Rent and friendship collide

DEAR AMY: I moved out of my apartment last year and moved in with a friend to help pay the rent when his roommate moved out.

I did not sign a lease. His lease is up at the end of May, and he has a new roommate ready to move in. I was rarely at the apartment, staying with my boyfriend most of the time.

Now a friend has moved here, and we got an apartment together with the lease starting May 1.

My friend at the other apartment is asking me for rent for May.

I am trying to figure out how to deal with this, because I will not be living there and didn’t sign the lease.


What should I do? — Leased Out

DEAR LEASED: Your insistence that you were "hardly ever there," due to the fact that you were with your boyfriend makes me think that you are trying to retroactively redraw the basic rules of renting. It doesn’t matter whether you are actually occupying a space. If you are renting it, then it is yours.

A basic rule of friendship is that you should honor your commitments; otherwise something much more important than a rental agreement is at stake — your friendship.

If you didn’t have any kind of verbal agreement, and if your occupancy was completely vague and open-ended, then you’re free to mosey along.

DEAR AMY: I am a mother of three girls (16, 15, 4), so I’ve attended and hosted lots of birthday parties, baby showers and bridal showers.

At the last party that I co-hosted for a 1-year-old, I decided that we shouldn’t open all the gifts at the party.

When you open gifts at a 1-year-old boy’s birthday party, the adult does all the work and the child could care less.

You’re left sitting there oohing and aaahing and staring at countless outfits and toys when all you really want to know is if your gift works.


One of the relatives at the party told me that not opening the gifts was bad form and tacky. I eventually relented, and we opened them.

Am I wrong for wanting to wait until after the guests have left to open gifts? At my 4-year-old’s next party, I’m thinking about letting her greet the guests and open the gifts as they arrive.

Must we open gifts during a party just to please the adults? — It’s My Party

DEAR PARTY: Birthday parties for 1-year-olds can be chaotic affairs, but you have rightly identified the purpose of gifts at a party for a child at this stage — the gifts are all about the adults who brought them and they are understandably eager to see them opened.

However, it is "bad form and tacky" for a guest to tell a hostess that something she is doing is bad form and tacky — even if it is a relative delivering the verdict.

If the event gets out of hand and the birthday boy has a meltdown, the host can say, "We’re going to wait until after Wendell’s nap to open the gifts when we can all concentrate and enjoy them." A good guest should understand this, but a sincere and promptly written thank-you note will erase any lingering bad feelings.

I don’t agree with your idea of a 5-year-old opening gifts as guests arrive, however. Children that age need to experience the protocol and patience of gift-giving and gift-receiving — and this should happen after the cake has been served and eaten, when all of the guests are present and can participate in the process.

DEAR AMY: "Lou" wrote to you wondering how to handle his wife’s terrible backseat driving.


Here’s an anecdote that might inspire him:

A wife was making a breakfast of fried eggs for her husband. Suddenly, her husband burst into the kitchen. "Careful. Careful! Put in some more butter! Oh my gosh! You’re cooking too many at once. Too many! Turn them! Turn them now! We need more butter. Oh my gosh! They’re going to stick! Careful. Careful! I said be careful!"

The wife stared at him. "What in the world is wrong with you? You think I don’t know how to fry a couple of eggs?"

The husband calmly replied, "I just wanted to show you what it feels like when I’m driving." — Candy

DEAR CANDY: What a wonderful eye-opener.

Thank you.

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