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Hax: Pal doesn’t like baby’s name but keeps mum

Carolyn Hax
| Thursday, November 20, 2014 8:55 p.m

Adapted from a recent online discussion:

Dear Carolyn:

When 15-year friends ask for my opinion on the baby name they’re “considering,” do they really want to hear my opinion, or do they just want validation for the name they’ve already chosen? I probably couldconvincingly articulate what I think is wrong with the name (it clashes with their complicated surname, and their alternative spelling choice seems trashy), but I’m not sure I’m actually supposed to.

It’s not like I can ask, “Do you really want to hear the truth about what I think here?” since that’s as good as saying I hate it.

— Honesty, or Tact?

Assume they want validation. You can say, though, “It’s lovely, but, er, Firstname Lastname is a mouthful.” Presumably, that’s not going to linger on their minds when they ignore you and use the name anyway.

I’m sorry to say, though, there’s no pole long enough for touching the alternate-spelling-is-trashy idea, a criticism that’s radioactive to all but the most thick-skinned friends.

Re: Alternate spelling:

You can’t say the kreativ spelling is trashy, but you can certainly say “I’m a big fan of traditional spellings. Old-fashioned, I guess.” That way, it’s on you.

— Anonymous

Especially if you tack on, “I also believe parents should choose names they love.”

Dear Carolyn:

My 13-person office is hosting a bridal shower for a co-worker.

Until a year ago, our office had a lovely conference room where we’d host potluck-style celebrations for milestones during the workday. We’ve since moved and downsized our space significantly, and our conference room barely fits 13 chairs.

So, the bridal shower is being hosted at another co-worker’s house on the weekend. This would be great if I liked spending time with my office. I really don’t want to go, because it will mean spending part of my weekend with people I don’t want to spend time with, and I’d much prefer an office lunch.

Given that I probably will have to attend and participate in preparing for it, what coping mechanisms can you offer so I don’t get too resentful?

— Bridal Showerer

You don’t have to attend, at least not all of them. Eventually, you are going to be out of town (ahem) for one of them, or have other plans (ahem).

When you do go, treat it as this thing you must do as part of the larger necessity of earning a living. (Not to be confused with, do this or lose your job —since, presumably, it is not about that.)

For example, people commute, or have to pay for dry-cleaning, or sit in a windowless space on beautiful days, or work shifts out of sync with the rest of the world — these are all things we suck up and take because we decide they’re better than not having a job.

You can also suggest — and could even volunteer to coordinate — an out-of-office lunch for the next one. A restaurant nearby with a party room, an hour and done, and no cleanup even.

Email Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com.

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