Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Treat Celebrities as You Would Want To Be Treated

DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in New York City and often see so-called boldface named people walking around. The other day I saw Charlie Rose walking along Central Park. I have seen actors in Soho and politicians in Harlem. Whenever I see these people, I want to say hello, but they don't know me. I fear that they will be offended if I were to walk over to them to say hi and that I appreciate their work. Do you know any guidelines for how to approach famous people who are out and about? -- NOT A GROUPIE

DEAR NOT A GROUPIE: Part of the unwritten covenant for celebrities is that they understand that people in the public may recognize them and want to engage. Honestly, for some of these people, their livelihood depends on the public knowing and appreciating them and being willing to spend money to see them do their work. With that understanding, celebrities should expect that people who are out and about just as they are may recognize them and want to say hello.

As one of those public onlookers, what you should do is put yourself in that person's shoes. If you were walking down the street and someone recognized you, what would you want that person to do? Saying hello is acceptable. Touching is not. Asking someone to stop and take a picture is acceptable only if, after greeting the person, the two of you pause and speak to each other for a bit and it feels natural to ask. After saying hello, you can thank the person for their work, you can state that you like whatever they do, and you can wish them well. You should not try to take over the moment or get them sidetracked for any reason.

Times when you should not attempt to engage someone you don't know, celebrity or not, include when the person is deeply engaged with someone else, when the person is eating, when the person is using the restroom, and when the person is clearly involved in something else.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who is coming to visit me for a couple of weeks. He lives across the country, and I am very happy that he will be visiting. We have been friends for more than 20 years. I know we will have a great time.

My only issue is that he just informed me that he is going to need to borrow my car while he is staying with me. I do not feel comfortable with that. For one, I don't let anybody drive my car. I don't want to be responsible for insuring another driver and I don't want a chance that my car could be damaged. Also, this friend has had a car accident before. How do I say no without seeming rude? -- NO DRIVING

DEAR NO DRIVING: There is no rule that says that you must allow anyone to drive your car. You can simply say no. Tell your friend that you are happy to welcome him into your home, but that you do not feel comfortable letting him drive your car. Suggest that he rent a car.

If he balks, be direct with him, explaining that you do not allow anyone to drive your car, for insurance reasons. If he continues to protest, remind him that he has previously had a car accident, and you cannot risk him having one in your car.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist 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.)