Ask Amy

Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 12:00am

DEAR AMY: More than 40 years ago, "Steve" — a high school classmate — attempted to rape me, and I was injured.

My clothes were destroyed. I was bruised and bleeding.

I decided not to tell anyone.

Eventually, I had counseling and have been OK.

I think I did myself a favor by keeping quiet about it. Steve married the girl he was dating at the time. They had kids, got a divorce and life went on.

I saw him a few times at reunions, and we avoided each other. I have a happy life.

Now Steve is dying of lifestyle-related afflictions.

His once-estranged children are rallying around him, as are all of our friends.

Suddenly, I'm getting e-mails and links to Web sites with tributes and fond memories. All of this has been difficult for me.

I don't want to share any positive memories, and I won't be going to the funeral.

What's the classiest way for me to handle questions from friends about why I'm not actively participating in this group grief?

At this point, I don't see any value in disclosing an incident so long in the past.

I just want to get through this quietly, while respecting Steve's friends' feelings.

— Peggy Sue

DEAR PEGGY SUE:
Though I would have suggested that you disclose this incident to someone in authority at the time it happened, you are the victim and you did what you feel is best for you.

I think the classiest way to respond to this situation is to continue to be respectful of other people's feelings.

If you are questioned about why you aren't participating, you can honestly say, "I don't feel about him the way you do, but I'm very sorry for your sadness, and, of course, you have my sympathy."

If you are pressed further, you can take a page from professional press secretaries and issue a polite, "No comment."


DEAR AMY: I was married last year.

When making our guest list, my now-husband and I invited the spouses, fiances and domestic partners of our friends and relatives, but did not invite other individuals to bring a guest.

A close family friend, "Olivia," offered to assist with a wedding-related task that necessitated her obtaining a copy of the guest list.

Shortly before the invitations were to be mailed, I received a phone call from Olivia asking if we would add her college-age son's girlfriend to the list.

I was nonplused (it was our wedding and our guest list, after all), but I felt obligated to agree as she was assisting with the wedding.

Unfortunately, the manner in which I agreed to Olivia's request was not to her satisfaction, and she continues to criticize me to my mother.

How should my mother respond when Olivia brings this up again?

What should I say if she mentions it to my face?

— Perplexed

DEAR PERPLEXED: Until you succumbed to pressure, you were proceeding according to protocol — and your own wishes.

I hope marrying couples everywhere learn from this. I'd suggest taking the bull by the horns and contacting Olivia yourself.

Say, "I understand from my mother that you're not happy with me. Why don't you tell me what's on your mind?"

She'll likely back down (it's cowardly to snipe to your mom behind your back), but this gives you an opportunity to say, "There's no need to involve my mother if you have a problem with me, and I'd appreciate it if you didn't bring it up with her again."


DEAR AMY: When I requested "no gifts" for my 62nd birthday party, a dear friend gave me a birthday card with an announcement that a financial gift had been made in my name to a worthy nonprofit organization.

I was delighted. I have collected things for 62 years and already have those things that really matter to me.

A gift to a worthwhile cause is a delightful solution.

— Eric

DEAR ERIC: I really like this practice and hope others are inspired to consider donating in lieu of material gifts.

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Filed under: Lifestyles