewal”.

        We did a Quaker self-marry license and had friends sign it and mailed it in. There was no ceremony.

      3. Anon From Here*

        > ridiculous amount of documentation

        Not just in the U.S. For my partner’s permanent residency in Canada, we had to submit a grab-bag of different proofs about our marriage, to establish that it was openly known and legit for a certain period of time. The proofs included a few pages of e-mail messages, photos of us (this was harder than we’d expected, since we’re not really “selfie” people), jointly controlled utilities bills, and even a couple of screenshots of our social media to show that we held ourselves out as “married.”

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          My sister’s husband is from New Zealand, and she’d gone through a similar process (with providing all the photos, documents etc and accompanying two-year wait) over there. Had they waited til they came back to the UK to get married, they’d have had to do it all again here. So they had their legal wedding in NZ, which the UK government recognised, and then their ‘real’ wedding (AFAIK the only difference being they only signed the church register) in the UK once they were back.

          I know my mum was a bit upset not to be there for the legal wedding, but on balance it was more the not knowing it was happening and not feeling involved. And I get that – it’s a big thing in the life of someone you love, and you want to support them however you can. Sister’s attitude was similar to Murphy’s further down – the NZ wedding was just paperwork, but the UK wedding with both the families there was the one that mattered to them.

          I know that one thing that helped my mum was being able to be involved in the planning of the UK wedding. If things do work out for your friend (and I hope they do), would she consider having a blessing/vow renewal or similar? If so, could that be something you could help her with in terms of planning etc?

      4. Perpetua*

        Yes, I’ve seen that attitude around some wedding blogs and forums, and I don’t agree with it, but you’re absolutely right, weddings do bring out many surprising emotions, even for people with various degrees of involvement! :)

        As I’ve mentioned above, for me it’s more about not knowing about the ceremony happening than about not being there. We’re not in the US, but she has mentioned that they’ll need similar proof of their relationship. From what I can tell, I’m one of the few who knows, she hasn’t shared it with the rest of our friend group yet (but she said she will soon) and she probably won’t share it at all with the “public”. So that helps a bit, that she at least told me about it happening, even after the fact.

    5. Murphy*

      I don’t know if this is helpful, but I can sort of speak to it from the other side. I got fired a few years ago. I was already engaged to be married in 8 months, but after exhausting my health care options, we ended up getting married. Just a quick thing at the court house on a Thursday morning and my husband went back to work afterwards. We had witnesses there because we needed them (chosen because they were not working and were thus available on Thursday morning), but in my mind, it was some paperwork and not my actual wedding.

      I had talked about it with my parents and let them know but it might be a possibility and I did end up telling them a few days beforehand that we were doing it and they were fine. My husband did not tell his parents until afterwards and his mother was really deeply hurt by it. In her mind we got married and didn’t include her. To me, including family would have made THAT my real wedding instead of the celebration with family and friends that I had planned. And I didn’t want to my wedding to be on Thursday morning followed by my husband going back to work. I had a hard time understanding why she was so upset because to me a really was just a formality. We told the rest of our friends a few days later at dinner but they all knew the situation then they went when we’re doing so I don’t think any of them were upset by it.

      I get why you’re upset and I agree with others that the pictures might be to show that it was a “real” wedding. I would just say that when you’re doing something like this, even if it’s someone that you do want to marry, it’s difficult to feel like you’re being forced into it, and maybe you just want to get it over with without a lot of fuss, and so it’s easier to tell people that it already happened as opposed to “it is happening.” I’m sorry you’re feeling hurt.

      1. Perpetua*

        Thank you for sharing your experience. I can relate to the MIL’s “she got married and didn’t include me”, because I keep thinking of all the talks we had over the years, about life and relationships and marriage, and now it has happened and I didn’t know about it. (I know it’s just a formality, but this was my first feeling when I heard about it.)
        But I can also understand how including family and friends (even just by telling them in advance) makes it more real and adds another layer of stress to an already stressful situation, so I’ll try to focus on that more.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Probably not an answer that is easy to hear but here goes. Life picks up speed. With each decade that rolls by I see people doing things and telling me later. I mean big life events and I find out later. It was hard to go through this change. Then after a bit I realized my new norm was seeing that they bothered to tell me AT ALL. Life gets in the way, there’s too much going on. It’s the people who have big life events and never contact us, those people are the most concerning.

      So the way this shakes down is like this: A friend jumped out of a perfectly fine airplane for the sheer sport of it. (It was probably GOOD that he told me later.) Another friend had a horrible accident where someone got killed. (I was glad he told me, but I was mad at myself that I did not find out on my own.) Another friend was divorced for a year before the subject came up. (This gave Friend time to get used to the idea, but I was shocked and processing. This put us in two different spots.)

      I think it was my 30s and 40s that this started happening more and more. Now in my late 50s its almost a daily occurrence. We get so immersed in the daily details of our own lives that it gets harder and harder to weave everyone in with what is new.

      But if you think about a bit you will probably realize that there is stuff going on with you that your friends are not aware of. Yeah, it might be trivial but it might accumulate into something larger later. One place kept promoting me. In about a year’s time I had worked my way into a management position. For friends that missed the little steps along the way, I had to briefly describe the sequence of minor events that led to my new position.

      Yes, a wedding is a big deal. But for her it was a matter of practicality. It could be that she will have another wedding later. Or it could be that you end up attending her major anniversary parties. Or it could be that she separates in a year and says, “I tried to tell you the wedding was no big deal. Now you see why I said that.” She let you know, she is keeping you in the loop but just not as you had hoped. Sometimes that’s the best we get because, LIFE!

      1. Perpetua*

        Yes, that’s a bigger picture view and I can see it happening. It’s not entirely the same, but it has some parallels so I’ll use this as an example that I thought of today. My partner and I are talking about possibly having kids next year. It’s a huge decision for me, and it freaks me out, but I think I’m slowly getting used to the idea. However, I probably won’t share anything with my mom before I actually get pregnant (and then some), because dealing with my feelings about it is intense enough without putting her influence into the mix. So she might get hurt that I didn’t share this huge decision-making process with her, but it’s easier and healthier for me to do it this way.
        So as I said, it’s not quite the same, and the friend/mother dynamic is different, but it helps me put things into perspective.
        Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience!

    7. Temperance*

      I can sort of relate to your friend here, TBH, although I didn’t actually tell anyone about my legal marriage besides my witnesses because I didn’t want any hard feelings or to hear any shit about my wedding ceremony not being my “real wedding”.

      People can be really horrible about this, FYI. I mean, last time this came up, someone here in the comments told me that I tricked all of my wedding guests and lied to them because they were witnessing a “vow renewal” and not a wedding, and more or less accused me of fraud.

      It’s different for immigration, because you need to show evidence that you’re really married/a real couple. Seriously, This isn’t about you, or excluding you … and it sounds like your friend is at least a little unsure of this decision.

      1. Perpetua*

        Yeah, I think I remember when it came up, and I’m very sorry that you got such reactions.

        And yes, there is some insecurity on her part, but I think she figured that there would always be some insecurity and that she likes him enough to buy them time and the necessary papers to figure out it if works by actually living together, not by being on separate continents.

    8. Jenice*

      I can relate in the sense that I was the one who didn’t invite a friend to my elopement and honestly it didn’t occur to me that it was a big deal. She was very hurt and I had no idea it was that important for her to be there.
      Did you friend have an actual wedding, or did she elope?

      1. Perpetua*

        I’m not sure where people draw the line for elopement (is it still elopement if e.g. you have your parents with you?), but I guess they had just the legal ceremony with the necessary witnesses, and possibly her parents and sister with them (but also possibly not).

        1. Rave*

          Yes. When I eloped his parents were there ( not mine, as they live too far). There wasn’t a party after, we just went to lunch.
          I did however tell all my friends and family before we were getting married, so that part is a bit odd on your friend’s part. She may have also just been nervous and stressed with it, given the circumstances of the wedding in the first place.
          Honestly, I would see how the friendship is from now onn and maybe this was just a glitch and not a statement of your friendship with her.

    9. ModernHypatia*

      For marriage-related immigration, there are some serious limitations on timing. There’s also a ton of paperwork and appointments and so on that can be hard to schedule.

      (My ex-husband – Canadian – and I – US – married on a fiance visa: we had 90 days from when he entered the country to get married, and there’s a whole host of things like being able to get a visa to work that depend on converting to a marriage visa, which can sometimes mean you need to make really fast decisions.)

      In terms of the visible signs of a marriage – they’re going to need to keep demonstrating the validity of their marriage to random bureaucrats (and in many places in the world these days, that’s an incredibly stressful, invasive, and sometimes demeaning process even when it isn’t worse than that.) It’s really standard advice to make and keep documentation that makes it clear it’s a ‘real’ relationship. (We had to submit photos, plane ticket stubs, documentation from things like emails over a long period of time, letters from people who knew us both, etc.)

      So I can both see why they’d have done some of the visible parts, while not being able to wrangle the social parts (or being concerned that if they invited people to the legal wedding at this stage, they’d then end up needing to asking those people to write letters of support/etc. without being able to explain that process well right now. If no one was invited to the wedding, it’s easier for them to choose who to write who can best explain that.) Maybe you’d have been great with it, but other friends or family wouldn’t be, y’know, and they had to make the decision quickly and without adding a ton more stress.

      If you want to make life easier for her in the future, set up time to go out, and write up some sort of comment after about talking about the wedding, how much she loves her husband, what you talked about, etc. that could be submitted for documentation for them later. Or offer to help plan a celebration when they’re no longer so swamped by the legal frustrations and scary forms.

      1. Perpetua*

        We’re not in the US, but yes, he had 90 days as well and they tried to figure out different options, but time was running out (the 90 days will be up in a week or so, I think), so they probably needed to make a fast decision as you mention.

        I’m not hurt by the lack of invitation (I would have liked to be there for the occasion, but I understand the circumstances) but mostly by the fact that she didn’t tell me about the marriage part happening after all.

        If things go well, they plan to do a proper wedding in a year or two or three, but maybe we can go for a dinner with our friend group if that’s something she’d like. I already mentioned to her that I’ll help in any way necessary, with documentation, proof, etc.

        Thank you for sharing, it helps.

    10. ReginaPhilange*

      Perpetua, I can sort of relate to your side of things. My situation was different, but last year one of my best friends (and bridesmaid) got married and didn’t invite me. She invited family and one or two childhood friends. They claimed it to be a small, inconspicuous wedding, yet planned it for 6 months and are still archiving the photos and displaying them around the house. I heard about all the planning and have sat through multiple “let’s look at wedding photos” sessions. I was and still am really sad that just like you describe above, a friend who I’ve shared life with for about 10 years didn’t feel it was important to share her special day with me… even after being IN my wedding. (The fact that I chose her as a bridesmaid makes it feel worse to me that I wasn’t even invited to hers.)

      I’m not sure if I can give you any good advice here, because in my case, it did indeed change my relationship with my friend. The wedding was clearly an important day and event to her, and the fact that I didn’t make the cut for people to share it with has made me since question which parts of my life I share with her. I also feel somewhat resentful towards her wife because I kind of blame the secrecy on her.

      However, I do agree with the commenters above that for your friend, it was probably more of a stressful situation than a joyful one, and she probably wanted to keep it as under the radar as possible. This does seem like a situation where you could talk to your friend and she might reassure you of the above.

      1. Perpetua*

        Ouch, I’m sorry that you had a similar experience, but with added weight due to planning and inviting some of the friends. And well, I’m not married and with no immediate plans, but it’s been coming up now and then, and then I start thinking about who I’d have as a witness/maid of honor, and she’s one of the 2 people I’d probably ask. Which is why this hurt, as I figured that she had another witness there.

        But everything that the others have mentioned helps me put things into another light and we’ll be able to talk about this without resentment on my part.

    11. Lissa*

      I think I’d feel hurt if other friends were included, but if they didn’t include anybody else – I don’t think it’s that you have different emotional/friendship needs, or at least wouldn’t conclude that based on this. It’s that you perceive *weddings* differently, not friendships.

      I understand that emotions run really high, but it honestly sounds more like you perceive a wedding as a thing that important people should be included in, and she just doesn’t see it that way. It sounds like you’re thinking, if the friendship were closer/better she’d have invited you, but I’m not getting that impression.

      1. ReginaPhilange*

        This is a good point. Other people have told me this, but it’s hard to tell my brain to think that way.

      2. Perpetua*

        Thank you, that’s a pretty good insight – that it’s our differing perception of this wedding that’s causing me sadness. My thinking is more along the lines “if she had the same need for closeness and sharing that I do, she would have told me this was happening”, but still, for her it might truly be a formality (and all the other factors that people have mentioned come into play as well).

    12. Wishing You Well*

      Here’s one possible reframing: Was ANYONE invited to her ceremony? Maybe everyone she knows is wondering “What just happened?” Except for the one photo (which seems more like Exhibit A), it doesn’t sound like a typical “wedding”. Maybe she’s really unsure of what she did and didn’t want a lot of witnesses to an iffy move. Maybe she didn’t want you and others expressing out loud doubts she was already thinking before the event.
      I think this is all about her state of mind and circumstances and not about your friendship. Please treat yourself and her kindly, since she will probably need your support in the future.

      Full disclosure: I had a VERY small wedding: just parents and 2 witnesses. It had nothing to do with snubbing anyone, it was very much about: 2 penniless college students/senior year/must find jobs in same city! Thankfully, my family and friendships survived my tiny wedding.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*


        My sister and her husband had a justice of the peace wedding a year before their ‘real’ wedding because he’d lost his job and they wanted to get him on her insurance. The only people who were there were parents and siblings and I don’t think they told anyone else until afterwards.

        There’s a high chance I’ll end up doing something similar, also for immigration reasons.

      2. Perpetua*

        I don’t think anyone was invited to the ceremony, other than the necessary witnesses (don’t know who they were) and maybe immediate family on her side. It definitely wasn’t a typical wedding and probably very few people know that it even happened.

        Treating us both kindly, yes, that’s kind of my goal here! I needed to get this out somewhere so that I could be with her with a clearer mind and heart, and all the answers here have been really helpful, thank you!

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I’ve actually had two friends do something similar for immigration reasons (in two different countries). In both cases they were legal immigrants in committed long-term relationships but didn’t want to be actually married for personal reasons, but in the end it was the easiest way to deal with immigration issues. So they had a small legal ceremony and then a larger celebration later, in one case a few years later.

        2. Wishing You Well*

          Just a side thought: the witnesses could’ve been court employees or anybody hanging around at the time. The witnesses for my will, for example, were my lawyer’s employees and the witness for my very close friends’ baby’s baptism was an unknown woman hanging around in the church at the time. Not me, because I wasn’t of their faith. The ol’ “quick, git ‘er done” thing – if that helps.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Ditto for my mom & dad…admittedly they got married during WWII, but when my grandmother & the priest started fussing about mom not being Catholic my dad said lets go to whatever church will marry us today. They had no witnesses they’d met before or saw afterwards. Not a church from either family either.

    13. only acting normal*

      You’ve written it yourself. It’s not that she “didn’t feel the need to share that this step was happening”, it’s that “she couldn’t handle the stress of including anyone else in any capacity”.
      Definitely not about her excluding you personally (because “different friendship needs” or reasons), but doing the bare bones of what she could cope with (because weddings are stressful even when you do everything 100% conventionally, and this is not that).

    14. LilySparrow*

      It sounds to me like this was not really her ideal situation, but she decided it was the best thing to do at the time.

      Perhaps talking it over, especially if you have talked about ideal futures/weddings/relationship stuff in the past, would have made it harder for her to go ahead with her decision. Not that you did anything to be hard to talk to — I don’t mean that.

      But sometimes I have to switch into “practical mode” for certain things, and discussing or trying to explain my thinking would derail me from what I intend to accomplish. It might not be your reaction she was trying to avoid, but that talking to you (or anyone) about it would open up a can of worms and make it too emotionally complicated or overwhelming for her.

    15. Triplestep*

      I married my first husband on a Friday lunch hour and then went back to work, and THEN told my mother. And I only told her because she happened to call me! We married so he could get on my health insurance – we already had two kids together, so really a formality.

      I wanted nothing by way of a party (who has a party for getting health insurance?) and he agreed, but friends of his threw us a dinner that was (surprise!) in honor of our marriage. He was so scared that I would turn around and leave once I figured it out, and let me tell you – even as a formality, it was not a great way to start this new chapter in our lives. One of my own friends later lamented that the reward she got for abiding by my wishes was to be left out of the only thing that was done by way of a celebration.

      This is all by way of telling you to take your friend at her word! I know it must feel bad to feel excluded, but if she’s anything like I was, she didn’t want the pressure of making it more than it felt like to her for the benefit of others. There’s a bit of a fraudulent feeling in getting married this way and then celebrating, which is why I didn’t want a big deal made of it. You said you know her wedding is not about you, but I’m sorry you feel conflicted about not knowing about it or being there. I think in time it will sting a bit less.

      1. Perpetua*

        Yeah, I think you’re right, it will sting less and less as time goes by and things get calmer on their end. Thank you for sharing.

    16. Zona the Great*

      I would be the friend in this situation and my story is only about my life but perhaps you may find something in it. My former BFF of 15 years would have expected to be included in any big event of mine. She would often make comments like, “I know when Zona’s beloved cat dies, I will have to take a week off work to go be with her” but in my mind I would think, no way in hell would I allow that. I would not even tell her and I did not when that day did come. She was hurt. But I simply want my big events to be mine only. I would never expect to be involved in those intimate events in her life yet she did want me in hers. She was upset when I would not sleep at her home the night of her wedding. You can see why she is my former friend. We simply grew into people who ultimately were not compatible anymore.

      1. Perpetua*

        Well, that IS a part of my worry, that we’re not compatible in our needs (e.g. I seem needy to her, she seems cold to me). But with everything that others have written, I think that might not actually be the true story of our friendship, at least not to that extent and at this moment, so I think we’ve still got some years ahead of us.

    17. ThatGirl*

      My mom had been with her guy for like 10 years and they got married out of the blue, she told me afterward by group text. Group. Text.

      So yeah I relate.

      1. Steve*

        Similar situation – it was my father, and he told us as a comment at a family gathering a couple months later.

        On the positive side, he is the one who is upset that we aren’t close (and seems clueless on why), and if I ever get married then I have an excuse not to tell him or his partner. I don’t think he will ever realise how happy that makes me (his decisions are removing any of my guilt)

    18. Bagpuss*

      I can understand how you feel, but equally, there may be very good reasons why they did it that way.
      One of my cousins did something similar – she and her fiance got married very privately, for immigration / work related reasons (basically, rules abut eligibility for work changed. Married, her husband could work, unmarried, he would have to return to his birth country and re-apply for a different visa),
      They got married, and didn’t tell anyone – I think that my cousin’s mum, and possibly her brother, where there. They then had their wedding as planned several months later.
      I only found out because my cousin asked me to help out with certifying some documents (I’m a lawyer) which included their marriage certificate.

      In their case, they didn’t tell anyone because that first ceremony was, for them, primarily an administrative thing, not something they wanted to share with everyone, as that came later.

      1. Perpetua*

        Yup, many reasons for them doing things this way. Feeling a bit better after reading all the replies, thank you!

    19. Anon This Time*

      I was in your friend’s situation 10 years ago: as part of a (non-US) visa application, it was recommended that my then-partner and I make what had been explained to us as a ‘relationship declaration’ at the town hall. We only worked out *as it was happening* that this was as close to a same-sex wedding ceremony as was legally available at the time.

      It was awful. Really and truly awful. We had at that point been together for three years; and we lived together and did talk about getting married someday. But to find ourselves accidentally married was… rough.

      We made the same agreement that your friend and her now-husband did, to keep it on the hush so we could move on with our relationship more naturally. But I’ve always suspected that she thought I knew what the ceremony really was and tricked her into doing it, possibly contributing to our break-up six months later. (For the record, I did not know and I wouldn’t have gone through with it if I had.)

      Anyway, having been through something quite similar I can tell you that her thoughts and feelings right now are probably a mess – I for one felt like I’d been robbed of my actual wedding, and while keeping it a secret felt like the right choice it was also very, very weird. I would urge you to follow her lead: if she isn’t thinking of this as a marriage, then you shouldn’t either; if this was a formality for her that she is trying to pretend didn’t happen, don’t add emotional heft to it by being upset that you were left out. You are 100% allowed to have your feelings but you should try to avoid having them At Her – which I think you’re doing by asking for advice here, so great work you!

      The immigration process in most countries is the mental and emotional equivalent of spending months in a bathtub full of hot sweaty garbage. Your friend and her partner made the best decision they could make under difficult circumstances, and your feelings got hurt in the process. That is real and unfortunate, but I can promise you that if it’s anything like any of my various immigration situations over the years, her priority was to fix the immediate problem in front of them so they could buy time to more clearly consider the next step. I hope that she and her partner get through with with a shred of their sanity (and their relationship, and their savings) intact; and I hope that you are able to resolve your feelings about what happened. And hell, maybe in time all of you will be able to laugh about The Time They Got Secretly Married – I know I’ve dined out on my story for years!

      1. Perpetua*

        Thank you for sharing your story, I’m sorry you had such an experience! I hope that the years in between have brought you many laughs and joys. And hey, your life story helped a stranger cope! :)

        You’ve hit the nail on the head with “her priority was to fix the immediate problem in front of them so they could buy time to more clearly consider the next step” and the importance of me not adding emotional heft (and yes, I’m trying to avoid that by figuring things out here, and it seems to be working, so thank you all lovely people!).

    20. Aardvark*

      One of my close friends did the same thing with his long-term partner–I felt hurt for a couple days, because I’d have liked to show how much they mean to me by celebrating with them. And ultimately, I realized I could channel that feeling into celebrating them in a different way and got them a wedding present. I still wish I could have been there, but sharing how much I cared in a different way took the edge wayyy off.

      1. Aardvark*

        (ETA: This was a small present that I would have made for the two of them anyway, presented with an absolute minimum of ceremony)

    21. Climber*

      Ok, late to the party but I hope you see this. I totally understand! I was LIVING with my friend and her boyfriend and I went home for a weekend and they got married. And then THEY DIDN’T TELL ME when I got back! I only found out a couple weeks later when I saw a piece of mail and her name was changed on it! They hadn’t even told his best friend, he found out from me! Insanity! I have kinda never gotten over it. Like, you couldn’t even mention it in passing? WRite something on a post it note and leave it in OUR SHARED LIVING SPACE? I moved out not long after that, surprisingly enough I didn’t feel very welcome.

    22. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      I almost did that myself when my spouse and I were having just a courtroom deal on a weekday which was inconvenient for everyone because work! I actually called him crying the morning of because I realized I couldn’t just do it and not ask him to come but I remember why at the time I didn’t – this wasn’t meant to be the real deal and I didn’t want it to be the one that counted in terms of asking friends to come be there. And in the moment, without meaning to be rude to your friend, but in that particular moment I think we can be most self centered in making that happened and not realize that it would be hurtful to our dearest ones who’d want to be there. Honestly I didn’t think anyone cared about me enough to be hurt by not being included, so that played a role.

      I hope this wasn’t a situation that she didn’t value your friendship and that you feel valued going forward.

  6. Jess*

    I’m about to turn 36 and in the past year I’ve put on quite a lot of weight without changing anything in my lifestyle. I’m fairly active and a pretty healthy eater, but none of the things that used to work when I got a bit heavier (cutting down on sugar, walking and swimming more) have made a dent. I get regular thyroid tests because there’s a big family history of it and I have some related autoimmune issues, but my thyroid is fine.

    I’m now hovering around the top of the range for a healthy BMI for my height and none of my clothes fit. I know it’s kind of first world problems, but my tummy feels huge to me and I’d really like to nip it in the bud before it gets worse. I guess my question is, is this middle-aged spread, and if so what (sustainable) things can I do about it?

    1. nep*

      You can turn it around. Barring any medical issue, generally a few simple changes held to consistently will make a different. Could you expand on ‘fairly active and a pretty healthy eater’?

      1. Jess*

        Thanks for this! Food-wise, I hate cooking and I’m permanently exhausted so there’s not a lot of variety in my food. Often on a Sunday I’ll make a couple of frittatas and some pasta salad for lunches and dinners throughout the week, both with lots of vegetables but also lots of cheese. I eat a lot of Greek yoghurt, cheese, nuts, fruit, and a couple of times a week a ready meal from one of the healthy (protein and vegetable heavy) ranges. I try to cut out as much added sugar as I can but I have a bad habit of grabbing cereal bars when I’m out and hungry or when I’m travelling. I work 60+ hours per week and travel for work a lot, plus I’m coeliac so often there doesn’t feel like a good substitute for the cereal bars when on the go.

        I just wrote a long, long comment about my activity levels but it basically broke down to me realising that since changing jobs a few months back I’m not nearly as active as I used to be, and I’ve been kidding myself thinking nothing has changed on that front. I’ve just (in the past couple of weeks) started seeing a personal trainer for 30 minutes twice a week to focus on strength. I’m struggling to get started with other ways of being more active, I feel so unfit and out of shape and all I want to do in my off-hours is lie on the sofa with a book, but I know I need to get over the mental block and just do something.

        1. Oatmeal*

          It doesn’t matter if your calories are healthy ones if there are too many (simplistic but still mostly true). Try tracking for a couple days—cheese, nuts are caloric alloy dense and it’s really easy to go over and this gain weight even though you feel like you’re making healthy choices through no sugar etc. my other tip is to figure out what satiates you. When I’m not nursing I do really well and lose weight with lots of protein and fat, lower carbs. MyFitnessPal is a good app to keep track of your calories. And yes, weightlifting. It’ll make real aesthetic changes and you’ll get strong in the process too! Win-win.

        2. Coffeelover*

          Diet wise my suggestion would be to cut out the pasta. These kind of carbs tend to make you gain the most weight and it’s a pretty easy switch. Make your salads with quinoa instead. I’m not sure how celiacs impacts you but can you eat bulgur? It’s another good options. These fiber filled alternatives keep you full for longer and have more nutrients. You’ll see a big change in how bloated you feel pretty much right away.

          Ready made meals are also almost always bad for you even if they seem like they should be good (because of all the additives). Can you cook some food and freeze it? I usually make a big batch of meat sauce (like bolognese) freeze it and then I can just spend 15min warming it up and making a side (not pasta though). It’s a much better alternative.

        3. nep*

          Changes in what you eat can make a huge difference, even in periods when you aren’t getting in a lot of physical activity. (But you’re right–you can change the habits little by little, even if it means slipping in a few calisthenics or a brisk walk or do the stairs a few times at home. And believe me you will just feel better moving your body more.)
          Cheese, nuts, and cereal bars can all contribute to getting more calories than you need. I hear you about not having a lot of time to spend on food prep / choices. I’m vegan so I don’t like promoting eggs, but if you like them, hard-boiled eggs can be a satisfying food on the go. Many fruits can be too–bananas probably the easiest.
          It sounds like you’re already working your way to making some better choices about all this. Great that you’re making the investment to work with a trainer; strength training / weights are your friend, for sure. Perhaps just writing all this out today has helped move you past a rut. Wishing you all the best.

        4. TardyTardis*

          Do a food diary for the next month, you might well be surprised by what shows up (and yes, I remember having to write down the Lemonheads, too).

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Sigh… I have to get a new job…I’m 35 miles from the office and a year or two ago management abruptly got rid of telecommuting…those 2 or 3 TC days were the only days I had time to get any significant exercise.

    2. AnonJ*

      Weight lifting is doing wonders for me. I’m fairly active; walk a lot during the day (10k steps or more), swim or cycle 5 days a week, and have a healthy diet but at 40 my weight began to creep up. I started lifting weights 3 times a week this summer and it’s really helped to kickstart my metabolism. There’s a huge sense of accomplishment that comes after each session. You should start with a trainer to learn the proper technique. But after those initial sessions you should be fine on your own.

      1. GermanGirl*

        If weight lifting isn’t for you, do some other sport that is more strength & coordination than endurance, since you’re already doing endurance.

        I had the same problem even though I cycle and swim regularly, but since rejoining ballet class after a 10 year absence, my weight is finally starting to come down.

        1. Jess*

          I used to do a lot of Pilates but the teacher moved away and I haven’t enjoyed any class since, turns out what I really loved about her classes was all the release work she incorporated into the class. I’ve been thinking about joining a barre class close to me, though.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      Another vote for weights. You don’t need to be a weightlifter, but adding weights, like free weights with squats and lunges, or some kettle bell exercises, will really help to add some muscle without bulk, which burns more calories. I’d also say to get your RMR (resting metabolic rate) tested to see how many calories you burn at rest throughout the day. It may be that you only burn 1,500 at rest and maybe another 300 exercising (I’m pulling numbers out of the sky), but you’re eating 2,000. That’s a surplus of 200 calories a day, which can make the weight creep up over time. I got mine tested while I was preparing for skin removal surgery, because I wanted to be sure I was on track to be the weight I wanted to be at the time of the surgery. It was confirmation that I was right on track with eating 1,800 calories a day so I could lose a couple pounds. Good luck!

      1. Jess*

        That’s really interesting, I didn’t realise that was an option. I’ll look into it, thanks! And I’ve just started weight training – glad to see it’s helped so many people.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          If you Google RMR testing you’ll find places that offer it. I think I paid something like 50.00 (USD). It took only 10 minutes and I got a report afterwards. It can be really helpful, because your RMR changes as you lose/gain weight, gain muscle, etc. You might think you’re burning more calories than you eat, but it’s not always the case. I found it to be very accurate.

          1. WWF*

            Any recommendations for an inexpensive facility for a RMR test in NYC? My quick google search showed a cost of $200-250.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              I went to CT Nutrition Consultants in Farmington, CT. You may find a better price by searching nutritionists rather than a testing facility. I did a quick search near me and found an individual nutrition consultant that charges 100.00.

              I know there are a couple different ways to test it, and you might be finding prices for the more expensive one. For that one, I think they put you in some sort of chamber that measures RMR. The one I did is the little machine you breathe into. It’s called Body Gem.

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Definitely weights – When I was working consistently with my trainer I had some very positive changes in inches, felt stronger, core was tighter, etc. Then he moved gyms to a more expensive one and well, back to square one. Going to go to kettlebell and TRX classes next week to get this back under control. I was doing ok training myself, but then the gym overhauled the equipment in August and now I can’t FIND anything in the weight room!

        Would also suggest cutting out the pasta salads completely and either the cheese or nuts. When I have cut out wheat and cheese my weight starts coming down (if slowly!) the problem is being consistent about it. I love pizza too much!

        I hear you about being busy – I like to make up either sweet potato falafels or some other type of baked falafel on the weekend that I can take for lunch along with a light salad + a few teaspoons of lentils on top (you could probably modify your pasta salad recipes to support something similar). I’ve been using chickpea flour a lot lately and find that it really helps with satiety – the blog powerhungry has a ton of great recipes that are veg dense using cp flour.

    4. Ciara Amberlie*

      Could you start keeping a food and exercise diary or use an app to track calories in and out? There may be some innocuous change in your diet or activity levels that could be causing weight gain, without you realising.

      Also… another vote for weights! One of the biggest causes of a slowing metabolism as we age is a loss of muscle mass, so doing some weight lifting will help to reverse that and hopefully get you back to where you want to be. Good luck!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Watch out for too many carbs and make sure you get in protein every day so you have energy. Make sure your bowels work every day. Organic apple juice NOT from concentrate can help if need be. I cut mine in half with water so it’s less sugar and the product lasts longer.

      We do experience a down turn around age 34. I read an article that said we start to exhibit the symptoms that will eventually kill us around 34. OH BOY! Well okay. With me it was not a surprise. But it was an opportunity to take nutrition and do other things to protect my heart. I know I have many more years and I am going to make sure they are active years.

      You say your tummy feels big. I am not nitpicking at your word choice, when I say, actually measure your waist and hips. Keep a journal if you like. Change this from feelings to facts. I know my body always felt “encumbered”. It took me on into adulthood to realize my body does not flex like it should. I can’t see you so I don’t know. You might benefit from doing stretches that help you build your stomach muscles. Or you may have a bit of a tummy and will lose it once you gain more body muscle everywhere. I am still disappointed that my back does not flex like I think it should and because of that I can feel like my stomach is getting bigger. Sometimes we get these feelings and it is actually something else (such as my back) that needs attention.

    6. SpellingBee*

      Well, your metabolism and body chemistry does change as you age, that’s just the way it is. I’m thirding (fourthing?) the suggestion of weight training. I love it and it’s helped me a lot with trimming down, and also making me stronger, which is pretty important as you get older.

      Personal experience with this issue: I’m turning 61 in a couple of months and started working out with a trainer about 5 years ago. I wish I had started earlier but you do what you can! Also, I found as I got older I couldn’t eat the same way that I had always been accustomed to – not necessarily what I ate, but how much I like sweets but can give them up fairly easily; my real downfall is simply eating more “real” food than I need to. You know, that extra helping of dinner that you help yourself to just because it tastes so good, not because you’re truly hungry for it. It’s good, healthy food, just more than you need. So what I did, in addition to working out regularly, was to make some small changes that I could sustain – no second helpings at dinner, no grazing on empty calorie snacks at work just because they were in the break room, things like that. It took about 18 months but gradually I got back to a weight that I was comfortable with and can keep myself at without stressing over it. Is it what I weighed at 20? No, but I feel good and am happy with the way I look.

      1. Jess*

        I’ve literally just started with a trainer to work on weights and I’m happily surprised so many people have recommended it!

        I think eating more ‘real’ food than I need is possibly key too – I had some disordered eating as a teenager and since then I’ve let myself eat as much of some favourites like Greek yoghurt, fruit, cheese, nuts as I’ve liked. That’s done a really good job of stopping me feeling deprived and keeping me full and my weight stable for the past 10 years. For me restricting food results in a binge after not too long, there’s got to be a middle ground like you’ve found though. I do seem to go in for mindless grazing quite a bit at work.

        1. SpellingBee*

          Yeah, I can’t do the total restriction thing either. If I want a cookie or some bread then I eat it, but I try to limit it to one cookie, or one piece of bread. Also key for me is to make sure that if I “spend the calories” on a cookie, for example, it’s an *excellent* cookie, not just a vending machine package of stale something. I found that as I went along it was easier to pass on the grocery store muffins left over from a morning meeting as not worth the calories, but if it was bagels from the artisanal bagel bakery in Capitol Hill (which are true, chewy, not overly bready bagels) I would be more likely to indulge.

        2. nep*

          Restricting almost always ends badly in this context.
          I like to think of crowding out instead of cutting out. You can eat well and be satiated. Eat a lot of fresh, real food and drink plenty of water. You’ll probably be surprised at how much difference it can make if you’re consistent. Consistency trumps everything.

        3. the gold digger*

          Unfortunately, Greek yoghurt, fruit, cheese, and nuts are very high in calories. Yes, they are also high in protein, but there are lower-calorie sources of protein, like eggs, fish, and lean poultry and meat.

      2. Weekend Warrior*

        Are you me? I’ve lost almost 25 lbs in the last two years by this exact approach. I focus on 3 delicious, nutritious and satisfying meals per day, no second helpings, very limited snacking if at all. No dieting, no suffering! It’s been great and I wish everyone the same food and body peace I feel. I’m 61 and thought the creeping weight gain couldn’t be reversed.

        I’ve recently discovered some similar approaches that some people might enjoy:
        The No S Diet – http://nosdiet.com
        10Principles – https://www.the10principles.com

        Lots of good info with both but 10Principles is my jam. GREAT advice for a great life.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I love the concept of the no-s diet. I’m really bad at putting it into practice, though.

    7. Traffic_Spiral*

      Welcome to no longer being a “young adult.” You’re gonna have to work twice as hard for half as much PLUS you gotta be more careful not to injure yourself cause you will not heal like you used to.

      I’m pretty exclusively yoga and weights now. The problem is the eating. I actually ate healthy as a broke student because our school had a nearby farmer’s market, great veggies, and and I didn’t have the time or money to get fancy. Brown rice, grilled chicken, and whatever plants were available. Now I can afford nice wine with my high end pastas, and it’s not doing my ass any favors.

    8. Jenice*

      I’m your age and am in the ( the slow) process of losing the extra weight. Which is so much harder than it was in my twenties.
      The only things that has worked for me, is that I have cut out sugar out of my diet. I don’t drink anything with added sugar, I avoid food with added sugar ( which can be hard). I will eat fruit at times.
      I also significantly cut out carbs. No pasta, no rice, no bread. It may sound extreme, but I feel much better for it. (It’s not as rigid as a keto diet).
      So I understand your struggle, it’s not easy. I think as we get older, we have to be much more aware of how much, and what we eat.

    9. Toonsesthecat*

      Last week I found out I have Hashimotos my thyroid readings have been normal, so it has gone undiagnosed for years. Next dr visit you may want to be tested for it. Usually they wait for a high thyroid test before testing for it.

      1. Whatsinaname*

        I second that. I was sick for five years with a myriad of weird symptoms and kept gaining weight even though my calorie consumption was low but my thyroid readings came back in the ‘normal’ range. It wasn’t until I finally got an appointment with an endocrinologist that my Hashimotos got diagnosed.

    10. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Before I hit my 30s I could pretty much just think about modifying my eating habits and drop a few pounds. That’s generally a benefit of a youthful metabolism and it does end for most people. As you get older you have to be more mindful more often. A couple easy changes are to stop eating when you’re satisfied, or about 80% full, and to eat more slowly. Another technique is to make sure the food you eat has staying power. Make sure each meal or snack contains sugars, carbohydrates, protein and fat so it will last until the next meal. Including all of these gives you balanced energy: as the energy from one winds down the next one is peaking so you don’t have spikes and crashes. And look in your diet for the unnecessary extras like buttering rice before you cover it in curry sauce. Also it can help to acknowledge why you’re eating. If you’re full but eating more because it’s so delicious or eating because you’re bored, that’s ok occasionally, but you’ll be more likely to see a pattern if you recognize you’re doing it.

    11. LilySparrow*

      Are you sleeping well and enough?

      I can do everything else right, but the scale will not budge (or will creep up) if I’m short on sleep – even 3-4 hours short over a week can be a problem.

    12. Triplestep*

      Another vote for tracking calories – I use myfittnesspal dot com.

      I may be in the minority, but I’m of the mind that “diet” is not a dirty word. I know that most people (and professionals) don’t suggest you do anything that you can’t maintain, and I agree. But sometimes it takes drastically changing your eating habits temporarily in order to lose the weight you’ve gained, and then go back to an “everything in moderation” frame of mind.

      I am dieting right now (I’m 55 and have struggled with my weight since before I was your age) and I’m surprised how easy it is to totally rule out food groups when you have a goal in mind and you know it’s just temporary. Yes, eliminating groups of food in large swaths – like sugar or wheat – is considered a crash diet or fad diet. But counting calories only got me so far. I’m now doing a low carb/moderate protein diet knowing I’ll be able to enjoy my favorite foods in moderation later. I have lost 30 pounds so far.

      And lastly, ANY change in eating habits to lose weight comes with the risk that you’ll gain the weight back (typically what people like me on diets hear from naysayers.) Yes, it’s pretty much a guarantee if you go back to your old habits you’ll regain. That’s true if you cut out sugar like I have or just switch from pasta salad for lunch to a green salad like you can do.

      Good luck!

    13. Cat Herder*

      Honey, every decade from now on it gets harder to maintain your weight and even harder to take weight off!

    14. Alicia Florrick*

      This was so me a while back, so certainly I’m replying here from a place of personal experience.

      You may consider checking full thyroid panel with T3 and T4 variants with a holistic or integrative medical professional. The conventional western metrics and thresholds for TSH sometimes aren’t the best and only measurements of thyroid function. There’s a ton of good advice in here that could be beneficial for all, thyroid disorders have so many overlapping symptoms in other health issues that are easy enough to explain away. Thyroid hormones affect nearly all body processes. May also consider adrenal stress and gut inflammation, which also are more on the holistic medicine radars.

      1. Julia*

        I’d probably also insist on testing antibodies and doing an ultrasound. Preferably with a doctor that comes recommended by people you know or thyroid patients online.

        1. Jess*

          That’s interesting- I had antibody tests a couple of years ago and I get TSH, T3 and T4 checked every 6 months – for a while my TSH was rising steadily and I was borderline hypothyroid, but an iron infusion for an unrelated issue popped it right back into the normal range. There’s Hashimotos in my family and I have a whole host of other autoimmune stuff, but for the past couple of years my TSH has been firmly where it should be. I managed to be diagnosed with coeliac disease despite a negative antibody test though, so I’m not sure how much store I should put by antibody tests for other issues.

          1. Julia*

            I’ve read that insufficient iron can hinder the conversion of thyroid hormones, and getting the iron up helps there, but I’m obviously not a doctor.

    15. Triple Anon*

      I would talk to your doctor about it again, or talk to a different doctor. Unexplained weight changes aren’t first world problems; they can be a sign that something is wrong. And yes, people’s metabolism can slow due to age or stress, but it’s not something to ignore.

      As for losing weight, I would start by eating more fruits and vegetables, preferrably raw. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables. That should help. And try to find ways to get more exercise.

    16. Kuododi*

      I’d really encourage you to have a consultation with an endocrinologist if you haven’t already. The endo who was monitoring me when I first had my thyroid crisis ( mystery weight gain, mass on RT side of thyroid, crazy awful levels.) he SD most internists, gyn, family MD etc don’t have the extra experience to know when thyroid levels are beginning to be off balance. He SD judging by the## I was steadily going off level probably for previous 2-3 years. All that to say….one thyroidectomy and alot of meds later… I am feeling more like a human being. Now my story is one of the more extreme experience…. please don’t read this and press any panic button. If you and your mds work out a good treatment plan and don’t need an endocrinologist… fantastic!!! If you do, that’s great as well! Blessings to you during this difficult time.

  7. Lcsa99*

    Sometimes it seems like all artists do these days is redo other people’s works. Fortunately some of them are actually good! What are some cover versions of songs that you think are actually better than the original? I think my favorites are:

    Respect- hard to believe Aretha Franklin’s version was not the original. But with all that sass, how could it not be better than Otis Redding’s original? And it’s funny, but listening to them both, it’s like Otis Redding is channeling a Ralph Kramden while Aretha would be totally channeling Alice.

    Tainted Love – originally by Gloria Jones, Soft Cell’s version just shows so much frustration and desperation, I think it really expresses the message the lyrics are trying to share.

    Mad World – originally by Tears For Fears, the version by Gary Jules and Michael Andrews does and incredible job of sharing the lost and lonely feeling of those lyrics

    And as a bonus:

    Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds – I may get reamed out for saying someone could do anything better than the Beatles’ original, but I think William Shatner’s version (which is more spoken word than singing) does an amazing job of expressing all the feelings someone on a drug trip might be going through. If you haven’t heard it, you must find it now!

    1. BRR*

      I will always love you – I love dolly’s version but Whitney’s version is iconic

      Hallelujah – Pick your favorite version. I think Jeff Buckley’s is the best

      1. bassclefchick*

        I’m probably the only person I’ve met that absolutely HATES Whitney’s version. There is no “E” sound in the word “I”! WAY too much ornamentation. It’s a simple song about saying goodbye and Whitney ruined it.

        As for Hallelujah, I think my favorite version is the Canadian Tenors.

        1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

          I also have mixed feelings about Whitney’s “I Will Always Love You,” for the same reasons, but her version of the US national anthem is still the gold standard for me. I generally think our national anthem is not a pretty song (again, going to end up on a watch list somewhere), but Whitney’s rendition… WOW.

          1. BRR*

            I think I like the versus more than the chorus. And sometimes I want the dolly version.

            I’m with you on the national anthem. A couple “covers” (to stick with the theme of this post) are good like Whitney and Gaga but for the most part ugh. Maybe it’s from being in band and playing it all the time.

    2. Villanelle*

      Wonderwall by Ryan Adams. Haunting which is not what you can call the original Oasis version! Some of his Taylor Swift covers are very good as well.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        Paul Anka did a big-band cover of Wonderwall. Talk about a Twilight Zone experience!

        1. Lcsa99*

          Paul Anka is such a delightful weirdo. That one reminds me of Richard Cheese’s version of Enter Sandman.

    3. KayEss*

      My favorite better-than-the-original cover is Cascada’s version of the Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts the Most.” Mopey country turned into europop/dance! Feels a bit like modern ABBA. (Speaking of ABBA… cannot wait for the Cher ABBA cover album this month!)

      I love covers in general, but there are a few songs that I’m a snobby purist about… like show me a cover of “The Sound of Silence” and I will show you THE DOOR because HOW DARE YOU. (Yes, even the Disturbed one. Fight me.)

    4. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

      I had no idea Aretha’s version of Respect was a cover and not the original. My mind is completely blown!

      These covers are not necessarily *better* than the original, but I love them because the creative liberty they take on the originals works so well:
      –“You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” by the Human League — It’s so desolate sounding compared to the original, almost eerie, but it works so well with the song’s lyrics.
      –“Message in a Bottle” by Machine Head — a really awesome heavy metal cover of the Police original.
      –“Satisfaction” by Devo — it’s just so out there.
      –“Across the Universe” by David Bowie — just heard this one for the first time and it was absolutely mind blowing.
      –Basically any cover by Type O Negative. They’re another metal band that’s covered everything from the Beatles to 70s yacht rock to “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

      I’m sure I’ll think of a lot more as the day goes on but these are the first ones that came to my mind!

      1. Lcsa99*

        I love heavy metal covers of songs. Like KMFDM’s version of Material Girl, but have to agree that Type O Negative is awesome. I particularly love their versions of Summer Beeeze and Daytripper

          1. Lcsa99*

            Just listened. That’s AWESOME. Doesn’t really sound like a Judas Priest song but it sounds nothing like the original.

      2. Waiting for the Sun*

        Librarian, along those lines, I like how Postmodern Jukebox reinterprets songs. Also Haysed Dixie’s tribute to AC/DC.

      3. TardyTardis*

        The Pointer Sisters’ version of “Fire”. Though I will have to admit that Robin Williams’ singing “Fire” in the voice of Elmer Fudd will not leave my brain, along with Lee Marvin’s “Wandering Star”.

      4. Sarah G*

        Patti Smith’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” at the Nobel Price ceremony is truly awe-inspiring. It took my breath away. The video is easily found online.

      1. Lcsa99*

        She also did a cover of Wooly Bully that was a lot of fun (though about even with the original). Basically, Joan Jett is awesome.

      2. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        I’m learning so much today. I knew many of Joan Jett’s songs are covers, but I never knew “I Love Rock and Roll” was a cover. Mind blown (again).

    5. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Obligatory mention of “The Sound of Silence” by Disturbed here. One of the very few songs where I prefer the cover to the original – even if the original was Simon & Garfunkel.

      1. LuJessMin*

        I LOVE Disturbed’s version! It’s so unexpected and grand.

        I think one of my favorite covers is “Hurt” by Johnny Cash. Even Trent Reznor has said it’s no longer his song, it’s Johnny’s.

        And I also love t.A.T.u’s version of “How Soon is Now”.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Apparently doing that song is also when the singer found out just how impressive his vocal range is.

        2. Lcsa99*

          I think the version of How Soon Is Now by the Psychedelic Furs (that they used for the Charmed theme song) was great.

    6. Waiting for the Sun*

      Another fan of Soft Cell’s version of “Tainted Love” here.
      Two Dylan songs:
      “I’ll Keep It With Mine” – Nico
      “All Along The Watchtower “ – Jimi Hendrix
      If you like Soft Cell, you might like Marc Almond and Jimmy Somerville’s version of “I Feel Love.” Not better than the original, but an intriguing take.

    7. GermanGirl*

      Demons, originally by Imagine Dragons but covered by Sam Tsui and Max Schneider. I hate the original but the cover is on my to ten favorite songs list.

      On the topic of Sound of Silence I’m a purist. I don’t like the cover by Disturbed, because it’s missing the parts with two voices.

      1. Handy Nickname*

        Anthem Lights did a cover of Demons a few years back and it is stunning (also not a fan of the original).

      1. LJay*

        I didn’t know that this was a cover until just now. After listening to the Roger Miller version I still much prefer the Janis Joplin version.

    8. Square Root Of Minus One*

      Oooh, new music to check out. Awesome :)

      Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah and Gary Jules’ Mad World are delights to me.
      But most of my favorite covers would be unknowns, found on Youtube, that have a take on a song I find interesting. A Daft Punk “Get Lucky” cover with just voice and harp comes to my mind.

      There is really something to having other takes on songs that you love. I write songs (well, mostly I ambition to, but life has gotten in the way and my pen hasn’t shed any ink in some time now) and I’ve been known to toy with the idea of covering songs by rearranging, changing this and that. Now, I need the right state of mind and the time, for my ideas ever to come to pass.

    9. Waiting for the Sun*

      Guess it would be cheating to mention The Doors’ covers or “Alabama Song, “Back Door Man, and “Who Do You Love,” because I’ve listened to them so much more than the originals.

      Thanks for starting this thread – love to talk about music.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      It’s amazing how many songs have been redone.

      There’s a redo I like but I don’t know who does it, maybe you folks can tell me.

      I call it The Stalker Song (I”ll be watching you) is mixed with rap (draws blank here) and changed it to “I’ll be missing you”. I was really like how that was done.

      1. bassclefchick*

        The original was Every Breath You Take by the Police and the cover was I’ll Be Missing You by Puff Daddy.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          It was on French and Saunders, rather then a chart release, but there is a baroque version of “I should be so lucky” with strings and harpsichord. And can I also give a mention to The Piano Guys superb “I want you Bach”?

          1. OyHiOh*

            I love The Piano Guys so much.

            Also, Richard Grayson, a classical improvisationist who performed such epics as March of the Valkyries in the style of a tango. It’s on YouTube. . .

    11. MsChanandlerBong*

      I like the Dixie Chicks’ version of “Landslide” better than the Stevie Nicks version. However, I will say that’s because I heard/got to know the Dixie Chicks’ version first. Once I know how to sing a song a certain way, it’s hard for me to adjust to another version (I love to sing). Same thing with “I Will Always Love You.” Dolly’s version is amazing, but I heard Whitney’s version first. Ditto “Smooth Criminal” done by Alien Ant Farm.

      1. ainomiaka*

        I do too on the dixie chicks. They actually do a few covers that I think are at least as good as the originals.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        For MANY years, before I got into Bowie, I thought Nirvana’s “Man Who Sold the World” was the original. I’m making it very obvious here that I was born in the 1980s, but… I went to the Bowie exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum this year, heard Bowie singing “Man Who Sold the World,” and was like… what on earth is this?!?

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Another is “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede (I had to go look the group up even but it’ll now be in my head for hours.)

    12. fposte*

      Oh, what a fun topic! I like the ones that really take the song out of its original musical context, so Kronos Quartet’s Purple Rain and Palast Orchester’s Oops, I Did It Again (really, most of Palast Orchester’s covers could be here) are up there. I also really love Nouvelle Vague’s covers (In a Manner of Speaking might be my favorite).

      I also find that slowing a song down and simplifying the orchestration or straight out going acoustic can make a dark-edged song more chilling, which I enjoy; examples are Rosie Thomas’s The One I Love and a cover of White Wedding by a band, Whip, I’ve never heard of anywhere but on my Pandora stream.

      If people know of other bands that specialize in really transformative covers I’d love to hear about them!

        1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

          A band named Bigwig does a punk version of the theme from Cheers. It’s amazing!

    13. Waiting for the Sun*

      Talking Heads’ version of “Take Me to the River.” I feel the singer’s angst more in their version while retaining respect for the original.

      Ike & Tina Turner ‘s “Proud Mary.”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        A big thumbs up for Ike and Tina for there version of “Proud Mary”, man, they put so much energy into that song. Now that was one song I never thought of as being made better, I love CCR.

    14. SRRPNW*

      Dolly Parton’s bluegrass version of Travelin’ Prayer by Billy Joel. And Sinead O’connor’s cover of Dagger through the Heart by Dolly Parton.

    15. Red Reader*

      David Bowie’s “Heroes” as covered by Apocalyptica with Till Lindeman (of Rammstein) singing.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        Holy cow. That was awesome, and… intense! I’m not sure that was supposed to be an angry song. Then again, pretty much everything in German sounds angry to me!

    16. Annie Moose*

      Nightwish has some great covers. I can’t listen to the original Symphony of Destruction (Megadeth) without feeling that it’s missing something (where “something” means “Tarja’s amazing voice”), and Over the Hills and Far Away (Gary Moore) is just an amazing song.

      I’m also very fond of their cover of Phantom of the Opera, but I don’t know if I’d say it’s better than the original–just also very, very good. Tarja always does great operatic vocals, of course, but I love Marco Hietala as the Phantom. His voice is so perfect.

      1. TardyTardis*

        Reel Big Fish’s remix of “Take on Me” by a-ha. I like their original music, but they need to shoot their lyricist and get a new one (sighs).

      2. Annie Moose*

        It just came on Spotify, so here’s another one: Dream Evil’s cover of My Number One (from 2005 Eurovision). A metal cover with a male singer gives the song a very different feel.

    17. OyHiOh*

      Pentatonix cover of Bohemian Rhapsody

      Maccabeats covers of Les Miserables, Brave, and Home. For good measure, throw in their parodies of Hamilton and Gangam Style because you only live once.

      Anything covered by Post Modern Jukebox

    18. Nervous Accountant*

      Ed Sheeran did a cover of Trap queen (ferry was) and “drunk in love” by Beyoncé… their versions are great but I cherish Ed’s versions.. lol.

    19. Anonymosity*

      You beat me to Mad World. I like the Gary Jules version so much better, though I love Tears for Fears. And the Soft Cell “Tainted Love.”

      Beck did a really good cover of the Korgis “Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime” and it was in the Eternal Sunshine of the Spottless Mind soundtrack. I had a 45 of the original song (yeah, I’m old; shut up LOL) and I like both of them, and I usually don’t like covers very much.

      Sinead O’Connor covering Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2U.”

    20. Chaordic One*

      I’m a big fan of the Carpenters and was surprised to learn that while Richard Carpenter wrote a few of their songs, most of them are cover versions. “Close to You” is a bit corny, but it was their version was an enormous improvement over the original that was first recorded by Dionne Warwick and which went no where. Some of the Carpenters’ songs are overproduced, the arrangements a bit cheesy, and they haven’t all aged well, but there’s always Karen Carpenter’s lovely voice. (I’m especially fond of “Rainy Days and Mondays.”)

    21. Cat Herder*

      Walk this way — Run DMC, Aerosmith original
      Somebody that I used to know — Walk off the earth, Gotye original
      In the pines — traditional song, but I’m not sure which version is scarier, Kurt Cobain or Lead Belly

    22. Woman of a Certain Age*

      I’m a big fan of the cover band, “Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox,” which features a rotating cast of lead singers, many of whom were the runners up on TV Talent shows. In the middle of a song tap dancers will suddenly appear, or music stands will get accidentally get knocked over, or the musicians will be making faces and odd gestures. Some of my favorite PMJ cover versions on YouTube are:

      Maps – originally done by Maroon 5 covered with lead singer Morgan James
      Boulevard of Broken Dreams – originally done by Green Day covered with lead singer Maiya Sykes
      Only One – originally done by Kenye West covered with lead singer Emily West
      Colors of the Wind – originally from the “Pocahontas” Disney movie soundtrack covered with lead singer Mario Jose
      Rude – originally done by Magic covered with lead singer Von Smith
      Stacy’s Mom – originally done by Fountains of Wayne covered with lead singer Casey Abrams
      Closer – originally done by The Killers covered with lead singer Kenton Chen
      Mr. Brightside – originally done by The Killers covered with lead singer Blake Lewis
      All the Small Things – originally done by Blink 182 covered with lead singer Puddles Pity Party

      I even went to one of their concerts all dressed up and had a great time. It was a hoot. (Sorry this post turned out longer than I intended.)

      1. OyHiOh*

        Their version of Gangsters Paradise is one of my favorites. It’s done in the style of a 1920s flapper tune, for those who don’t know PMJ and the tune and setting **work.** Surprising how timeless the song turns out to be.

    23. Cat Herder*

      Toxic, cover by the Chaplin Sisters. Britney Spears version is good but this cover gives me the chills!

    24. tra la la*

      I don’t think it’s necessarily *better* than the original (I like them both!) but I love Maxence Cyrin’s cover of “Where Is My Mind”.

    25. Marion Ravenwood*

      Two of my favourites:

      Arctic Monkeys’ version of Love Machine (originally by Girls Aloud)
      Dixie Chicks’ version of Daddy Lessons

    26. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I really hate cover versions that are just a band doing a song exactly the same way as the original, especially when the original is still very popular. Like the current Weezer version of Toto’s “Africa”, which sounds almost exactly the same.

      Some good ones, though:

      Bigod 20 “Like a Prayer”
      Sisters of Mercy “Jolene”
      The Cure “Foxy Lady”

    27. Villanelle*

      I like the mama’s and papa’s version equally as much but Amason’s cover of California Dreamin’ which I discovered from the limited tv series 10 Days in the Valley (possibly the best thing about the show!) is beautiful.

    28. Katie the Fed*

      Eva Cassidy’s version of Fields of Gold. Honestly, ALL of Eva Cassidy’s covers. Amazing voice. You won’t regret looking her up.

      I haaaaaate the Weezer cover of Africa.

    29. Le Sigh*

      Not better, just amazing in its own right — Neko Case’s cover of “Runnin’ Out of Fools.” Haunting and beautiful. I love her voice.

    30. Deus Cee*

      How has no one mentioned With a little help from my friends by Joe Cocker? I love that song in both its original form and his version, so completely different that it was actually worth doing the cover! (I hate covers which add absolutely nothing, or worse, detract from the original – Paloma Faith’s Make your own kind of music was terrible, and I’m not liking Cher’s ABBA cover at all).

  8. Scavenger hunt*

    I am taking part in a scavenger hunt next week. Does anyone have any tips about strategies? Is it better to divide the list among each of you or go in pairs? I’m the leader of a team (4 altogether). It’s run by an oitside company to fit our location so nobody knows any other details.

    1. Kate Daniels*

      Dividing is more efficient (and increases your chance of winning), but pairs is much more fun. So, I suppose it depends on if your team values the prize more or the experience more!

    2. acmx*

      Is this Big City/ scavenger hunt dot com? I just did it in my city.
      If so, it was kind of a pain to get it started (I wasn’t the leader) so if you can, read whatever email you get and check out the app ahead of time. Try to wander around. The app doesn’t really lead you anywhere (ours was billed as art scene) we had the impression it would least you to statues etc.

      Have fun!

    3. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’d say pairs. If it’s multi day or over a large area, it might be easier with multiple people. Plus if anything goes wrong you have someone to go get help if needed.

      Also I’d suggest a WhatsApp group for team members so you can message each other when you find things, ask for help on clues etc. Have fun and good luck!

  9. Loopy*

    My current obsession is really unique, interesting salads/ dressings. I mean traditional leafy salads (more so I don’t have to touch a pot/oven to cook a grain). If anyone has recs, throw them my way. For example, I had this Thai coconut curry salad and the dressing was both to die for AND something I would have never ever thought to put on a salad.

    Also, if anyone’s ever heard of Poke Brothers, yesterday I went and made a bowl with a salad base. Would have never combined seaweed salad, avocado, corn, edamame, etc. myself and never with a sweet soy dressing, but I LOVED IT. If anyone knows of them and has a rec for a sweet soy sauce similar that I can buy PLEASE tell me what it is. I want to try and do something similar at home. I also would love to know how long prepped seaweed salad lasts?

    Bouncing between cake baking obsession and salad obsession is probably one of my weirder experiences, haha.

    1. Square Root Of Minus One*

      I don’t know Poke Brothers (international reader), but a good sweet soy sauce I know of is made with treacle.
      About 1 volume to 4 volumes of soy sauce and 3 volumes of sugar IIRC, but it’s to be fine tuned to one’s taste. Boil all till the sugar is dissolved and let cool.

    2. BeenThere*

      May not be so unique, but I absolutely love a salad with a few shallots (thinly sliced and fried) on top. Adds a whole different taste to any salad… IMHO.

    3. CAA*

      If you can get your hands on a copy of “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” by Samin Nosrat, do! This cookbook has an excellent section on salads. In addition to a lot of recipes, there are these little charts that help you understand how the different ingredients work together. It completely changed how I make salads and they are so much better now. I originally borrowed this book from the library and liked it so much I ended up buying it.

    4. rogue axolotl*

      I really like this intense lemon-caper dressing: https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/lemon-caper-vinaigrette. You have to be okay with a very powerful lemon flavour, otherwise it won’t be for you. If you don’t want to bother supreming the lemons, you can just squeeze the juice and scrape out some of the pulp, although it’s not quite the same. Goes well with olives, artichoke hearts, red peppers, tomatoes.

  10. Bumble of nerves*

    The BFF thing on Bumble is a whole different kettle of fish to the dating thing. For one thing, youre obviously not going to be exclusive, but also, I have no idea how to navigate things afterwards.

    I just came from a brunch with two girls I’d met on BFF, but they knew each already, so it felt a little bit like I was trying to break into a group (a small one, but still). Now I’m not sure what the next step would be. I mean do you message an ask to hang out again? What if they didn’t like me? It was all friendly enough and the conversation was easy, but what if they were just being nice?

    Ugh, wish I wasn’t so socially awkward…

    1. Waiting for the Sun*

      Bumble BFF sounds like a setup for awkwardness, so I don’t think it’s just you. I’ve found compatible female friends through
      Meetup, Unitarian church, Spark People (healthy lifestyle site with local groups).
      Best wishes.

    2. Triplestep*

      I don’t know a lot about this, but brunch with two girls who already know each other sounds like a set up for awkwardness! Have you tried this thing one woman at a time? Or with two others, but they haven’t met yet?

      I just would not blame yourself for this being awkward – I’m not sure how it could not have been!

  11. Red Reader*

    Oh Snark the Wonderful! Recommendations for sous vide that can go directly from water box to freezer (with some cooling time) for time saving! I tend to go more for herby than spicy personally and chicken/fish/pork over beef, but the only real no-no is avocado. (Would you sous vide avocado anyway, or would it just get mushy and squash?)

    Many appreciations, and I can trade dessert recipes?

    1. Snark*

      Awriiiiight, let’s do this.

      What kinds of cuisines do you generally tend to gravitate towards? I don’t want to blast you with taco recipes if you prefer Mediterranean, for example.

      1. Red Reader*

        Tacos/Tex-mex, Mediterranean, Italian are all good. Husband likes Middle Eastern and specifically Turkish – he’s the foodie in our household. We’re kind of hit or miss on southeast Asian (have tried some Korean and Vietnamese, with varying levels of success) but willing to experiment. Housemates will mostly eat whatever I put in front of them :)

  12. This Sucks*

    I posted last weekend about discovering bed bugs. I’m happy to say that we’re back in our bedroom and are feeling a lot better about it. We sprayed, spread diatomaceous earth all over the bedroom, put the ClimbUps under the bed legs, got a total mattress encasement (luckily Sleep Number sells one made specifically for their beds and it wasn’t horribly expensive), put everything through the dryer on mega high heat (we tested the temp and our high heat cycle gets up to 145!), threw a bunch of clothing out that my husband had on the floor next to the bed, put on the pillow encasements (new pillows for the husband), and then treated ourselves to a very cushy new mattress pad just because. We’re pretty confident that it didn’t go beyond the bed and the clothing on the floor. We can’t find any evidence anywhere else that there are bugs–we’ve looked, re-looked and looked again. But we still didn’t tell a soul…

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A librarian friend told me they’ve been spotted hitchhiking on books…. at which point I converted to the church of Kindle. Cuckoo for KindlePuffs that’s me.
      A social worker friend got exposed through a client…happily he already had a habit of immediately undressing in the bathroom after work and showering, so his issue was limited to the clothes & one room. May your fight be equally as successful as his!

  13. Kate Daniels*

    The last book of my favorite series came out this week (see username) and I have been planning for ages to spend the long weekend relaxing and enjoying the book. It’s also supposed to thunderstorm all weekend, which is my favorite reading weather! But I’m not quite ready to open it up. Does anyone else have trouble picking up the last book in a series because you aren’t quite ready to end the story? Sometimes I think I enjoy the anticipation more than anything.

    1. Julianne (also a teacher)*

      I had a lot of trouble picking up the two most recent books in my favorite series, because I knew a major character was going to die in the first*, and that the other characters were going to spend the following book dealing with their grief and I wasn’t sure I was entirely prepared to handle it.

      (*The news of this major character’s death was actually revealed at the end of the previous book, so I knew for sure it was coming.)

    2. Red Reader*

      Not usually with books, but I’ve been putting off watching the series finale of Sense8 for similar reasons.

    3. Loves Libraries*

      I remember not wanting to finish the Millennium series by Steig Larson after he died. Fortunately it has been picked up by another author.

    4. only acting normal*

      It took me a year before I could bear to read the last Discworld novel after Terry Pratchett died, and the same for the Culture series when Iain M Banks died.

      1. Manatees are cool*

        I had a hard time reading The Shepherds Crown. You could definitely tell a few chapters in that the story was a goodbye from him. It was more somber in tone than his other discworld books.

    5. HannahS*

      OMG I just read the Innkeeper series this week! I’m about to start Kate Daniels. I completely relate. I’ve never actually seen the last episode of M*A*S*H, despite blowing through the series in my last year of high school.

      1. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

        I’m a HUGE Ilona Andrews fan! I have not yet read the last book – because it IS the last book! But they said that there will be other books (with different leads) and Kate & crew will show up, so yay!
        Innkeeper was my intro to the Andrew’s. Love Fridays!
        You might enjoy the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter, and Soulwood as well. So far there are only 3 Soulwood books, but there are 12 Jane books (I think there’s going to be 14) – and a bunch of shorts and novellas! Same world, some crossover.
        I started with Soulwood, but that is later in the timeline. I’m not quite sure when Jane meets Nell, but I just finished Jane book 6 and it hasn’t happened yet.
        I’m a bit wrapped up with the series right now, I had double major surgery a few weeks ago and I can’t do anything! I’m reading, a LOT!

        1. Kate Daniels*

          Thank you for the additional book recs! I also enjoy the Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series by Patricia Briggs. I picked them up because they were always recommended alongside Kate Daniels. I hope you are recovering from your surgery well and am glad that at least you’re getting in some extra reading time (even if you are going a bit stir crazy at this point!).

          1. Annie Moose*

            I love Patricia Briggs’ stuff! Have you read the Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn? They have a lot of similarities in style (I read them first, and someone suggested the Mercy Thompson series to me based on them). The protagonist is a werewolf who is also a radio DJ and ends up with her own supernatural radio show.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Just read one of her ‘Alpha & Omega’ books this weekend.
              I’ll throw Charles de Lint at you — try ‘Someplace To Be Flying’ as a start to see if you like it.
              For something by a new author with an off-beat sense of humor, try ‘The Queen’s Wings” (ebook) by Jamie K. Schmidt.

      2. Tau*

        I don’t know if you already know this, but Ilona Andrews has been posting an Innkeeper novella (featuring Maud, Helen and Arland) for free on her website. I check every Friday for updates.

        My personal UF series rec is the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. I love that series!

    6. Book Lover*

      I waited until I had a day to spend on it, and kept taking little breaks to slow it down. It was good, and I won’t give you spoilers, but (and I love that the authors wanted a happily ever after) sometimes the HEA may have gotten ahead of the story a bit. And a couple of the characters just weirdly were missing for the whole book or showed up and then not mentioned again. The last book of a series is always difficult, and in this case they will still be playing in the universe and even still with Kate in shorter arcs, so I think that made it harder also.

      I am starting the series over and looking forward to more innkeeper and diamond fire.

    7. Khlovia*

      I have still deliberately not read the last three or four Pratchett books. I hate Alzheimer’s so bad. That was not fair and not right and horrible and wrong.

    8. Manatees are cool*

      Well you never know if there is going to be a brand new series with the same characters. Apparently Louise Rennison was working on a new Georgia Nicholson book before her untimely death and Katherine Woodfine has brought out a brand new book featuring her old characters even though the series had been neatly wrapped up although the genre changed from mystery to spy novel. And the Harry Potter series has been carried on with Fantastic Beasts, Pottermore and Cursed Child. I remember feeling in a state of shock when Deathly Hallows part 2 came out even though I had waited years for it.

    9. Engineering consultant*

      Hehe I *was* wondering about your username for a couple weeks since I noticed it, but now I have confirmation. :)

      I was a little apprehensive in starting to read Magic Triumphs, but then I sped through it because I really wanted to see how they wrapped things up. I think it also helps that I know they still have two books to go in the Iron Covenant series, so we’re not quite done with the KD universe yet.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Definitely. I have one novella left by a favorite writer who died too young, and I’ve held off reading it for years.
      (‘The Nutcracker Coup’ by Janet Kagan.)

  14. Washi*

    I’ve seen this come up in other threads a little bit – do you have friends you consider family? It seems like some people fall very much on the “my friends are family to me” side and some find that to be sort of an impossible notion.

    For me, although my friendships are really important to me, I just have one friend I would consider family. We’ve known each other since we were 10, hang out with each other’s families, and I honestly forget we’re not related sometimes. My best friend though actually feels more like a life partner connection rather than family. I have a romantic life partner (my husband) and a platonic partner (bestie) but I don’t get the same cousin vibe from her.

    1. Red Reader*

      I do. The friends that I live with, I regard as siblings. We know each other’s families, they’ve been on vacation with me and mine, and generally around my house, when someone refers to “a family thing” they’re talking about the four of us, not their bio family. I’ve lived with one of them for six years and the other for three, and we have all (including my husband, who doesn’t do the “friends as family” thing himself) known each other for at least eight years, longer in some combinations.

      1. Red Reader*

        I do also have a biological brother and sister, but I’m not very close with either of them and don’t see them more than once or twice a year.

    2. Jack Be Nimble*

      I’ve got a lot of friends I consider family! I think this is really, really common among queer folx, as a lot of us (unfortunately) still experience varying degrees of rejection/alienation from our families of origin.

    3. HannahS*

      Yeah. I have one friend in particular, where I just had the “Is she a friend or is she family?” talk with myself, because her behaviour towards me has been not-great for a long time (related to her mental illness, but it still sucks to be on the receiving end) and I decided that I love her enough to see her as family. To me, that means I don’t break the relationship unless it’s abusive. She and I may drift together and apart over the course of our lives, but she’s still in my life, almost no matter what. To me that’s the distinction. Whereas a friend, if the relationship is more bad than good, I’ll let it go and not feel any need to pick it up later and see if the parts are salvageable.

      1. Washi*

        I think this is most similar to me – if I say someone is like family, I think that means that our relationship doesn’t depend on how I feel about them at any given time, it just is. Like if my brother was awful, I could stop speaking to him for a while, but he would still be my brother. And if my cousin-friend and I stopped speaking, she would never really stop being a part of my life, even if there’s not a good title for what she is to me.

        Whereas with both my husband and my best friend, I’m closer to them than anyone in the world, but how I feel about them does matter for our relationship, and it feels like a totally different category of thing because it could end, theoretically (which would be devastating.)

    4. Drama Llama*

      I have close friends I love but they are not the same as family.

      Family bonds to me are unique. If my family needed it, I would give them my home, kidney, whatever, without any hesitation. I love them unconditionally and I know they love me unconditionally.

      Friends are different. There are boundaries and more narrowly defined limits on what I would do for and accept from them.

    5. Lissa*

      I’m not really close to my family, so… I don’t know, it’s a confusing concept to me. There are friends I’m much closer to than I am to say, my brother (and I like my brother!) and so I can’t say I consider them family because to me that word isn’t coded to be about how *close* the friendship is, but more about blood ties or having grown up with them.

      I don’t have any friendships that have lasted since childhood, so I imagine if I did I might feel more family-ish towards them.

      1. Nines*

        I think I identify most with this. I’ve always been a little confused or felt like an outsider when people said that about their friends. And not because I’m not close my friends, but that saying they are family doesn’t mean a whole lot to me…
        However, I suppose I have a tendency to be fiercely loyal to my family and close friends. So maybe if I used that as my definition of what family is, it would make more sense to me.

        1. Gaia*

          The loyal thing makes sense. I struggle with this because my family isn’t particularly close. And I am incredibly close with my best friend. But if I view it from a “who do I defend and maintain loyalty to at all junctions” angle, my family and best friend are the only ones that qualify.

    6. Ender*

      I don’t. I think it might be because I have such a huge family though. I can see why someone who doesn’t have a big family would consider friends to the family.

      When I was a teenager I had one friend who was like a sister to me but we had a big fight and cut each other out of our lives totally – which isn’t really an option with actual sisters. So I think that contributes to my believe that they aren’t the same thing.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Actually, sometimes close family members have to be totally cut out of your life. I hope it’s rare, but there are truly toxic people who must be gone for your safety or mental health. The quality of a relationship is based on people’s character and actions, not how you know them (family or friend).
        I’m hoping you all have good people in your lives.

        1. Ender*

          Well when you’re a teenager sharing a room with your sister it’s pretty difficult to cut her out of your life entirely! But definitely possible with a friend.

    7. TardyTardis*

      There are Good Friends and then there are Real Friends–the saying goes, ‘good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies’. Some friends are friends for decades, and though I don’t think they’d help me move a body–though I expect it would depend on whose it was–they are definitely friends through ‘sick and sin’ in re LACE by Shirley Conran. Yes, that book was waayyy over the top, but it nailed it about women’s friendships.

    8. anon here*

      The friends as family thing can set up conflict. My family raised me with lots of boundaries (don’t invite friends to religious services & family events) and I have a close friend whose family was very different (invite friends to religious services, family events, etc). It was pretty awkward because her family was always like, “Come to cousin Sally’s wedding!” and my family was like, “No, people who aren’t relatives by blood or marriage are not invited to this Easter lunch.”

    9. The New Wanderer*

      I do have (or have had) friends that I thought of kind of like sisters, but not because we were particularly close. More because we could be out of touch for a year or more, but then get back in touch and not feel distant. I could never not care about them. I have no idea if they feel the same though, it’s just kind of how I frame it in my head.

      For context, I have one brother that I’m not close with, that’s just not our relationship, but we get along when we are together and care about each other even if it’s months between connecting. Very small and distant extended family on both sides, through my entire life I saw my aunts/uncles every few years and barely know my own cousins. Side effect of being in a military family and moving far away.

    10. Gaia*

      I had a friend I considered family. It made the end of of our friendship so much harder.

      My best friend, I wouldn’t call her family. She is her own category. Life partner is probably pretty close to what I would call it if I put words to it. But really, she’s just my person.

    11. LAMM*

      Yup. When I think of what I consider my “core family” and only a few on the list who are blood related to me.

      I’d list my sisters (technically half-sisters), brother, aunt (dad’s sister-in-law. My uncle passed or he’d be on this list too), her sister and family (husband and kids), and two friends (one who I’ve known since elementary school, the other high school). These are my people, my ride or dies. These are the ones I’d want by my side if shit hit the fan. And I’d be right there for them.

      My parents I’d put in the scope of a typical aunt/uncle. You see and talk to them maybe a dozen of times a year, but they only know the superficial you. I have a whole slew of “aunts/uncle’s/cousins” who are family friends who fall into this category as well. My grandparents and actual aunts and uncles, I’d put one step out from that. I’d be hard pressed to recognize my cousins walking down the street.

      But I also grew up with parents who (perhaps inadvertently) taught me that blood is not thicker than water and you choose your “family” by choosing those who are closest to you.

    12. ainomiaka*

      I absolutely do think that some friends are truer family than blood, but that’s partly because of strained blood relationships making it impossible to be myself.

    13. Triple Anon*

      I feel that way about friends who I go way back with. I come from a troubled family and so do a lot of my friends. And we’re part of a pretty small community, so we’re kind of like a family. It is a dysfunctional family, though. I’ve been a little distant from everyone lately. But when we see each other, it’s more of a family type of thing than a friend thing.

    14. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Definitely. My surviving family of origin is awful and were always varying degrees of manipulative and abusive when I was growing up. I found friends who became my chosen family, along with their families, instead. While I’m sad about the loss of my nuclear family, I have two entire surrogate families who are far kinder and generous of spirit to me than my blood family ever were, and I also have friends made in the last decade or so with whom we have shared so much love and deep pain it’s inconceivable not to think of them as family. Our bonds were forged by being lifelines for each other and that’s a thing my family of origin has never done for me. At least not in the last 30 years. Family isn’t just blood. Family is trust and loyalty and choosing to be better people for and with them. That defines a subset of people who aren’t genetically tied to me at all.

  15. A Sensitive Question*

    So, I’m a writer, and I have a very sensitive, possibly triggering question regarding bigotry. Feel free to delete if inappropriate.

    As a woman, I am no stranger to sexism, but all in all it’s usually pretty mild (“you’d be prettier if you smiled more”) and said by people who usually back off after an angry glare (they think my resting face looks angry, but hoo boy they haven’t seen my actual angry face). But for a writing thing, I’m curious as to other, worse kinds of things people have said/done to you for whatever reason – be it your religion, lifestyle, sexuality, gender identity (whether or not that matches whatever biological parts you ended up with in nature’s coin toss), disabilities…Because I need to write some seriously bigoted people and honestly I think whatever I can come up with is small fry compared to some of the stuff people hear.
    So, if you wish, feel free to share these experiences (be they insults or actions) here.

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      I think you should go to a more specialized board for that. Find an online community that’s only the group in question, and spend a lot of time really researching and understanding it. Otherwise, it’s gonna come across as very hamfisted in your book.

      1. neverjaunty*

        A good place to ask would be the boards at NaNoWriMo – there’s an entire forum devoted to writer questions like these.

        1. A Sensitive Question*

          Thanks, I had no idea NaNoWriMo had these boards even. I’ve never participated, don’t care much for the concept.

      2. LCL*

        Reddit would be great for this sort of thing. Of course everything would be unverified and unsourced, but that’s fine for a work of fiction.

      3. A Sensitive Question*

        I’m looking into those as well, but I’m not writing about a real group of people (mutants), so it’s more to get a general idea about the kind of shit people say rather than anything specific.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Maybe youtube some Shit White/Straight People Say videos. Remember, a lot of prejudice doesn’t have to be over-the-top. Done subtly by the in-power group, it can be incredibly effective.

        2. Kuododi*

          Well….among other things I am an ordained Protestant Clergywoman. (DH is ordained as well, he happens to be a male type person;). Come to think of it I was ordained for about a year before I asked DH on our first date. But I digress….

          I have a distant cousin by marriage who I see every 2 or 3 years in passing at the obligatory family functions. He’s what’s known in my world as a “bivocational” minister. (Full time secular job…. preaching on the side for peanuts.). This guy has no theological background or training. He makes a point of telling me or passing word to me through family that women preaching, teaching or acting in a position of authority over men is a sin against God and that I will one day reap the consequences.

          He’s actually one of the tame ones I’ve delt with over the years. Fortunately the good ones far over populated my little corners of the world and I only had to deal with an occasional donkey. Hope that helps!!!

    2. Waiting for the Sun*

      I’ll just say that hair seems to be a bigotry touch point. I’m white and had bushy, curly hair as a teenager. Was once referred to with a very not-nice racial slur because of it. Insert eye roll. Yeah, I purposely chose to not have hair like Farrah effing Fawcett. Cannot imagine what POC go through on the hair issue.

      1. A Sensitive Question*

        Yeah, I’ve noticed hair is a thing for a lot of people. When I was digging around RBN I came across a lot of people who had their parents hating on their hair or insisting they cut it a certain way.

    3. KayEss*

      I also consider myself fortunate that I haven’t ever been subjected to violence or even really overt, hostile sexism or bigotry, but I do have one obnoxious experience:

      I’d just had dinner in a pub with some friends and it was quite late. I did the “can I walk alone to my car” calculus that all women have to do, and decided that it was reasonably safe to do so–it was late, but I was only walking a bit more than a block down the well-lit main street of a busy college town, other late-night businesses on the street were still open and there were a fair number of people out walking. (Fun fact: at the time, I was also a trained martial artist.) Toward the end of the block, I saw a group of three young men–local students, most likely–walking in the opposite direction. As we got closer, rather than all three of them moving to one side of the sidewalk to pass, they split so I’d have to go between them. Rude, yeah? Also made me a bit nervous, but I was almost to my car so I pressed on. Well, as I passed, one of them fake-lunged at me. Like literally pretended to attack me, for no other reason to scare me and make me jump. I startled and gasped, because UH YEAH THAT SCARED THE PISS OUT OF ME YOU JERK, and they laughed and kept walking. I wanted so badly to yell at them, to unleash absolute verbal hell on these upstart goons who dared to screw with me–but the likelihood that a guy who’d fake-attack a woman in the dark to look big in front of his friends would for-real attack a woman in the dark if his ego was challenged… yeah, it’s high. I kept going the rest of the way to my car, got in and locked the doors, and burst into tears. Couldn’t stop shaking for most of the drive home.

      I’m sure if you asked any one of those assholes, they’d never admit to considering women to be lesser–and they’d be offended that you asked! because they’re nice guys! attending an elite liberal university!–but they still decided that night that it would be great fun to put a woman in her place by making sure she was afraid to walk down the street.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        And if someone did that to their mother/sister/aunt/girlfriend they would be outraged. I fail to understand why they do not see that every woman is at least one of these relationships to someone else.

        Very sorry this happened to you. I would cry too.

        1. Perse's Mom*

          Their reaction to the women in their lives getting this treatment is very telling. Sadly, plenty of them would roll their eyes at how dramatic we’re being (by mentioning how terrifying this is) because ‘geez, it was just a joke, they didn’t DO anything to you.’

        2. Lehigh*

          Would they? Maybe some…others wouldn’t get why the mother/sister/aunt/girlfriend couldn’t “take a joke” either.

          And then they wonder why we “hate men.”

        3. anon here*

          No they wouldn’t. I was harassed by some guys in a car following me on my bike at 11 pm alone on a dark street, saying things like, “Aren’t you afraid to be out here alone?” I was very shaken and in tears told my husband about it on arriving home. He was like, “They just wanted you to be safe, honey!” The man is book-smart but totally f*(&ing clueless about how the world works for women, and because he’s pretty invested in the “good guy” trope he just fell over himself making up ludicrous reasons for why two guys saying, “aren’t you afraid? don’t you think about what could happen to you alone?” out a car window, driving slowly next to me for two blocks and then laughing as they finally sped away, was a caring act of citizenship. I still don’t think he gets it and I just don’t know how to explain.

          1. Observer*

            Did you ask if HE would do that? I’m betting that you would get some version of “of course not”. Ask hum why not.

      2. LilySparrow*

        Someday one of these jerks is going to try that with someone who’s trained, and wind up on the ground.

        I am not in favor of violence, but I think the reality on the ground is that boys stop doing this to other boys because they don’t want to get punched.

        1. LilySparrow*

          Sorry, I missed the line about your training. You have to make the most prudent choice for yourself at the time.

          But I do think if society accepted/encouraged little girls roughhousing and like we do boys, it would be healthier all the way around.

          1. KayEss*

            When I got home and told my partner what had happened, his response was, “And how badly did you hurt them?”

            Well, maybe if I had reacted instinctively to the scare with violence it would have been different, but the reality was I had to actively make the decision to escalate or not over what I knew at that point was essentially ego. What if his two friends joined in? What if one of them had a knife? Was the risk of winding up a sad newspaper headline worth the satisfaction of teaching some stupid kids a lesson? I was trained, yes, but I had never been in a real-life fight… did I want this to be the one?

            That was part of what made the situation so frustrating and disempowering, the fact that the balance of the situation meant I had to give up my desire to stand up for myself in order to keep myself safe–my tears after the fact were more out of humiliation and anger than fear. I felt like I had betrayed both myself and my training. To have my partner then also react as if I had somehow made the wrong choice was gutting all over again. Intellectually, I understand why he said what he did–because he didn’t know any better way to respond, because of the way men are socialized, because he felt guilty and powerless himself for not having been there to help me–but it was still incredibly painful to hear.

        2. Observer*

          One day they are going to do this to someone who is trained and has a hair trigger. At least I hope that’s an accurate description of their next victim.

          1. Observer*

            By the way, I don’t mean that I think you handled things in a poor way. I think that making a decision under these circumstances is by itself a real accomplishment. And, I don’t think that hair triggers are a really good thing. But, every so often, a not-so-good trait can lead to a good outcome. And if a jerk like that gets clobbered, no one outside their friend circle is going to shed any tears.

            But, it must have been really frustrating to have to make the decision you did. I can see why you cried from rage and humiliation.

          2. Triple Anon*

            Safety first, and that means whatever works. But I’ve found that the least violent effective response is the best. If you can get away without having to use violence, do that. If you have to use violence, don’t cause any more harm than is necessary. This is partly because, unfortunately, the person could get a good lawyer and claim that you were the aggressor. You don’t want to leave any room for doubt about their guilt and your innocence. I say that as someone who has had to fight people off. 90% of the time, if you inflict any kind of injury, they’ll try to use it against you. The ideal response is to scare or distract them and flee to safety.

      3. Wishing You Well*

        Ah, if only you had your pepper spray in your hand and sprayed them…accidentally, of course!

    4. Sapphire*

      This has happened many times when I tell people my name (I’m trans and nonbinary):

      “No way! That’s not your real name? What’s your real name?”
      Or if I’m checking out at a store, a cashier will demand to see my ID because they don’t believe the name on my credit card is actually my name.

    5. CatAnon*

      I’m a large woman. In my former job at a non-profit, the facility was open to the public. As I was walking from the staff section at the back of the building through the public section at the front, a couple of dudebros thought it was the height of hilarity to walk behind me and make thundering noises in time with my steps.

    6. GermanGirl*

      Yeah, it’s more the little things but here is a collection for you, mostly from the place we don’t talk about on weekends:

      Me and my new male colleague on our way to an important meeting, where the other side is also all men. I: “Let’s go through our talking points for solution X real quick. I really want to get across how it’s better than Y.” He: “Oh, just use your womanly charme.” I was speechless for a moment, then started to walk him through my thoughts on X anyway. I wish I’d told him that that was an inappropriate comment, because unfortunately I discovered later that my reaction wasn’t enough to tip him of.

      A group of men at the desk next to mine, their meeting is drifting from professional matters to weekend plans. One of them stops himself mid sentence and says: “Oh, I can’t tell that joke right now, GermanGirl is in earshot.” I: “So you tell misogynistic jokes when there are no women around? Really?!” He (totally oblivious to the problem): “Yes.”

      And a private one: We played a game where it so happened that at one point in a magic maze trap the mixed gender group got hit with a gender switch curse and it happened that only the girl and the guy playing female characters made their saves, and the two guys playing male characters suddenly found themselves with female characters instead (nothing else changed). I didn’t think anybody would have a problem with that, since they took guy playing a female character in stride and the other guys also had previously played female characters, but one of the guys started out with “Oh gosh, now we’re an all female group, that can’t lead to anything productive.” And he proceeded to comment every time something went wrong (which is somewhat the point of playing this game) that it was because we didn’t have any males in the group. I dramatically rolled my eyes the first time but he didn’t get the hint so after the third or fourth remark I told him to cut those remarks out. He got defensive and said it was just a joke, and I told him to cut it anyway, at which point the other players finally opened their mouths to agree with me. We haven’t had any problems like that before or after that evening, but that was truly bizarre to me.

      1. SexismSucks*

        I honestly don’t believe people like that aren’t on some level sexist as hell, because the idea of “a group of women can’t be productive” is just so obviously false to me I don’t even get how it’s funny

    7. LilySparrow*

      This was non-verbal, but a co-worker told me about an incident that really upset her. She was the junior professional in the room, being introduced to clients. She is black and the clients were a wealthy white father and his adult son.

      They all shook hands, and the son immediately wiped his palm down the side of his trouser leg to “clean” off her touch.

      Neither of them looked at or addressed her for the rest of the meeting. Her supervisor appeared not to notice, and certainly didn’t say anything or stick up for her in any way.

      I was shocked that anyone would try – much less get away with — something so overt in a professional setting. I had a lot to learn.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        This is bizarre behavior and she could have asked,”Oh, did I have something on my hand?” in a casual, neutral tone. The adult son could have been on the autism scale or germ-phobic. Ignoring her could result if the supervisor did all the talking and the clients assumed she was there to simply observe. Still…
        Ideally, your co-worker would have had a conversation with her supervisor about what happened and how to address it in the future. That conversation would let your co-worker know what kind of client she was dealing with and/or just what kind of company she’s working for. Even though time has passed, she could still say,”Y’know, I’ve been thinking about this and need your insight on what happened” to her supervisor.
        If it was racism, it’s horrifying.

        1. Thursday Next*

          Definitely agree that would be horrifying. I know sometimes comments here leap quickly to extreme explanations like food scarcity for ordinary if annoying behaviors, like grabbing multiple helpings, but this guy’s guy’s behavior wasn’t really ordinary.

          Wiping a hand is so…out there, in terms of responses, that I can’t help but believe it’s some kind of OCD or sensory issue, or a tic born out of having sweaty hands.
          (I did recently binge watch Monk, so that could be informing my perspective.)

          1. Girl friday*

            Yes, I have sweaty hands too, and can relate. But even so, to wipe them off in the moment is unfortunate. Let’s hope that’s the reason. Taking a moment to wipe off hands first is okay!

          2. Someone Else*

            FWIW, I have severe OCD and go to great lengths to ensure (to the best of my knowledge) that colleagues and clients do not see me purelling after they touch me.

          3. Femme D'Afrique*

            “..but this guy’s guy’s behavior wasn’t really ordinary.”

            Oh, but it is. I lived in the United States for over 15 years (big city in the NE) and this EXACT SCENARIO happened to me more often that I can count. Unless I came across numerous white people with OCD, sensory issues or tics borne out of having sweaty hands, I’m quite comfortable calling it for what it is: racism.

            Also, this is one of the reasons why recipients of racism don’t bother pointing out these small acts of hostility. Too often they get bombarded with all these “possible explanations” that seek to exonerate the perpetrator (and society?). Getting into arguments about “IF” it was racism gets exhausting.

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              Yup. I’ve started keeping an eye out for this kind of thing and it’s amazing how often people jump in with the possible alternative explanations. Especially kind people with good intentions. I’ve done it a lot myself. I am actively trying not to now.

            2. Thursday Next*

              I wasn’t there, and I’ve never experienced that myself, so I was trying to think of any plausible alternative. I did write that it would be horrifying if true.

              LilySparrow was conveying the story, not the one who experienced it. I wouldn’t have responded with that kind of speculation if someone were saying, “this is my experience.”

              I think actually we should hear more about these kinds of experiences. It’s important for POCs to share our experiences of racism with each other, bc we do have different experiences and they don’t always replicate each other’s.

              1. Sapphire*

                But people won’t tell you about these experiences if you try to explain them away as not-racism when it so clearly was. The “if” in your statement still means you doubt the veracity of someone’s experience.

                Trust me, marginalized people know full well when someone is discriminatory towards them.

                1. Thursday Next*

                  I would never explain anything away to anyone telling me directly about their experience.

                  My point was that LilySparrow was reporting something that wasn’t their personal experience. It’s the difference between a friend telling me that something happened to a mutual friend, and a friend telling me about something that happened to her. I accept things people tell me about themselves, because they are the authority on their own experience. But someone reporting something about someone else is not the authority on that experience.

        2. LilySparrow*

          We are in the Deep South. She knows exactly what kind of client she was dealing with, and precisely what kind of company she was working for. Best case scenario, the supervisor was oblivious. I would have been.

          It was not the first or the last time something like that has happened to her, just the most unexpected, given the context. The “unclean” reaction is a known thing.

          I’m going to assume that 1) My co-worker is smart enough to tell the difference between a coded insult and some kind of involuntary neurodivergent behavior;

          2) She doesn’t need me to whitesplain what the poor misunderstood rich white man really meant; and

          3) It is nothing like my place to tell her or any person of color the “ideal way” to navigate racism at work.

    8. Nobody Special*

      I was counter demonstrating an anti gay group and wearing a pink triangle… one of the anti group got up in my face and called me a filthy dyke. It was kind of scary … there was a lot of violence seething under the surface of the words…but reinforced my decision to be a supporter. Helped me get a sense of what it is to walk in a world where I’d be hated simply for existing.

    9. Julia*

      Micro-aggressions. Men talking you, trying to explain things you know, not taking your authority/opinion/rightful feelings into account, calling you “emotional”, “bitchy” or “on your period”, penalizing you for behavior men would get away with etc.
      On a bigger scale, I’m looking for a new place of wrong-thread-topic, and I can see the pause in some interviewer’s face when they find out I’m married (my last name doesn’t match my ethnicity, so this comes up a lot), because married and around 30 means “bad for business” (babies), or recruiters offering me typically female and underpaid jobs like nursery teacher or secretary for almost no money, whereas my husband would never get offers like that. Not being considered for promotions. Being considered the designated coffee-brewer and note-taker.
      Catcalling. Comments on your looks, weight, intelligence, character, sexuality etc.
      Groping. (Did you see that video of Ariana Grande from the funeral?)
      Being scared. I had to explain to my husband that I was uncomfortable meeting a recruiter alone because he set off some yellow flags for me and has his office in an apartment building away from the public eye, and my husband didn’t get what I was scared of.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Yup. “Men worry women will laugh at them; women worry men will kill them.” The gender differences in life experiences is staggering.

    10. pcake*

      Years ago I went out dancing with a friend of mine and his new BF. My friend had to get up early and his BF wanted to dance (we were at Mickey’s in West Hollywood – I’m a female, btw), so I said I’d run BF home after bar close. We were walking to my car, which I had parked a few blocks away on a side street. As we turned on the side street on foot, some men came up slowly behind us, two with baseball bats, calling us gay slurs and saying they were going to kill us! BF was drunk, but I managed to get him to my car, locked the doors and took off just as they started hitting my car. Man, I didn’t stop shaking for like a day!

    11. Tau*

      I don’t think it’s serious bigotry in the way you’re thinking, but maybe you’ll appreciate the alternate perspective:

      I’ve had a speech disorder (stuttering) since the age of five which is often very obvious. I… haven’t actually experienced hate or harrassment for it. You do hear stories sometimes, e.g. recently there was one post about a Starbucks barista who mimicked the stutter when writing the name of a customer who’d stuttered that went viral. The thing is that, y’know, we are generally taught that mocking someone with a disability makes you a Terrible Person sometime around kindergarten, so not only are these people rare – at least once you hit adulthood, I hear kids being nasty is much more common but was lucky enough not to have any issues myself as a child – but they usually get one hell of a pushback from their surroundings. (The barista in that story was fired, IIRC.)

      Far more common is, I think, that people have no frame of reference for it and often an unconscious distaste for disability. When confronted with someone who stutters, they have no clue what to do and panic. This can lead to… unfortunate reactions. Two that particularly stick in my mind:

      – time I asked a woman on the street if she knew what time it was and when I started stuttering she just turned around and walked away
      – time I got stuck introducing myself and the person asked me if I’d forgotten my name. (This one sounds worse than it is because I responded with “uh… I have a speech disorder?” and he was horrified and basically fell over himself trying to apologise.)

      (My worst experiences actually came during speech therapy, because that taught us an extremely unnatural-sounding sing-song-y speech that wasn’t, however, clearly identifiable as a speech disorder in the same way stuttering is. I had one person actually yell at me on the phone about some language nitpick, and a guy in my group had someone start singing at him and then hang up.)

      I’m pretty sure this is not what you’re looking for, but I wanted to bring this up because I think it can be easy to assume all -isms function in basically the same way and they don’t, necessarily. I worry about getting hate for my sexual orientation. I’ve lived my whole life in super liberal areas by US standards where outright blatant homophobia is extremely uncommon, but still I mentally brace myself whenever I come out to someone or take out my laptop with its “queer women code” sticker. I don’t worry about getting hate for my disabilities in the same way. I don’t even worry about the really awkward foot-in-mouth flailing, so much. I worry about stereotypes, instead.

      The worst thing you can say to me re: stuttering isn’t mocking my speech, it’s something like “oh, I know what that’s like, I stutter sometimes too!” Because I can shut the first one down, hard, in a way that will leave all bystanders on my side; the second is much harder to contradict and might mean you view everything I do and say through a lens of “aw, it’s so sad that Tau is so anxious and shy that they stutter all the time” or “I really don’t know why they haven’t gone to speech therapy to have that dealt with yet, it’s really inconsiderate of the rest of us” or “huh, I guess they must have some intellectual problems, I’ll need to keep things simple and not expect too much from them” or something else totally wrongheaded. (Autism, my other disability, is even worse on this front and I am not generally out about it – but still, I don’t worry about people actively hating autistic people as a group, I worry about them believing in some of the more horrible stereotypes. There’s a difference there.)

      1. A Sensitive Question*

        You’re right, I do appreciate that alternate perspective. Especially the worrying about people believing stereotypes – I’d actually never thought of it that way.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        When I was 14 and babysitting, I answered the house phone. It was a man who sounded drunk. I tried to understand him, told him the parents weren’t available and hung up. Days later, the parents explained the man was a friend and had a neurological disorder. (not drunk) I felt like a worthless toad!

        So, even though I am very observant with people, it is near-impossible for me to “get” unusual behavior at first contact. I try to think of at least 2 possible explanations to avoid being able-ist. My point: a lot of us are doing their best to interact appropriately, but even the best-intentioned of us can make horrible mistakes. I hope we all continue to improve as time goes on.

        1. Tau*

          Yeah, it may not have come through but I do have full sympathy that it can be hard to know how to react, and I’m sure I wouldn’t always react ideally to someone with another disability! I definitely try to remember that although for me stuttering is a thing that’s always loomed large in my life, a lot of people will not really have had to deal with it or know much about it.

          Indeed, these days I try to “guide” people’s reactions when I can, via introducing myself with a little spiel a la “by the way, I have a speech disorder, it’s usually pretty mild but acts up sometimes, please let me know if you have trouble understanding me and I’ll repeat myself or write it down.” People tend to react really well to that and I think part of it is that I’m basically going “hey, I’m aware you may not know how to deal with this, so I’m letting you know what’s happening and how I’d like you to act.” The main problems occur when that’s not an option… or when someone does the “oh, I know what that’s like!” thing. :/

      3. Triple Anon*

        I think ableism is especially complex because there are so many different types of disabilities and people react to them differently. I guess that’s true with anything – different people get different reactions depending on what they look like, etc individually. But there is a certain kind of prejudice that comes out when you have a disability that is obvious but not immediately identifiable as a disability.

        1. Triple Anon*

          Also! I have a muscle disorder and my speech is better on some days than others. Sometimes I sound normal and other times, I sound more like I have a speech impediment. People have been mean about it my whole life. People of all ages. If anything, children are nicer than adults about it. People mock me or they assume that I’m less intelligent or lazy or mentally ill or intoxicated. Most often the first – that it’s indicative of an intellectual disability. It’s really frustrating. But I’m working on being patient with people and educating them. Half the time, it’s just ignorance.

    12. Manatees are cool*

      Where I live in the U.K. the way disabled children and teens are being treated is horrid. A lot of them have been forced out of their primary and secondary schools and sent to the special needs schools. Many of these children would manage perfectly well in a mainstream setting with a bit of extra support. They are basically being segregated from the non special needs students. For the special needs students left at one of the secondary schools who have more minor disabilities such as dyslexia, the special needs department has been dismantled so they have to go to the junior school to access services which is putting pressure on them to move to the special needs school. Also accessing support from Capita/Atos has been hellish for us adults which is responsible for those with mobility problems having specially adapted cars and disability benefits for a wider group of disabled people. The assessors are mostly paramedics so not really experts on what day to day life is like for disabled people. They have been known to blatantly ignore doctors notes, and they often blatantly lie on forms or give ridiculous reasons. People have died as a result or their deaths hastened. Terminally ill people have been declared “fit for work” only to die days later. One of the reasons I got rejected was for taking my coat off in the meeting and said that means I could feel heat when the real reason was that it restricted my arms for the exercises they asked me to perform. The UN actually did an investigation into how disabled people are being treated and gave our government a long list of things that had to be changed, our government’s response was to say they were offended and that they weren’t going to change anything, the UN just shrugged their shoulders and did nothing.

      1. Triple Anon*

        Wow. That’s so horrible. Thank you for writing about it. I’m going to look it up and try to raise some awareness here in the U.S.

    13. Triple Anon*

      Genderqueer: “dyke”, “dykey”, “You don’t share our values,” etc. I’ve been told I look like a man, which was intended to be an insult.

      Disability: All disabled people have intellectual disabilities, we shouldn’t be allowed to participate in society, condescension, threats of violence (including sexual assault), actual violence. There’s too much to list.

      I’ve gotten more obvious bigotry for being disabled, but I think that’s because it is more obvious. I don’t dress in a way that screams GENDERQUEER. I usually wear a normal bra with gender neutral pants and shirts. It’s only obvious if I spend more time around people, like at work. I’m just kind of manly and better at manly things, for lack of a better word. But I’m feminine too. It’s a particular mix that’s endearing to some and offensive to others. I’m kind of like a girly dude, I guess.

      The disability thing is really weird for me. On the same day, I’ll get, “You look completely normal. I had no idea,” from one person and another person will mock and harass me. But the mocking is usually from people who notice something is different but don’t know how to categorize it. When I tell people about my physical quirks, they’re nicer, but some are pitying or they don’t want to talk to me as much. So ableism tends to take different forms depending on whether I tell people what the disability is or not. Most of the pitying / distancing people seem to mean well but have their own issues that make them feel uncomfortable with it, which I understand. Then there is the occasional person who thinks disabled people just don’t deserve to live, or to have jobs / relationships / any kind of appearance in public. Those people are always a joy to run into.

      1. Thursday Next*

        People can be terrible. Just plain terrible. I don’t know what else to say about that shit.

        The ones that think “You look normal” is a compliment enrage me. I get some version of that a lot re. my daughter, and I don’t know what to say to that either. I’m hoping some day I’ll come up with something pithy. Or better yet, that she will.

    14. rogue axolotl*

      My advice would be to seek out media from the perspective of people who have experienced forms of bigotry that you haven’t. In my experience, there are two types of bigoted action–there are the really overt, scary instances, and then there are the more pernicious, everyday, subtle instances. In a way the subtle ones are worse, since those are the ones that can grind you down, make you moderate your behaviour, make you start to doubt yourself and your perceptions–at least in my experience. The people who are best at describing this stuff are usually those who have experienced it firsthand, and you have to make an effort to absorb a fair amount of information from various sources before you can start to understand, because it is a pervasive and insidious thing, and it’s hard to imagine if it’s not part of the fabric of your everyday life. It’s not easy to learn, but I think it’s important.

    15. buttercup*

      A lot of what I experience is more in the way of microaggressions, especially in the place we do not speak of on this thread, being a female in my twenties. I have more than once had a male coworker take credit for my ideas. A couple of times, my manager took my ideas and, under the pretense of misremembering, accredited the to my male coworker. I also get talked over a lot, and many of my supervisors ignore me when I ask them reasonable requests (like for a document I need to do my project.)

  16. Blue Eagle*

    “The Assistants” by Camille Perry – thanks to Shop Lady for recommending it yesterday. I checked it out of the library and it was so engaging that I just completed reading the entire novel!

    1. FD*

      I know what you mean! I like my hair mostly but I get the most awful dry scalp sometimes. I sometimes wish I could wave a wand, remove all my head hair, rub skin lotion on it, and then magically re-attach my hair. Also, it can be a total nuisance in some situations.

      (As a preemptive thing, PLEASE don’t suggest how to fix my dry scalp. Believe me when I say that I have tried a LOT of solutions and they either don’t work or make my absurdly sensitive skin break out in acne ridiculously badly.)

      1. nep*

        I just really love having the buzz cut. (I’ve done it twice in the past decade or so.) I might be ready to do it again sometime, but right now I like having a choice/some variety. Buzz cut–only choice is headwrap or no headwrap.
        Sorry you’re struggling with dry scalp problem.

  17. Budgeting*

    I was wondering if anyone has a good suggestion for a budgeting tool? Preferably free. I would like primarily the ability to track things so I can do a report at tax time for example (for example, of all my medical expenses or donations in the year). Thanks!

    1. Handy Nickname*

      I downloaded the Mint app a couple weeks ago and it’s great. You can link your bank account and any credit cards, and it auto-sorts your expenses in to categories (I’d say it’s about 75% accurate), then you can change the category of any transaction. I really like it so far!

        1. Phoenix Programmer*

          YNAB did not work for me because I have CC debt and wanted to keep CC for building up credit.

    2. ronda*

      budgeting is different than tracking actual spending for tax time.

      but the tool might help with both.

      personally i use excel and download info from my credit card company and bank. Then I tag the spending that is for tax categories. (google sheets is free and would work too)

      Budgeting is planning what you are going to spend to help you control how much you spend, so about your future and total spend. Tax reporting is about your past and the things that can impact taxes.

      The Trump tax bill changed limits for standardized/ itemized deduction, so you will probably need more itemized deductions than in prior years for itemizing to make sense. So take a look at that and see if you think you have a possibility of being close to being able to itemize or not, if not, why track it?

      1. fposte*

        Seconding ronda, especially on the change in tax law that means most people who used to itemize for deductions won’t be now. That being said, I find tracking my expenditures useful in general, and though I love Excel and use it for other home finance, I actually just use a phone app. I like the hand-entry part of it; it makes me more aware of what I’m spending even if I’m using plastic.

      2. TardyTardis*

        Depends on what state you’re in–I use standard deduction for federal, but for Oregon, it’s Schedule A all the way, especially with the special medical deduction for Old People. Your mileage may vary, look up what the rules are in your state.

      3. ronda*

        your bank / investment / creditcard/ etc website may also have some tools that they allow you to use for free.

        I haven’t used any of the ones on my websites, but it might work for you ‘specially if it is tied to the account(s) you want to track.

    3. epi*

      I would highly recommend starting with Mint. It will try to automatically categorize your spending, and will let you view it in a lot of different ways. From there it’s up to you to use the information to set budgets and goals. In fact the only problem I have with it is that I find it more useful for tracking than planning– the app doesn’t nag or update you much by default. So it may be perfect for your needs.

      Regardless of how you use it, you’ll want to set yourself reminders to log in occasionally and make sure things are being categorized correctly. There’s nothing worse than trying to figure out what a bunch of six month old Target and Amazon purchases were for.

    4. Lady Alys*

      The website vertex42 dot com has lots of Excel, iOS, and Google Docs templates – I’ve been using one for the past five years or so to track our accounts. As fposte mentions below, having to do data entry by hand ups the awareness of what you’re spending.

    5. Lollygagger*

      Definitely You Need a Budget. Have been using it for five years. I think it has an annual fee but I find it to be an amazing tool. Helped us get rid of debt and save for a house. And it’s super handy right now as we have budgets in two countries. It does basically force you to build up an entire month of reserves, which I LOVED. I really didn’t like Mint. So my suggestion would be to try both (I know YNAB has a trial … I think 40 days?) and see which matches your style.

  18. Loves Libraries*

    Children in restaurants
    This week my husband, college son and I went out to a local restaurant. About halfway through the meal a family with 2 children came in. The children were about 3 and 5. They didn’t sit much. They wondered around the small restaurant sometimes playing with the decorations. The parents did almost nothing to get them to sit. Fortunately it was not very busy that night. The parents did occasionally remind them to use their inside voices. I enjoyed my food but the actions (or non actions) of the parents make me not want to return. It spoiled the second half of our evening. My husband and I have 3 children now ages 19-24. When they were that age we took crayons and paper and expected them to sit and remain quiet. For a while we didn’t eat out much other than fast food because it was a struggle. Parents, if you take your children out, then you must teach them how to behave out of courtesy to others.

    1. Forking great username*

      There is a line here though – walking around and playing with decorations, not okay. But if they don’t want to sit and just stand next to the table, but are otherwise being fine? I think that should be okay. Admittedly, I’m biased – my five year old struggles with sitting in hard chairs (it’s a sensory thing, he has autism), so if we can’t get a booth he often just stands next to the table right where a chair would sit. I’m sure I have gotten a few parents making snarky comments to each other about why my son isn’t sitting. And the whole “don’t take your children out unless you can teach them to behave” thing is repeated ad nauseam on the internet so often that I doubt there’s a parent alive who hasn’t read this somewhere. Yet I too complain when we go out on a date night to a restaurant that’s not kid-friendly and end up next to a family with a screechy/running around kid. It’s not an uncommon complaint. It’s just one that is EVERYWHERE, and it gets old. Everyone has heard it. Some people don’t listen and aren’t considerate. Some people are doing their best but have extenuating circumstances. Some people have an easy time teaching their kids restaurant manners. Others have to put in a huge effort. There’s a huge range here, and the general PSA tone of “don’t take out your kids to do XYZ unless they know how to behave” doesn’t affect the people that are an actual problem at all (because they don’t care) and stresses out the parents who are honestly trying their best but have kids who don’t always behave perfectly (like…well, pretty much all kids!)

      I just feel like these comments have a tendency to turn into a big hate circle like the letter from a couple of weeks ago about the co-workers who referred to parents as breeders and hate all children. Obviously that’s not you, because you have kids. And this doesn’t apply to the situation you saw last night, but picture yourself back in the trenches with toddlers, getting a comment like this when you absolutely have to go grocery shopping and one of your kids decides to start acting up. It’s frustrating to see parent judgment everywhere when you’re trying your hardest. And every “don’t take your kids out if they can’t behave” is another drop in the bucket.

      1. Girl friday*

        I work in restaurants, and I can assure you that your 5 year old is fine standing next to the table where a chair would be. I think most people that work in restaurants keep an eye out for safety so that themselves and other guests aren’t injured. If children are being safe, we’re generally too busy to notice what specific things they’re up
        to. As long as people clean up and tip!

      2. Gaia*

        I’m sorry, but no. Restaurants are not designed to have small humans standing next to tables. Waitstaff (often carrying trays) may not see them and it could cause someone to get hurt.

        1. Forking great username*

          Could you have worded that more rudely? Regardless, if he’s standing exactly where a chair would normally be I fail to see how that would be a problem for a waiter.

            1. Forking great username*

              The obviously sarcastic “I’m sorry” when you’re clearly not is never a great start if you want the person to actually consider our point. Not that I would have anyways since I’ve had numerous waitstaff workers reassure me that he’s just fine where he is.

          1. Lissa*

            Could she have worded it more rudely…. uh yeah i can think of about 10 ways right now. Her wording sounded like she was trying to not be rude to me….?

      3. Melonhead*

        Yeah, autism and other challenges change the game completely. If I see a kid melting down, I sometimes try to catch the adult’s eye and smile in commiseration.

    2. Lcsa99*

      I try to resist judging because I don’t have kids and I probably won’t. I also know that people are judged so much harsher for parenting choices than my parents were when I was a kid, so its probably harder these days for parents to know where to draw the line. But it certainly seems that there are more parents out there who just don’t put any effort into actual parenting.

    3. Brelade*

      I think the attitude of the parents makes such a difference – sometimes kids can’t be calmed but at least if the parent is trying you understand what they’re going through. I was on a flight yesterday in front of a two year old who was hysterical (screaming/crying/kicking) the whole flight. Her mom was trying to calm her, reminding her about the plane, all the people etc and I found my reaction totally different than if her mom had sat down and done nothing. I ended up carrying the girl down the steps for her mom who was at the end of her rope by the end!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Aww. Love your story here.
        I was shopping at 11:30 pm in a large grocery store. Toddler was running up and down the aisle. The parent was at the far end (long aisle) looking very frustrated. So I told the child, “Wow you run really fast. Can you run really fast that way, too?” I pointed toward the parent. The child was young enough she bought this and ran right to her parent. I saw a big, slow,tired thank you wave from the other end of the aisle. Sometimes they just have their own thing going on.

      2. Perse's Mom*

        This is true for me, too. There’s a huge difference between parents who have clearly mentally checked out and make no attempt to curb the behavior and parents who are clearly *trying* to do so.

    4. Temperance*

      So, my niece and nephew are around that age. My sister takes them to family-friendly places, with crayons etc. They sit and eat their meals, but they can get a little loud if they’re excited. I’m obviously biased because they are my 2 favorite people, but I think kid behavior and bad behavior can be split into different things.

      1. LJay*

        I think context matters, too, on both sides.

        If I’m going to a restaurant where they have crayons and paper kids placemats and a kids menu, and getting annoyed about happy kid noises, I’m being a jerk and I have unreasonable expectations. That’s somewhere where kids are going to be, where I should expect them to be, and if I don’t want to deal with them I should not go there.

        If I’m going to a high end steakhouse, I expect my evening to be free from even most normal happy kid behavior. If they can sit quietly at their table and entertain themselves that’s one thing, but if I’m paying over $50 a plate of food to have a nice adult date experience I don’t want to hear shrieking, or Dora the Explorer being played on a tablet or whatever. If the kid cannot adhere to adult standards of behavior with very few reminders, the parents should not bring them there.

    5. Drama Llama*

      Honestly….I question when we became so entitled to total relaxation and quiet in a public space. Children exist in all societies. Adults, including adults without small children, should know they are not adults in miniature versions.

      If the kids were running around and yelling, yeah, not okay. But if it was occasional loud voices or a few steps of movement followed by mostly standing still without disturbing other diners, that’s something that can be reasonably ignored IMO.

      Maybe I feel that way because my friend has an autistic child who does tend to cause occasional inconvenience in public. I know this really upsets the parents and they do their best to keep him still and quiet. But short of keeping him tied up and and mouth duct taped, it is simply not possible to make him behave like a small adult. And the answer is not for parents of special needs children to never leave their home.

      1. Kj*

        I work with special needs kiddos. And I agree they should go out and their parents need to take them out (if nothing else, how are parents to get things like groceries unless they can take their kids places? Babysitters for special needs kids are hard to find and pricey). And kids need exposure to the wider world. Parents should be active in helping their kids do the best the kid can- that may mean allowing somethings and offering rewards for good behavior. But wandering a restaurant seems reasonable, as long as they weren’t interfering with other diner’s meals or destroying the decorations. The parents should be closely supervising, but expecting kids to just sit at the table might be a high expectation. And we don’t know what is going on with kids at times- many kids I work with look “normal” and really have complex needs.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I grew up at the end of the children should be seen not heard era. I can vouch for having to sit perfectly still (well I thought I had to have no movement at all) for what seemed like days (no it was an hour or so). I think the thing that I remember most about this time in life is that children had ZERO credibility. Anything a child said was dismissed.

        It’s odd what sticks with the memory and what doesn’t. I could live with sitting still but I could not live with not being heard. Each generation does a better job with their children overall, I think. We listen to kids now and that is an improvement. In some ways we can learn to listen even better.

        1. Cat Herder*

          Most societies do distinguish between children’s spaces and adult spaces.

          I don’t think children have to be allowed everywhere and I do think that if they can’t behave appropriately for the location (LJay’s examples), their parents need to take them away. I like children, kid noises don’t bug me, I feel sorry for crying kids on planes rather than angry. But I don’t want them running around a nice restaurant, I don’t want to hear them when I’ve forked over big bucks for a movie theater ticket for a grown up movie, etc. I took my kid to restaurants when he was quite small — kid friendly restaurants, and we left if he could not stay at (or under)the table.

      3. Lissa*

        I think part of this is that we became that way because it became less acceptable to have environments where children aren’t. I feel like if it was less controversial to have say, an understanding that kids weren’t going to go to nice restaurants until they were 8 or so, then there’d be less resentment at a kid throwing a fit in a mall.

        Here’s the thing – that experience described would’ve bothered me too, and made my evening less enjoyable. Maybe it “shouldn’t”, maybe I should have the capacity to ignore it, but I don’t. I don’t judge the parents for that behaviour, or for taking them there really because it’s seen as acceptable and it doesn’t sound like they were screaming and throwing things. But yeah, it would’ve annoyed me. I know kids aren’t miniature adults, which is why there are some places I would hope they would not be.

        1. LJay*


          Like, I will 100% of the time always cut the parent slack of they’re someplace in public where they probably have to be. I assume that bringing a baby on the plane is nobody’s idea of a fun time and that they aren’t doing it for laughs, but because they have to get the kid across the country and a plane is the only practical way to do it.

          I assume that, given the option between a quick, relaxing shopping trip by themselves, or herding a toddler and two school-age kids through the grocery store while trying to avoid meltdowns over buying candy bars, dealing with the toddler being tired but also not wanting to be in the cart, and dealing with glares from other people as their kids run down the aisles, pretty much every parent would choose the former. So if they’re bringing 3 kids through the grocery store it’s because they need groceries and don’t have other child care options available at this point.

          Going to a restaurant with a kid’s menu and crayons at the hostess stand – cool, kids belong there. Amusement park? Kids belong there. Matinee animated movie? Kids belong there. Shopping mall? Kids belong there. Baseball game? Kids belong there.

          But if I go to a high end restaurant, I don’t want evidence of kids being around interrupting my date. (I also expect the adults there to not interrupt or ruin my date). Seeing Book for Mormon at the theater, I want any kids there to act like mini-adults. Rated R movie, I don’t want a kid screaming and crying because it’s scared out of it’s mind to the point where I can’t enjoy the movie.

          I actually enjoy that a lot of museums and stuff in my area are doing adult mixer nights where they are open late and serve alcohol and have no kids allowed.

      4. Traffic_Spiral*

        Actually, the general rule was “Children should be seen and not head – preferably also not seen.” There was never a time where kids were encouraged to run riot anywhere they pleased.

      5. Wendy Darling*

        I mostly don’t care about children in public but I think everyone needs to be thoughtful about what is and is not an appropriate venue for their child and for children in general. For some reason that eludes me the last three times I’ve gone to a particular fine-dining restaurant that is VERY not kid-friendly, I have been seated next to families with multiple kids under 5 who were not capable of sitting through a fine dining meal without shrieking, running around, kicking things, climbing things, or blasting audio on tablets. Which is legit kid behavior — I would have been a hot mess at this restaurant at age 3-4 also. It’s not the kids’ fault, but the parents should not have brought them to that restaurant.

        Similarly, the only reason people stopped bringing their elementary school children to the 8pm showings of R-rated dramas at my local movie theater was when the theater forbid anyone under 17 from attending R movies from 6pm on. Again, there was nooooooo reason for anyone to have their small child at these movies. You cannot tell me your 6 year old actually wanted to see Nightcrawler.

        I think it’s fine to want there to be some grownup-only spaces in the world. Not all of them — not even a lot of them. But a few.

      6. ket*

        At some point, I feel like some of these expeditions are disrespectful of the kids, though. Bringing a very active 3-year-old to a Michelin star restaurant with a meal of a few courses? Sure, if you’re rich you figure you can do whatever you want — but your kid is not actually going to appreciate it as a 3-year-old. It’s late, it’s a weird space, everyone else there is not going to want to play, adults are boring. Even if it’s not a Michelin star kind of place, some restaurants are really calibrated to adult pleasures. The child’s place on the neurodiversity rainbow has little do with that, because for all 1-6 year olds, it’s simply not possible to make them behave like small adults, and there’s no reason they should.

        I’m currently parent to a 1.5 yr old. I value adult spaces, public spaces, and kid spaces. We’ve dashed into a cocktail bar & gotten a cocktail at 4 pm because she’s just up from a nap and she’s going to be ‘good’, but I do try to keep in mind this perspective of respect for her needs and respect for ours. Putting her in positions where she’s expected/required to act outside her abilities is on some level disrespectful of her as a person as well as the people around us. Of course she learns by doing, but she doesn’t need to know how to act in a cocktail bar, movie theater, or prix fixe tasting menu restaurant at this time.

      7. Julia*

        I have a lot of sympathy for parents, and I agree that kid noises are sometimes inevitable. But I think this sympathy and respect needs to go both ways. Don’t let your kid jump off the furniture at 1 am if you have downstairs neighbors. Don’t bring your kids to the cinema or relaxation spa if they can’t be quiet, and don’t let them watch a movie without headphones in the quiet car of the train – people pay money for those places and want to get quiet enjoyment out of them.
        There’s also a difference between letting kids run around, and letting kids climb on others or others’ space. I’ve been called a kid hater because I have asked parents or children to stop climbing my seat that I was sitting in, to stop kicking the back of my seat, and to stop touching me (!). I’m not a kid hater just because I don’t want to be a free babysitter for you.

        Accidents happen, obviously, but there’s a big difference between a parent saying “oh, I’m so sorry, did my kid hurt you?” and telling you off for not playing with their offspring. And I say that as someone who was a nanny – which I was paid for. After work, I’m exhausted – you wouldn’t ask any other professional to work after hours, so don’t ask me.

    6. CurrentlyLooking*

      I am totally with you on taking toys/crayons and paper/books to restaurants when you have small kids.

      And not just to restaurants. Take toys w your toddler when you go to a ball game, shopping, your older child’s events, etc. If your kids are occupied, they will be happier and so will you.

    7. Thursday Next*

      Drama Llama and Forking Great are totally on the money. I’d just add, and I’ve written this as a comment on other AAM posts, that children learn through exposure. They way to teach kids how to handle an experience isn’t to leave them at home.

      And constant parental corrections can just become so much noise and nagging to a child. There is a certain tone of voice I reserve only for dangerous situations, and, now that my child is older, really insensitive comments (usually about his sister) and it gets my autistic, ADD son’s attention. If I used that tone for everything from untied shoes to unfinished homework, it would lose its effectiveness.

      I find a lot of times people credit their parenting skills when a behavior or outcome is largely due to a child’s innate temperament or preferences. My son has always loved vegetables, and other parents have expressed wonder at how I got him to eat them. Well, I didn’t have to do anything! And though he’s autistic, he’s been a withdrawer more than a disrupter, which has made certain things easier for him, like being out in public. Again, I had nothing to do with that.

      Some kids are happy to sit still and color in a restaurant. Some kids are more easily coaxed into a desired behavior. Some kids are interested in mimicking the adults around them. You may have had children like this.

      Or you might have worked really hard to teach them.

      Or you might be misremembering how well behaved they were more than a decade and a half ago.

      Or you might be less tolerant of other people’s children than you were when your children were young.

      I think to go out into the world means we need to have some flexibility in our expectations of how the rest of the world will behave. For myself, at least, I know that suspending judgment of someone whom I’ve only observed (that is, haven’t interacted with) is more liberating than the feeling I get from thininegative thoughts about them. It raises the bar for what I do find worthy of judgment. Kids talking loudly in the Olive Garden? Whatever. Parent threatening to beat child with a belt on the subway? Judge away. (My husband talked to that child’s father until he cooled off.)

      1. Triplestep*

        I am 55, and my children are 22 and 29. I don’t have grandchildren. For the last decade or so, I have started to consider myself part of “the public” that small children need to be exposed to in order to learn how to behave when they go out into the world. I am fulfilling my part of this social contract just by being there, and if it’s appropriate for me to interact with them, so much the better.

        But just as “constant parental corrections can just become so much noise and nagging to a child,” some parents seem to have a very high tolerance for their kids level of energy, volume, etc. Those of us who aren’t constantly exposed to this anymore have a lower threshold.

        I was standing in line at the supermarket deli, and two kids were tussling with each other, laughing and shrieking and kind of tossing each other around while their mother had their back to them. It was easy for her to tune them out. I found myself kind of anxious about them, fearing one of them would be thrown into me, or worse, get hurt. I had to constantly remind myself for those few minutes that they weren’t really doing anything wrong – they were probably good kids, and they were just entertaining themselves, and I am part of the public that is helping to socialize them. But I also wished that their mother hadn’t so easily tuned them out. I felt like she wasn’t holding up her end of the social contract that and I was abiding by.

        1. Thursday Next*

          Fair enough! Of course some parents are more attentive and interventionist than others. And some seem blind to everything, including safety issues.

          I think it’s certainly true that thresholds for anything are affected by current exposure, so people without small children likely have a lower tolerance for their noise and behavior. It’s not right or wrong, it just *is*.

    8. Lehigh*

      I mean, I probably would have felt annoyed too. I also feel annoyed when:
      -an elderly person is walking very slowly in the only path and I have to wait
      -a child is screaming on a plane (probably because their ears hurt or other discomforts of travel)
      -a mentally challenged person approaches me in a socially uncomfortable way

      But I don’t think my feeling of annoyance in these situations is really that important. Parenting is hard. I’m not a parent, but if I were I can’t imagine I’d ALWAYS prioritize making my child sit still throughout a meal at a small restaurant versus maintaining my sanity. Just like if it was difficult and tiring to walk I would try not to care if the younger, healthier people behind me were rolling their eyes.

      If the kids aren’t approaching your table, is it really your problem?

      1. Ender*

        This. Lots of people are annoying in lots of ways. Why is it expected that we put up with less than perfect behaviour from every single group without the ability to act like a mature able bodied person all the time … except children. walking around a restaurant doesn’t sound so awful to me.

        1. Melonhead*

          Kids loose in restaurants are a danger to servers carrying heavy platters with hot food and beverages.

          1. Ender*

            If they were running, yes that would be dangerous. But on the occasion referred to above, they are described as “wandering around” which means walking, and it also says the restaurant wasn’t busy that night. Love library didn’t mention any safety concerns whatsoever, she just seemed to be annoyed by the kids wandering around even though there were no safety concerns on this occasion.

      2. fposte*

        That’s really nicely put, Lehigh. I would also say that even if the kids are doing something that they shouldn’t, we have the option, as we do with so many adult behaviors we discuss plenty the rest of the week, to focus on shrugging it off. I may not have control over whether the parents are letting the kids crawl under locked bathroom stall doors, but I have some influence over whether that wrecks my day or not.

      3. Wishing You Well*

        Actually, when it’s a safety problem, you can speak up. Children sometimes RUN in restaurants and that’s not safe for patrons or the staff. The running must stop. When a couple of kids wanted to run past my friend in a restaurant, threatening her balance, she was sharp with them and commanded them to stop. I cringed at her tone of voice, but if I were facing another hip dislocation, I’d probably be cross, too. To address a child’s unsafe behavior in the moment does not mean you’re questioning someone’s parenting.

        Disruptive restaurant behavior is different. Speaking up is optional and I’ve rarely, if ever, heard it done! That, my friends, IS being tolerant. Being irritated is neither right nor wrong – it’s a feeling. Please remember people are paying to be there and are STUCK there until the food arrives. Also, my expectations for chaos at a fast-food place at 6 p.m. is different than a spendy restaurant at 8 p.m. Overall, I feel the restaurant-going public does a pretty good job at getting along.

        1. Lehigh*

          I don’t think we disagree?

          You’ve re-stated my point: It’s fine to feel annoyed at any old thing you please (and, often, you may not even be able to control what makes you feel irritated!); it’s just good to recognize when that annoyance is irrelevant to anyone else.

          And yes, of course it’s different if anyone is endangered by a behavior.

          I’m sure we are each picturing a different restaurant in our head, but since all we have is that it was “small” and that the children were “playing with decorations” and wandering, I don’t think we have enough to go on to say these parents were out of line.

        2. Cat Herder*

          I’ll ask to be moved to a different table in a nice restaurant if there are children who are very noisy or behaving poorly. And I’ll state why, too. If there isn’t another table far enough away, I’m good with just leaving. And telling the manager why.

          Google Old Fisherman’s Grotto children policy. If I lived near there I’d be their number one customer.

      4. Wendy Darling*

        What cured me of much of my annoyance re: children screaming on airplanes was the sudden realization, standing in the customs line behind a screaming child after said child had screamed for 9 hours NONSTOP on the plane (which… I was impressed with kiddo’s stamina, it was a pretty small baby), that the parents have to take that screaming child home with them.

        After I get out of the airport that kid is never my problem again, but the parents are just as tired as I am and they have to take the little air raid siren home!

    9. Ron McDon*

      I agree that parents should bring distractions to restaurants etc.

      When my boys were little, we carried a backpack anywhere we went, which contained playing cards, paper, pens, books, quiet toys, cars, snacks, water… just anything they might want or need to keep them entertained for a period of time.

      My sister now takes my niece out and about with nothing as a distraction, and can’t understand why she can’t sit still and be quiet when we’re in a restaurant etc. She’s bored! I don’t think it’s fair to the child(ren) or other people who have their nice evening out disturbed by children behaving badly.

      If my boys started playing up (which they would do even with the bag of tricks, on occasion) my husband or I would take them out to the foyer/car/garden, to burn off some energy/calm down.

      I am surprised at the number of parents I see out and about who seem completely oblivious to their children’s behaviour and don’t correct them at all, no matter what they’re doing – part of being a responsible parent is teaching your child how to behave appropriately in many different situations. (I am not talking about those children with medical conditions which cause behavioural difficulties).

      1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

        Oh yes, the intermissions! We’ve taken our less than perfect child to nice restaurants too and it works because ze generally wants to be there and is curious about the world but when ze gets fidgety, we take zir outside to burn off some of that energy. Then back again to play with what’s allowable to play with at our table, with reasonable inside voices. Some days none of it works at all and we just go home. It’s a process.

    10. Caro*

      I feel like parents of grown children have blocked out so much misbehavior. I have an incredibly active 3yo and we go to restaurants at off-peak to minimize disruption. I used to be able to occupy him with play dough and coloring but now it’s tv on the phone. No matter what you do, you get judged. I don’t have an easy child but hope that his independence will be an asset in the future.
      And don’t blame the restaurant! How is it their fault? Do you expect them to kick kids out?

      1. Chaordic One*

        As a child I remember one time I threw a tantrum in a restaurant (I don’t remember why), and being made to go sit in the family car while my family finished their meal. It was probably only 10 minutes or so. It was sunny, but not overly hot and the car had windows that rolled down with handcranks and I rolled all the car windows down. Sort of like a time out.

          1. Wishing You Well*

            Your CPS comment reminded me of an incident a co-worker had with his young daughter:
            She was very willful and hard to control. In a restaurant, she wanted to taste the Tobasco sauce. Both parents tried to dissuade her by telling her exactly what it would do to her, but she wouldn’t let up. Finally, her father/my co-worker struck a deal: after he had paid the check and they were ready to go, she could taste the Tobasco sauce. They enjoyed a relatively quiet meal, then Bill paid + Tobasco tasted = screaming child promptly leaving the restaurant.
            Parenting IS hard.

            1. Thursday Next*

              ::taking notes:: “Avoid…feeding…hot sauce…”

              When I was a toddler, I wanted a sip of my dad’s beer. He let me have it. I promptly threw up on him.

              We both learned a lesson that day…

        1. Cat Herder*

          My mom would take the misbehaving child out to the car and sit with him or her. And not speak to the child who was causing her to miss her dinner. LOL, that was the real punishment!

          1. Fellow Traveller*

            Yes. If my 6 year old does not behave in a restaurant either I or my husband will take her outside. Sometimes she will scream and cry all the way outside, and I am annoyed at having to miss part of my meal, but our family enjoys eating out too much to allow bad behaviour to be the norm when we go to restaurants. The toddler is another matter altogether, though… He doesn’t care where we are, he is just restless. With him, we just try to practice containment. Dining out with young kids is tough. Heck, dining in with young kids can be tough.

      2. Cat Herder*

        Yes. If it is a fine dining restaurant, not a kid-friendly restaurant, then yes, the restaurant can ask the parents to get the kids under control and , if they cannot, for whatever reason, they can ask that family to leave. Just as they can ask an obnoxiously loud adult to leave, or an adult who is insulting the waitstaff, and so on.

    11. Melonhead*

      Before we had kids, my husband and I insisted our kids would never run around in restaurants.

      Then we had two kids, and guess what: they never ran around in restaurants. They were strapped into high chairs and then had to sit in booster seats. If they fussed, we took them outside – or left.

      Having kids makes your life incredibly inconvenient. But kids can behave in restaurants.

  19. LGC*

    Okay, so this week, I’m asking the AAM run crew for advice.

    The past couple of days, I’ve just been…off in terms of hitting my marks. I’ve had some minor stress (which I’m making a lot more major than it should be), and now it’s just bleeding out into me having a few “bad days” in a row.

    This would be fine but I have a couple of races coming up. At this point, I’m just mad at myself for not being able to focus! Advice?

    1. TL -*

      My advice would be not to stress about it, but see if there’s something you can switch up about your training – either super upbeat/fast music or fartleks usually works for me, something where I can focus on going faster in the moment without stressing about my overall time.

      1. LGC*

        I’m pretty anal about Sticking To The Plan, but…that might be worth considering!

        Funny enough, it’s actually been my easy runs that have been SUPER off. Normally I’m around 7:30, but I’ve been running closer to 9:30. And it doesn’t feel like I’m going that slow.

        1. Headachey*

          Running your easier runs easier isn’t going to hurt you or your race prep. You might even run your easy runs untimed for a bit so you can focus on keeping them smooth and relaxed – these are recovery miles, after all, so if you run them slower for a while you’ll likely find it easier to hit your paces in your speed & tempo workouts.

          1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

            Along the same lines, I was going to suggest cutting out the easy runs *completely* for a few days and resuming your regular schedule when you felt less stressed. The fact that races are coming up actually may make this guidance *more* valid. You don’t want to be burned out for your races! And some running experts actually say that increased stress is a side effect of overtraining.

            This year, I’m experimenting with doing away with a lot of easy days altogether in my marathon training and building in more rest days. Until my long run today, which was pretty terrible (though I did finish, so yay for that), this plan has been working out very well for me. But every runner is different and what works for one may very well not work at all for another!

          2. LGC*

            …I mean, you’re right. But it’s one of those things that bothers me – usually, I don’t go much above 8 naturally.

    2. Justin*

      Find an attainable goal for a short race and focus on that. I had a hot, weak-legged 20 mile run two weeks ago, focused on a 5k the following week and went from there.

      1. LGC*

        True – and fortunately I have a fairly low pressure race coming up! (It’s a half marathon that I’m going to take at goal marathon pace. Yeah, that’s low pressure for me, since I’m not trying to PR.)

  20. Anon OCD*

    Does anyone have experience with OCD/anxiety? I suspect I have OCD by taking the tests. I have an appointment with a psychiatrist but not for another month. Does anyone have any tips to ease the anxiety and compulsions?

    1. Sapphire*

      I struggle with anxiety, and one of the things that helps me in the moment is quoting Hamilton lyrics in my head (or any song). The act of trying to remember how a song goes breaks my pattern of thought. I also tend to watch movies or TV shows for a similar effect, gives my brain something else to focus on.
      I should note I’m also on an antidepressant because I have that too, and that seems to help as well. Your mileage may vary on the medication.

    2. Kate Daniels*

      I do. Several years ago, I took anxiety meds, but I’ve been off them for a few years. Earlier this summer, I realized that I really should go back on them, but it’s been a frustrating experience trying to set up an appointment with a psychiatrist so I can get a prescription. I’m slated for mid-October.

      What I’ve been doing over the summer is a massive declutter of everything in my apartment. I’ve donated about ten boxes full of things, which is a lot for me because I live in a studio apartment with just one closet. It’s given me something to do that I feel like I have complete control over. Having a clean, super tidy apartment has also been great for my mental health. One of my compulsions involves needing to do these quick “checks” walking from room to room to make sure everything is in place (dish towels straightened precisely, blanket on couch folded exactly so, etc.). Less stuff has made it a million times much easier to clean and stay that way because I no longer have anything out on tables or counters. Consequently, I feel more settled/at ease because while I haven’t been able to stop myself from doing these “checks,” often times there’s nothing that I need to do or fix.

      That being said, I’m also embracing minimalism and owning less stuff as a lifestyle change to save money and become more environmentally friendly by reducing consumption, so I wouldn’t recommend this approach if you feel like you would later regret getting rid of a lot of your stuff. It was hard for me to overcome the initial obstacle of feeling like I was wasting money by getting rid of items I hadn’t even really worn or used, but I haven’t missed anything I’ve gotten rid of and I think it’ll save me more money in the long run because I’ve ditched the shopping habit and no longer have the desire to buy things.

      1. Anon OCD*

        I think a big part of why it’s grown lately is because I am expanding my life. I have a new house, which means way more locks to check again and again every night. I’ve realized I haven’t lived a lot because of all the mess it brings, and I want to work through that.

    3. Doloris Van Cartier*

      I’ve just gotten back into therapy as my OCD was getting worse and there are a few things that I’ve found a few things to help. the first is to acknowledge your actions and in the moment to not shame yourself for having them. For me, that would make my anxiety increase even more which would then make me repeat the action. I didn’t want to deal with the thoughts because logically I knew they were not possible so I would just not acknowledge how often I was spiraling and then when it I did happen, I’d just make it worse by getting angry with myself.

      I also started journaling to better understand patterns about my obsessive behaviors. I never noticed that on the day I had a meeting I dreaded at work was often the day that I would have to drive around the block 10 times because I thought I hit someone. Having a little bit of knowledge allowed me to be proactive in managing those feelings by putting some safe guards in place to help curve the thoughts before they got out of control.

      I also do have a lot of inner talks with myself and a little bit of a mantra. Sometimes I just have to say to myself “you know X to cause this horrific situation. Stop, breathe, and let’s keep going. You are ok”. Sometimes I have to sit in my car for a few minutes to just recenter myself.

      I think the last thing is to try and find activities that engage you and make you happy. I’ve noticed when I’m into a really good book or finishing up a coloring page, I’m much less likely to start googling police records to make sure I haven’t done something awful. It’s like my brain makes less room for those thoughts if I can find something to fill up the space.

      Sending positive thoughts your way!

    4. AnonToo*

      I’m sorry, OCD sucks. Probably the easiest things you can do right now is to Notice, Name, and Accept. Notice your feelings and behaviors and acknowledge them to yourself. “I see that I am doing X because I feel Y because of Z.” You don’t have to try and stop doing X, that’s for therapy. But somehow matter-of-factly noticing helps. Say it out loud or write it down. Then try and accept your feelings of anxiety and acknowledge that they come from a fear of uncertainty and a lack of control. Accept your need to do any compulsive rituals right now. You won’t always need them but it’s ok for now. You’re taking care of yourself the best you know how. You’ll get better techniques in therapy. Your thoughts and feelings are ok and don’t have to be acted on or define you. You can also recognize and label your anxious thoughts as junk mail or a troll talking. Again, don’t try to stop them, just recognize they’re happening and let them do their thing and pass. It’s like that cliche about not thinking about polar bears, if you try not to think about something it will suddenly become all you can think about. But if you acknowledge your anxiety and accept it then it’s easier to let it pass or distract yourself with something else. Try experimenting with different things and see what works to distract without amplifying your anxiety. If you need to perform your rituals then go ahead. These are just experiments. You can also experiment with meditation and controlled breathing. And try and always speak to yourself with kindness and compassion. This is a hard condition to live with and it helps to be on your own side.

      “The Feeling Good Handbook” is a really good workbook. I also like the articles on OCD LA’s website.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      In addition to all the usual, good advice, exercise – a lot. Join a gym, maybe.
      Sending you good thoughts!

    6. Melonhead*

      Aha! Google “EFT tapping.” It seems unbelievable, but a lot of people find it helpful. I have used it. The technique may help you get through the month. Good luck!

  21. Bibliovore*

    Checking in. My computer died. The loaner was so out of date that it can’t talk to google drive, word does not work nor WordPress. Wrote to the IT guy and we have agreed that it was a sign that I shouldn’t be working this weekend.
    I am at The Lake.
    This uncomfortable feeling must be withdrawal.
    Mine is fixed and can be picked up on Tues.
    Reading fun not work related stuff.

  22. CatCat*

    I’ve been reading a book called “The Dorito Effect” about how modern agricultural practices to increase crop yields have impacted the flavor of foods (making them more bland) and the rise of the flavor industry to add flavor to food.

    It’s been a fascinating read and really educational. I’d be interested in reading more books that are in a similar vein to learn more. Has anyone read this book and can make some recommendations?

    1. Ali G*

      Have you read the Omnivore’s Dilemma? Not sure if it’s quite the same vein, but it’s all about modern ag – with a focus on meat production and how our food choices affect the environment.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I haven’t read that book yet but it sounds really interesting, I put it on my list. Have you read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser? It’s from 2001 but also covers the chemical additives industry.

    3. Conspiracy Theorist*

      A similar book is “Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food,” by Andrew Kimbrell. Below is a quote from the author.

      “Genetically engineered crops – corn and soy – were never designed to feed the world. They were designed to feed the bank accounts, the bottom line of commodity sellers, who are selling it for gasoline, selling it for the food for these animal factories and for these processed foods – high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin etc. They were never designed to feed anybody. And they do not increase yield. What they do is they make it easier for these massive commodity factories – these hundreds of thousands of acres – to spread their chemicals.”

    4. Charlotte Collins*

      I read that book and recommended it to a bunch of people. Michael Pollan is great for similar works. I’d also recommend “Fast Food Nation.” There’s also a book called “Coming Home to Eat” by an ethnobotanist that is interesting in a different way (he did some extreme locavorism). Barbara Kingsolver has also written a book about her family’s locavore adventure. There’s also a book “How We Eat with our Eyes and Think with Our Stomachs” that is really interesting.

      To be more obscure, Margaret Powell’s books discuss some of these issues from a different perspective. She was a cook who worked in British houses in the 1920s and 1930s, and she talks about how the food changed over the decades. Also, it’s a fascinating picture for anyone who’s interested in life below stairs in the early 20th century. (Downton Abbey fans take note.)

  23. Brelade*

    A friend and money dilemma!

    I loaned a big sum of money to a friend – she’s my best friend and I know she would do the same for me. The deal was to pay me back by a certain date – and she paid it back in full – early! However she also paid me back around 15% on top, she says as interest, and that she’ll be insulted if I don’t take it. I feel terrible! The deal was a straight loan between friends. We’ve talked about it and she’s adamant I should keep it but I feel bad. What would you do?

    1. Ciara Amberlie*

      Seconding the charity idea. Or use it to do something nice for both of you together, a meal out, a spa day, that sort of thing (depending on how much money it is!)

    2. Drama Llama*

      Fifteen per cent sounds like a large interest. If it makes her feel better to give you interest I think it’s okay to accept it. But tell her you don’t want to take advantage of her any more than her taking advantage of you – it should be fair to both sides. Agree on an interest rate that is reasonable according to current rates.

      1. BRR*

        Yeah 15% is a lot of interest, it’s around the average credit card interest rate. I’d donate it, take the friend out for a meal, or if I knew they really needed it I’d take the amount in cash and leave it in their house (with them knowing).

        1. Nacho*

          Depends how long the loan was. Credit cards are around 15% annually and compounded, so if this loan was over the course or multiple years, the APR on a 15% rate of return might be only a few percentage points per year if you’re calculating it the same way you would a credit card loan.

    3. LGC*

      Keep it but save it. If she’s going to feel insulted, the best thing I can think of doing is saving it for if/when you’re in the same position.

      Or you can use the “interest” to buy her a gift. Not immediately, though!

    4. Jessi*

      Take her out to dinner with the extra money, or take her to a show with the extra money. Something fun, that will create a lovely memory!

      it can be really hard to deal with all things money with friends as we all have our own hangups around it.

    5. Traffic_Spiral*

      If she says she wants you to have it – keep it. Generally as a rule if someone tells you what they want, you should believe them. That being said, you’re perfectly free to take her out to dinner and/or a show with the money as a compromise.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      A family member stopped doing loans with interest when they found out that interest has to be reported to the IRS. Tell your friend that you now realize you can’t do that again, so the next time interest looks like pizza or subs or whatever food you guys share have a meal together instead.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        It doesn’t matter if you charge interest or not. You need to pay taxes on interest even if you don’t get paid interest. Forgoing interest is interpreted by the IRS as a gift to the lendee, paid out of the interest they owed you — and you need to pay taxes on the amount of interest they would owe you.

        If you don’t charge interest, the IRS will calculate a minimum amount of interest using the Index of Applicable Federal Rates (AFR), which is published every month. For a short term loan, the current AFR is 2.51% when compounded annually. For example, if you loaned someone $10K, and they paid you back a year later, you would have $251 of interest to pay taxes on, whether or not you charged or were paid any interest.

    7. Nacho*

      Use at least some of the money to treat her to a nice meal or a concert or something.

      Also, how long was the loan for? Are we talking years, or months? Most people pay ~15% interest on their credit cards annually, so if she’s trying to pay that for a 4 month loan, you might have a valid argument to get her to drop the amount a little bit.

    8. Scubacat*

      I’d keep it , donate it, or take the friend out to dinner. Your friend is very firm on her wishes regarding the interest.

      1. Engineering consultant*

        +1, I thought it was going to be along the lines of “she disappeared from all contact” type of thing.

        I would say use the extra money to treat her to a luxurious experience on her birthday.

  24. Friend Judge*

    Okay, it’s a taboo to bad mouth your friends so let’s have a judgment free judgment thread of the annoying/frustrating/inappripriate things your friends do that you quietly disapprove of.

    My friend A is super sensitive about being single. I hate it when she twists innocuous comments into a personal criticism of her being single and lashes out. The other day she was showing us a new handbag. I remarked “Oh that’s gorgeous, I’m jealous!” Well, apparently that was the Wrong Thing to say. Because she launched into a tirade about how it’s not her fault I am married with children so I don’t get to buy nice things. Then it evolved into a lengthier rant about how she refuses to feel guilty for doing nice things Married Parents can’t do.

    I let it go because I know this is unlike her usual warm and caring personality. These rants stem from her complicated feelings about being single. But honestly it’s tiring dealing with her getting angry at me over what is essentially her own personal issue.

    I’ve tried to gently talk to her about this issue but she flips out. She puts me in the category of Married With Children so she responds with hostility if I attempt to say anything on the subject. I’m quietly waiting for her to deal with this in her own time so she doesn’t attack me anymore…but yeah. It’s getting old.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I had a (now ex, but that’s a different story) friend who had to make everything about her. You mention the city she was born in but didn’t live in for long? “Oh, I’M ORIGINALLY FROM *CITY*”. Say something about your boyfriend? She’ll interrupt you with “Oh, lemme tell you about this thing mine did…”
      Looking back, I’m surprised we remained friends as long as we did.

    2. TL -*

      My friend has two very young children and it is so hard to get her to talk about things that are not her children and/or family.
      She listens to me when I need to vent/talk but it’s really hard for her to stay on track and follow up – she tries, but then she’s always like, “You know what would cheer TL – up? Pictures of my babies!”

      Her kids are cute, I love her, I love them, I even love her husband, but I will be glad when they’re older and she’s out of the parenting haze.

    3. Anonforthis one*

      My good friend and his spouse, who live two blocks from me, are clearly trying to spend themselves out of serious marital issues.

      Issue? Moved to fancy apartment.
      Issue? Got a dog.
      Issue? Big new trip!

      They cannot afford this, and the eventual fallout is going to be ugly. I’m emotionally distancing myself, but watching with hands over my eyes.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        I’m sorry. I have a couple of friends who are also spending like there’s no tomorrow. “Watching with hands over my eyes” is a good description!

    4. Kate Daniels*

      I have a friend who just turned forty, but is convinced that everyone thinks she looks like she is a teen or in her twenties. If there’s ever any discussion about age, she will always bring up how “people” think she looks like she’s in her twenties. She likes the idea of looking like she’s really young for her age, but I secretly think she looks her age (which is not a bad thing!). It almost seems like she is always looking for others to tell her she looks really young for her age… but the truth is, she doesn’t.

      1. kc89*

        oh man that would get old really quickly

        if you’re going to talk about looking a decade+ younger than you better actually look it

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Agreed. I’m 50, and I’m often told that I look younger. I may, or I may not. I will say that although I haven’t done everything right, I have taken very good care of my skin. I started using moisturizer and eye cream when I was about 21. My roommate at the time was studying to be an esthetician and really harped on how important it was. So it’s possible that I do look younger than I am. My hairdresser told me she would put me in my late 30’s, which I think is pushing it, but still, it’s a nice compliment to get. But…I sill don’t go around telling everyone how young I look.

      2. Effie, who is herself again*

        Oh my gosh, a friend of a friend does this too! She’s in her forties and she seems to feel the need to compete with everything that we say (other than Mutual Friend, she clearly holds Mutual friend in higher regard than she does everyone else in Friend Group). The thing that bothers me the most is in regards to her talking about her looks – she humble brags about how “people” always says that she looks as if she’s in her late twenties. If you ask me, those people are being polite – or they exist in her head.

    5. anon for this*

      my friend has a dog and she clearly loves it very much, but she is just not set up to have a dog

      she lives in a no dogs allowed apartment, so anytime the dog barks she runs over and clamps his mouth shut going SHHHHHH and getting close to tears she gets so upset

      anytime they need to take the dog out to go to the bathroom they have to wrap it up in a blanket and drive to a park so the neighbors don’t see the dog (which makes me think the dog doesn’t get the change to go as often as he should because who is going to do that multiple times throughout the day)

      my friend stresses out over the dog constantly and doesn’t allow it to just be a dog, she’s only happy if it’s lying down quietly next to her (at least inside the apartment)

      she does love the dog and she loves taking him to the beach etc.

      It’s just like I said she is simply not set up to own a dog right now.

      1. School Psych*

        So I have a barkier dog and what your friend is doing when her dog barks is going to really confuse him. It might even make him aggressive, since dogs sometimes bark to communicate that they want someone or something to back off. If he doesn’t have the option to give a warning bark, he’ll go straight to biting when he’s in a situation he finds stressful. Wrapping him up and hiding him to take him outside is also going to potentially make it a lot harder for him to learn appropriate bathroom habits when he is in a place where they don’t have to do this. If she really loves the dog, she should consider re-homing him. I’ve done a lot of training with my dog and it’s really important to correct them in a way that doesn’t make it seem like things they do by instinct are always wrong. Dogs can learn not to bark indoors and many other things using positive reinforcement. She’s setting this dog up to be much more challenging to find a new home for when she realizes she can’t keep him.

      2. Friend Judge*

        Oh man. That makes me so sad, and I don’t even like dogs. Unless I thought he might end up in a pound, I would be sorely tempted to anonymously report she has a secret pet.

    6. Red Reader*

      A couple of my very dear friends have husbands that I just cannot stand. I kinda don’t actually want to tell them that I can’t stand the husbands because there’s really not a positive outcome there and I don’t want them to feel put in the middle – they’re not objectively bad guys, it’s more just a personality clash, which isn’t anybody’s fault. But it’s a lot easier to avoid the boyfriend I don’t like than the spouse I don’t like :-P

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        I’d dearly like to do this with my sisters’ husbands (who earned themselves a VERY unflattering nickname after ruining my wedding and relentlessly bully my husband at family events), but I fear that would just result in me getting even more shut out of the family than I already am. So I just try to spend as little time with them as possible.

    7. neverjaunty*

      If she keeps lashing out at you like this, it IS her. “Warm and caring” people who are decent friends don’t repeatedly tear their friends’ heads off over completely innocuous compliments, and they don’t flip out when you try to explain there’s a problem.

      1. Friend Judge*

        There definitely was a period of time when I distanced myself from her because she ONLY talked about being single and snapped at me far too often for me to tolerate. She’s a lot better now – at a point where I can handle it by reminding myself of her usual sweet personality and understanding this is something she struggles with.

        1. neverjaunty*

          But this is part of her “usual” personality. Even if she’s calmed down some, you have a friend who repeatedly lashed out at you rather than lean on you, and who “flipped out” when you tried to talk to her about it. That’s… not how friends are supposed to act.

    8. Mara*

      My friend who is always late is driving me to the point where I am making less and less of an effort to meet up with her. I have told her multiple times that I need her to be on time. Now I’ve started to just do the thing that we planned on doing at the given time without her, because I am just so done waiting around. She also never says sorry, but instead always has some kind of excuse for why she’s late. I do wonder if she will ever realize how big of an issue it is.
      Of course she is great otherwise.

    9. Foreign Octopus*

      My friend turns up uninvited to my house and brings her big, rowdy dogs with her. No matter how many times I tell her to call ahead first, she just rocks up with the excuse “I was in the neighbourhood, it’d be rude not to pop in and say hi.”

      No, honey, it’s rude to turn up unannounced and then stay for three hours despite the fact that it’s clear I’m in the middle of something.

      I love her but if I could change just one thing about her, this would be it.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          Easier said than done, unfortunately.

          I know what I’d like to say but in the face of her actually being there I cave like a wet paper bag. Besides, she doesn’t actually knock on the door. She comes around the side of the house to the porch, which is in the sun but shaded during the day so it’s a perfect place to sit, and surprises me there.

          1. Triplestep*

            Stand up when she gets there so that she cannot sit down with you. I had a manager who did this when he didn’t have time to talk in his office, and it worked really well. If it seemed like someone was going to stay more than just a quick hit, it somehow was always time to go re-fill his water bottle!

            1. Foreign Octopus*

              I know you’ll probably say return the rudeness to sender but that just feels so rude and awkward to me. I know she’s the one making it like that but I’m not sure I could pull this off, tbh.

              1. Triplestep*

                I would not say to be overtly rude to her, but if you see her walking up to your perfect sitting place, stand to greet her, then remain standing as you chat, walking slowly towards the front of your house so she can be on her way. :-) (It does not have to feel like a slap in the fact to her.)

          2. Wishing You Well*

            Oof. Sorry you’re dealing with this.
            Do you have a lockable gate? Can you say,”There’s my phone. It’s going to be a long call. See you next time” and walk in the house? Could you ask for what you need in an email?
            I’m wishing you luck and sending you good vibes.

            1. Foreign Octopus*

              I wish I did but I live in a very rural area where my nearest neighbours are cows – a calf actually broke into my garden this afternoon and I had to coax it out – so my land sort of eases onto public land with just the usual crumbling stone hedges as a sort of boundary. I do have an old iron gate but that doesn’t look. I just keep it shut to keep the dog in.

              I’ve actually tried the phone thing before but she said she’d wait – an hour later she’s still there.

              I honestly don’t understand this aspect of her personality. She’s so astute normally and I’ve spelt it out for her but she just doesn’t get it.

                1. Foreign Octopus*

                  Thanks. I think it is.

                  I was able to get it cheap because I moved to Spain. I’d never have been able to afford anything like it in the UK.

      1. Friend Judge*

        That would drive me nuts. If it were me I would just be straight up with her about it. “Hey, thanks for dropping by but I’m not available today. Call me next time and we can arrange a time when we’re both free. Nice to see you and catch up another time!” Say this while standing up then back up into the house before shutting the door.

        You’ve told her clearly she has to call ahead first – so it’s not rude at all to enforce that.

    10. long time poster, first time reader*

      I have to go anon for this.
      My friend is obsessed with getting married and having kids. She’s also certain that by about 30 all women lose their looks, go down hill, and are unwanted by men. She is a smart and talented woman and has accomplished so much, but can only focus on getting a man, having a kid, and how a woman needs to be taken care of by a man. She is sure that every woman wants and needs a child, but she doesn’t sound like she herself really believes what she’s saying.

      1. Lora*

        *blinks*… I saw how this attitude played out with my mother, who is technically young Greatest Generation but acts more like a Baby Boomer. She and my aunts, with only one exception, learned the very hard way that you need to take care of yourself. My father died when I was young, my aunt’s husband beat her for years and drank his paycheck before he died, another aunt was cheated on and divorced after 25 years of marriage. Have known many many women my mother’s age who also stayed in abusive relationships because they thought they could not take care of themselves. To this day I know many women even Gen X age who still flat out tell me they think I am doing a man’s job/chore.

        Also? Having been in multiple relationships where I was expected to do everything and take care of another adult, I feel like I can say for sure that it SUCKS. It gets very transactional: I paid the electric bill, now you get over here and rub my back. And you feel like a parent towards them instead of a partner. You don’t respect them as a fully adult person like you would respect a peer, because you’re caring for them like a teenager.

        However, having said that, a lot of people only learn the hard way. There was a fashion in the 80s where women like Phyllis Schlafly would go about telling women to rely on their husbands, and IIRC a few of them got dumped for a younger model in the 90s sort of thing.

    11. Waiting for the Sun*

      Minor gripe about a good friend: We went to a cafe that has a rewards card. We ordered the same thing and I didn’t use one. She asked if my purchase could be put on her card. Just kinda cringe-inducing.

      A bigger concern is relating to friends from college days whom I have hardly any tastes in common with anymore. I can’t even pretend to be interested in most of the television shows they enjoy (celebrity gossip, mediums) and they probably feel the same way about my likes. It gets really awkward sometimes.

      1. Katrin*

        Why is that cringe inducing? It would have gone to waste. This is a totally normal thing to do among people I know.

        1. Waiting for the Sun*

          IDK, it just surprised me. If I’d thought about it I would have picked up one of the reel cards off the counter and gotten one for myself.

    12. Loopy*

      I have a friend, T. T has made a massive irreversible Life Decision. It really it not something T can go back on.

      I am so so sick of hearing T complain about this. T is not in danger. T made a decision as an adult and doesn’t like the downsides. I’m struggling so, so incredibly hard to be empathetic.

    13. Traffic_Spiral*

      I have a friend who’s nice but a total passive-aggressive flake. She probably backs out of 90% of the plans we make one way or another. Also, she can never back out at a reasonable time – it’s always within 2 hours or less of the event. For example, we invite her to a dinner party that we’re cooking some fancy (and sorta pricey) stuff for, so we confirm with her before we do the grocery shopping. She says “yes, me and hubby will be there – he might be a little late though. Then, once we’ve bought all the food for both of them and started cooking it, texts with “oh, we’ve come down with The Sickness and cannot come.” Or we plan an event that you have to make reservations for, and because she’s said she’ll go (and usually hubs) we have to get less-nice spots because of the group size. Then, of course, once everyone else is there and we can’t get the good spots anymore, geez, she’s tired or has a headache or the flu or something. Always, always, suddenly sick within an hour of the event. Somehow she’s in the perfect pink of health 3 hours before, and the day before, or feeling poorly but determined to show up, but dagnabbit, The Sickness always shows up at the last minute.

      Further, if she’s not saying yes then backing out after you’ve made the reservation or otherwise put yourself out to make arrangements for her, she’s saying something like “wow, that sounds great,” when you ask her about doing something – which apparently for her means “that sounds nice but I’m not going.”

      It’s like, Suffering Christ, lady! Just fucking say no if you don’t want to go! Stop making life more difficult for everyone around you by making plans with them that you’re just gonna back out of! I like her when she does show up, but christ, it’s a pain!

      1. Lissa*

        I have friends I no longer see in anything except big group events because of this. I have no interest in arguing with them about the legitimacy of their illness because it doesn’t matter, true or not if I’m left holding the bag over half the time we’re supposed to see each other, it’s going to hurt my feelings and I’m going to back away.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          This is pretty much where we’re at now. I don’t want to judge anyone else’s health, but it’s just awful odd that these random sicknesses always pop up an hour before what we have planned.

      2. Friend Judge*

        That would drive me fucking nuts. I had a friend who did this, too. My final straw was when she cancelled out on me after we re-scheduled a lunch she previously flaked on only a few days earlier; and I had moved my schedule around to accommodate her to meet the second time. When she cancelled with a boohoo story half an hour before our lunch, I replied with one word, “wow.” Then deleted her number, erased her off my social media, then never contacted her again.

        She’s a nice person and all, but to me there is nothing that makes up for that kind of flakiness.

      3. Observer*

        Why do you still keep making plans with her? This is how she operates, and it doesn’t sound like it’s worth thei aggravation.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          She’s part of the friend group, on the chat circles, etc. Either we organize a mass shunning or she’s still going to be around to RSVP ‘yes’ and back out. But yes, at this point I make practically no one-on-one plans with her because there’s just too much risk of getting stood up at the last minute.

          We chat over text and get along fine that way – you just can’t make plans with her.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Don’t include her in friend-group invites that require planning. That doesn’t have to be a mass shunning. It just means inviting her only to events where canceling won’t matter (like a casual party).

            If she gets upset about this, you can be pretty blunt about why things are that way.

            1. Observer*

              Exactly this. If this is something where numbers matter, you don’t invite her. If she invites herself, you tell her flat out that given her track record, the non-invitation was not an accident. No, it’s not her fault, she can’t help it, etc. but when you have such a run of “bad luck”, you simply can’t deal with it.

      4. GibbsRule#18*

        This is my sister-in-law. She “got sick” about an hour before my wedding. I had never met her and it took months for me to meet her after the wedding. Apparently she has a pattern of doing this, so I didn’t feel too put out. But I always roll my eyes when my husband tells me she is going to be at an event. 9 times out of 10 she doesn’t show. She is married to my husband’s brother who is a lovely man, but always makes excuses for her. I’ve been married for 3+ years and have seen her twice. And we lie in the same city.

    14. That Friend*

      I’m like your friend. I know saying these things is dumb and wrong and alienating. But when you’re in a lot of pain, things pop out you wish they wouldn’t. What I’m actually doing asking, in a bad way, is for someone to validate my pain. I am so sick of people telling me to look on the bright side or tell me how jealous they are of my free time and money.

      I am freaking lonely and only want what the rest of the world seems so easy to find. Just try listening to your friend, express sympathy and don’t try to talk her out of being bummed. It sucks and she has to work through that. Maybe then the comments, which are a cry for love, will stop.

      1. Waiting for the Sun*

        I share that. It is hard, and I wonder, “why; what did I do wrong?” Found some peace through Buddhism.

      2. Kj*

        Are you in counseling or have you considered it? You sound in a lot of pain and when you find yourself doing alienating things even when you know they are causing you problems, it is worth seeking out support. A therapist will valiadate your pain and help you find a way out of it. A friend may not know to do this and frankly, if you are saying rude stuff to them, they may not want the job.

        1. That Friend*

          It’s like when you’re infertile and your friend complains about the baby keeping her up all night. And finally you pop out with, “At least you have a baby. I’m barren.” You know that isn’t good or helpful, but it’s hard to keep in all the time.

          I’m not saying rude things all the time or going off on my friends like the OP is complaining of. I just sometimes let something out I wish I didn’t. If she values the friendship, which it seems she does, I’m just offering a point of view as to why this is happening. She doesn’t have to put up with it nor is she wrong to be bothered by it.

          1. Friend Judge*

            Thanks, that does help seeing it from her perspective – particularly in the context of her normally thoughtful nature.

          2. Julia*

            Yeah, this is really tough. I wish my SIL would stop telling me to “enjoy my baby-free time while I still can” when she knows I have endometriosis and might never have a baby. That’s just insensitive. But I also have friends who just talk about their babies and the good and the hard stuff, and I don’t mind that. I realize that my just because I don’t mind doesn’t mean you can’t, and maybe I will mind some day, but for now, the way people talk makes a difference to me.

            I’m also trying really hard to not complain about my husband to my single friends, but when most of my close friends are single, it’s hard because I sometimes need to talk to someone (other than my therapist). I really try hard not to be all “marriage is just as hard as single life” on them, but when I get a lot of “your life is so much easier because you’re married” right in the middle of figuring out where we can both work and see our families (international marriage), or my husband left me crying on my own to play games, I want to tell them that being married isn’t always easier. (And I’m still miffed that one friend kind of ditched me for a while after I got married, because I didn’t have time for her once – due to a deadline in grad school, not due to being married!)
            That said, I also hated when married people told me that I had such a great life as a single woman – if you really thought that, why did you get married in the first place?

            1. Lehigh*

              Are any of your single friends happy with being single? Those ones I would think you could talk more freely with. When I was single, I didn’t think my married friends were better off than I was–because I wasn’t looking to get married, so it wasn’t a pain point for me.

              But do avoid saying things like, “I wish I were single” or “You’re so lucky.” Those comments are obnoxious–as is what your SIL is saying–and different from “Ugh, Spouse is doing X and it’s really hard,” which is totally valid.

              1. Julia*

                I never say “I wish I were single” or “you’re so lucky” – if I wanted to be single, I could get a divorce”, but yeah, most of my single friends are looking for someone. Luckily, my best friend is happily single at least, but I kind of don’t want her to be the only one who has to listen to my complaints.

            2. Ann O'Neamus*

              Any advice where can a lovely 50-something woman meet great single guys (mid 40s to 60s) who are interested in marrying an age appropriate woman?

          3. neverjaunty*

            This “friend” is lashing out over compliments about a handbag she’s showing off. This is more like if you showed your friend your cute new shoes, and when she says “they’re cute!” you start lecturing her about how she could have nicer shoes if she didn’t have a baby. And then flipped out when she tried to talk to you about that.

            Attacking people when you’re in pain and hoping they’ll respond with love is not rational and is an impulse that a good therapist can help with.

      3. Lissa*

        I don’t know – the comments the OP of this thread is describing sound downright mean, and I think asking somebody else to accept a hurtful comment and instead express love and sympathy is too much. If a friend of mine say something hurtful, I am not saying I’d immediately cut them off or get into it with them – if they apologized and explained where they were coming from, I’d forgive them of course – I’ve said bad things too, or had something come out of my mouth and been like “ugh WHY did I say that” including in circumstances where it absolutely had to do with sad life circumstances of my own. But I don’t think it’s right to expect the friend to do the work when it’s me who’s said the mean thing. An honest conversation could definitely happen and that would probably be best for both parties.

        1. Friend Judge*

          Yeah…what Lissa said.

          The kind of support you can provide as a friend is quite different to that of a therapist, who is paid to do nothing other than listen to your gripes and hurts and validate your feelings in a healthy way.

          I don’t think it’s actually healthy for friends to play the role of a therapist. I would support my friend and love her – but within reasonable boundaries where it does not impair my own emotional health.