Ten years ago, when I was 14 (and starting to freak out that I might be a lesbian), I spread some mean rumors about a girl in my class. I said that she’d come on to me and that I’d seen her making out with another girl. Neither story was true. And they caused her a lot of trouble. I’ve felt terrible about this for years. But I haven’t seen her since we graduated. Should I track her down and apologize?
Guilt is good. It proves that your very human cruel streak is all balled up with compassion — same as the rest of us. Your rumor-mongering was not your finest hour, but I get it: You were trying to throw your classmates off the scent of something (in yourself) that scared you. Feeling bad about it, a decade later, is humane.
But let’s not kid ourselves. An apology now will probably mean more to you than it will to your one-time victim. That doesn’t make it meaningless to her, but on a relative scale, it will assuage your guilt more than ease her ancient pain. (Or I may be dead wrong, and your apology will make her day.) So, write her a letter or send her an email. Why not? Just don’t call to apologize out of the blue: too jarring.
But if I could play priest and give you penance for your sins, I would ask you to contact the Trevor Project (or another group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth) and train as a hotline volunteer. You already know the sting of fear and cruelty. Now, be part of the solution for another young person. Your sensitivity makes you a natural. (And while you’re at it, stream “Handsome Devil,” an Irish film that’s really sweet and right on point.)
Footing the Bill for Frozen Eggs
My stepdaughter is a single 33-year-old art student who wants to have children eventually. She is busy with school, doesn’t have time to date or much money. My husband and I worry that by the time she’s ready to start a family, she may have fertility issues. (We struggled with them when we had our son when I was 42.) We would like to offer to pay for her to freeze her eggs, but we don’t want to offend her or be intrusive. Your thoughts?
L.H., PALO ALTO, CALIF.
So on trend! A pal of mine just started working at a Silicon Valley company that offers egg-freezing as a perk of employment. On its face, your offer seems purely generous. This procedure costs thousands of dollars, and I get no whiff that you think your stepdaughter is wasting her time on art, instead of pursuing an MRS. degree, as they used to call it at Smith College in the old days.
Still, fertility and stepparents — even separately — are touchy subjects. Combined, they have the explosive power of atomic weaponry. So, tread lightly. You or your husband — whoever has an easier rapport with her — could start this discussion by sharing your fertility story. Then, with your vulnerability established, segue to icy eggs. Say: “If this is something that interests you, we’d be delighted to pay for it. But the important thing for us is helping you have as many choices as you want.” Let us know how she takes it.
A Boomerang Gift of Macarons
I made a lunch date with a friend at a restaurant. At the last minute, she asked me to come to her home instead. She made a delicious salad. And I brought a dozen tiny macarons for her. After lunch, she insisted that I take half the macarons home. She said they were too much for her modest lunch, and she felt inadequate accepting them. I found her response somewhat ungracious, and it made me feel bad. What do you think?
Your friend’s inability to accept a hostess gift is second cousin to the more common inability of people to accept compliments. So, a friendly “You look well today, Susan,” is often met with “Oh, God, I need to be airlifted to Jenny Craig immediately.” With family and close friends, it is worth examining this dynamic. But with most others, why bother? You must know that your pal’s response had nothing to do with you or the macarons. Next time, decide: Wade into the murky waters of her self-esteem or just take half the sweets?
Irritatingly Beautiful Brows
My housekeeper has been using my eyebrow pencil. (After she cleans my bathroom, she emerges with lovely brows.) I am bothered by this. It makes me wonder what else she is taking. But I hesitate to mention it. It could make her uncomfortable. What would you do?
Assuming I liked her and her work (and that she was not pilfering my La Mer or caviar, had I any), I would ask her not to use my makeup and give her an eyebrow pencil of her own. This discussion may well make her uncomfortable. It should. She’s using your things without permission. Still, I wouldn’t make a federal case of it.