DEAR NATHAN: I received a restaurant gift card from some friends. When I presented it at a restaurant, it was refused as “never having been activated through purchase.”
I called my friends to let them know, thinking it was a mistake on the part of the restaurant at the time it was purchased. They said they would come by and pick up the card. I have heard nothing from them since, and I haven’t written a thank-you note or made any further attempt to contact them.
Was I right in calling them? Do I now ignore the whole thing? — GIFT CARD DENIED
DEAR GIFT CARD DENIED: You have very cheap friends. You should find friends that are better at gift giving.
As far as this gift giving scam goes, this has really inspired me. People think they are getting something of value when, in fact, it is just a piece of plastic. This will save me hundreds of dollars in gifts because I “mistakenly” forgot to put money on the card. Oops!
In fact, I could never have to give another gift for the rest of my life. Sure, I will probably lose a few friends in the process, but with the money I’m saving, I can buy new friends.
Anyway, I would probably just pretend the whole thing never happened. Then I would regift that card back to them at the next gift-required event. I would bet all of my life savings that they will not call you out on it, but if they do, just mention that it’s like new because you were never able to use it.
If you don’t like that idea, I think you should write a nice thank you note. I have drafted a copy for you:
Thank you soooo much for the gift card. I have really been looking forward to using it. I can’t believe you would go to the trouble of getting this for me! You are just the kindest, most wonderful friends in the world. This card really shows me how much our friendship is worth to you.
Good luck passive-aggressively laying a guilt trip on your friends,
DEAR NATHAN: My 7-year-old son is a great winner when we play games, but he’s a terrible loser. When he loses a game, he loses control. He screams, yells, hits and sometimes bites. Is there a way to stop this behavior or am I stuck with a son who hates to lose? — LOSING THE BATTLE AT HOME
DEAR LOSING THE BATTLE: Your son seems to have a serious competitive nature. Now, most people advising you would say to defuse the situation by keeping your own temper in check and to then discipline that child firmly but calmly.
That is by far the lamest advice you could receive.
Instead, I would go the other direction. Get that kid to be more and more competitive. You should find a way to make him start reacting this way before the game is over. The way Ultimate Fighting is taking off, he could become an international star, but only if you can just get him to become angry BEFORE he loses. Then you will be able to retire early all because you helped your child develop and harness an incredible rage.
After all, doesn’t a good parent always identify their child’s talents and set them up for success?
Remember me when your child is the UFC heavyweight champion,
DEAR NATHAN: How do you feel about young adults using the F-word in public? My sweetie, a mom of two, insists the word is becoming accepted. I am of the “old school,” and I maintain that the word is tasteless and shouldn’t be used in public. What do you think? — KEEPING IT CLEAN IN MASSACHUSETTS
DEAR KEEPING IT CLEAN: Who #$%^@# cares? Just @#$@#$# calm down and put some @#$#$%!@ earplugs in if you can’t @#$#^%@# handle it.
I apologize. My keyboard has been acting up. That’s what I get for spilling Diet Mountain Dew on it!
Don’t keep beverages near your computer,
DEAR NATHAN: Is it ever appropriate for a diner to lick his/her fingers in public, like when eating finger food or barbecue? It drives me nuts! I equate it to a cat cleaning itself.
When I try to get the person in question to use a napkin, I’m looked at as if I’ve lost my mind! At the very least, our hands are covered with germs, and who wants to stick them in their mouth? Yecch. — GROSSED OUT IN OHIO
DEAR GROSSED OUT: Have you ever watched a cat clean itself? Unless this person is licking their fingers, then rubbing them all over their body at dinner, it is nothing like that. If they are licking their fingers, then rubbing them all over their body at dinner, then that is not ever appropriate.
There are actually several times when finger licking is appropriate. For instance, when one eats Ethiopian food, you are not given silverware or napkins. You just scoop up the meat with a large pancake like bread. If I were eating Ethiopian and I got food on my fingers, my options would be to lick it off, leave it on there the whole meal, wipe it on my pants leg, or wipe it on a stranger’s pants leg. I feel the licking is the least offensive of these choices.
I feel like there is a strong likelihood that, in the near future, there will be a letter sent to an advice columnist complaining that their friend keeps telling them they “are acting like a dirty cat” and then tries to force a napkin into their hands.
Good luck with your pro-napkin campaigning,