DEAR AMY: My cousin's new fiancee, "Teri," loves drama — whether it comes through texting, Facebook, or old-fashioned back-stabbing.
We've become acquainted at family events. Teri calls me every few months to trash another cousin's new wife, "Maria."
Last night, while out at dinner with a large family group, Teri texted with Maria, who had chosen to stay home.
Imagine my surprise when Teri leaned across the table and said to me, "Maria is texting everyone that you are an idiot and that you're the reason she didn't come to dinner. Don't tell anyone. I'll show you the text later."
I said I didn't want to see the text and that I didn't care what Maria said about me. But I am left questioning Teri's desire to tell me about this, as well as her eagerness to show me the actual text that would only hurt my feelings.
And here's the thing: Teri hinted she's going to ask me to be a part of her upcoming wedding.
Amy, I work hard to keep my life drama-free. I feel as if getting involved in her wedding will put me in the center of a bunch of hurtful nonsense, where I don't want to be.
I see my options as begging off being a bridesmaid due to a lie, like "a lack of funds;" not attending the wedding (which I'd like to attend for my cousin's sake); or being a bridesmaid and trying to be a good example of drama-free living.
Which do you think will work best?
— Caught in a Trap
DEAR CAUGHT: What I think will work best for you is to lie low, cross your fingers, and hope that Teri tires of you before throwing the bridesmaid gig in your lap.
If she offers it, you'll have to say no. Any lie you tell will ensnare you eventually. So I suggest a duck-and-cover technique that is both truthful and vague. Don't offer any excuses or reasons.
You say, "Teri, it is so sweet of you to ask me to be a bridesmaid, but unfortunately I can't do it."
When she asks why, you say, "It's just not something I'm comfortable doing."
The reason I don't suggest confronting her directly about her behavior is because toxic, dramatic people tend to transform every statement (however benign) into a "Lifetime" movie script.
Never communicate with her by text.
DEAR AMY: My stepdaughter has two children in diapers.
My problem is that she uses my carpeted floor to change the babies' diapers.
I've put out towels for her to lay the kids on, and they end up being used as headrests rather than a diaper pad.
I'm totally grossed out by this, and have gently tried to redirect the changing activity to the towel or a bathroom floor, to no avail.
Her father does not want to upset her by asking her to keep the diaper changing to the very roomy bathroom or use a pad.
Stepdaughter is a 35-year-old teacher, not a terribly young mother.
I don't think I'm being a germaphobe; this really seems disgusting to me.
What should I do?
DEAR GRANDMA: Two children in diapers is 10 times the work of one child in diapers.
I am not grossed out to the extent you are, mainly because an expert diaper changer (your stepdaughter surely is one) can slip one diaper out and another one in under a baby's bottom faster than you can say, "Honey, get me the Desitin!"
Surely your relationship with this mother could survive your saying, "Hey, let's slip the towel under Brandon so nothing gets on the carpet."
Obviously, you could easily demonstrate your preference by offering to change the babies when they're at your house.
DEAR AMY: I wish you had stated your point to "Gentleman Waiting" more emphatically. He was "waiting" for his fiancee to demonstrate some sound financial habits before marrying her, but with a spotty employment record and a history of going into debt, change didn't seem on the horizon.
I suggest he run for the hills.
— Been There
DEAR BEEN THERE: I agree that this fiancee didn't demonstrate any motivation to change.
Send questions via email to email@example.com. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.