Dear Annie: Changing minds and dealing with split checks

Annie Lane, syndicated columnist

Dear Annie: I liked your response to “MYOB” and “Freedom Lover” on the subject of reporting to authorities one’s neighbors for allowing their children to play together during COVID-19 times. You taught a much-needed lesson in admitting you were wrong and that sometimes you have to rethink a situation and look at all implications. If more people could look at things from all sides and not ALWAYS have to be right, then the world could be a better place.

By the way, when our local paper changed from the old standard advice column, which was good, to your column, I was initially quite irritated. It was one more “downgrade” in our newspaper. Then I had a word with myself, and said: “Don’t be so quick to judge. Annie may be young but have some fresh ideas. Let’s give it a while and see how she does.” Well, young lady, I am happy to say that I LOVE your column and find you very insightful in your answers. — Sheri

Dear Sheri: Thank you so much! You made my day. As psychologist Edward de Bono says, “If you never change your mind, why have one?”

Dear Annie: This is about “Split the Bill,” where the person complained of getting taken advantage of by a group of friends who dine out every Christmas season and then split the meal bill evenly, despite some diners eating and drinking more than others. Here is my suggestion:

This year, she should order her regular onsite dinner, PLUS another dinner to go. Include a pricey, rich dessert for a special holiday treat. The total should come fairly close to the average price after the bill is split. The rest of the diners will each pay a percentage of her extra meal to make up for all the years they didn’t. Enjoy the meal at home or, better yet, take it to a lonely neighbor who is struggling to feed him/herself. — Former Waitress

Dear Former Waitress: While some might think your suggestion is being a little tit for tat, I’m printing your letter because it made me chuckle and I love the idea of spreading joy and sharing food with others.

Dear Annie: My suggestion for “Split the Bill” is that next time that she meets with her friends, she orders something fancy (more expensive) that she likes, or she adds a dessert or a glass of wine to be more within the range that the others’ orders fall into. And then, she should relax and enjoy herself. — Happy Guest

Dear Happy Guest: Interesting approach.

Dear Annie: Before ordering drinks, the person in charge of reservations for the group should announce that there will be two bills: one bar bill and one food bill. You can continue to drink water with lemon and enjoy the evening. It took me, as a nondrinker, years to figure this out. They will be surprised but cannot deny that it is fair. Splitting the food and dessert is OK for a holiday party. Drinks are expensive. — Separate Food and Drinks

Dear Separate: Thank you for your letter. It is a good suggestion.


Dear Readers: A number of you wrote in with very touching stories about your loved ones and handkerchiefs. I’m printing a few so they bring you some comfort.

Dear Annie: I’ve been smiling at the letters you’ve received on this subject, because they reminded me that that’s how my mother taught me to iron as a kid, ironing my dad’s handkerchiefs.

Well, not much gets ironed these days, but 10 years ago when I lost my husband to cancer, I was cleaning out his dresser and tossing his old, worn handkerchiefs when I came upon an unopened package of new ones.

Something made me think to just save them, not give them away or toss them.

They might come in handy if I had a bad cold and ran out of tissues — that was my thinking.

Well, here we are today in a pandemic, and those brand-new handkerchiefs sure make good face masks, and they don’t cost $12.95 apiece, either! With a couple of rubber bands, they work very well. — Staying Safe in NY

Editor’s note: “Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.


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