Dear Amy: My 45th college reunion is coming up.
I met “Jill” in our freshman year. We became friends immediately. We had a common interest in sports; I was on the baseball and basketball teams, and she was a cheerleader who possessed superb athletic ability.
We had a great platonic relationship and we were heading toward the next phase. But me, being the naive, inexperienced 20-year-old that I was, did not behave properly.
Our last time together, decades ago, was spent with other friends and turned out to be a disaster. Suffice it to say, I unintentionally disrespected Jill that evening.
By the end of the evening, I saw that Jill was pretty upset with me, and she gave me the iciest look that I have ever seen. I knew at that moment that I was out of her life forever; which I deserved.
She is married, and I am also married, and I do not want to cause any problems for Jill if I see her.
I have felt guilt and shame for my insensitive behavior for nearly 45 years, and feel that I owe her an apology.
I ruined a “fairy tale” relationship and lost the most beautiful woman in Texas.
If I see her, should I apologize to her (if she will even speak to me), or should I keep the conversation general and cordial?
Dear Jack: When you refer to “Jill” as your fairy tale soul mate and the most beautiful woman in a very large state, you run the risk of disrespecting your spouse, who is presumably not chopped liver. Jill’s spouse might also take exception to this.
I sense a fantasy taking shape here, and I hope you can marshal your inner resources to keep yourself in check in order to remain respectful to all parties.
No. A public event in front of long-lost friends and family members is not the place to proffer a 45-year-old apology. If you have the opportunity to speak with Jill privately at this event, or can reach out to her afterward, you should tell her that you’ve always felt ashamed of your behavior that night. Tell her you hope she would be willing to forgive you.
Dear Amy: I am a 52-year-old guy with a twin sister. Our birthday is arriving soon.
On our 40th birthday, I was informed by her previous husband that he was throwing a surprise birthday party for my sister.
My ex-wife and I went to this party to support her. However, I felt really left out, especially when the cake came out that said “Happy Birthday, (her name only).”
There was also a table covered with cards and presents from friends and family for her.
Other folks at the party realized very quickly that it was my birthday too, and struggled with why I wasn’t included.
This happened again on our 50th birthday, where her current husband and my 20-something niece did the same thing.
I didn’t go to that party and derided my family for once again not standing up and saying that this was hurtful to me.
In fact, I asked them, “Why in the world would I want to go to that?” They told me I was being a jerk.
I have not really spoken to anyone in my family since and don’t plan on it.
Am I being oversensitive and shallow? Am I being full of myself for being angry at not being included?
I do love my sister very much; however, my family is another story.
— Second-class Brother
Dear Brother: I agree that it is odd for family members not to acknowledge that you and your sister share a birthday. I can certainly imagine how strange it would be to be so obviously ignored at a family party.
But I’m not sure which came first, you being treated like a second-class brother or you behaving like one.
The appropriate reaction is to be honest about your feelings: “Well, it’s awkward for me because I feel so left out.” Refusing to celebrate with your sister (it’s her day, too) makes you seem petty.
Dear Amy: “Unashamed Cat Lover” had ceased speaking to a friend who’d abandoned her cat. You found the words to describe my reaction: “If it is so easy for you to abandon a cat, what is to prevent you from abandoning me?”
— Cat Man
Dear Cat Man: Unlike people, animals are truly defenseless. We need to be careful stewards.