DEAR MISS MANNERS: A lifelong friend of mine was incarcerated for a white-collar crime of a rather serious nature, and the possibility of him leaving jail in the next few years seems slim.
I’ve only known him as a kind, friendly and honest person, though the state prosecutors portrayed another side of him. We’ve remained in touch with letters throughout the years, and I do not wish to desert him, especially since most everyone else in his life has.
However, I’m in a quandary as to what to write to him about now. Obviously, I cannot talk solely about what’s happening in my life, which is relatively carefree, and ignore the circumstances of his confinement and the possibility of his prolonged imprisonment. It’s also difficult to wish him “Happy Birthday,” “Happy New Year” or the like, when “happy” is not an operative word in his world at the moment.
Mainly, I would like to convey to him that I’m still his friend and would like to keep a conversation going throughout this ordeal, even if the situation is an awkward one. How can I achieve this?
GENTLE READER: It seems to Miss Manners that the thing you may both have in common at the moment is leisure time. She suggests that you talk about what you are doing to occupy it, by telling him what books you are reading or shows you are watching. The conversation should therefore be equitable, since you will both be able to make recommendations -- and mutually expand your repertoires.