Calling Emily Post. Come In Please.


UPDATE AND RESOLUTION, ALL IN ONE EMAIL! Scroll to end to see who wrote whom and what was said! News at 11.

Social Scenario:

A woman with whom I grew up recently moved back to Delaware. I happened to be in Wilmington the day after she and her husband moved down from Maine so I called her and asked if I could stop by for five minutes and say hello and see their new condo. I brought some plants as a housewarming gift, stayed no longer than ten minutes, then boogied home to New York.

The next day she emailed me with thanks for the plants and said her as soon as she unpacked more boxes she’d call my mother to take her out to lunch.

I told my mother and got a resounding OY. I said to mom that it would likely just be one call, one lunch, and done, that she was just being friendly as an old friend. Okay.

Then the phone calls began. Not daily, but three times a week.

Can I bring you some garden tomatoes?

May I stop by and bring you a casserole I made?

Shall we go to lunch tomorrow?

My mother was flattered but not interested in having a new friend, especially one who is my age, and who has been living in Maine for the last 30 years.

The lunch date finally came to fruition yesterday, at which time my mother tried very nicely to say she had a wide circle of friends and family who tend to her every need and that she really can buy her own tomatoes, and that a casserole would go bad since she’s one person, and a teeny one at that.

Hoping that her not so subtle hints would be heard, mom thanked my friend for a lovely lunch, where my mother treated by the way, called me when she got home and said, well, I think that should be it, but an hour later, my friend called my mother to thank her for the lunch AND ASK MOM TO COME DOWN TO HER NEW HOME AND BE TREATED TO A HOME COOKED MEAL. Oh my.

So, here’s the Emily Post question:

Do I intervene and email my friend, saying how much I truly appreciate her connection to my mother but really, stop calling?

I don’t want hurt feelings but I do think I honestly need to let my friend know that my mother is really socially so busy and well tended to that there’s barely time for her two daughters, let alone a well-meaning, but annoying person she really hasn’t known well since we were children.


UPDATE: So, lucky for me, and my mother, no intervention was necessary on my part. My friend* sent me a long email last night to say what a great time she had with my mother but that she heard my mother loud and clear that she’s independent, busy, and very busy and very independent. Way to go mom!! Saved.

[*I just want to clarify one thing. This woman is someone I grew up with but isn’t someone I stayed in touch with regularly. We’d see each other at high school reunions every ten years and emailed occasionally, so the use of the term friend is for lack of a better word. Not that I disliked her, not at all, but she was a long ago person in my life and that’s what made it more awkward for my mother. Had the calls to my mother come from one of my best friends, and yes, I still do have some left, my mother might not have felt uncomfortable].


29 thoughts on “Calling Emily Post. Come In Please.

  1. The answer is so simple I can’t imagine you haven’t thought of it already.

    Have Walt write your friend. She’ll get offended, she’ll tell you off, you’ll lose her friendship, but then you won’t have to worry about her calling your mother!

    See, wasn’t that easy as apple pie?

    1. OMG! My coffee went spewing across the screen. Walt felt badly about angering Carolyn, even though Carolyn totally misunderstood Walt’s words, that I doubt Walt would want to go in for the kill to friend two. I only have three others.

  2. should i post that video again, that you took down, as a possible solution when your mom goes to the house for that home cooked meal?

  3. I think your friend sounds like she may have some kind of problem. It’s possible right? She seems deaf to people’s needs/wants in a way that might signal some sort of disorder.But a sweet note from you might still work : “thanks for reaching out to my mom and allowing her to take you to lunch. She’s very busy, so…” Oh gosh, that’s hard to write. I like Anon’s idea to let Walt write it!

    1. I’m hoping it’s only that she’s adjusting to moving. Thirty plus years in Maine and she and her husband decide to come to Wilmington. He’s not from there but she grew up there but like many of us, went off to college and moved on. I am sure it’s an emotional adjustment so perhaps reaching out to my mother was a way of connecting to her childhood. Both her parents are long dead.

      I do think I’ll pen her a short note. But I haven’t found exactly the right words. Yet.

  4. your friend is “out of the loop” and trying to develop a social life. tell her your Mom has to limit her activities (doctor’orders?) to conserve her energy and wants to spend that time with old friends. can your mom propose membership in a garden club, book club,women’s club for your friend? or is there a newcomers club? Bibi

    1. Bibi: my mother doesn’t limit a thing. She’s at exercise class at 8am and from there shuttles between bridge and golf and friends. My friend wanted to hold my mothers arm to walk her back in her house! That, while seemingly a normal gesture to a 97yo, is unacceptable for my mother, Miss Independent!!!! She hates to be coddled or helped. Hates it. That’s why she’s a tough bird at 97!

  5. If I were you, I would not intervene, at least not yet, reason being that your mother is such a capable person. With a little strategizing, she can likely turn down these unwanted invitations until they cease. If she’s game, some minor-league self effacement can help smooth over rejections, e.g., adding stuff like “it may seem unusual that someone my age has so much going on in her life, but I am really lucky that way,” or “I still love to travel even though I can’t do as much as I used to, and that weekend my friends and are planning an excursion to …. ” as she bats away yet another unwanted invitation with a scheduling conflict (either genuine or made-up). Creating a short stack of little white lies in advance is a good idea.

    Of course, this sort of “playing nice” stops making sense if your friend ratchets up her efforts. Any chance there’s something up? Why the move back after half a lifetime away? Is it possible she wants some sort of information from your mother about her own parents? I do not mean to imply anything sinister is afoot, I just wonder if there’s some hidden drive behind her persistence.

    1. I’m torn. My mother doesn’t like fibbing, sure she’ll get caught in a lie. Greenville is an awfully small square mile. It’d be the day mom says she has plans and runs to the supermarket and surrrrrrprise….

      She moved back for her health. She was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago and had to make the very long trek into Boston from their perch two hours north of PORTLAND! She’s healthy now but felt she’d like to be nearer to good hospitals. At least that’s the story I got as to why they moved to Wilmington.

      I need more ideas.

    1. Ha!!!! Two points Bibi. I don’t think she knows about the blog. So many of my friends are Luddites and don’t “get” blogging so I don’t bring it up.

  6. EOSr –

    This problem is so easily solved. Buy your Mom a Pooter!! Or she can borrow one of mine.

    After she lets a few slip while having dinner, the calls will stop.

    Just as effective, she can pretend to have tourettes. Whats for dinner, YOU BASTARD!! Can you please pass the salt, YOU SON OF A BITCH!! I can give her a list of effective curse words if that will help.

    Or just ask totally innocent questions, to make some interesting dinner conversation. Like:

    “Who do you dislike more? The Negro’s or the Jews? And why?”

    “Aren’t midgets really cute”?

    “Do you think Al Sharpton is retarded? I DO!!”

    “I don’ understand why some people have a problem with beating a misbehaving child to within an inch of its life. Do you”?

    All viable options, sure to correct this problem. Discuss it with your Mom, and get back to me on which one she prefers.

    Your Pal,

    1. A rookie mistake Walt. My mother is about the only one of her group who CAN hear, so the pooter, while still a great Christmas gift, will literally go to deaf ears where she lives! 🙂

      As for the conversation, I am always amused at how mentally involved this group is in her retirement community. The 90+yo men who are still alive and have marbles are all former CEOs and CFOs, and they LOVE to talk about everything – from Joe Biden’s chances to Negros to the Iran Deal to Kim Kardashian. Pretty conservative but very spirited bunch. I talk to my mom about four times a day, the first time at 7:26, not 7:30 or 7:32, but 7:26. She’s watched an hour of Morning Joe by then and a half hour of CBS and some local news. We dish about Hillary and she tells me the joke of the day she got emailed from one of her friends.

      You’d LOVE her Walt, and she’d love you.

  7. Your Mom can take care of herself. No need for you to intervene at this point. Maybe later. In most cases, a simple version of ‘don’t call me, I’ll call you’ when my desk clears, or I have some free time, or some other vague excuse works- eventually. Worth a try.
    I think Miss Manners suggests a nice way to say no is “I’m sorry, that isn’t possible” and repeat it if asked for an explanation.

    1. I agree with Swanton 100% You should let your Mom handle it. As the adult who deserves respect, she can handle the fallout. As you said you’ll be down to 3 friends if you alienate her by intervening. Although we all consider you our friend and should be in the count of close friends, too 😦

  8. If that FitBit is any help your old classmate won’t recognize you at the next reunion.
    Glad to hear she acknowledged how busy your Mom is.

    1. Ha! The FitBit is a great help, even though today, in a gesture of kindness and thanks because I drove her to the airport, my neighbor delivered a hot peach crisp. Straight from the oven. Talk about needing Emily Post. I didn’t think I should say hey, that’s so thoughtful, but I’m on a serious calorie counting plan and can’t touch a bite. I accepted the dish graciously but have already wrapped it and put it in the freezer. Once it’s frozen, I’ll remove it from the dish she brought me, wait a day or two, then return the dish. Then comes the hard part – do I lie and say it was great? I plan to give it to one of the kids but no one is around now. Mr. EOS would like it FedExed to him – that’s a possibility, but I had NO idea what to say at the moment it happened. She’s about the nicest neighbor anyone could have and I adore her so I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. What would you have said? Or perhaps I should ask WWJD? 🙂

      1. I would have said I couldn’t wait to try it. Then, as soon as I got home, I’d taste the warm peach crisp. Only a taste and without the vanilla ice cream that properly accompanies peach crisps. Pat myself on the back for showing great restraint. I’d take the crisp out of the dish and freeze the rest in small portions.
        No need to tell a white lie to your kind neighbor if you tried it. At an appropriate time tell her about the size 4 Chanel suit you plan to wear to the reunion. As a good friend, she’ll hold off on sending apple pies to you this fall. There ya go!

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