DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a professional singer, and I sing as the leading soprano in an opera house. Of course, it is expected and natural to receive and give gifts on the day of a premiere, but I have a violinist “friend” who gives me gifts every single time I see her.
Literally. Every show, every rehearsal with orchestra, every concert, without fail.
At first I thanked her for the gifts, but at this point, I feel weird about it. I tell her every single time, “Thank you so much, but you really must not give me any more gifts.” I have never (on purpose) encouraged her with a thank-you note, and have only once reciprocated, on her birthday: I baked a cake and gave her a beautiful necklace, which was the most uncomfortable meeting yet.
After we left her house once, my husband and I went grocery shopping, and while we were walking home, she showed up in her car to “help us” and drove us home. We were extremely unsettled by the idea that she followed us.
She also comes into my dressing room while I am changing, and will wait for me for over an hour, which makes me feel like I have to do something with her when I just want to go home. She will follow me to my house, and if she meets me in town, she will follow me around while I try to do my errands. She writes incredibly long texts, and asks me very personal things, like “What did the doctor say?” etc.
How I can get her to go away in general? I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I am fed up with her creepiness and need to make this stop.
GENTLE READER: The behavior you describe is that of a stalker -- not a friend, in quotes or otherwise. But she has convinced you to cooperate, albeit reluctantly, in her own gross violation of good manners by making you think that cutting her would be rude. It would not. In fact, it is the only sensible solution.
Miss Manners is confident that opera house management has seen this problem before, and can be turned to for a solution: barring her from visiting you backstage (assuming she is not in the orchestra), or implementing more stringent measures if she is a fellow employee. Avoiding her outside the theater will require constant vigilance, and perhaps even the involvement of the authorities, which is certainly unpleasant -- but protecting yourself from unwanted attentions by avoiding interaction with her is not rude.