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Secret Keeper Dear Annie: My only sibling has stopped speaking to me. My brother had a son 26 years ago. He claims he knew nothing about the child until I told him six months ago that he should take responsibility for his oldest son. We had words, and he texted …Read more. Inappropriate Roughhousing Dear Annie: My girlfriend has a thing that she does with her 10-year-old son that I find borderline weird. The first time I was at her home, while we were cooking dinner together, her son started whining, "Can we do it now, please? Please?" and she …Read more. Reliving High School Through Facebook Dear Annie: While in high school in the late 1970s, there was this guy, "Scott," who had a crush on me. Nothing transpired back then, so fast-forward 30 years. A month ago, I received a Facebook friend request from Scott. Of course, I accepted and …Read more. Never-Ending Bullying Dear Annie: I am the youngest sister of 10 siblings. Over the years, five siblings have died. You'd think we would try to be closer after such awful losses. So when does the bullying stop? I have tried to be an upstanding sister and aunt, but no …Read more.
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Living with Lupus


Dear Annie: I'm 27 and have lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease. My condition is usually under control, and I live a normal life. The problem is, I'm very sensitive to perfume, air fresheners and cigarette smoke, and with my medications, I can't drink alcohol.

A lot of my girlfriends throw candle parties and cosmetic parties or go out drinking, all of which involve things I react badly to. I typically decline these invitations, suggest something else or go along and stay silent so I won't be a wet blanket. At a recent cosmetic party, I stupidly allowed a friend to smear makeup on me after being goaded into it. Within seconds, my face and scalp were burning, and I jumped up and stuck my head under the faucet. Everybody laughed, except the hostess, who was "deeply offended." I haven't been invited to any parties since.

It upsets me that my friends, who have known me since we were children, don't seem to care that the majority of their plans include activities that will make me physically ill. I have offered to host get-togethers at my home, but one of my friends told me my house "smells funny." When I ask friends, family or co-workers to lay off the perfume or air freshener, I hear, "You're the only one who complains." Even my sister douses herself in a perfume that gives me hives and then gets insulted that I don't want to hug her.

How do I explain to my friends that their idea of fun literally makes me sick? I'm starting to feel very left out because of my disease. — Shouldn't Be Limited by Lupus

Dear Not Limited: Your friends seem a bit immature, which makes them too focused on their own enjoyment and less sympathetic toward you. Do they know you have lupus? (Saying that you can't drink or are sensitive to cologne might seem optional to them.) When you can participate without too much risk, you should make the effort, but otherwise, we recommend you start looking for better friends.

For additional assistance and support, try the Lupus Foundation of America (

Dear Annie: A co-worker and her husband are expecting a baby in late December and decided to throw themselves an elaborate baby shower. They have plenty of friends, relatives and colleagues who could have given them a shower. I have never heard of giving one for yourself. Isn't this rude? — Flummoxed in Florida

Dear Florida: The idea of showers (bridal or baby) was for friends to help a new couple stock their home or prepare for the new child by voluntarily gifting them with things they would need. This sweet, helpful welcome has somehow morphed into the idea that people are entitled to demand gifts for every occasion. Throwing oneself a baby shower smacks of greed. It says, "I expect you to give me presents."

However, it's possible that none of their friends offered to help and they thought it would be OK to do it themselves. Whether to attend is up to you.

Dear Annie: "Old Enough" didn't want her parents to visit her in Europe during her son's spring break because he needed to study for his SATs. That letter took the cake.

During the lifetime of one's parents, children should adjust their schedules to accommodate those who sacrificed so much for them. What a lame excuse about the son wanting to study for SAT and AP exams. There are plenty of places he can go to study without interruptions. — Parent

Dear Parent: We disagree. Children should, of course, make accommodations for their parents whenever possible. But when Mom and Dad can visit at any time and deliberately choose to come on precisely those days that their daughter has asked them not to shows a lack of consideration and respect. Parents who want to maintain a healthy relationship with their children should not stomp all over them.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



93 Comments | Post Comment
LW1: As a fellow traveler with an auto-immune disease, I'm so sorry you've gone through this. But the real problem is that these people are not your friends. Please look around you, figure out who has been kind and understanding, and spend your time with them. If you need a whole new circle, you're probably way overdue for it.

Anyone who would, knowing your condition, invite you to a cosmetic or perfume or candle party or criticize you for not using air freshener, is just being mean. This is more than cluelessness. I suspect that as a group they have formed a kind of mean girl thing that leaves you out or knowingly hurts you. There's no good or acceptable reason for it. They are also just too selfish to allow your needs to limit what they do. It isn't you. It's them. Please lose them and you'll have a better life.

As for your sister, a lot of times family only see you when you are relatively well, so they can dismiss your illness. When you are too sick, you don't show up, right? She might need some clear facts to remind her that she is hurting you with the perfume. She may really not understand. If she does understand, you might have to limit the amount of time you spend around her.

You aren't alone. That's for sure. Everyone who has been through an auto-immune illness knows what you are going through.
Comment: #1
Posted by: LouisaFinnell
Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:30 PM

LW3 refers to the first letter on 2 November 2012 (50 Years Old but Still Feeling 5).
Comment: #2
Posted by: Miss Pasko
Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:42 PM
Re "Old Enough": It's impossible to "study" for the SAT. A student can practice to take it, but it tests aptitude, not facts. If the LW's daughter doesn't want her parents to visit because her son needs to "study" for the SAT, then there's another reason she doesn't want them to visit.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Jeanne
Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:46 AM
LW1- I agree those people aren't your friends. Not if they are laughing at you after you have an allergic reaction to something, refuse to do anything that you can join in. I recommend that you branch out and meet new people who share similar interest to you. If you aren't sure how, join a couple of volunteer organizations to start.

LW2- I hosted my sister's baby shower. Why?? Because I make more than most of her close friends and she didn't want them to feel obligated to pay for something they couldn't afford and we all wanted to celebrate her first child and help baby /new parents. Her friends helped out where they could; making the cake, helping with invitations, some donations with of the prizes and everyone had a GREAT TIME which is the most important thing. I don't get why people are worried about who is giving the party instead of remembering WHY the party is taking place… a pending wedding, or birth of a new child. Also just because something was the norm in the past doesn't mean it works for everyone in the present.
Comment: #4
Posted by: JA
Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:52 AM
Do they know you have lupus? (Saying that you can't drink or are sensitive to cologne might seem optional to them.)
This! Nowhere in the letter does she say she's told them!
Comment: #5
Posted by: VAdame
Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:10 AM
LW3: I second Jeanne's note (number 3). I remember thinking that when the first letter came out, but I took the SATs so so long ago, I thought maybe I was mistaken. But what I recalled was that you can't study for SATs any more than you can study for an IQ test. You can learn how the SATs themselves work, and how they word the questions/answers, which I remember was sort of odd; but "cramming" wouldn't have worked. Anyway, my thought was that the problem was moot - telling parents not to come; instead making a kid study for something that's unstudy-able is strange.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Steve C
Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:27 AM
LW1--"The problem is, I'm very sensitive to perfume, air fresheners and cigarette smoke, and with my medications, I can't drink alcohol." No, YOUR problem is that you're sensitive to perfume, air fresheners, alcohol, yada yada yada. Let's face it, you're allergic to life. I completely disagree with the Annies contention that your friends are immature. They seemed to have been patient with you up to a point but I guess they felt that they might as well give up after seeing you act like a vampire doused with holy water following the application of a little makeup to your face (which YOU allowed!) I'm sorry my dear, but it seems to me that you're the only one in your social circle whose idea of "fun" is a pity party and that's why you're now outcast. Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for yourself because everyone around you won't bend over backwards and make sacrifices to accommodate your disease, why don't you get on-line and meet new people in your community who are similarly afflicted and hang out with them. The world doesn't revolve around you.

LW2--Isn't it obvious that your co-worker didn't want to take a chance that a friend or family member might screw up the guest list and leave the mailman's niece off the list? Hell, that's one more baby rattle damn it! My advice is to RSVP that you have a severe allergy to greed and thus will be unable to attend the baby shower.

LW3--"During the lifetime of one's parents, children should adjust their schedules to accommodate those who sacrificed so much for them." SLAP! snap out of it quickly and repent before the inner sanctum of child worshippers has you picked up and tossed into Guantanamo Bay for your blasphemy!
Comment: #7
Posted by: Chris
Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:39 AM
LW1 - Do your friends know you have lupus? Or if they do know, do they know how serious it is? It doesn't sound like they know or get how serious it is. If not, you need to explain to them WHY you can't go to candle or cosmetic parties or be around perfumes. If they still act the same way, then they aren't your real friends. You mentioned that you sometimes go along but stay silent. Why? If you're going to go along, at least make the best out of it. Lupus doesn't prevent you from talking or socializing. I can't drink due to medication, either, but if I go out with friends, I don't sit there silent. I have my soda and talk and laugh and dance or whatever. Talk to them first and take it from there.

LW2 - I think it's selfish to throw a baby shower for yourself but the good thing is that you don't have to attend if you don't want to.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Michelle
Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:39 AM
LW1 - I agree that the LW has a really immature and unpleasant group of so-called friends, and she should try to broaden her horizons and find other, more caring people to hang out with. These people sound like a bunch of unfeeling teenagers. I can't imagine laughing at someone who has an autoimmune disease. Even if she hasn't told them why she has the reactions to fragrances and alcohol that she does, they shouldn't be acting in the way they are. If they DO know, then it's even worse and they certainly are NOT her friends. If I were the LW, I wouldn't try to force myself to attend parties and get-togethers that she knows in advance will be harmful to her.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Kitty
Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:03 AM
LW2 - I don't agree with the concept of a "Come to My Party and Bring Me Presents" event, but like others have said, it's the invitee's option. If you don't want to go, then don't go.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Kitty
Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:07 AM
Chris, show some compassion. Lupus is a chronic medical condition, not a preference. The LW has a medical reason to avoid these toxins, and the fact that her "friends" are so into themselves that they can't see it creates a real problem. There are many ways to socialize that don't involve perfume, cosmetics or alcohol. Hopefully she can find a circle of friends who will get together for coffee or for dinner (with drinks for those who choose, and no recriminations for those who don't), go to a show or on a hike. In other words, friends who want to spend time with her. These parties are all about sales, and it looks like her "friends" want her money, not her. She's better off without them.
Comment: #11
Posted by: maryp
Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:19 AM
I too have an auto-immune disease. I am also sensitive to perfumes and smoke. It sucks to travel, the overwhelming menagerie of perfumes and soaps can become overwhelming. It sucks having an invisible illness. I look healthy but I don't feel like it. I advise you to find new friends, those people are not your real friends. Friends care about you.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Hope
Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:45 AM
I'm surprised people still douse themselves in perfume and aftershave chemicals in this day and age. I have some (not much) sympathy for smokers, who at least have the excuse of being addicted and can take their selfmade pollution outside. But people who continue to wear scents in public, knowing full well that it pollutes the air and water during its manufacturing and can make some people literally sick, show a level of narcissism and selfishness that is beyond me. If people want to wear the stuff at home or in their private cirlce of friends where no one is affected, fine. But those who wear scents to the workplace, doctors' offices and restaurants should be viewed in the same light as those who smoke around others.

If someone comes to me for a job interview and I can smell their perfume or aftershave, I won't hire them, period. I won't even hire them and make not wearing scents as a condition of employment. And it's not because I'm affected, because scents don't bother me in the least. But when someone knows that a completely optional and unnecessary action they take can harm another person, even if it's just something minor like giving them a headache, watery eyes or inducing a tickel in the throat, and they do it anyway, it says something about their character that just isn't compatible with teamwork, leadership, empathy or good customer service.
Comment: #13
Posted by: Jane
Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:50 AM
Re: LW2
Yes, it's rude to throw your own shower. The old traditions have changed due to self-centered people who can't be bothered with the effort of throwing a party for someone else. Or the person throwing their own party is so self-centered that no one wants to do it for them.
Now a personal question for the BTL group:
This reminds me of my step-daughter, my wife's daughter, who just turned 30. She has the nerve to suggest to her brother's wife (they are all between 27 and 30), that single people should get showers too. Why should showers only be for people getting married or having a child ... single people need things too. She's pretty, average weight, but very self-centered, narcissistic, lives for today... don't worry about tomorrow (until tomorrow comes and she's screwed), has no career ... just a fast-food job, spends much of her money on cigarettes ... and won't admit she's a nicotine addict, turns down all attempts to help her as interference in her adult life (but she'd gladly take any money she could get, not that we give her any). Because the last man she got involved with turned out to be more possessive than she liked, all men suck, and are not good enough for her, even though, with her attitude, it's really she who is not good enough for any decent man. She's seeing a counselor, but even the counselor is enabling her like her parents did all her life. I have helped her (and my wife agrees) in more ways than I can count, trying to be a great step-dad ... better than her drug-addicted father ever was, but she has not appreciated me, just expecting more and more. I took a tough love stand with her ... in a very loving way ... offering to help in many ways ... to get some schooling for a better job ... to help her quit the cigarettes ... etc ... but not enabling. And now I'm the bad person, because i won't just give her what she wants, with no questions asked, and no end in sight.
After spending thousands to help her move back home from Florida a few years ago, and finding her an apartment, helping her move several times, etc, she got mad at me for two months because she didn't hear me say hi to her when she came to our house once and she was in a bad mood (I did say hi). She's gotten mad at me because once when she and her mother sent out shopping, I called my wife, once, to ask a question I needed a quick answer to. The daughter got mad saying that she and her mother couldn't even have time to themselves without me calling, and that she wishes that she had her mother all to herself again.
My wife and I are very happy together and agree about most things, but she tends to be an enabler regarding her daughter which changes nothing ... and I want to take a tough love stand it's caused some sadness in our marriage.
Any positive suggestions ? Thanks. Rude comments can be kept to yourself.
Comment: #14
Posted by: Dave Galino
Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:00 AM
@ maryp

I do not lack compassion for LW1, I'm simply being realistic. LW1 is like a penguin whose friends are all seagulls and whose miffed and feeling slighted because her seagull friends won't abstain from flying because she can't. Your advice and mine is exactly the same...stop hanging out with seagulls and find some penguins.
Comment: #15
Posted by: Chris
Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:33 AM
@ Jane

"But people who continue to wear scents in public, knowing full well that it pollutes the air and water during its manufacturing and can make some people literally sick, show a level of narcissism and selfishness that is beyond me."

"If someone comes to me for a job interview and I can smell their perfume or aftershave, I won't hire them, period. I won't even hire them and make not wearing scents as a condition of employment."

Apparently it's not beyond you! If you don't think discriminating against people who happen to not wish to smell like a jock strap while at work because you have a personal vendetta against chemicals isn't the epitome of narcissism and selfishness as well as hypocrisy on your part then there is something seriously wrong with you. I hope someone in your organization recognizes you and reports you to human resources.

Comment: #16
Posted by: Chris
Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:41 AM
LW2 the host of the party did not say 'bring me gifts' that was Annies comments. People have been throwing their own birthday parties for years and traditionally guest bring gifts. Why would someone be offended that a couple wants to celebrate the pending arrival of their child?? I think its rude to assume that others have the time and money to do it for them. LW2 certainly didn't jump in an offer to host it.
Comment: #17
Posted by: JA
Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:48 AM
Re: Dave Galino

Your stepdaughter sounds a lot like someone I used to work with. He also believed that single people should get showers, too. He whined, "It's not faaaaaaair that people get gifts for marrying some person or getting knocked up!" (He was against marriage and pro-creation. To say he had severe mommy and daddy issues is an understatement!) He refused to attend any wedding and would never give a baby gift. He didn't even give one to his own sister! He would always say, "I'm not going to get married or have a kid so why should I give them a gift? I won't get one back!" He always said people ONLY gave gifts so they would get one back one day.

He also hated all women - they all suck - because he couldn't find one he could abuse and treat like a sex object.

He also hated anyone who wouldn't bow down to him and enable him...which was most people.
Comment: #18
Posted by: Michelle
Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:55 AM
LW1: If these were decent human beings, they would gladly give up such frivolous crap for someone with lupus. You shouldn't have to replace your circle of friends just because you have a disease, unless they're not really friends, as these idiots clearly aren't. I've met plenty of "people" like this, unfortunately. They're so insecure that they don't feel alive unless they're imposing some kind of misery on others. They're too weak to assert themselves when it really counts, but ask them to exercise common courtesy and they'll jump up and down screeching about their so-called rights. Then they can pretend you're oversensitive, which lets them feel superior. They're not seagulls; they're pondscum. LW1, you don't need to find other people with lupus in order to have friends; you just need to find some civilized adults. Good luck!

LW3: Yes, you can study for the SAT and AP exams. They are not as abstract as some posters are claiming (especially AP exams). The questions are based on facts and formulas students learn in school, and reviewing these materials is valuable, as is studying test-taking strategies. Also, taking practice tests is a form of study. The student has one shot at these exams, and if the grandparents knowingly planned their visit during his study time, his mom should tell them to make other arrangements. Jerks!
Comment: #19
Posted by: Baldrz
Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:04 AM
@ Chris
Get a life, preferably one that involves compassion for others.
Comment: #20
Posted by: SwimChick
Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:13 AM
Chris: (all posts)

I always knew you lacked compassion – this confirms it.

Yes, she should find a support group or, in the very least, new friends. Particularly after the way one of them treated her (talked her into putting on perfume and laughing at her when she had a bad reaction). In college, that sounds a lot like hazing – getting someone to do something, likely knowing (or should know) would embarass or cause harm to their target, and then laughing about it all for cruel amusement.

I'm glad the party host put an end to the yukster's fun by saying she's offended. (And FWIW, I sure hope not everyone else laughed; maybe you just thought everyone else did, akin to the movie "Carrie," where the title character is drenched in pig's blood at the prom and – instead of the cruel laughing and mocking of the strange outcast, which we see from Carrie's viewpoint – were stunned and/or outraged and wanted the perpetrators caught and punished.

So the world revolves around the LW, eh? Well, maybe it doesn't revolve around her friends. Y'know, part of being a friend means making concessions once in awhile. Depending on the state, that might mean no going to bars once in awhile, and being respectful if she says, "Sorry, I can't make it." If her friends – her real ones, that is, not our juvenile prank-puller – are frustrated or such, then that's THEIR problem, not the LW's.

To the LW: I do not know what it's like to have lupus, nor do I have a close friend or family with said illness. I do, however, understand where you're coming from and I hope you will find a lupus support group. It sounds like education is the best medicine ... except for your "friend" and a few others who cannot nor will not understand ... to this illness.

Sorry you have to make so many concessions in life, but it sounds like you're doing the best you can to cope.
Comment: #21
Posted by: Bobaloo
Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:14 AM
@Dave Galino: I'll try not to sound negative, but unless your wife puts her foot down, that crap is going to continue. Your step-daughter is acting like a perpetual teenager, pushing the boundaries, and when she finds no resistance, she keeps pushing. We live in a society where coddling our children is encouraged; tough love or discipline is frowned upon. Unfortunately, it sounds like your wife has coddled and enabled your daughter to not grow up or take responsibility. It, also, sounds like you've done what you can for your daughter and she's just been a whiny teenager in response. (BTW, I totally commend you for taking that stance. I can imagine it's not easy being the “bad guy.”) The ball is in your wife's court. When the girl says “I wish I could have you all to myself again.” Your wife needs to explain that it's not going to be that way again and that she needs to accept it. If she throws a temper tantrum, so be it. She needs to grow up and by setting boundaries, and not letting her get away with her ridiculous behavior, is a step in the right direction.

Anyway, I hope I wasn't too negative. I'm glad you're happy in your marriage and I hope you can work through this!
Comment: #22
Posted by: Casey
Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:23 AM
Baldrz, IIRC,a student has one shot at APs, perhaps (which I don't think the original letter mentioned?) but ACTs and SATs I believe they can retake several times if they're unhappy with the score.It's true that it might mean an inconvenient drive to the next testing site, because each school that offers them generally only offers the test once. But I know kids who did opt to take SATs more than once.

APs you do need to study for -- you're being tested on course material that you have been taught. Again, though, that's not what the LW mentioned. Scholastic Aptitude Tests are concept tests; you can take an SAT prep course, which does involve some test-taking strategies, but that's not the same thing as studying content to retain to see how well you know it. It's about how you approach the test itself.

Comment: #23
Posted by: hedgehog
Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:24 AM
LW1 -- Since you say you've known these women since childhood, I would assume that at some point you have told them you have lupus, but if you haven't, or if you think you haven't made it clear what lupus entails, then by all means tell them. If, however, they are well aware of your condition, it's high time you made some new friends.

@Chris -- You can pretend that you kindly told the LW that she needs to find new friends, but basically you blamed her for having a medical condition and suggested she believes the world should revolve around her illness and that she wanted her friends to always do only things that she can do, too. That is not what she said. She would like for them to at least occasionally choose to do things that she can safely enjoy with them, and when she attempts to do something that potentially puts her at risk, she wants them to not ADD to her risk -- like goading her into allowing someone to put makeup on her. Yes, in the end, you do suggest she find others who are similarly afflicted (those penguins) and stop hanging out with the "seagulls." That's the only part of your answer that didn't involve blaming her for her medical condition and chastising her for expecting even the slightest iota of compassion and understanding from her friends. I find it hard to imagine that the ONLY people on the face of the earth who are capable of spending time with someone who has lupus are other people who have lupus. Perhaps the world should be divided up into colonies of people who all have the same medical issues, with the nicest colony of all set aside for those of us who have no medical issues. You know, sort of like leper colonies. Yeah, that's the ticket!
Comment: #24
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:28 AM
LW2: The only defense for these guys comes with Annie's statement: "However, it's possible that none of their friends offered to help and they thought it would be OK to do it themselves." Then again, I wonder why nobody offered to throw them a shower?

LW3: While I agree that one should make some concessions for the parents, it was clear that the timing was bad. The original LW, as I recall, needed THAT SPECIFIC TIME to study, and if she had to accommodate her parents' visit, she would risk not being prepared for her tests and failing. There was no other way around it, sorry.

Surely, the parents could have scheduled other time off work or arrange their schedules to make the trip. Difficult to do sometimes, but not impossible.
Comment: #25
Posted by: Bobaloo
Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:29 AM
I agree with Chris (#15.) LW1 needs to find some penguins who understand her situation and don't make her feel guilty for being sick. It's one thing to expect a stranger on a bus to not wear perfume, because you're sensitive, but your friends should be able to accommodate such a simple request. I wouldn't want to make my friend sick. I would imagine any decent human being would feel the same way. On the flip side, if she hasn't told them she has lupus (which it sounds like she hasn't), she needs to tell them. If they still act this way, she really, really needs to dump them and find a group of penguins. Her “friends” are not pelicans; they're a**holes.
Comment: #26
Posted by: Casey
Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:30 AM
Re: Dave Galino

Wow, it sounds like a nightmare.

My advice to you is as follows:

1. It sounds as if your step daughter resents having a male "father figure" in her life, probably because she had Mom to herself and wrapped around her little finger until YOU came along. There is nothing that YOU can do to correct that perception because the person who needs to put her foot down here is your WIFE. Any action you take will be seen as an infringement on her relationship with her mother. You need to get your wife on the same page here with how you will, as a unit, address her daughter.

2. This may actually involve marriage counseling or an unbiased third party (a friend of your wife's? a pastor?) who will point out to your wife that she is doing her daughter no favors by encouraging her to live a life that is less than productive. The point needs to be made (morbid as this sounds) that you and your wife won't be around forever and that your step daughter needs to stand on her own two feet.

3. While you are working this out, encourage your wife to spend true alone time with your stepdaughter and (this is the important part), you do the same thing. Take her out to lunch maybe once or twice a month, just you and her. Do this in a public place so she won't cause a scene. DO NOT harrass her about her smoking, her job, her love life, or anything. Just ask her small talk questions. Talk about movies, music, tv, whatever she is interested in. COmpliment her: find something GOOD to say to her. Turn off your cell phone. LISTEN TO HER. And encourage your wife to do the same thing.

Trust me, this girl knows where she is falling down in life. Her facade of not caring or not wanting to change is a smoke screen to cover up deep insecurities.
Comment: #27
Posted by: nanchan
Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:35 AM
@Lisa (#24): I just want to clarify one of my posts. I wrote that LW1 should find a group of penguins too. I didn't mean it that she should find a group of friends who are also afflicted with lupus. I meant that she should find a group of friends who don't want to go out drinking, or throw candle parties, etc. She needs to find like-minded friends who enjoy the same activities as her, so she doesn't constantly feel left out. If I were sick, the last type of people I would want to be around, are the ones who would constantly remind me that I was sick. I feel like she's in that position. She also needs to find friends who show a little compassion. I just want to clarify, assuming you even read my post :)
Comment: #28
Posted by: Casey
Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:36 AM
Thanks Michelle. He does sound a lot like my step-daughter.
Thanks Casey. My wife has taken a stronger stand agreeing that it's the right thing to do. But my step-daughter gets upset, and my wife gets very sad seeing her daughter upset. I understand, as my wife is a caring person. But we both know it doesnt help the situation, so it makes us both sad.
She has no insurance as she lives for today. I wish the counselor would do more, but I think the counselor is just stringing her along, so she keeps getting paid.
My step-daughter saw another counselor at first, and saw a GP doctor, who both told her that her unhealthy lifestyle of cigarettes and fast food are causing her minor physical ailments to become worse. She stopped seeing both of them because they were telling her things she didn't want to hear. Just like she doesn't want my help.
I suspect there's nothing more we can do, but it's tough to care, and want to do the right thing, and be helpless watching her destroy herself.
Comment: #29
Posted by: Dave Galino
Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:46 AM
LW2 -- Yes, the powers that be that establish etiquette long ago determined it is rude to throw oneself a party that is specifically aimed at gift-giving because one should not ask for gifts for oneself. Similarly, those powers that be determined that it is rude for any member of the family to host such a party, either. Thus, it is only OK for a non-relative to throw such a party.

Here's why that's a load of crap:

1) Either it's wrong to throw parties where it is absolutely expected that each attendee will bring a gift, or it isn't. At least when an adult throws a birthday party for herself, it's not uncommon for no gifts to be expected at all. In the case of a shower, it's called a "shower" for a reason -- the attendees are "showering" the person of honor with gifts. So, either showers are wrong or they aren't. It shouldn't matter one iota who is giving them. Having said all of that, the ban on throwing a shower for oneself is well enough known that anyone who chooses to do so surely is well aware that one is risking offending someone.

2) Throwing a shower -- even if it's at someone's house and all food and beverages are made from scratch -- costs money and takes up someone's time and effort (that goes double if the party is held at someone's house and that person does all the cooking, etc.). Personally, if I'm the one who is going to benefit by getting showered with gifts, I think it's kind of rude to expect a friend to expend time, money and energy on a party that is designed to gather gifts for me. Even though I really do understand the rationale behind this etiquette rule, I think it's kind of backward, to be honest. Seems like if I'm the one who is going to benefit, I ought to be the one doing the work.

My guess is that your co-worker either didn't want to saddle someone else with the cost and trouble of putting on a shower for her (particularly if she had a lavish venue in mind), or no one volunteered to throw one for her. If the former, personally, I say kudos to her for bucking the etiquette police and taking on the expense and effort herself. If the latter, well, maybe there's a reason she doesn't have any friends who were willing to do this for her.

Happily enough for you, however, instead of wasting your time writing to an advice columnist to ask a question you knew the answer to and just wanted to be able to say, "see, See, SEE!! I'm right! I'm Right! I'M RIGHT!!!" all you really need to do is decide whether you wish to attend, whether you wish to decline but still give a gift or decline and not give a gift. It really is that simple. As this is a co-worker, depending on how closely you work with her, please consider whether you would have given her a gift had there not been a shower or had the shower been hosted by someone else. If the answer is "yes," then please at least give her a gift. If the answer is "no," then don't.

Personally, people who write in to advice to columnists just so they can be told they are right, when they already know they are right and have no actual question or problem -- I find them to be far more rude and annoying than someone who throws a shower for herself, no matter what the etiquette books say.
Comment: #30
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:47 AM
Lol, Chris, you know very well that people do not have to wear perfume to avoid smelling like a jockstrap, and your exaggeration is silly and childish. It's also not discrimination, because continuing to do an unnecessary action when you know it harms others is a personality trait no one would want serving their customers or being a part of their employee team. It's not discrimination when you know someone's personality is going to hinder the performance of a team or company.
As for someone in my organization recognizing me and reporting me to human resources, lol, I doubt that will happen since I own the company. I can hire whoever I want. And frankly, my team appreciates the fact that we have no-scents policy in the workplace. There is absolutely no reason to wear perfume to work, and many reasons not to. Save it for when you go on a date.
Comment: #31
Posted by: Jane
Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:51 AM
Dave Galino, do you read Amy Alkon, the Advice Goddess (her title, not my description!)? She's another advice columnist here at, and her most recent column "The Son Almost Never Rises" describes a situation somewhat similar to yours, although the LW there married his wife only 2 years ago, when the son living with her is already an adult, and you'll find some BTL thoughts that might be helpful.

I do think you and your wife have to get on the same page wrt your stepdaughter. The indulging/tough love split in philosophy can and does occur among families with no "step" relations, too -- but it tends to be less pronounced than it does when one partner has parented the kid since birth and the other is a stepparent.

FWIW, I think your tough love stance is probably closer to what your stepdaughter needs to succeed in life after you and your wife are gone (and any inheritance burned through). But it doesn't matter what I think, or the rest of the BTL thinks, because as long as your wife doesn't see that, you're not getting anywhere. It sounds like she may feel guilty for saddling the kid with a poor bio father and maybe the split and maybe a few other things she wishes she could go back and change during her daughter's childhood (most parents have those).

You two may benefit from marriage counseling for this issue, because each of you is second-guessing the motives for the other's behavior, and it's easy to lose sight of the marriage when you're doing that.

Your stepdaughter's now been quasi-independent, in that she's not living with you, correct? In some ways, that makes it much harder to draw the line. I think, though, you're going to need to learn to pick your battles.

Her smoking, for instance, is really off the table for you, now that you've offered to pay to help her quit and she's rejected that. Harping on her about what she's doing to her body, doesn't she want kids someday, etc., is out. The only times the issue remains in play are when the smoke directly affects you -- as in, if you and your wife have decided (together) that no one smokes in your home. Or if Stepdaughter lights up in your presence elsewhere; you can decide each time whether the secondhand smoke is bothersome enough to leave or whether it's more important to stay with her at the moment.

Smokers know that smoking is bad for them and costs them money. Most of them hate being hooked. But they also hate non-smokers who continue to point that out to them, as if they didn't know, and it's one more bit of ammo for her to say "Dave's always PICKING on me". Let that go. Save your energy for the myriad other issues, like why you're not going to pay to move her to Alaska, the Bahamas, Italy, etc.
Comment: #32
Posted by: hedgehog
Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:57 AM
Thanks nanchan for your advice.
I should have clarified that my wife and I are on the same page, and we are not giving her any money to enable her. My wife has put her foot down with my encouragement, recognizing that it's the right thing to do, but this upsets my step-daughter, which upsets both of them. So my wife does as you suggest … make small talk … don't talk about the real issues. But this solves nothing. Nothing changes.

We've talked about a marriage counselor, but we both seem to agree on what needs to be done. The sadness comes from seeing our step-daughter depressed and unwilling to grow up and make a plan for the future. We're ok, but it doesn't make it easier to deal with.

My step-daughter won't speak to me, unless I apologize and say I'm wrong … so talking to her is out of the question, although I do agree your approach makes sense. Actually, it is the approach I've been using for the past 7 years. Talking to her, listening to her, loving her and caring about her, and along the way making gentle suggestions. It's accomplished nothing unfortunately. All she wants is enabling.
I've given up trying to help her myself. I've done all I can. I feel so bad for my wife, and for an immature 30 year old who knows nothing but enabling.

Your final comment “Trust me, this girl knows where she is falling down in life. Her facade of not caring or not wanting to change is a smoke screen to cover up deep insecurities.” Is absolutely correct.
She's a deeply insecure and depressed person, but there seems to be no way to reach her, as she has rejected my tough love approach.
Thanks for taking the time to offer your suggestions.

Thanks hedgehog, for your advice. I'll check out that other article.
As you can see from my response to nanchan, my wife and I are ok … and on the same page … just sad.
There's no smoking in our house as it bothers my wife physically.
You're right about picking my battles, although I don't feel that I battled my step-daughter … only offered to help in a loving way. … which was rejected. Seems like there are no answers … just a sad wife, and an insecure and depressed daughter, which upsets me because I'm sensitive too.


Comment: #33
Posted by: Dave Galino
Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:16 AM
@Casey -- I did read your post, and there's a reason I called out Chris but not you. I have no problem with suggesting she find other people who also have lupus -- I think she should do this, too. But I don't believe that she has to limit herself to just people who have lupus -- plenty of people out there who don't smoke and don't enjoy smokey venues, who don't drink or if they do they don't feel a need to try to push alcohol on someone else and aren't uncomfortable if someone in their midst is sober, who don't wear perfume (I don't even own any perfume -- and I don't have any medical condition related to perfume) or who would be willing to forgo it every now and again and who isn't particularly interested in hosting or attending dozens of shopping parties. And I just didn't get the sense from her that she thinks the world should revolve around her medical condition. I didn't get the "this is YOUR problem, and you should relegate yourself to a lupus colony" from your post as I did from Chris'.

In the case of her "friends" -- it's one thing for them to not want to always cater to her medical condition. They shouldn't have to make EVERY occasion a lupus-friendly occasion. But if they invite her to something that they KNOW could pose a problem for her, at the very least they need to not ADD to that problem. The LW was perfectly willing to attend the cosmetics party in order to be social -- but if they KNOW her condition, then no one should have been goading her into allowing someone to put makeup on her (much less laughing at and/or being deeply offended when she had a severe reaction to it!). How hard would it have been for her friends to ignore the fact that she was NOT putting any of the products on? So, I am ALL for her finding new friends. I just don't think they all have to have lupus. They just have to have working brain cells and an ounce of compassion. Seriously.
Comment: #34
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:17 AM
LW1: First of all, thank you for your letter. I have several friends with lupus (coworkers) and none of them have expressed a sensitivity to perfumes, but it makes sense. SOmething to be more aware of in the future when going out with them.

Now, on to your so called friends. I'm with the above comments that it doesn't sound as if your friends really understand lupus or it's affects on you. Otherwise, I sincerely doubt they would act in the manner that they do. I can't think that people would go out of their way to put you in danger if they really knew about your disease.

SO, my advice to you is to throw a party at your house, with your sister and your friends. At one point, get everyone together at the table (or in the living room, just get people in one place), tap your glass a few times and then TELL THEM about lupus. You may want to give a presentation of some sort but at least think about what you are going to say beforehand and be ready for some questions. Mine would be (if I was one of your friends) something like this:

1. But you LOOK healthy? When did you find out you had lupus? What IS Lupus?
2. Is lupus contagious? How did you get it?
3. Is there anything we can do to HELP you when you are having flares? Other times?

I think it's time for education, not for hurt feelings.

On a related note, one of my closest friends has an extreme allergy to seafood and she can't even be in restaurants where they serve a lot of it because the smell will make her throat clam up (no pun intended). She didn't tell me this UNTIL we were at a seafood restaurant and she started to get hives etc. Now, the time for her to have told me this would have been BEFORE I made the reservations. We left the restaurant and found another place to eat. And during that dinner, I asked her a lot of questions about her conditions and found out all sorts of things. She can't eat certain foods, etc. But mostly I found out she's hesitant to share her medical conditions with most people because she's found that people think she's hypersensitive or making it up.

So before you "come out" about your lupus, have some facts handy.
Comment: #35
Posted by: nanchan
Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:18 AM
Lupus affacts people differently. If you have not told people the manner in which it affects you, and the severity, they will not know. My grandmother, who died in 1997, developed lupus in her late 20s/early 30s. She wore cosmetics until the day she died. She smoked until 1988. She enjoyed alcohol until the day she died. She wore scented lotion and Tea Rose perfume. She loved to burn grapefruit scented candles. None of the things that affect you, affected her.

On the other hand, Grandma could not tolerate the sun at all. Five minutes exposure would bring on an allergic reaction. Anything containing PABA would make her sick. Some foods made her violently ill because of her condition and medications. She quit hanging out with friends that insisted on beachside picnics with crab and abalone.
Comment: #36
Posted by: Kelle
Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:22 AM
First of all, what is IIRC?

Second, I thought that the son studying for SATs was wanting to get into medical school, but it turns out it isn't. But still, the grandparents insisting on coming during spring break and staying at their house for two weeks is unbelievable.

The original letter stated that this woman and her kids visit the parents in the states twice a year anyway. I don't think young people are the only ones who have become entitled to whatever they want when they want.

It seems to be the age of either: feeling entitled to whatever you want;
or, being completely insensitive to others' needs (no perfume, etc.)

When you are interviewing people, couldn't you just tell them that you have a no scent policy? You might be turning away real good workers without giving them a chance.

Comment: #37
Posted by: jar8818
Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:22 AM
LW3 -- I didn't go back to re-read the original letter, but I thought that original letter DID include mention of studying for several AP exams, and you absolutely CAN study for those. It is much harder to "study" for SATs and ACTs, but as others have noted, there are prep courses you can take, books you can read, practices tests you can take, etc. The point being: there ARE things you can do to prepare for these tests. While I do not believe that the world should revolve around children's schedules, nor do I believe that the world should revolve around parents' (or grandparents') schedules. If this was, for some reason, the ONLY time that the original LW's parents could visit, then surely some compromise could be found. The kid cannot spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week studying for a full week. So, if this really was the only time they could visit, the LW should have established a study schedule and a visit schedule. It can be done.

Now, this is speculation on my part, but I'm betting this was NOT the only time they could have visited. If the kid is taking AP exams, SATs and ACTs, I'm going to assume he is probably between the ages of 16 and 18. I'm going to further assume that the LW is somewhere in her 40s and that her parents are somewhere in their 60s or older. If that's the case, there's a very good chance the parents/grandparents are retired, which means they could basically go any time they damn well pleased, which further means they either accidentally chose a date they were specifically told to avoid (in which case, hey, accidents happen, and you reschedule if at all possible), or they PURPOSELY chose a date they were specifically told to avoid (in which case, they're @$$holes). If they did it by accident and have already purchased non-refundable airfare, then I feel for them -- but that's why you don't purchase airfare without confirming the dates with your host first.
Comment: #38
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:29 AM
@jar8818 -- probably someone else has already answered this. IIRC = If I recall correctly
Comment: #39
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:34 AM
Jane: You go girl! Any kind of fragrance, including the fragrance in hair spray (yes, there are a few women running around who want 1960's helmet hair still), makes people stink in ways they were never meant to stink. It is NOT romantic, despite what the TV commercials brainwash folks to think, it smells like toilet-bowl freshener! Plus folks who wear fragrance have disenabled their nose and have no idea anymore how strongly the stench is.
Comment: #40
Posted by: Cyn
Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:54 AM
Re: Jane:
When you are interviewing people, couldn't you just tell them that you have a no scent policy? You might be turning away real good workers without giving them a chance.

Jar, I used to totally agree with you. And you are quite right that I probably have missed a few really good employees over the years because of this. However, I learned the hard way early on that simply telling people about the no-scents policy simply doesn't seem to work. First, because for some reason a lot of scent-wearers seem to take their "right" to wear scents extremely personally. You'd think asking someone not to wear perfume was akin was akin to asking the president of the NRA to get rid of his guns. And once in the job, I had several instances where people would start to bend the rule in a passive-aggressive way. They'd being wearing perfume in increasingly large amounts, claiming they forgot or outright arguing that "it wasn't hurting anyone" or it was their right.

The problem is that it's very easy not to hire an employee; it's very difficult to fire them once they're on the job.

Still, I have occasionally tested the waters during an interview to see how combattive someone would be to a no-scents policy, just in case they were unaware that some people are senstive to scents. The last time, I said, "I notice you're wearing perfume. It's a lovely scent. However, we have a customer who has severe asthma who can have breathing difficulties when exposed to perfumes, so we've iniitiated a no-scents policy in the workplace. Would you be ok with that?" Her response: "Oh, I have to wear perfume every day. It's a part of who I am." Bingo. Needless to say I didn't hire her, but I wouldn't have hired her even if the customer was no longer around, because her very response showed that she lacked empathy for the wellbeing of others, and would be unwilling to put even insignificant personal desires aside for the benefit of others.

Comment: #41
Posted by: Jane
Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:55 AM
LW1: The problem you face is that this is YOUR disease so YOU need to change NOT your friends or family. Stop going places that are going to make you sick. Your current friendships have probably run their course. Find new friends and a better life.

LW2: Who cares? What is wrong with you? You've actually decided to be offended that someone is throwing a party for themselves. That is so pathetic.

LW3: Yeeks, I hope you never breeded, otherwise I feel sorry for your kids. Kids owing parents for giving them life? Wow. You are a piece of crap in desperate need of electric shock therapy.
Comment: #42
Posted by: Diana
Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:01 AM
Well, I don't know how much longer my internet connection will last with all the fireballs falling from the sky and the earthquakes and zombies and all, but here goes...

LW1, either your friends don't fully understand your condition because you haven't really explained it to them, or they are very self-centered people that you should slowly detach yourself from while you find new friends.

(And Chris, while you accuse the LW of being self-centered, her friends are being self-centered as well if they won't even compromise once out of every 3 or 4 get-togethers. True friends accommodate, adapt, compromise. The fact that they'll *never* do anything that will be easier on the LW means that they are pretty self-centered themselves.)

I think you need to find a set of friends who do activities and gather in locations you can tolerate better, even if you can never tolerate it perfectly. And who won't mind coming to your house every once in a while.

LW2, I'm on board with Lisa. I'm a little tired of LWs who complain that someone isn't hosting something exactly the way it would have been done in the 19th century. Throw yourself a party! Let other people throw parties! We need more parties, more excuses to get together with friends and family, not fewer! Just because it wasn't done the exact right way that Miss Manners would have done it, so what? If you are truly that shocked and offended, don't go -- you'd probably be a Debbie Downer anyway, so perhaps the best gift you can give the expectant parents is your absence.

LW3, I am afraid that Jeanne and Steve C are quite wrong -- there are very, very good reasons to study for the SATs. Studying isn't JUST about memorizing facts, but learning how to solve problems. And learning how to navigate the various types of problems on the SATs is a very important thing to do.

Also, have you both forgotten that there is a quantitative portion of the SAT? Math does require studying, too.

So LW3 is wrong on multiple levels, and frankly the grandparents were being incredibly selfish to put their own needs above their grandson's studying (and by extension, his future!) especially when they were specifically told that was a bad time for a visit.

LW3, selfish, rude, self-centered parents (or grandparents) don't deserve unconditional obedience. Ever. And parents SHOULD be looking out for the best interests of their own children rather than worrying about kowtowing to their parents. The original LW had a much larger responsibility to her son than to her parents.
Comment: #43
Posted by: Mike H
Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:05 AM
LW3: I think you sound more like a grandparent than a parent of a teenager.

It's a parent's job to do things in the best interest of their CHILD(REN) not their own parents. While I love my parents (Dad is gone, Mom is still alive), both of them understand/stood that my daughter was my primary job, not indulging them or their schedules.

FWIW, the big issue for the original LW (which is different than most of us) is that the LW lives in Europe and the parents would have to be handheld a lot more than if they had to travel across the state or the country. The parents were being extremely selfish, IMHO, for intruding on what is a stressful time for all. Whether or not studying is involved is irrelevant. The SATs DO require some preparation: just getting familiar with the format etc takes some time, but the STRESS is incredible for the parents and for the child. Having a bunch of visitors of any sort during this time is incredibly inconsiderate.

The parents should reschedule their trip for a time the entire family can relax and enjoy each other.
The parents should reschedule their trip for a time the entire family can relax and enjoy each other.
Comment: #44
Posted by: nanchan
Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:13 AM
Re: Steve C
It is not true that you can't study for the SAT's. There are SAT prep courses, practice tests, and study guides. Many kids refresh themselves on material they have learned in high school. Taking the SAT's is NOT like taking an IQ test and does generally require studying if you want good results. These parents are not being difficult in requesting that the grandparents visit at another date. The grandparents are being inconsiderate and passive aggressive by deliberately scheduling for those days.
Comment: #45
Posted by: Shannon
Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:19 AM
Re: Mike H

SOOO agree with you today. Let's break out the prosecco!
Comment: #46
Posted by: nanchan
Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:25 AM
First, the verbal section of the SATs is analogies (up:down::short:?) but with fancy vocabulary words. You can definitely study and improve your score by learning extra vocabulary. The math section tests concepts that some kids haven't encountered since elementary or middle school and need to refresh their memory; others are only just in the process of learning them at school and need practice. Additionally, there is now an essay section which is graded on very rigid guidelines which can be learned and memorized. So, basically, yes you can and should study for the SATs.

But that's actually beside the point. If she tells her parents it's not a good time to visit, IT'S NOT A GOOD TIME TO VISIT. Period. Just as in declining invitations, no excuse or reason is necessary, you should be able to tell potential guests that a certain time period is not convenient without getting a guilt trip.
Comment: #47
Posted by: Andaia
Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:34 AM
What a load of pansies.
Comment: #48
Posted by: Volpe
Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:38 AM
LW1 -
"Everybody laughed, except the hostess, who was "deeply offended."?
These are not friends. These are the worst collection of insensitive bitches I have ever seen, to the point of sadism. Find new friends - a support group for Lupus would be a good place to start, but non-lupus people are not all as insensitive as these mean girls.

But, reading the rest of your letter, it seems you are surrounded by people (family and co-workers) who don't give a damn about your condition and treat it like a brat's whim. This is generally the indication of mixed or incomplete signals on the part of the person being put upon. "How do you explain to your friends that their idea of fun literally makes you sick?" Seems to me the way you stated it here is clear enough and perfectly non-confrontational. Are these people even aware of your condition?

I suggest you get yourself into therapy, or at the very least self-assertion classes. I'm not suggesting there is anything wrong with you, but there is clearly something that you project that doesn't attract you any respect. Yes, in the short run, you must change your entourage. But, in the long run, if you want things to change, you must also attend to your own behaviour - it IS the only thing you have total control of.

LW3 -
You are either the most self-centred parent I have ever heard about or you yourself never ever studied for anything or both - preparing for exams (whether through study or simulation) is not done weeks in advance and it requires peace and quiet. If you had ever had to do it, you would know that.

And besides, if the kid has to flee to the school library or a friend's house in order to escape from you and prepare/study in peace, then what's the point of coming at that time if you're coming to see him? So when you're saying "There are plenty of places he can go to study without interruptions.", this is all yurunda, what you're really expecting is that he drop everything to cater to you.

You talk about sacrifice, but you are not even willing to lift one finger to adjust your schedule, so to allow children of yours to prepare for an important milestone, so that they don't flunk their exams and ruin your "sacrifices"? YOU, "parent", are the one who's taking the cake.

I feel sorry for any children and grandchildren you might have. You are exactly the kind of grandparent the original LW was complaining about - everything is always about you and you don't give a damn about anything or anyone else.


@Chris #7
Oh yes, I'm sure she can grow up, stop being such a drama queen and just decide that she doesn't have lupus anymore. That should work, right? After all, it's all in her lit-tle mind, or it's just a ploy to get attention, right? You're as bad as they are.

"I do not lack compassion for LW1, I'm simply being realistic. LW1 is like a penguin whose friends are all seagulls and whose miffed and feeling slighted because her seagull friends won't abstain from flying because she can't. Your advice and mine is exactly the same...stop hanging out with seagulls and find some penguins."
You also told her that she's allergic to life, that her non-friends "seemed to have been patient" (WHERE exactly did you see this?), that she "acts like a vampire", that her idea of fun is a pity party and that the world doesn't revolve around her. Which is bascally telling her she's complaining for nothing.

Strange way for your advice to be "the same" as maryp - your idea of "compassion" seems to be to kick people when they're down.

@Michelle #8
"If not, you need to explain to them WHY you can't go to candle or cosmetic parties or be around perfumes. If they still act the same way, then they aren't your real friends."
If they didn't know how serious her condition is, her bad reaction to irritants ought to have been a clue. That happened right in front of them, and yet they found that hilarious, while the hostess was all offended, as if this was something the LW did on purpose to insult her. My God, but what a bunch of vicious, narcissitic, heartless c***s.

@Dave Galino #14
As has been told to many LWs with a problem like yours, nothing can be done unless both you and your wife are on the same page - two people in a rowboat have to row together, otherwise the boat goes nowhere fast. And, as long as she continues to enable, of course your tought love approach will make you the bad guy.

Perhaps you can get your wife to see a marriage counsellor with you, so that she can possibly be made to see how much her enabling is undermining your marriage (as well as being highly detrimental to her own child). Because this, eventually, could very well turn out to be a deal-breaker, as it has been for many others.

@Jane #13 & 31
I wouldn't have been quite so harsh as Chris (#16), but the fact is that people coming to be interviewed by you have no idea you have a hostile aversion to perfume. You cannot expect everybody to stop using perfumes everywhere and forever because YOU object to it - the world doesn't revolve around your specifications. You accuse others of narcissism, but...

Being informed that conditions of work at your place include no scents should suffice, and actually provides a good opportunity for them to prove they can follow instructions and be part of a team. I do not see how it is necessary to just blacklist them in retaliation - that shows you no so much discriminatory, as quite hostile and vindictive. I'm not sure the ones you eliminate that way haven't actually had a narrow escape for not having to work with you...
Comment: #49
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:52 AM
Lise Brouillette: I'm allergic to fragrance whether I run into (literally, usually, from about ten feet away, just a WALL of stench) at work, in a store, in the library, in a restaurant, you name it. The idea of dabbing something on your body that is toxic to others in your environment is disgusting.
Comment: #50
Posted by: Cyn
Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:04 AM
Lise Brouillette: I'm allergic to fragrance whether I run into (literally, usually, from about ten feet away, just a WALL of stench) at work, in a store, in the library, in a restaurant, you name it. The idea of dabbing something on your body that is toxic to others in your environment is selfish and disgusting.
Comment: #51
Posted by: Cyn
Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:16 AM
LW1, either your friends don't fully understand your condition because you haven't really explained it to them, or they are very self-centered people that you should slowly detach yourself from while you find new friends.

Amen, Mike H.!
Comment: #52
Posted by: Casey
Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:25 AM
Re: Jane

I interviewed with someone like you a few years back, and here was my feedback to my recruiters.

The situation: The interviewer was late for my interview (I was left waiting 20 minutes) and then when I walked into the conference room, her immediate response was to curl her nose and say "We have a no scent policy here. IF we hire you, you will have to restrain from using perfume."

My response to my recruiter (although I was polite to the interviewer): I don't want to work with that woman. First of all, if it is a no scent policy for her, she should have TOLD MY RECRUITER (see my response to LW1) that perfume was a no-no at the interview. How was I to know that this woman had this sensitivity unless she TOLD someone? Secondly, HER attitude was so condescending that I don't want to work with her. She left me waiting for 20 minutes (because her time is more important than mine, apparently) and then she basically critisizes me for wearing perfume on a job interview (which I consider to be a part of the grooming process, and it wasn't obnoxious at ALL, it was only body lotion) WITHOUT telling my recruiters that she had this allergy/sensitivity.

I don't want to work with someone who has to "test" me on crap like that. Test me on my skills, test me on my background, but don't "test" me on your own stupid idiosynchrosies (sp?).

So, my advice to you, Jane, is to tell your applicants about the no scent policy at the time of the interview instead of using it as some kind of sick ego test (which is what it is). I interview with companies ALL THE TIME who say "we have a dress code: please show up in business attire, jeans are not acceptable". Why can't you just be honest and say "No strong perfumes" as well.
Comment: #53
Posted by: nanchan
Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:29 AM
What if Jane interviewed you, nanchan?? The small, small world of BTL….
Comment: #54
Posted by: Casey
Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:33 AM
Re: Dave Galino Don't post much, love your insightful posts. Re stepdaughter, I really hurt when I can't/should not help my kids (in their 40's) and I think most moms have that problem. Advice, give your wife lots more love when she's hurting, don't even try to advise, gentle or otherwise, the stepdaughter.
Comment: #55
Posted by: LC
Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:40 AM
What is with this piling on Jane just because of your own experiences? It sounds to me as though she's savvy enough to realize that without character, skills in the workplace are nearly useless. A person who puts - and clings to - a frivolous habit (wearing perfume, for instance) ahead of the comfort and/or health of co-workers, is NOT a good employment risk. And she is right that getting rid of someone after the fact is a whole lot harder than hiring them - so why would she visit a situation on herself that has that potential? Her example has nothing to do with nanchan's long anecdote about the rude recruiter. Jane is trying to make a valid point and some of you are just refusing to get it.

On the whole showers thing, look at it this way. Mike points out - and I agree - parties are great, let's have more parties. Yah! Mike also points out that greed and selfishness are undesirable - and I agree - LESS greed and selfishness manifested please. Boo! Now, put them together. A party given by someone whose purpose is to goad people into bringing them presents is all about greed and selfishness. Miss Manners (Judith Martin) in her own inimicable style, has been trying for years to point out that the fundamentals of manners are about making the world MORE pleasant, MORE civilized, LESS greedy and selfish. So why do some of you make frowny faces at Miss Manners as if she's trying to stop you from having fun?

One poster said something to the effect of "why would anyone object to parents who want to celebrate the approaching birth of a child?" NO ONE is objecting to "celebrating." What people object to is self-centered adults who make excuses for getting other people to do their shopping for them. And the best response to such people, is regrets that you can't attend - and do not send a gift.
Comment: #56
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:13 AM
@nanchan, thanks, proseco all around! @Casey, thanks as well!

@Maggie, sure, I agree, less selfishness and greed is also good, and if truly the only reason these people are throwing their own party is to get gifts, then they probably won't see a lot of attendees.

But I also think that most people aren't all that offended by this practice, either. Here's the thing: If it were universally hated, no one would go, and this type of event would die. But the opposite seems to be happening, given the frequency the topic comes up. Maybe it's because its harder and harder for friends to take on the "burden" of organizing showers for other people, and understanding this, most people shrug and accept the fact that parents are organizing their own showers more often? Or maybe the gift-giving is such a minor part of the event that it doesn't seem as greedy or self-centered any more?

Whatever the reason, though, if you truly think that the "purpose" of the party is JUST to "goad people into bringing them presents", then absolutely don't go. I know if I got a strong feeling that it was just about greed, I'd blow off the event myself.

I think for most people though, throwing their own parties is about more than just goading people into bringing presents (or isn't about presents at all) and that's why I don't think this evolving practice is going away. Again, if it were universally loathed, no one would show up, and the "self-thrown shower" would have quickly died out.

On the flip side, though -- our economic recovery is dependent on consumer spending, so, really, you all ought to consider it your patriotic duty to attend as many of these showers as possible and lavish people with expensive gifts. For the good of your country. And apple pie. And baseball.
Comment: #57
Posted by: Mike H
Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:55 AM
Showers For Singles

Actually, there already ARE showers for singles -- they're sometimes called house-warming parties, graduation parties, birthday parties...

@Maggie Lawrence -- here's a piece of irony for you: I am actually a big Miss Manners fan. I used to read her column faithfully, and I only stopped because my local paper no longer carries her, and for a while I found her online, and then I'm not sure if her column "moved" but I lost track of her. I'll have to look for her again -- I always enjoyed her column. But even though I actually enjoy reading her column, and even though I totally get that etiquette is designed to make life more pleasant, I also think that sometimes we get a little fixated on the "rules" without stopping to use our heads about those rules. I don't have a problem with Miss Manners or Emily Post, et al. I have a problem with people like the LW, who already knew the answer to her etiquette question and only wrote in so that she could be told she was right. There is no actual problem here that needs to be solved. There is no question here that needs to be answered. The LW knows that it is improper for someone to throw a shower for oneself. The LW also knows that she is not required to attend or to send a gift. So, her options -- and she already knows this, I assure you -- are:

1) Decide to attend despite knowing this isn't proper (and bring a gift).
2) Decide not to attend because it isn't proper (but still send a gift).
3) Decide not to attend because it isn't proper (but send a card acknowledging the birth when it happens, no gift).

I find people who just want to be told how right they are to be far more tiresome and unpleasant than people who decided they'd rather not impose the burden of throwing a shower for them on someone else.
Comment: #58
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:56 AM
@ Lise Brouilette

"Oh yes, I'm sure she can grow up, stop being such a drama queen and just decide that she doesn't have lupus anymore. That should work, right? After all, it's all in her lit-tle mind, or it's just a ploy to get attention, right? You're as bad as they are."

Do you have a reading comprehension problem today? I never said LW1 was a drama queen and nor did I imply that her illness is all in her mind. What I did do is point out that the LW is expecting all of her friends to change themselves to accommodate her. Sorry dear, but that's not very realistic. While it's true that her friends could choose to accomodate her occasionally if they really wanted to, they don't. Do what does that tell the LW about the company she keeps? I suggested she seek out new friends as many BTL did with the only difference being that I didn't go out of my way to insult, judge or speculate on the characters of her friends. Duh!

As for many of the rest of you BTL, I am quite amused at the display of double standard here today. LW1 has an illness that she can't help and so anyone who doesn't go out of their way to be sensitive to that and make special accommodations for her has no compassion, is immature, are bad friends, etc. ad infinitum. Yet awhile back we had a lively discussion below the line during which it was made crystal clear that those afflicted with pedophilia, also a sickness, should basically be killed, forever shunned, or blasted off Earth to a colony on the moon. On other days BTL is quick to advise people to cut off obviously mentally ill family members for one reason or another. I could list example after example of comments where the very people sitting in judgement of the LW's friends today have themselves advised LWs just like those very friends to cut people like the LW off if their disease were instead something else. You people are really something.

On that note, happy and safe holidays everyone! The world didn't end today so I guess you'll be stuck with me again next year! ;-)
Comment: #59
Posted by: Chris
Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:00 AM
If I promise to serve prosecco can I throw a "Welcome My Baby To The BTL" party here? Would it be more appropriate to have it before or after the birth (perhaps after would be better -- then I can have some prosecco, too)? Since I'm not calling it a shower, do you think it will be clear that no gifts are expected (I know better than to make ANY reference to gifts in the invite)? Do I need to send individual thank you posts to each BTLer, or would that be rude because then it would bog down the BTL?
Comment: #60
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:03 AM
You (and Chris) are reacting exactly as I described -- over the top that someone would dare suggest that scents don't make good business sense. But as always, you put words in my mouth I never said. WHERE do you see any instance where I have been HOSTILE to people wearing perfume? I have never in my life said a negative comment to anyone about their perfume, ever. And WHERE did I say that I expected all people to stop wearing perfume everywhere? Nonsense! I said they shouldn't wear it to work (or places like medical offices and restaurants). Save for your date, is what I said. And WHERE did I say that I personally objected to it? As I said, I personally have NO bad reaction to scents and couldn't care less if people wear it on their own space. Also, anyone is welcome to come to my house wearing perfume. But I have a no-scents policy in the workplace NOT because I am HOSTILE regarding perfume, but because it can make some of my customers and other employees SICK. And you think I should allow people to wear scents in my business anyway? I'm glad you're not my business advisor.
Given all the media exposure over the last several years to the fact that scents DO make some people sick, I view showing up to a job interview wearing perfume that I can smell from ten feet away as a lack of either 1) professionalism and respect for others 2) strategic thinking or 3) general knowledge and busienss etiquette. It shows the same lack of business sense as coming to a job interview in dirty clothes, lighting up a cigarette, or arriving late. And your final comment..."the world doesn't revolve around your specifications..." Good Lord, Lise. Where did I say I expected the world to revolve around my specifications? I said I don't allow scents in MY workplace. I OWN the business, so yes, I do get to make the rules and hire whoever I please, which is great because it means I'll never have to hire people with attitudes like yours. And BTW, I have an employee-satisfaction rating that other companies envy.
Nanchan, your situation is not even remotely the same as mine, so I won't even touch it, but here's the point both you and Lise are not getting. As I said to Lise, when there is so much information out there about scents making some people ill or uncomfortable, people should "in this day and age" not show up to a job interview wearing it. Not so many years ago, people would think nothing about lighting up a cigarette during a job interview. Now they wouldn't even think of it. It's not that someone comes in for an interview and is wearing perfume and I think, ooooh, I don't like perfume, ewwww, since it has no effect on me. What I think is, wow, they're wearing so much perfume I can smell them from here. Haven't they heard some people can have an adverse reaction to perfume? If they really don't know that, what ELSE don't they know? Or if they do know and simply don't care, what does that say about the type of employee they would be? And if I tell them about our no-scents policy and our customer with asthma and they insist on wearing it anyway, will I lose my customer's business? I think I'll save myself the hassle and see who else is out there."
It's NOT about the perfume. It's about the attitude/ignornace/unprfessionalism behind the person wearing it.
Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for our staff Christmas party. Glad I hired them now more than ever because they're all fantastic people, who don't make such a stink about not wearing perfume. Lol! Merry Christmas, everyone!
Comment: #61
Posted by: Jane
Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:07 AM
@Chris -- You are right. We shouldn't be judging her friends (though, in fact, that is exactly what YOU did when you wrote "what does that tell the LW about the company she keeps" -- but we'll just let that pass and pretend there's no hypocrisy involved there). So, kudos to you for not judging her friends. Instead, you judged her -- suggesting she believes the world should revolve around her, that her idea of fun is pity parties and she's too busy feeling for herself. But thank goodness you weren't critical of her friends!

There is a difference between cutting someone off who, due to an illness of some sort, is perpetually doing you harm, and suggesting that someone consider not wearing perfume when around someone who has an acute sensitivity to perfume. As for the bit about me a pedophiliac who has managed to restrain his/her urges and has never preyed upon a child, and I will say THAT pedophiliac deserves my compassion and support. The ones who do NOT restrain their urges...sickness or not, not so much. Accommodating someone with lupus doesn't require any great sacrifice, nor does it do any actual harm to those "making the sacrifice." Accommodating someone with certain mental illnesses is downright dangerous. I'm hoping against hope you see the difference.
Comment: #62
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:18 AM
LW1 - You need new friends. Your current ones are mean and nasty. True friends don't get their jollies making fun of you or mocking you. That wouldn't even enter a true friends mind.
Comment: #63
Posted by: Shasta
Fri Dec 21, 2012 12:17 PM
@ Lisa

You go ahead and justify yourself any way you like dear. 'Tis the season; I'll give you a pass. But, don't twist what I wrote against me when in reality I was illustrating what you did.
Comment: #64
Posted by: Chris
Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:01 PM
For the past 4.5 decades, I have deliberately used unscented soaps, laundry products, antiperspirants, and skin lotions for precisely Jane's reasons. Perfume and cologne are right out. I'm not allergic to anything myself; I'm just considerate. Even when I was a kid, my reasoning was, “Well, I don't like people to smoke around me, so I have no business wearing scented products that bother some people.” Hasn't damaged me any that I can see. Doesn't cost any more to buy unscented. Since I don't dig ditches for a living, I don't get so smelly that I need to be doused with cover-up between showers. Really can't think of a single reason TO buy a scented product.

@ Nanchan: I don't think you interviewed with someone “like Jane” at all. You described the behavior of a dork. Her dorkiness had nothing to do with a sensible, no-nonsense no-scents (I swear I didn't do that on purpose, it just came out that way) policy; nor does Jane's interview protocol give the slightest hint of being like the one of which you complain.

@ Chris: You know the “boiling frog” phenomenon, where when you're constantly exposed to something that gets worse very gradually and incrementally, you find it difficult to notice in time to take action before it becomes an emergency? The opposite of which would be observing the changes in appreciable chunks after absenting oneself from the phenomenon for a while?

Well, every time I wander away from the BTL for a few weeks and then wander back again, I notice that you've become a little meaner and a little less funny. What's up? Are you okay? Are you going through something unpleasant or stressful that is unintentionally coming out in your posts here?

@ Mike H: Around here, it's just cloudy with a chance of zombie apocalypse....

Comment: #65
Posted by: Khlovia
Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:05 PM
@ Dave Galino:

Wow, that's a toughie. You've my sympathy.

I'm going to suggest something a trifle weird: parenting classes, for both you and, especially, your wife. (Let's just take all comments about horses and barn doors as read, okay folks?) Explain to the parenting coaches that your problem child is 30 chronologically but between 8 and 14 behaviorally, and so that's the age range you want to learn how to deal with. In the process, your wife will very likely get a clue or two about errors she made first time around. (Just guessing here, and seconding Hedgehog--guilt over having given her kid a junkie for a father made her an easy mark for a shrewd, manipulative child, yes?)

And although you have said you don't think you need marriage counseling because you and your wife are on the same page on this issue, it is nevertheless a strain on your relationship. It makes both of you sad, as you said. Don't think of counseling as a trip to the emergency room; think of it as occasional preventive maintenance for the marriage. You take your car in for a tune-up now and then, right?

Other than that, about all you can do is continue to be your wife's stalwart supporter and defender, and continue to resist being suckered into being her assistant enabler. When confronted and/or whined at directly by Stepdaughter, just shrug and say, “Choices have consequences. You're an adult.” (Even if you silently asterisk that last part.) The unfortunate fact is that it is your wife in the hot seat, not you; and it is your wife who has to learn to sit there with dignity and good posture. You can't, and shouldn't, sit there for her.

Comment: #66
Posted by: Khlovia
Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:07 PM
LW3: @Baldrz etc. - I learned how the SATs work in a short prep, I didn't study, got very high scores. You're right about the AP exams though, I concede, those are, in fact, testing knowledge. I reviewed materials for the 2 AP tests I took, but they were during the school year when we were actually in those classes, there wasn't much to really review, certainly not 2 weeks of full days, but I'm obviously skewing my response towards my own experience.
Comment: #67
Posted by: Steve C
Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:23 PM
Re: Maggie Lawrence

Actually my story had LOT to do with it and Jane DOES come across as superior in her attitude.

How is ANYONE to know about someone's sensitivity to anything if people don't speak up????

I agree it's easier not to hire someone and definately anybody who would be offended by the request and become defensive (especially if it's important to the client) is not someone I would hire. But NOR would I hire someone who expects everybody in the world to read her mind, which is what Jane seems to think prospective candidates should do.
Comment: #68
Posted by: nanchan
Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:28 PM
LW1 - What has changed in the last few decades? When I was young, NO ONE complained about being allergic to perfume, cigarette smoke, this, that, and the other thing. And they weren't just being too polite to say anything, either....I never saw anyone sneezing, wheezing, or otherwise miserable. In those days we socialized for hours in smoke-filled rooms saturated with the scents of Shalimar, Arpege, Diorissimo, Old Spice, and more. It's only in the last 10-15 years that every other person has gotten terribly sensitive to this stuff. Now, I'm as glad as anyone not to be around second-hand smoke any more, but in the "bad old days" it never made me or anyone else in the room physically ill, as it seems to now. And I never knew anyone 40-50 years ago who gagged at the mere whiff of perfume. Has something changed in our environment that suddenly the whole world has become so fragile about this stuff? Just wonderin'.
Comment: #69
Posted by: Linda
Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:33 PM
Wow ! so many of you took the time to write and try to help. Thank you all. I'm touched.
I'll talk to my wife about a marriage counselor again and see if we'd like to try it. It's got to be something we both want, and she's not leaning towards it right now.
But, thank you.

Off topic: I played SANTA for almost 500 kids at my wife's school today. What a trip ! I made so many kids happy today. Look forward to doing it again next year. The very little ones are so cute ...and they all want hugs. Adorable.

Comment: #70
Posted by: Dave Galino
Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:35 PM
@Chris, I'm not sure that comparing a pedophile to someone with lupus is really a comparison that'll stand up, frankly.

And, yeah, I'll still say that friendship is about compromise and flexibility. Not necessarily suggesting that LW's friends must adjust ALL of their events, but on the other hand it's odd that they refuse to adjust ANY of their events.

So, if that is the case, then I'll stand by my opinion that these people aren't very good friends. I have a friend with a gluten sensitivity. My group has a standing Friday night dinner date. When we want to go to restaurants that don't have enough options for her, she tends not to come along. But we try to alternate restaurants frequently enough where she can come to about 2-3 events out of every 4. We think it's reasonable to try to accommodate her, and she thinks it reasonable that sometimes we want to go to restaurants that she can't go to.

That's what friends do.

And that's why I think LW's "friends" aren't really her "friends" if they truly are refusing to make even *occasional* allowances for her.
Comment: #71
Posted by: Mike H
Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:52 PM
nanchan, maybe Jane's attitude comes off as "superior" to you because that's what you're looking for. It was clear to me that her experiences had to do with hiring people who become defensive about something as trivial as perfume, even when it annoys other people. And those people are trouble. She isn't asking anyone to "read her mind." She did give the example of floating the question to one applicant who said her perfume was "part of who she was". What I got from her post is that if a person is unaware enough to wear a strong smelling (the hiring person could smell it) perfume to an interview, it's a reasonably reliable flag that this person is going to be high maintenance in other ways as well.

Chris, seriously? Lupus compared to pedophilia? Assuming you weren't just being ridiculous for effect's sake, let me point out that a pedophile usually manages to refrain from molesting children when the police are watching - which means they CAN control it. A person with lupus cannot control it, all they can do is avoid things that trigger the worst effects.
Comment: #72
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:07 PM

If it's that important that your employees don't wear perfume, then telling them at the interview or even when you are arranging for the interview is the time to tell them. If they have an attitude about it, that's the time to find out.

My point is, at least let them know and have a say in the matter, then you know clearly where they stand. Don't just decide against them and they don't know what happened.
Comment: #73
Posted by: jar8818
Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:11 PM
@ Khlovia & Mike H
You'll both have to keep me posted on whether or not the world has ended - living as close as I do to Washington, DC, it's hard to tell around here :)
Comment: #74
Posted by: Kitty
Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:12 PM
@Linda -- actually, I remember 30 (and more) years ago when I was a kid living with my parents, and my father was very sensitive to smoke and fragrance. My father hated going to his brother's house because my aunt was a heavy smoker -- used to drive him crazy when we would go to their house. His eyes would get red (which I could see), and he would complain that they were dry and itchy when were somewhere near cigarette smokers, and his throat would get dry and scratchy (which I couldn't feel -- but I could sometimes hear that his voice was getting hoarse). If someone with a lot of perfume was standing close to him, he would sneeze. It never occurred to my dad that he might have a "sensitivity" to smoke or perfume. It never occurred to him that it might be an allergy. And it never occurred to him to see a doctor to get a diagnosis. But in all likelihood, if my father went to see a doctor today and he was tested for allergies, he would probably test positive for an allergy to cigarette smoke and to certain fragrances. The fact that he never sought a diagnosis doesn't mean he was any less allergic. If someone suggested my father go see a doctor, his response would likely be "why bother -- there's nothing they can really do about it, I'll just avoid smokey places and people with heavy perfume." Which is basically what he did. My parents hardly ever attended parties, not because they weren't social or weren't invited -- my father hates parties, largely because he was more likely to come into contact with smokers and wearers of heavy perfume at parties. Instead, they would see their friends individually or casually in small groups, where it was far less likely someone would be smoking or wearing heavy perfume. When we would go to restaurants, back when they still had smoking and non-smoking sections, we always sat in non-smoking -- and it wasn't unusual for my father to request a different table if we were in the non-smoking section but we were too close to the smoking section.

So, I think there have been people who are extra-sensitive/allergic to smoke and fragrance for a very long time, it's just that it wasn't something doctors were paying that much attention to (in much the same way that, before the connection to cancer was found, cigarettes were frequently touted as weight-loss drug and mood enhancer, and no one was paying attention to the fact that people were getting sick and dying, so go figure). I don't know if any of the allergy medicines out there are aimed at people with smoke/fragrance allergies, but I don't believe so. As a result, even though now it is more common to hear about it -- because people are actually diagnosed with it these days -- I still don't think there's really any sort of "treatment" for it, so to a certain degree, my dad was basically right about it being kind of pointless to see a doctor about it.
Comment: #75
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:37 PM
@jar8818 & Jane -- your exchange on the topic of fragrance in the workplace has been (dare I say it) a breath of fresh air (har har) for its basic civility. I see nothing wrong with Jane informing an interviewee that due to fragrance-related allergies among staff and/or clients, her workplace is a fragrance-free zone and asking if that is going to be a problem for the interviewee. This makes perfect sense to me. While it wouldn't occur to me (and I do interview job candidates from time to time) to ask that question, I have to say that if I DID ask that question, and the response was "oh, but that's part of who I am," after having been told that other staff/clients are allergic, I, too, would be moving on to a different candidate.

But I do think the question should at least be asked and answered, instead of just automatically nixing someone who was wearing fragrance that day. I don't generally wear perfume and have never actually purchased perfume -- but I have been given perfume (most often as "free gifts" when I've purchased something else), so I do have some. While I can't even remember the last time I put perfume on, I can easily imagine getting ready for a job interview and thinking, "well a light spray for good luck..." I'd hate to think that was a reason I didn't hired, particularly since I hardly ever wear fragrance, and if someone asked me about it, I'd be only too happy to forgo it, since that's what I do 99.9% of the time anyway.

Still, I can see that some people would agree to it just to get the job, and then eventually go right back to wearing the fragrance.
Comment: #76
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:48 PM
We've built pyramids, survived plagues, crossed vast oceans. He'll, we've walked on the moon! And look at now, whining about people smewwy perfume at the office.

Lw1 actually is being selfish, you know. Not being she wants to avoid reacting to perfumes, but because she wants her "friends" to change for her. Lw1, your friends are not interested in doing what you consider fun. They want to do what they, and most normal people, think is fun. You go along and stay silent? That IS being a wet blanket. Why would you even agree to go to a cosmetics party? You need to distance yourself from these people because you aren't having a good time with them and I'm sure the opposite is also true. Btw, what does your house smell like? I'm curious.
Comment: #77
Posted by: Zoe
Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:59 PM
@Zoe -- Have you been to those candle parties and other sales pitch parties? If this is their idea of a good time, I've got to wonder, but to each his own! I think you may be taking the "stay silent" thing a bit too literally. If she really IS going and then literally just sitting there not saying anything at all, then yeah, wet blanket, for sure. I assumed she meant that she goes and doesn't say anything about it not being her first choice of entertainment and not say anything about her condition -- but that's she's still participating in the conversation. Back when I didn't drink any alcohol, I still went to bars and parties where alcohol was being served (and since this was when I was in college, drinking was frequently the primary activity). But I still had fun, because I was still chatting with people, dancing, etc. Just because I wasn't drinking like everyone else didn't automatically render me a wet blanket. I was perfectly capable of enjoying all the other aspects of the party, and my not drinking didn't in any way hurt anyone else's good time (and, indeed, many folks were grateful to have a sober driver handy). I would say she's being selfish if she were ALWAYS expecting them to cater to her (and maybe she is, though it doesn't sound like it to me). Rather than saying she is being selfish, I think she is deluding herself about these people being good friends for her. Where we agree (because don't we all love a little common ground?) is that she needs to distance herself from these people. She's clearly NOT having a good time with them. It's not totally clear that they're not having a good time with her -- apparently a number of them were highly entertained when she had a severe reaction to the cosmetics, so perhaps they like having her around for their occasional amusement. Who knows?

What I will put squarely on her shoulders is:

1) She picked these friends -- it's time she found others since clearly this is not a good fit for her.
2) She allowed someone to put cosmetics on her when she knew it was likely any good could come of that -- yes, she was goaded into allowing it (which brings us back to not picking her friends well), but it's on her for caving into that.
3) Instead of complaining about her friends' behavior, she needs to find new friends.
Comment: #78
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:55 PM
@ Zoe #77

Exactly!! BTW, I'm planning on going out this weekend. Which club was it you were at where the two gentlemen whipped out ;-) Happy holidays!
Comment: #79
Posted by: Chris
Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:56 PM
@ Maggie Lawrence #72

"A person with lupus cannot control it, all they can do is avoid things that trigger the worst effects."

Yes! Exactly! And in the case of this LW that apparently means getting NEW FRIENDS! Why is everyone missing that this is my point?!?
Comment: #80
Posted by: Chris
Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:59 PM
Re: Chris (#80)

"Yes! Exactly! And in the case of this LW that apparently means getting NEW FRIENDS! Why is everyone missing that this is my point?!?"

No, nobody is missing that point. I'd venture to say a lot of us probably agree with that point.

What we have an issue with is way back at your original post, where you put the blame on her for allowing herself to be made up with cosmetics that she might have a poor medical reaction to, and then the old "the world doesn't revolve around you" hand. The entire way you said it was insensitive, at least I think so.

Let me ask you, what do you think education on lupus might do to some of the people she calls friends? It surely can't hurt. I'd try. It isn't going to change everyone – God only knows, it's just like with people diagnosed with autism and other mental illnesses, and physical illnesses like, oh say, chronic fatigue syndrome or (as talked about today) lupus. There are people who are going to understand who didn't before, and people who cannot and will not understand because they're friggin' assholes and old school and won't change for the world.

Some of her friends will understand and be truly remorseful for their behavior at the cosmetics party. Others will behave much like Chris Hargeson (the "Carrie" villian, not you, Chris) or Connie D'Amico on "Family Guy" – a spoiled brat who didn't get her way and be bitter because someone else trumped her self-righteous attitude.
Comment: #81
Posted by: Bobaloo
Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:54 PM
Jane, I hope you had a great Christmas party.

Comment: #82
Posted by: nanchan
Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:25 PM
@Jane #41
"Her response: "Oh, I have to wear perfume every day. It's a part of who I am." Bingo. Needless to say I didn't hire her, but I wouldn't have hired her even if the customer was no longer around, because her very response showed that she lacked empathy for the wellbeing of others, and would be unwilling to put even insignificant personal desires aside for the benefit of others."
I assume your time is precious. You could have avoided wasting both yours and hers by testing those waters over the phone and not scheduling an interview in person.

"WHERE do you see any instance where I have been HOSTILE to people wearing perfume?"
1. You did not inform the interviewed person that there was a no-scent policy;
2. You are using the fact that the person is using perfume as a reason to refuse to hire her, and without even telling her the reason.

Seems pretty hostile to me. And it remains so even though you claim you have no personal aversion to it yourself, and have never said anything unpleasant. No, you just don't hire anyone wearing perfume, no reason stated, no second chance, end of story.

The person being scheduled for an interview should be told of the no scent policy ahead of time and, if they show up wearing one anyway, THEN you can throw their resume in file #13.

"I said I don't allow scents in MY workplace."
Sorry about that one, I apologise. I assumed it was a personal preference. And I agree with a no-scent policy in the workplace, btw... Some people are highly sensitive when not outright wildly allergic, and others wear way too much even when perfume doesn't bother you. I just think you're going about it the wrong way. And jftr, I used to be sent by agencies to do vacation replacements here, there and everywhere... I've seen a LOT of offices. I was requested many times not to show up for an assignment wearing perfume, and I never had a problem with that.

Re: Cyn #51
I'm very sorry that you have such problems with scents, but you have to understand that they are in the market, people buy and use them for reasons that actually run quite deep, and that you cannot expect to reshape the world to your needs, even if your complaint is real and serious.

Scents do not bother me at all in spite of the fact that I asthma, but I would say that most people wear far too much of it.

@Maggie Lawrence #56
"A person who puts - and clings to - a frivolous habit (wearing perfume, for instance) ahead of the comfort and/or health of co-workers, is NOT a good employment risk."
If they've been told and still do as they please, yes, definitely, you're absolutely right. But subjecting someone to a shit trip like the one nanchan describes (#53) or outright dismissing a candidate because they didn't pass the smell test (like Jane does), when they were NOT TOLD the workplace they're applying into had a no-scent policy... sorry, but that's an ego trip, like nanchan says.

"getting rid of someone after the fact is a whole lot harder than hiring them "
Yes, after the 3-months probation period is over. I would check with HR to see if some caveat can be put in the hiring conditions (or put them in myself if it's my company like Jane): No scents in the workplace, dealbreaker, three warnings, three strikes, ye're out.

@Mike H #57
" For the good of your country. And apple pie. And baseball."
And hockey? But no hockey. Sob.

@Chris #59
"I never said LW1 was a drama queen and nor did I imply that her illness is all in her mind."
"Let's face it, you're allergic to life."
"(Your friends) might as well give up after seeing you act like a vampire doused with holy water following the application of a little makeup to your face"
"It seems to me that you're the only one in your social circle whose idea of "fun" is a pity party"
"feeling sorry for yourself because everyone around you won't bend over backwards and make sacrifices to accommodate your disease"
"The world doesn't revolve around you."
You sure had me fooled, for all of this certainly sounds very dismissive of her condition indeed.

"expecting all of her friends to change themselves to accommodate her"?
She said no such thing (comprehension problems, perhaps?), and all she would want is for them to take her illness into account, like 20% of the time, when planning activities, instead of behaving like her suffering is part of the booked entertainment AND refusing her invitations on flimsy (and rather offensive) excuses. One time out of five is not being overly demanding imho, and if her friends can't do that little, then they don't give a damn about her. You're fighting for the right to be wrong.

"I am quite amused at the display of double standard here today. (...) awhile back we had a lively discussion below the line during which it was made crystal clear that those afflicted with pedophilia, also a sickness, should basically be killed, forever shunned, or blasted off Earth to a colony on the moon."
Chris, if you actually genuinely, truly believe these two things are comparable, you don't only have a comprehension problem, you're completely insane.

Or pouring oil on the fire is your idea of fun - just like the LW's "friends", who thought her skin being on fire was wildly entertaining. Not that this doesn't also qualify as quite insane...

"And in the case of this LW that apparently means getting NEW FRIENDS! Why is everyone missing that this is my point?!?"
Yes, you did say that, after a long tirade where you went for the jugular vein on every front. We're not missing your "point", it's just that is was quite drowned in snark. Too much ketchup, and you no longer taste the burger, you know?

@Linda #69
"Has something changed in our environment that suddenly the whole world has become so fragile about this stuff? Just wonderin'."
That makes two of us.

@Zoe #77
"she wants her "friends" to change for her."
No, she doesn't. She just wants her own needs to be taken into account SOME of the time, instead of zero, which is what it is right now. And she certainly doesn't want to be bullied into having stuff smeared on her face that'll make her skin feel like it's on fire. Gee, how bitchy and unreasonable of her, talk about being a wet blanket.

Frankly, I think she has only been sticking around because she's known these women since childhood, and she's clinging to the mistaken belief that a long history means they've GOT to be friends... But the friendship is way past the expiration date and she and them have grown far apart. She has developed an illness that is incompatible with what is apparently their only interests, while they have developed a bit of a vicious streak. Time to divorce them and develop new friends.

AND A HAPPY END OF THE WORLD TO ALL - Since it appears that Armageddon has been postponed to a later date again.

Comment: #83
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:59 PM
@ Dave Galino
I'm writing late for this board, so maybe you'll see this, or not. I have had friends and family with their different issues, so I'm going to tell you how I've dealt with them, to some success. Successful on my part at least and being able to live without the constant cloud of worry and anxiety.
First, your stepdaughter is manipulating you. You have acted one way for a long time in response to her needs, demands, and issues. Now you are acting different, and she doesn't like she throws a tantrum.
Second, your stepdaughter is an adult. Not a young adult, an adult. Reality is, you have no authority over her...she's an adult. You have no control over her...she is an adult and she makes her own decisions.
So you need to detach from her, but that doesn't mean stop loving her. It means accepting that you have control over your life and decisions, but you have none over hers - you can't MAKE someone do or be something, ever.
Let her throw her tantrums, and hold your mouth. You convey that you love her, but you know she needs to help herself (and she does.) You let her know that you will never stop loving her, but the money is over. And you let her go.
I don't want you to see your daughter fall, but the reality is, kids fall. Let her and let her learn her life lessons. She's been shielded from it, but if you back off and let her find her own path to fail or succeed, she might surprise you. Oh, and kids also pick themselves up after they fall.
I will warn you that you will have a period of time, could be lengthy, where she fights the new norm. You have to let this happen and take its course. I believe that even while that person is throwing their tantrums and punishing you, as long as you are there with a constant detached love, you can get them to accept how things now are; you just have to be strong enough to endure the hardship while it's going on.
Comment: #84
Posted by: kristen
Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:18 PM
@ D. Galino: What Kristen said.

@ Kitty: Well, yeah, I can see why you'd be all “So what else is new?” about the end of the world. Problem is, the coasts always get new trends before we do here in the Midwest. If the world ends before midnight, it'll probably be a coupla days before anyone around here notices. Sorry I can't help! :-D
Comment: #85
Posted by: Khlovia
Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:30 PM
1) LW1, I think you're right to not want to wear makeup or be around booze or cigarette smoke. Fine. but you need to say so! Simply say "no I don't do that" and then DON'T! This is a YOU problem (and no I don't mean you should commence drinking and wearing war paint). You need to state clearly you do not do A or B and then DON'T. Be confident, assertive, and firm. It really isn't that hard!

2) I can't imagine having the gall to think someone should host a shower for me. Lisa is right; there really is something appalling about that practice. Who cares who is hosting? Either come and bring a gift, or don't. It's really that simple. FTR I never had a baby shower, or wedding shower, despite having four kids and being married three times. We held "welcome baby!" barbeques/brunches/or parties AFTER the births where people could bring gifts if they wanted but they were never expected. We always made it clear we wanted their presence not presents. We got some nice presents but never ever the BIG TICKET ITEMS many people today get. Maybe I'm weird but we always assumed it was OUR responsibility to buy those things?

3) I can't decide is Chris is s stingy as hell scrooge or if he just has the greediest social circle in the world since every event is known to him as a Gift Grab.
Comment: #86
Posted by: wkh
Sat Dec 22, 2012 1:33 AM
regarding no scents... I've always been confused as to what precisely this means. I don't wear perfume (I've always found the stuff rather revolting and don't even wear it for "special" occasions) but finding AFFORDABLE unscented shampoos and soaps, detergents, handsoaps, sanitizers, hair products, etc. is really not an easy task. What does a "no scents" policy mean? I do know of one place near me where several of my friends refuse to even apply, despite being quite qualified, because they're paranoid the place will throw a fit over their hair products or hand sanitizers. It would be nice if "no scents" was defined more.
Comment: #87
Posted by: wkh
Sat Dec 22, 2012 1:39 AM
Linda (#69), we know a lot more about the effects of smoke and other airborne chemicals than we used to, so awareness is part of the answer, but the main problem is that we are exposed to WAY more airborne chemicals than we used to be, in WAY more combinations and at higher concentrations. Most of the crap people put on their bodies, their clothing, their furniture, etc. is not adequately tested, and the number of combinations (with their concomitant interactions) increases exponentially.
Comment: #88
Posted by: Baldrz
Sat Dec 22, 2012 1:49 AM
Steve C (#67), I didn't study much for the SAT either, and I did great. But some people lack confidence or are poor test takers, and some people are just highly motivated to prepare. Whatever the son's reasons are for wanting to use his spring break for study, he should be commended for his efforts, and people who deliberately schedule a visit for a time they know is inconvenient are jerks.
Comment: #89
Posted by: Baldrz
Sat Dec 22, 2012 1:55 AM
Re: wkh
"Be confident, assertive, and firm. It really isn't that hard! "
Ah, for people who are reasonably extrovertes and assertive like you and I, it isn't. But it would appear that, for some, simply telling it like it is, is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest without rappel gear. That's why assertive classes and therapy exists, and I think the LW needs at least one of them.

And yet, back in the bad old days when there was no awareness, there also seemed to be less sick people, otherwise the awareness would have come sooner. Not to mention that there were NO unscented products back then, and even more "concomitant interactions" than today. So I really do believe people's sensitivy has multiplied tenfold, for reasons unknown. I think Linda is on to something.

Comment: #90
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Dec 22, 2012 7:00 AM
Lisa --

You mentioned not being sure where to find Miss Manners online. I have found she writes more than one column, and two sites that are reasonable are:

http :// / miss_manners / 2010/07/06/ AB97r7D_linkset . html

http :// / life-inspired / miss-manners-advice /
Comment: #91
Posted by: Miss Pasko
Sat Dec 22, 2012 12:53 PM
I totally agree with youthat years ago, everyone at work was stinking of cigarette smoke and bad cologne. And you are right, we did deal with it, and nobody was freaking out. I am not sure how we went from that to what we have now, but I am one who cannot tolerate the smell of cigarettes, and strong perfume around me when I am trying to have a nice dinner in a fine restaurant really bothers me also. I guess we might mourn the death of tolerance, or we can celebrate healthier attitudes.
Comment: #92
Posted by: Carly O
Sat Dec 22, 2012 9:03 PM
Lise, they weren't called "unscented" because it hadn't yet occurred to anyone to add scents to them. And people didn't use all the BS "air fresheners" and "fabric softeners" and "air sanitizers" and scented tampon bags and skin care "systems" and slimy "styling products." There were far fewer interactions because there were far fewer chemicals to interact. People blithely spray crap around their homes that hadn't even been invented a couple of decades ago--not to mention all the outgassing synthetic crap that passes for furniture today. As for cigarette smoke, it was just as sickening then as it is today; it's just that people were expected to tolerate it. I remember all too well.
Comment: #93
Posted by: Baldrz
Sun Dec 23, 2012 2:14 AM
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