Wanting to make amends over 30 years later
Dear Annie: As a college student with no job, I made the foolish decision to sign a lease with a friend to move in together.
After she made the down payment, I realized there was no way I could afford it and backed out of the lease, leaving my friend about $675 in the hole. She was naturally upset, and my stupid and selfish act basically ended our friendship.
Now, over 30 years later, I want to make amends and would like advice on how to do it. I think I found her on Facebook.
Should I send her a private message and let her know that I want to send her a check or write a letter and send it to her place of employment? I want to make sure it is her, but I’m pretty sure it is.
I have hurt many people over the years with my selfishness, and this is one of the worst things I have ever done. Please tell me the best way to make it right. I plan to send much more than $675, by the way.
Thank you in advance for your help, Annie. This has been weighing heavily on me. -- Making Amends
Dear Making Amends: So you made a mistake in college. Join the club! Please don’t be so hard on yourself. You refer to yourself as a “selfish person,” but it is obvious that you care deeply about others -- and friends in particular -- the opposite of a selfish person. Messaging her on Facebook and sending her a check would be a very kind and thoughtful gesture, and I encourage it. Try not to look for a response from her. If you don’t hear back, be satisfied that you have made amends. However, the likelier scenario is that she will reach out -- in shock and surprise -- and you might rekindle your friendship. Even if nothing happens, making amends is always important, in and of itself, when we are changing our behavior. There is a reason that it is considered an essential step in Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-step program.
Dear Annie: I want more people to realize the importance in naming a child. Nicknames are the problem. Why do parents give a child a name they have chosen and then call him or her something completely different? It is like naming a dog Bozo but calling it Duke. A parent names a child Robert but calls him Bob or Bobby or Rob. Why? Or a parent names a girl Margaret and then calls her Maggie. Why? This method has been a problem in my family for many years. I highly recommend choosing a name for a child and then calling him or her the name on the birth certificate to avoid a lifetime of confusion. -- Wife of “Bud,” Who Is Really Joseph, in Kentucky
Dear Wife of “Bud”: Personally, I like nicknames -- as long as they’re not cruel. I think they connote intimacy, friendship and warmth.
Interestingly, you can trace the word “nickname” back to the Middle English term “ekename” (meaning, roughly, “additional name”), first used around 1300 -- meaning the practice of giving people names other than the ones they’re born with is at least 700 years old and going strong. Regardless of how either of us feels about them, they’re not going anywhere any time soon.