DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a problem with my best friend, and to a lesser extent, my husband. Whenever we have to make a choice of what restaurant to go to or what movie to see, they say, “You decide.”
Both are very vocal if they don’t like my choices, saying that was a horrible movie or a terrible restaurant — nothing against me for choosing it, but it still makes me feel bad.
To me, their company is more important. So unless there is something really wrong with the meal, I am usually content.
I hate making decisions for them, and I try to get them to at least narrow down their choices, to no avail. Chicken or fish? “Black Panther” or “Mary Poppins”?
When I was with my friend at a high-end restaurant that served eight-course dinners for two, I saw one that didn’t appeal to me, but the rest were all fine, and I said so. My friend said, “You decide,” and refused to even help narrow it down. I tried to get him to eliminate at least one, but he wouldn’t. That led to an argument, which put a damper on the evening.
Both my friend and my husband say they don’t care, but can’t understand why I don’t necessarily care either. I am just out for the experience, and it is ruined when I spend the whole time worrying about their reaction and if I made the right choice.
Why don’t people realize it is just as selfish to say “you decide” as it would be to choose everything for me without any discussion? I want things to be a mutual decision. I will give my opinion, but I want them to give theirs, as well.
GENTLE READER: Next time you are asked to make the decision, say good-naturedly, “Oh no you don’t! I’m not falling for that one again. One of you must decide this time, and from now on we take turns. Or we decide together.”
Miss Manners then cautions you against showing your dissatisfaction, however tempting it might be, if you hate their decision.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Several people who I see regularly repeat the same questions and comments each time.
For example, another regular at the gym that I frequent asks me each morning why I do not wear a coat when walking to the gym, which is less than one block from my home. Further, my parents tell me the same stories about our ancestors over and over, and remind me each time we drive downtown that the parking garage where we park is free. At least my parents are well-intentioned, and hopefully not in the early stages of dementia.
As this repetition is tiresome and unnecessary, would you please suggest a polite and friendly response to people who repeat the same statements over and over?
GENTLE READER: “Oh yes, I remember you saying that. I have not forgotten!” Or “Thank you; you noticed that yesterday, too. My answer is still the same!”
Miss Manners stresses that tone here is critical. A balance of good humor in the case of your well-meaning parents, and firmness for those merely trying to pose as such, can be adjusted as necessary.