Dear Doug Bauer,

My friend is going all-out for her upcoming wedding–400 guests, tons of flowers, the works. As her maid of honor, I'm spending every minute of my free time driving her from one store to another. I'm honored she wants me at her side on her big day, but does that mean I need to be her personal chauffeur for the three months leading up to it?

—Worn Out In Wilmington

Dear Worn Out,

Doug Bauer, purchasing. Hi, Anne. I really can't talk right this–what's wrong? Well, no, not exactly. Honey, I really can't talk right now. I'm right in the middle of something. No, I didn't forget. I just didn't have time. Yes, I know. Yes. Honey, I really can't–I know. I know. Hold on. I know. Honey, hold on a sec. What do you need, Ben? The Datech order? I'm just finishing it up. Five minutes, I'll bring it down. Anne? I'm sorry. Ben. Ben Upchurch. Yes, the one with the BMW. I'm sorry, sweetie, but I have to go now, okay? I know, but I didn't mean to. I didn't–I'll do it as soon as I get home, I promise. I'm writing it down right now–deck... furniture. I will. No, I won't forget. Because I said I wouldn't. That really isn't necessary, is it? Why? All right, fine: I promise I'll do it as soon as I get home. Yes, dear. Yes, dear. Yes, dear.

Dear Doug Bauer,

Now that I've moved to a small apartment in a retirement center, the last thing I need is clutter. Next month, I'm having my 70th birthday party, which leads to my problem. At previous parties, I've asked that no one bring a gift, but many just dismissed my request as modesty. How do I make it clear I'm serious about my guests showing up empty-handed?

—Cramped In Cranston

Dear Cramped,

Doug Bauer, purchasing. Anne, I can't talk. Yes, I'm aware what day it is. Of course I did. The what? Aw, Christ. Do we have to? It's just that it's been a hell of a day here. Can't we just skip it? Of course I care about your sister. Of course. Yes, of course. I just don't think I... Do you have to bring that up? You said you forgave me for that. I know. I know. Honey, this has nothing to do with that. I know. An ice-cream cake? Where am I supposed to get an ice-cream cake? Honey, I have a call on the other line. What's Bambi's? Bambi's Bakery? Where is it? Fine, I'll look it up. Sweetie, I really have to get that call. Chocolate? I'll do my best. Marbled? Okay. I've got to go. I understand. Of course I love you. Because I'm very busy, that's why. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Yes, I love you. Of course I meant it. No, of course not. If I sound busy, it's because I am. Why? Okay, I love you, Anne.

Dear Doug Bauer,

My boyfriend has the worst taste in clothing. Not only that, he only has about three shirts he actually wears, and they're all worn out and faded. Now he's in line for a possible promotion at work, and I think it's time to whip his wardrobe into shape. I don't expect him to become a fashion plate, but I do think having a neat and professional appearance counts in the eyes of an employer. Don't you agree?

—Exasperated In El Paso

Dear Exasperated,

Doug Bauer, purchasing. Honey, I can't even understand you. Slow down. A phone call? No. No, I wasn't. Can we talk about this when I get home? I really don't have time right now. Honey, I need to get... Honey, please... Honey, I... Hon–what do you mean? Who? Sarah who? If you don't, how should I? This really isn't a good time for this sort of thing. Because I'm sitting at my desk. I'm in my cubicle and everyone is–I know. It's just that there are a lot of people hovering around nearby, and I'd really rather not–I know. Can't we just talk about this when I get home? When I get home, I promise I'll... I swear, I don't know anyone named Sarah. No. What? Why didn't you say she was calling from Dr. Silver's office? I thought you knew that. Hiding what? Cavities? Anne, I can't sit here and–that was different. It just was. I know. I know. I'm honestly not sure. That's true. Yes, I do appreciate it. Of course. I'm very sorry about that. I have to go, though. We will. Yes. As soon as I get home. In four hours, I promise. I will. Yes, absolutely. Okay, I'll skip the gym. In three hours.

Doug Bauer is a syndicated columnist whose advice column, Ask A Man Getting Yelled At By His Wife Over The Phone At Work, appears in more than 250 newspapers nationwide.