Dearest Mr Knightley,
I am ever so vexed by my unfortunate relations. You see, my family has no pride or prejudice at all! They are like animals, so gruff and unrefined. And they tease me for making an attempt to use proper ettiquette. I have tried hard to be gracious. I have done everything I could! I am at the end of my rope! Last night’s dinner was the final STRAW! I DID EVERYTHING AND MADE EVERYTHING RIGHT AND PERFECT AND LAID ALL THE CORRECT TABLE WARE AND EVERYTHING AND THEY STILL DIDN”T USE THE RIGHT FORKS! HOW MUCH MUST A WOMAN ENDURE BEFORE SHE CAN TAKE NO MORE! BEFORE DRASTIC ACTION IS CALLED FOR!
Cicily Cartwright, Lady of Apartment 217B
A Family Dinner Done RIght
Dearest Lady Cartwright,
What you need is two things. A) a local area regency era group that you can be social and civilized with. and B) a chill pill. Give your family a little bit of credit for putting up with your pickiness and let things go. If you stress less you’ll live longer and be happier.
Dear Mr. Knightley,
I’m turning to you because I need the advice and perspective of a man. You see, my father and I have never had a very pleasant relationship. He just seemed to be unable to connect emotionally. However, that has never stopped me from attempting to make some kind of connection. I thought I had finally found something. Chess. He loves playing it. And so do I. I’ve actually been playing a lot with my roommate since I moved away. So here’s the problem. My father and I started playing and everything was fine. But then, whenever he’d win, he’d give sarcastic recommendations and go on and on about how he’d wished he has passed some of his intelligence to at least one of his daughters. But then, when I win, he gets angry and upset and won’t talk to me for days after. I’m getting fed up with his childish ways. I’m trying to be nice. I don’t have to drive out to his apartment and waste four or five hours getting criticized or yelled at. I’m doing this to be nice. So what do I do? Either way it seems that nothing is ever good enough for him.
Dear Miss Patricide,
You are very gracious to go to so much trouble to show your father your appreciation and love for him. And many times fathers can be cold and distant and not easy to relate to. However, your efforts have been commendable and his ungracious manner completely deplorable. Many a lesser child would simply have given up by now.
Regarding the best method though, you do have several options. One thing you may want to try is attempt to do something with your father that is not competitive. This is often a trait that men, especially older gentlemen, have so solidly that they cannot stand to lose at anything, especially to a woman. Another method may be to do something that involves more people, not just you and your father alone together. This may help to spread his malice among the group rather than directing it all at you. And of course you could always ask him what he would rather do, thereby making it impossible to blame you if he does not enjoy the activity.
However, it should be said that there are also many people who would tell you that a relationship should be a two way street and that your father ought to make more effort to spend time with you. And while I agree with the sentiment, I also know that there are rarely ever any relationship truly as balanced as that. What I can tell you is this, relationships are only maintained by at least one person building a bridge to cross the gap between the two. And it is often the stronger person, the one who doesn’t need the bridge, who has to build it for the sake of the one who cannot build it and who needs it the most.
Dear Mr. Knightley,
I’m a divorced 54 year old with a 27 year old son. He recently got engaged and it was there that I met his fiancee’s cousin. She plays the most lovely music and being around her fills me with energy and excitement. I feel for the first time in my life as if I am actually in love. But my son won’t even let me broach the topic. It seems to me that he thinks I am too old for her (she’s 22). I’ve been impressed by your advise so far, otherwise I wouldn’t have written. But I hope you can help me. I don’t want my son to feel that I don’t consider his opinion but at the same time it doesn’t really have anything to do with him, right?
Age before Beauty
Dear Mr. Fortyagain,
I thank you for your kind correspondence and for the compliment you paid the blog. Rest assured that we take every letter seriously and even those we do not feature on the page still get answered whenever possible. Regarding your question there are several things that I will just briefly touch on, since this is a delicate situation.
You are absolutely correct when you say that this matter is entirely up to you. And you do not have to show any kind of consideration for your son’s opinion on the matter. However, I think you have handled it well up until now, by attempting to speak with your son before you go ahead with your plan. He has certainly not shown the same kind of restraint and decorum in temperment, which may only come with age.
And your age will definitely be an advantage to the young lady, and a compliment to her beauty. However, to make an appropriate decision a clear view of all the facts must be attained, and that involves counting not only the benefits but also the costs. And there are several you will have to face. First, while I hope that you can tell by now whether what you feel is a passing fancy or not, she may not be able to yet, so that while your feelings of affection may start out mutual she may lose interest all too soon. And either way, her own honor may be called into question, and you would not want to do something such as that to someone you admire or respect.
A second consideration is while this may not reflect poorly on you, it may reflect poorly on your son. Depending on how well your situation is known among society it may call your family’s honor into question and thereby disable your son socially. And while limiting love may seem unfair, it hardly seems fair that you should cripple your son so, when you have already enjoyed the prime of your life and he is only entering it now.
I think you should speak more with your son about this. Press the issue. Find out where his objections arise from. Is it merely sentimental from your previous wife’s concern or is he more anxious about the residual effects that may affect him and his own family. Whether you chose to go forward with your suit or not, speaking with you son and clearly establishing communication between both of you may still salvage your relationship regardless of the choice you end up making.