Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Delivery People Need Not Know Your Business

DEAR HARRIETTE: If you've just been crying, do you apologize for your appearance or ignore the tears that obviously just happened? I don't like to talk about my feelings much, but it seems silly to ignore my appearance when accepting food from a delivery person. Do I owe them an explanation, or should I just ignore the situation? -- Crybaby, Boston

DEAR CRYBABY: You have no obligation to talk about your emotional state when you are receiving a delivery. Ideally, it would be good for you to wipe your face before opening the door so that you have regained some modicum of composure. But unless this is a delivery person with whom you have an ongoing interaction -- as in, unless this is the person who usually delivers from your favorite restaurant and with whom you have some kind of personal rapport -- you should simply say, "Thank you," pay for your delivery, offer a tip and conclude that interaction.

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my friends is upset with me because I will not celebrate her entire "birthday weekend" with her. She has called me a bad friend and told me that she no longer wants a present from me since I won't be attending her birthday party in Las Vegas (seriously). "Dejana" is not normally a brat like this, so I am not sure whether to cut her some slack. Should I call her out for her ridiculous birthday demands? We have been close for a long time. I don't know what has gotten into her. -- Birth-DAY, Milwaukee

DEAR BIRTH-DAY: Request a face-to-face with Dejana. Ask her what's going on. There may be an underlying concern that she is hiding from you that is driving her urgency to have you participate in all of the birthday activities.

I experienced a similar situation. One time, a friend was hosting a big birthday celebration during the holiday season, and the remote location of the event was inconvenient for some of the invitees. She pressed for friends to come. Why? She had terminal cancer and urgently wanted her loved ones to celebrate with her while she was alive. Some could go, but not all. Though she was saddened that not everyone could fete with her, she forgave those who could not attend.

Talk to your friend. Find out what her story is. Listen carefully so that you can assess how to support her. Tell her your situation, too. Be honest. If you cannot afford to go, do not have the time to go, or otherwise just can't do everything, make that clear to her. Apologize for not being able to participate in all facets of her celebration. Remind her of how much you love her and want her to have a spectacular celebration.

Bring her a birthday gift and give it to her anyway. Tell her you will not take no for an answer. Forgive her for being overly emotional and selfish as she plans her party. Just love her through it all, as you also make practical choices for yourself.

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