Dear Cheryl: Is there a major difference between these two statements:
1: “Somebody broke the kitchen cabinet. The hinge is broken.”
2: “Do you know what happened to the kitchen cabinet? It’s broken.”
Is one more offensive or accusatory than the other? Which one? I’m being lambasted for saying one of those statements instead of the other.
I’m married to a hair-splitter
Dear IMTAHS: OK, you obviously said No. 1. I can see that statement No. 2 is more neutral. What you’re basically saying in No. 2 is: “The kitchen cabinet, through no fault of anyone living in this house, or even visiting it, became broken. It was probably an act of God, like a hurricane or a volcano. So now let’s put all our efforts into fixing the hinge.”
No. 1 is probably a lot more accurate: “Somebody was a little rough with the cabinet and broke the hinge. No biggie.”
If your partner has taken offense at No. 1, I think she’s being unduly sensitive and defensive. Is she perfect? Noooo. She makes mistakes and occasionally breaks stuff, and she’d do better to own up than try to pass it off. I guess if you were being supersensitive you might have said No. 2, but life’s too short to weigh every word. Tell her to get over herself.
Dear Readers: We recently heard from Aunt Nasty. Her family invited her nephew to accompany them for a long weekend. The only problem was that his ticket was standby while they had confirmed seats. They told him it might take hours to get home, and he was OK with it.
They left him at the airport with his standby ticket, $100 he had won gambling and a great football game on TV. As Aunt Nasty wrote, “We figured a college senior who was old enough to drink, gamble and live in his own apartment could handle spending a day alone at the airport.”
Wrong. The nephew called his parents, who called Aunt Nasty and demanded she get their precious boy home, pronto, which they did: “If the request had been calmly made, we would have apologized for the confusion and done exactly what we ended up doing.”
I told Aunt Nasty she should have made sure her sister and brother-in-law — not just her nephew — understood and accepted the rules of the standby ticket; her brother-in-law should have kept a civil tongue in his head; and her nephew should have kept his parents out of it. All that said, I thought Aunt Nasty should be the bigger person and call her sister.
Here are some of your thoughts.
BRUCE: “Hopefully, this 21-year-old will have an easy life with few disappointments, because Mom and Dad won’t be there all the time to kiss the boo-boo when he scrapes his knee. All parents have to decide when their children are adults and must face the consequences of personal decisions. Apparently, the nephew’s parents are not ready to do that. Aunt Nasty’s sister should apologize.”
J.J.: “Confirmed tickets and standby travel don’t mix. This applies even when seasoned travelers are involved. The vacation plan was risky to start with, and Aunt Nasty should apologize.”
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