Ask Amy

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 10:05pm

DEAR AMY: My wife and I are attending a wedding next weekend. We are friends with the bride and groom, but not best friends. We received an email stating that we and another married couple have been "signed up" for the clean-up committee.

The bride is catering her own wedding and using a rental kitchen. She just sent us an email saying she had assigned us to move tables and chairs, take out garbage and sweep the floor after the reception has ended.

The part that really gets me is where she gave reasons for asking us to do this task: "You are responsible; you are part of a long-term committed relationship (so I won't be preventing an inebriated wedding stranger hookup); and I trust you to wrangle others to help — you are kind of bossy and I like that."

She also says, "Feel free to decline this assignment with no hard feelings. Just let me know."

How does one respond to such an email? Also, have you ever heard of a bride even doing such a thing?

— Unsure of a Response

DEAR UNSURE: This is a new one. The bride's primary mistake, at least in my mind, is the tone of her request. I think she is trying to be wry and funny. But, as I have learned, comedy is best left to the professionals.

When you are asking people to literally take out your trash, the best way to do it is to throw yourself on their mercy and basically implore them to forgive you for the request. Instead, she went another way — insulting you by calling you bossy, etc.

You could call her on this by responding, "Wow. What a lovely offer. Who wouldn't jump at the chance to take out your trash?"

She is also giving you the opportunity to decline. I could supply you with the answer I once received when I asked a guy I didn't know well to attend a wedding with me: "Oh — I'd love to, but I don't think I have the right shoes."

DEAR AMY: I'm a 27-year-old graduate student. I've been dating a man who is 10 years older.

He's well established in his field and is ready to make a lifetime commitment. He's basically told me that this is a priority for him.

Now that I'm getting closer to graduating, I'm looking at jobs and realizing that I may need to make a choice between my boyfriend and a job in my field. I love him and really want to be with him right now, but I'm honestly not sure if I could make that kind of commitment. I've told him about this, and he just kind of shuts down.

Is it selfish to stay with him? Would it be better to break it off now so he can find someone who can commit to the life he wants?

— Graduating

DEAR GRADUATING: If you are not sure what you want, your uncertainty itself is an answer. If you wanted a permanent future with him, you'd be practicing your vows into your hairbrush at this moment.

Chalk this up to bad timing. And let him know the absolute truth of your reality.

DEAR AMY: I did not like your advice to the "Worried Grandma," whose daughter is expecting a baby and whose Labrador retriever is poorly behaved.

If the mother is truly concerned, she should offer to pay for a trainer to come to the house for 10 sessions to teach the dog not to jump on people, and a dog walker to come for the first month after the baby is born.

Our children learned to walk by pulling up on the retriever and toddling along as the dog slowly walked around the house. The dog chased away a man who broke into our home when our 8-year-old was briefly home alone.

In this situation, the family needs help in making their dog behave; not criticism of their future parenting abilities.

— Dog Owner and Pediatric Nurse

DEAR NURSE: Great suggestions. Now, about your choice to leave an 8-year-old home alone ...

Send questions via email to Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.

Filed under: Lifestyles
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