Best Behavior: Truth to Tell

Long, Long Ago

A roommate from years ago has started showing up again. We lived together for a couple of years, but our relationship was difficult, finance-wise and otherwise.I moved out, but I later heard that he was spreading stories around about me. All of them were untrue. I haven’t even told my wife about that ugly experience. Just a few weeks back, he was invited to the same dinner party we were. It was difficult for me not to confront him or punch him out. The hostess told me that she likes both of us and that he’s told her about the good times we had together. She wants to get us back together. Is it time I start telling the truth? —Anonymous, Franklin

You can make it through a dinner party, but you’re likely to run into your past at the car wash or in the locker room at the gym. It’s the past. You can let it lie. In fact, you may have to do that.

Roommates — just a couple of guys — have their squabbles and get into money trouble. But yours seems like an ugly history. Apparently no lawsuits or fistfights were involved, at least thus far. Your roomie seems to have had his own means of dealing with your difficulties. You might wonder, however, if the tales of his storytelling are true.But it will be hard to find out after all those years. Time passes, and with it, even your own memory gets adjusted.

If you’ve been carrying this burden around for decades, it’s high time you told your wife what’s eating at you. She’s the one person you’ll want to depend on when it comes to taking sides — yours, let’s hope.

Your hostess didn’t seat the two of you side by side. If she invites you to dinner again, ask her to keep it that way. Truth be told, the other fellow may feel just fine with that arrangement.

Getting to Know You

I have a habit of introducing myself, even to people I may already know. I figure it doesn’t hurt, especially if I’m not sure about the other person’s name. I hope that when I say my name, they’ll reply with theirs, but that’s not what usually happens. I tell them my name, and they say,“Good to see you,” and that’s all. It drives me crazy. I’m tempted to say, “I think I’ve forgotten who you are.” Would that help? What should I do? —Anonymous, Oak Hill

A conversation can be a balancing act — especially if you give the other person a leg up and they leave you dangling.You limp your way through the back-and-forth. It’s painful.

There’s no reason to get snide with the person who won’t take a hint or give you one. Yes, they should understand the help you’re begging for, but they probably don’t. Go ahead and bite the bullet, even if it’s already got your teeth marks on it, and say, "Please remind me of your name.”

You can take it as a compliment. Assume that you’re the most memorable person in the room, even if your memory’s a little rusty.