Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Sister Misunderstands Question of Size

DEAR HARRIETTE: My sister is full-figured, and she has great style. I decided to get her an item of clothing for Christmas, but I wasn’t sure of the size, so I sent her a text asking her what size she wears. Why did I do that?! She wrote back to me that it was none of my business and asking why was I wanted to know. She accused me of making fun of her size, and she cursed me out. All I wanted to do was get her something nice for Christmas. Now I don’t want to get her anything. She was so rude. Should I let her know why I was asking? -- Not Her Size, Baltimore

DEAR NOT HER SIZE: Take a deep breath and calm down. It is worth it for you to clarify this situation. Call your sister and tell her you want to talk. With her blessing, explain to her that you love her style and thought it would be fun to buy her a fashion item for Christmas. Because you don’t know her size, you thought it best to ask. You were absolutely not trying to insult her. Instead, your intention was to do something special by buying her something cool that would fit. Apologize for hurting her feelings.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I went out for drinks with a colleague after work, and, at the last minute, he invited one of his friends to tag along. I was hungry, so I ordered myself some dinner, too. When it came time to pay the bill, I asked the waiter if he would separate our checks. I thought that was the simplest thing to do since we all had different things, but also I wasn’t expecting this other guy to join us. My friend gave me a funny look but ended up being fine with it. In fact, he paid for his friend’s and his bill himself. Did I do something wrong by paying for my food separately? I’m sure my share was more than theirs anyway because I had food and they didn’t. -- Splitting the Bill, Cincinnati

DEAR SPLITTING THE BILL: Figuring out how to divide a restaurant (or bar) tab when there are multiple parties is almost always hard and tends to be lopsided. Your decision to request your bill be separated was fine. That way, you didn’t have to go through the awkward exercise of calculating each person’s contribution, or worse, agreeing to split the bill when it was not an even split.

If your friend ever says anything, you can point out that had you split the bill they would have paid more because of your higher food bill. Honestly, it is unlikely that you will have to say a word. You handled it simply and directly. That is the most that anyone could ask.

It could have been that your friend had intended to foot the whole bill, but you could not have known that. In such a case, it is up to the person offering to pay it all to speak up. You should never make that assumption.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)