Dear Margo: My roommate's mother commented about my weight — to the roommate, who is now giving me an ultimatum about Weight Watchers, or she will never do anything for me again. (I tried WW once, and it's not an experience I wish to repeat.) That she is issuing an ultimatum really hurt, but to make it worse, she said she won't hear any "excuses." All I get is defense of Weight Watchers, comments on my eating habits and reiterations of the ultimatum. Did I mention she says, "I'm not saying this to be mean" every time? And that she's called me fat, adding, "I'm sorry but you are."
I have nowhere else to go. I have a cat and can't afford my own place. I would also hate to lose a friendship over this. I'm not in the least proud of my weight, but the mother's butting in and the roommate's behavior as a result upset me greatly. I doubt either of them is concerned about my health, and in the mother's case, what should she care anyway? What can I do? — Beleaguered
Dear Be: I would throw the discomfort back her way. Tell the pushy roommate you resent being browbeaten, the subject is none of her business or her mother's, you're tired of the insults, and maybe she should see a counselor about her insensitivity, if not meanness. I suspect her financial situation is similar to yours, so maybe drop into the conversation that if she doesn't tone it down about your weight, one of you may have to consider alternative living arrangements. — Margo, tactically
Dear Margo: I work for a small company on a team of four women in their late 20s. There's a problem with one of my colleagues that might strike you as odd. "Mary" suffers from severe PMS. Several days before the onset of her menses, she turns into a nightmare. Moreover, she gets a leave of absence for a couple of days each month because she feels ill when she has her period. I'm not a freak who makes another lady's cycle her business, but after working so closely for two years, you just notice such things.
In the first months of working together, I sympathized, but it's getting to be too much now. She's not the easiest person to begin with, but during the week prior to her period, she becomes intolerable. I am getting fed up covering her workload when she is out. I gently suggested she consult a doctor. Her answer boils down to "no use seeing a doctor, that's the way I was born."
I brought this up to our boss, who told me he is aware of the behavior but is reluctant to let her go because of her knowledge of our company, which is true. Also, he is reluctant to deal with the whole subject. Should I start looking for another job? Should I start nagging our boss? — Feeling Stuck
Dear Feel: "I was born this way," ergo no need to see a doctor, is fallacious. Were that the case, there would be no need for orthodontists. While it is often true that PMS sufferers are stuck with this unfortunate periodic personality change (no pun intended) in addition to the pain, I would try to get your colleague to give her doctor a try. I asked a doc about this, and the first line of treatment for severe PMS is an SSRL, usually Prozac. Good luck with either fixing it or living with it. — Margo, hopefully
Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers' daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dearmargo. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.