As a feminist, I feel uneasy about guys holding doors open for me, pulling out my chair so I can sit down, helping me put on my coat, and so on. I know that men do these things to be friendly, but is there a polite way to decline "gentlemanly" assistance?
—Independent In Inglewood
Oh, uh… Hey! Chuck! How are you? I'm good, good. Wow, I didn't see you. I mean, I sort of saw you out of the corner of my eye, but I didn't realize it was you. Yeah, pretty dopey of me! What are you doing in this neck of the woods? You what? You and Karen are getting married? My God, congratulations! When? No, I didn't get an invitation. When did you send them? Last month? Well, that's strange. I don't recall getting one. Wait, what phone call from Karen? She left me a message? Oh, geez, I never got that either. Oh, do you wanna know what the problem is? My stupid voicemail. I sometimes have problems retrieving messages. It's zinged me before. I know, it's ridiculous. You'd think they'd have that technology down by now, wouldn't you? I mean, for what I pay for it! Okay, well, I'd better—oh, duh. Sure, I'd like to come. Sure, of course. Why don't you shoot me an e-mail about the date and locale and so on. It'll save you the trouble of mailing another invite. Why waste a stamp? Sorry about that. Uh, sorry to be a jerk, but I really do have to go. Job interviews got me running my ass ragged. Uh, yeah. Yeah, I still am. Well, we'll catch up later about all that. Okay, Chuck, great to see you. Bye now.
I live in an apartment building and have a next-door neighbor who's extremely sensitive about noise. I've heard this person complain about other neighbors, so I make a conscious effort to be quiet. I keep my voice down, take my shoes off when I'm at home, and never watch television past midnight. That's why I was shocked to get an angry note from this neighbor accusing me of blasting my television and running my kitchen appliances late at night! Guy Who's Avoiding You, what should I do?
—Not Noisy In NYC
Yah! Chu-Chuck! Wow, you startled me! Well, uh, hey stranger. Wow, you sure get around. An appointment with your wedding planner? Pretty ritzy! I thought only people in movies use wedding planners… Is Karen around here somewhere? Well, too bad, it'd be nice to see her. Oh, no! No, no way. I mean, I'd love to, but I've got some business to take care of over lunch. Thanks for the offer, though. What? The e-mail you sent to me bounced back? Yes, I was looking for that invitation. Oh, I just realized… you probably sent it to the Yahoo address, right? Yeah, I changed over to a new e-mail account. No, the Yahoo address is totally dead. Jeez, I'm really sorry. Look, I'll e-mail you tonight—you have the same address, right? Yeah, I have that. I'll e-mail you and then you can send the wedding info. My new address? Oh, I still haven't memorized it. It's something with my name. Barry… Jeez, I just can't remember. I shouldn't have created such a confusing one. Stupid. Okay, Chuck, gotta run. What? Oh, another job interview. Well, I'm interviewing for a lot of stuff. This and that. I even got offered something last week, but I turned it down. Not enough pay. Well, that's what I did, anyway. Okay. I'll e-mail you tonight and then you can e-mail me. All right. Good luck with your wedding-planner thing. Okay.
I have a female friend who has lost more than 50 pounds. We're all proud of her, but she still has a way to go before she hits her ideal weight. Yet she recently announced that she's done losing weight. As a friend, do I need to tell her that, for her health and her appearance, she needs to keep going?
—Unsure In Utica
Chuck. Whoa! Three times in one week?! Okay, this is starting to get a little nutty! A little Twilight Zone-y, wouldn't you say? Doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo! So, uh, what brings you to my neighborhood? Getting your tux altered. May I infer that you bought your own tux? Fabulous. What? Oh yeah, my e-mail. Oh, man. Well, I have no excuse other than I just blanked. Sorry about that. Look, don't bother about the invitation. Just tell me when the wedding is. Sunday, June 19? Hmm. Can't make it. How do I know? Well, I've just started temping at a law firm, and I mainly work weekends. Oh, you know, filing and so on. "Paralegal's assistant," they call it. Well, yeah, the job's temporary, but I'm pretty sure they're keeping me on through August, and it could lead to something full-time. What? Oh, come on, Chuck. That has nothing to do… come on. Do you think I've been blowing you off? All right, I understand why you may feel that way. I do. But it's not so. I've been very busy. Now, true, I lived with Karen for eight years, but that was what? Two years ago? Honestly, I'm fine with all this. I've come to realize that, although I made a lot of mistakes I regret, Karen and I are better off apart. I mean, we're all friends now… I mean, still. You and I are still friends. Here's the bottom line. Bottom line is, I wish you both well. I really mean it. I mean, I wish I could hear some more about what you have planned for the wedding, but right now, I gotta go. Oh, a staff meeting. Yeah, mandatory attendance even for temps. Weird, I know, but there's a reason they're the best law firm in town. Okay. See ya, Chuck.
Chuck! Hey man, sorry, this bus—I gotta. Fine, fine! No—can't. Gotta—later, dude!
Barry Turner is a syndicated columnist whose weekly advice column, Ask A Guy Who's Been Avoiding You, appears in more than 250 papers nationwide.