Dear Mary

Dear Mary: how do I stop a man making lewd comments?

23 March 2019

9:00 AM

23 March 2019

9:00 AM

Q. My wife’s closest friend and her husband visit us every couple of months or so. Without fail he will make lewd comments and is not even deterred in public places, where he will speak loudly so that others will hear what he considers to be witty ‘end of the pier’ humour. He is never funny. We don’t laugh at him and try to stifle our embarrassment by completely blanking him. However, his wife appears unshaken and makes excuses for him. We can only assume that she has failed to reform him and minimises his pathetic behaviour by glossing over it. It would be a relief if we never saw him again, but my wife does not want to lose her best friend. What should we do?
— Name and address withheld

A. Why not invite the couple to lunch at your house and arrange to have some children present? In this way, he risks a charge of abuse if he fails to curb the lewdness. Otherwise your wife will have to resort to suggesting pampering breaks in spas (‘Let’s leave the men to fend for themselves’) so she can keep the friendship alive.


Q. My husband and I recently had a generous invitation from some friends and to thank them I gave them a pair of lamps that would normally have been very expensive, except that I found them on eBay wrongly listed at a bargain price. Because I tend to over-elaborate stories, I made something up about how difficult it had been to make the journey home on the train with the lamps plus their shades. Now my hostess has texted saying they are perfect for their conservatory and they want to get two more and could I give her the name of the shop I got them from. Please Mary, help me get out of this tricky scenario.
— Name and address withheld

A. This dilemma is entirely of your own making. You now have the choice of telling a second lie — ‘I got them in a pop-up shop, now closed’ or you can confess. It was a petty crime, and confession, handled the right way, will make you look childish and theatrical rather than dishonest. Paradoxically it may make you more popular with the friends, rather than less, as it will give their own sense of superiority a boost.

Q. My husband rarely accepts an invitation to lunch or dinner. He’s not misanthropic, but he resents being ‘ambushed’ by finding, when we turn up, that we are part of a ‘herd’ of guests rather than having a chance of proper conversation. But of course it’s rude to ask who else is going so we tend to just say we are not available. What do you suggest?
— Name and address withheld

A. Next time someone asks you, say: ‘Will it just be us? He finds large gatherings so intimidating these days. Did you know that 40 per cent of people over the age of 50 suffer some degree of hearing loss?’ In this way you convey the impression that it is nothing personal against the other guests.

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