The Middle Man

A couple of years back, two of my best friends got married. I knew it wasn’t a good idea, and I knew there would be trouble from the start, but I kept my mouth shut. They both want to be in charge of everything. As I might have predicted, they’re getting a divorce now, and it doesn’t look good. I haven’t seen either of them for a year, but I’m determined to stay friends with both of them. How do I do that? I don’t want anybody to think that I’m looking for a date.Anonymous, East Nashville

You want to be both guys’ best friend forever. Good for you, I guess. Two years isn’t a long time, but it must be long enough for a marriage to come and go. Keeping everybody in balance will be a challenge, should you choose to take it on. To make it clear that you’re not taking sides and to keep it clear that you’re not trolling for a date, let them call you. That way, you’ll stay out of the crosshairs. Since the two of them are control freaks, it will be best to steer clear until the thunderclouds are gone. You didn’t bring the pair together, and you’re not responsible for the marriage falling apart. If you get together with either of them, listen to what they have to say without offering your opinion. Don’t offer it unless you’re asked for it — and probably not even then. You may have been in need of friends over the course of the past year, but keeping your distance still may be the best way to stay close to both of them. They’ve been your friends, and they may want you back. Maybe.


We’ve been back at the office in person for a couple of months now. While we were away, we met all the time via Zoom, so I guess it didn’t make much difference what anybody was wearing. At least everybody looked decent. But now, women are showing up at work in leggings and men are wearing polo shirts and jeans — even T-shirts — and these are not young people. Don’t tell me to take my complaints to the boss. I’ve already done that. We don’t have a dress code, but surely we can do better than this. What, if anything, should I say?Anonymous, Cherokee Park

Dress codes do exist, whether they’re on the page or not, and whether we like them or not. A pandemic alters things — some for the good, some for the not-so-good. You may have to live with Casual Every Day, not just Casual Fridays, for a while. You might form a coalition of the appropriately attired and come to the office every day wearing the right thing on the chance that the ragtag crowd will take the hint. If the down-dressers are in the minority, they’ll probably get the message before too long. If not, you don’t have to capitulate. If they’re wearing what they please, go ahead and do the same thing. Let’s just hope that the T-shirts and leggings are clean.