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Small Talk

My boyfriend and I go out for drinks regularly with a group of our good friends. The other night, one of the guys brought along a date. She was attractive, but I’m not sure about her behavior or mine. Just trying to start a conversation, I asked her how she met him. She said, “Let’s not talk about it.” I thought she was joking, but she wasn’t. The poor guy sat there, not saying a word, so the conversation came to a full halt. The rest of the evening was difficult, to say the least. I bet he won’t bring her along again, but who was wrong this time: her or me?Anonymous, 12South

Obviously, the new girl didn’t pass the entrance test for your group. Both of you were teetering toward rude behavior, but the newcomer won that race. You asked a well-intended question, but just asking it put you on dangerous turf. It’s always risky to ask a couple where or how they met, especially if they’re still in dating mode. In this case, it’s pretty clear they didn’t hook up in a book group or in Sunday school. The date-of-the-evening might have passed the interrogation by coming back with, “We’ve just known each other for awhile,” whether that was true or not. At least it wouldn’t have brought the chitchat to a halt. The guy might have spoken up, but he didn’t. He may have been praying for the awkwardness of the moment to be over and done. Next time the guy shows up with a new date, try talking about the weather. You and she can judge each other. No final exams required.

References Not Required

This past summer, I learned that a young woman, whose mother and I were in high school together, was looking for a summer job in the hospitality business. Because they don’t live in Nashville and because I have pretty good connections, I called my friend and offered my help. I understand that the girl got a job, but to the best of my knowledge, she never followed up on my leads, and she’s never even been in contact to say thank you. I’ll probably never meet her and I haven’t seen her mother in years, but I still feel insulted. Should I?Anonymous, Cherokee Park

Be careful when you make a gift, especially if it’s an unexpected one. If it isn’t asked for, it may not be a gift that’s wanted. There’s no reason for you to be surprised when your call from out of the blue didn’t get a follow-up or a thank you. You haven’t been in touch with the mother in years. (It’s amazing that you still could dig up her phone number.) Yes, if the daughter knew how to behave herself, it would have been right for her to be in touch with you, but it seems that you set yourself up for disappointment. The girl’s never met you. Maybe you’ll run into the mother at a high school reunion, but let the subject lie. The girl got a summer job, and that’s what mattered to her. Chalk it up to her experience and to yours.