Dear Annie: I occasionally have lunch with a relative whose company I enjoy. We usually have a nice time, but lately she has been bringing a last-minute guest with her without telling me. Sometimes it is another relative, and sometimes it is a person I've never met. This has caused seating confusion and a less desirable room at places where we have reservations. Does this mean she doesn't care for my company, or is it just a lack of manners? -- Mystified in Michigan
Dear Mystified: I can't divine this woman's reasons. Perhaps she's trying to save time by consolidating her lunch dates (which, I agree, would be bad manners). But there's no need to consult a crystal ball. The next time you're making plans and wondering whether she'll invite anyone else, just ask.
Dear Annie: My sons were the topic of a recent letter published in your column. It was from "Concerned Grandfather," my dad. He told you he's worried that my sons are overly affectionate with each other. (He admitted he had written the letter when I confronted him.)
I appreciate your thoughtful answer to my father's letter. For the record, my sons know that their grandfather disapproves of their closeness. They think he is being silly. I explained to my elder son, "Steven," that his grandfather grew up in a time when affection between brothers or a father and a son was frowned upon. His response was: "That's messed up."
My husband, their dad, was extremely affectionate to them, so I think that kind of openness and love is what they are used to. When their dad died, the boys were devastated. When the younger boy, "Frederick," wanted to sleep with Steven because he was having nightmares, I let him. Steven would comfort him by holding him in his arms all night. Now, six years later, Frederick gets scared because I sometimes work a third shift. He says he feels safer with Steven by his side when I am gone overnight.
It is true; they hug a lot. And yes, they do exchange pecks on the cheek, but it is not constant as my father described.
My sons love each other. I certainly will not do anything or say anything to make them feel their behavior is dirty or inappropriate. How different would the world be if boys gave and received more affection?
My sons are well-adjusted. They play sports, get excellent grades and have friends other than each other. My father has often said they need to see a counselor to end their disgusting affection for each other. There is no way I would ever take them for counseling to break something that I think is beautiful and normal. My prayer and wish is they will always stay close and openly affectionate. -- Loving Mom
Dear Loving Mom: Thanks for sharing. I'd like to add that you shouldn't automatically discount the notion of counseling for your sons -- not because they are affectionate but because they lost their father at a young age.