Keep declining and invites will stop

DEAR ANNIE: I’ve just begun a new graduate program with a very small class. My classmates like to meet for drinks after or go out during the week. They always ask me to come along, and I always say no. I really like all of them and enjoy their company, but I separate school from my personal life. I have no desire to socialize outside of class.

I am not in the program to make friends. I am there to get an education. I have just moved in with my fiance.

When asked to accompany my schoolmates, I say, "I probably won’t be able to make it" or "You’ll discover that I’m rather antisocial." But how else do I tell them to back off? — Antisocial in Alabama

DEAR ALABAMA: You don’t have to tell them anything. If you keep politely turning down their invitations, they will eventually stop. In an effort to be inclusive, they may continue to ask, but you don’t have to accept. By the way, the contacts you make in such programs can be beneficial for your career, so you might reconsider socializing. That does not have to mean meeting for drinks. Instead, you might invite them to your home for coffee and cake.

DEAR ANNIE: I have been to many funerals and often have no idea who the relatives are when I want to express my condolences after the service.


I don’t want this to happen at my funeral and would like to leave instructions for my son when the time comes. I am from a small family, and my relatives live in other states. However, I do have many friends locally. Would it be improper for the immediate family to wear nametags such as "John Doe (Son)" or "Jane Smith (Niece)"? — San Gabriel Valley Reader

DEAR SGV READER: Please don’t. Nametags would make your funeral look like a business convention. Guests at a funeral are not expected to know everyone in the extended family. If the service is in a church or funeral home, family members usually sit in the front row. It is perfectly proper for attendees to say "I am sorry for your loss" without having to address each mourner by name and rank. Please stop worrying.

DEAR ANNIE: I am writing about the letter from "Not Our Darling," who complained about friends who visit and bring their old and incontinent dog.

This couple has an animal friend that is showing signs of aggravated old age. These dogs are hard to board, and frankly, I would not want to board my old and aging dog. I would worry and want to be there in case something happened.

I did not travel for a while when I had an ailing greyhound. She was my friend, so I stayed with her in familiar surroundings. I would never have considered putting her in a kennel, which would have been stressful.

I would have liked for you to acknowledge this strong bond and the difficulty of leaving the dog behind. While not visiting would probably be the best option until the dog passes on, talking about it with empathy and a recognition that this dog means something important would have been a more compassionate response. -- Dr. Christina Risley-Curtiss, MSSW, Fellow, Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics

DEAR DR. RISLEY-CUYRTISS: We are quite sympathetic to the bond between people and their animal companions, but that doesn’t entitle someone to bring their incontinent dog to another person’s home. We think the way you handled it — not subjecting your ailing dog to a travel schedule — is best.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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