Dear Annie: I read your column in the local paper, and I've notice that folks always write in to say that they are older and alone or in a new town — "How do I make friends," etc. So, I wonder if there are other people out there like my brother and me.
We are both in our mid- to late-50s. Our parents were quite the social couple. Dad was always the one who wore a lampshade on his head, the life of the party. However, my brother and I are the opposite. Don't get me wrong, we have childhood, lifelong friends and we are always there when things get going. But I, personally, have not made a "new" friend in probably 25 years, and I couldn't care less. My brother is the same way.
So many people are fakes, phonies, liars, etc., that neither of us have any interest in cultivating a new go-to person in our lives. I think it involves too much work and frankly, don't want to be bothered. I have a full-time job and commute 50 miles round-trip daily. When I come home, I want my time to myself.
I do attend church weekly and do love going out and shopping, but I prefer to do it alone. I always strike up conversations with strangers, but don't tell me your name; I'll forget it 5 seconds later. I am not intimidated by the general public and even ran for political office once. But I have zero interest in becoming friendly enough with people to want to socialize in any way with them, and my brother is the same way. We both are married, with children on their own. Are we odd, selfish, lazy or so laid back that we get ourselves and aren't into being impressed by anyone? I'm sure one day, when I am older, I will regret this, but for now, I... — Love Being Lonely
Dear Love Being Lonely: You might enjoy being alone more than most, but you're not lonely. You have close family and friends and are content with your social life. You're doing fine, and I say if it ain't broke, don't fix it. A few deep personal connections are worth more than a hundred shallow ones. You don't have to be the lampshade-wearing type to lead a bright life.
Dear Annie: I've noticed a new customer service trend. When I'm checking out at the grocery store or doing banking, etc., the person behind the counter will ask me, "Are you doing anything fun today?" Or, "What are you doing this afternoon?"
Having been trained by my parents to be friendly and polite, I have actually told these complete strangers what are my plans.
Now I go running for the self-checkout aisle because I don't want to feel rude. I'd like to know if anyone else is as put out as I am about being asked personal questions. I mean, maybe I'm going to my child's funeral, or having chemotherapy, or not going somewhere at all because I'm struggling with depression.
I've chosen dead silence rather than a response. But I would be curious to know if others are experiencing this and how they feel about it. — Put Out at the Checkout
Dear Put Out at the Checkout: For anyone enduring such hardships as the ones you cited, the go-to question, "How are you," could be equally upsetting or inane. I don't think we ought to give up on chit-chatting with one another altogether because of that. That said, should someone seem to not want to engage in small talk, we should try to pick up those cues and respect their space.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]