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Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. My visits with my Swiss in-laws have included the increasing incidence of their using the toilet with an open door. This is a huge issue for me. My husband thinks they just feel really close to me. If this is true, how do I keep them from feeling that close?

They've mocked my American modesty in the past: I never used the outdoor shower at their lake house because it was completely exposed. My father-in-law sweetly enclosed it in an attempt to lure me from the enclosed indoor shower (this didn't work), referring to it using a derogatory word for Americans.

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Their nude sunbathing doesn't bother me (I can escape), but while visiting their home, their open-door eliminations are harder to avoid. The tipping point came last night. I had my mother-in-law, "Marianne," over for dinner, and she left my bathroom door open while using it. How do I get my in-laws to close the bathroom door while they see to their private business? --

A. While there isn't much you can do to change your in-laws' habits in their own home, you can certainly ask them to close the door while in your home.

I assume you and your husband close the bathroom door when you have guests over. If his parents raised him to be an open-door kind of guy, he seems to have adjusted to your American sensibilities.

It's no fun to be mocked for who you are. And frankly, it is rude of them to denigrate your comfort and culture. But all you can do is say, "I know you don't like this about me, but I really do feel uncomfortable when you leave the bathroom door open."

In your own home, if an in-law is headed in that direction, you can say, "Marianne, do me a favor and shut the door, please."

Q. My best friend has been urging me to write a book for 20 years. Well, I finally did it! I gave her the manuscript six weeks ago, but she hasn't read it. I know she reads in bed each night, but she says she has to read on her Kindle so she doesn't keep her husband awake.

I am disappointed and don't know how to handle this. We have been friends all our lives. My inclination is to write her an email suggesting she give me back the manuscript because someone else wants to read it. Or should I just forget it?

A. Here's some professional insight into the impact of creative accomplishments on your friendships: Not everybody is actually happy for you. Even the people who have been cheering you on for years will have mixed feelings about your accomplishment.

It is possible that your friend has read your book and doesn't know how to respond. Or she is a little conflicted about the fact that you have actually done what she urged you to do. After all, if you've finally written your book, then this means she needs to start training for the half-marathon (or accomplish whatever long-standing goal she has).

Don't ask for your manuscript back unless you actually need it. Find another reader who will be a more active participant in this process. I recommend writing groups for "work-shopping" manuscripts. You can find a group through your local independent book shop.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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