Dear Annie: I have played in a local poker league for 10 years and have built solid friendships with these people. Three years ago, a new crew joined our crowd. At first, they were friendly, but in the past two years, one of them began having home poker parties. I was completely caught off guard when I started noticing Facebook posts with all of our friends, and my husband and I were not on the invite list.
I tried to be a good sport and would post comments to let them know I was glad they had a good time, but deep down, I was hurt that people I'd known for a decade didn't seem to mind that we were not there. A few of them commented privately, saying they were not aware it was happening, but nothing changed.
Last year, I was diagnosed with cancer and have undergone radiation. My "don't care" quotient is at an all-time high, so when I noticed once again that we were not invited to a gathering, I commented that it was a slap in the face and amazingly rude to expect me to be courteous and friendly during our poker games when it's obvious that she has no regard for my feelings at all.
I later attempted to extend an olive branch to all of the members of our league (including Miss Rude) by inviting them to my husband's birthday party, but not one of them showed up. Do I need a shrink, or should I just put all of our cards on the table and find out what I've done to make her deliberately alienate me? — Royal Flush
Dear Royal: This sounds like high school with the mean girls and the bullies. There could be any number of reasons why Miss Rude has isolated you — she doesn't like you, she wants to be in control, she believes you are competition. The real question is why your other friends go along with it. If you have a pal in your group, ask for an honest assessment. But mostly, we think you need new friends.
Dear Annie My husband and I are childless, over 55 and in the process of downsizing to a smaller home. Our birthdays are coming up. We don't want or need clothes, knickknacks or home furnishings. We donate such items to charity.
While we appreciate their generosity, we have told our friends and relatives that a gift certificate (in any amount) to a restaurant is most welcome. It is a nice treat and an incentive to get out. But few of them choose this option. Last Christmas, we were inundated with clothes and tchotchkes for the home we are leaving.
Would you please address this so our requests aren't ignored? — Ft. Myers, Fla.
Dear Florida: All gifts are just that, and no one is obligated to get you anything, let alone what you are requesting. The proper response is to say thank you and then give the items away. But we understand your frustration. If the same people keep doing this, it's OK to ask them to stop, as you no longer need these items and will give them to charity. You can sincerely suggest that they make a direct donation to the charity instead. If they then ask what you'd actually like, you can tell them.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Unwilling Son," who refused to take a family photo for his parents' 40th anniversary because his mother asked him to wear a white sweatshirt and he doesn't look good in white.
Several years back, we had such a picture taken. I treasure the picture because the family is scattered all over the world. Tell the ungrateful snob to put on the sweatshirt and make his parents happy. It may be the last time they are together. — Grandparent in White
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], 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 www.creators.com.