Q. Prior to the pandemic, I met up with an old friend of nearly 20 years three or four nights a week at a local watering hole. We would also watch football together on Sundays at my house.
When the pandemic hit, we all self-quarantined: Me with my college-aged daughter and him by himself. We kept in touch, and when I would order groceries I would get him food and deliver it to his back door.
Restrictions were loosened, and we have both tested negative (so has my daughter) for the coronavirus. But now he takes an Uber to my house every night for “porch drinking,” which consists of him drinking large amounts of whiskey (which he brings) and retelling the same stories.
This has been going on for six weeks, every night. One night he came over while I was sleeping, and started drinking and smoking on my back porch.
He arrives with no invitation, and when I have questioned him, he has said he will “never grace me with his presence again.” But the next day, lo and behold, there he is again, with no memory of the previous conversation.
One time I sent him away, and he claimed he would be visiting relatives in another state the next day. Instead, he showed up at my house.
I liked the previous arrangement, at a neutral location. I could go to the bar if I wanted to, when I wanted to, and leave when I wanted. Now I feel trapped in my own home.
What should I do?
A. Your friend seems to have passed through the neighborly sloppy porch-drinker phase and is now parked at the belligerent/blackout drunk stage. In the course of coaxing him off of your porch, you can tell him the truth about his drinking and urge him to seek help.
Because he is belligerent and forgetful at night when he is drunk, you should lay down the law during the day. Tell him, “I have something important to say. You cannot come over to my house unless I invite you. I’m very worried about your drinking. I want you to know that if you show up uninvited, I’m going to take you home right away.” And then when this scenario presents itself, follow through.
If your friend seems dangerously drunk and ill, you should take him to the hospital (or call 911).
Alcoholics Anonymous offers an impressive array of online meetings, so it is now possible to virtually attend a meeting, any hour of the day or night. People who want to give sobriety a try should check aa-intergroup.org for more information.
Q. For the last four years, a group of friends from high school have gathered for an annual weekend getaway. I have always been invited, but due to life events (grad school, a newborn baby, financial constraints), I have always graciously declined.
I was finally at a point where I was excited to attend this year’s outing. Time passed with no invitation, so I reached out to the friend who organizes the event, who told me that all of the spots were filled, but if somebody dropped out, I could join. Not only did I not receive an invite, but I found out that their group is much larger this year, with outside friends of the group getting invited.
Am I wrong to feel hurt and left out by my friends here, or did the previous four years of declining the trip excuse them? I am now questioning my friendship with these guys.
A. Life presents many opportunities to feel bad, if you try hard enough. You have never attended this annual event, and it seems most likely that the people who do attend commit to it early. There is nothing “wrong” with attendees inviting guests. All of this is up to the organizer.
I suggest that you keep in closer touch in order to get back on the primary guest list for next year.
Q. Like “Isolated,” I have a medical condition that makes it necessary to isolate during the pandemic.
My remote friends and I have discovered online bar trivia, which we play via Zoom. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to this weekly two-hour activity. Another group of friends picked a book to read and we have met virtually, to discuss it. These activities are literally keeping me sane.
PLAN IT, AND THEY WILL COME
A. Deal me in!
Amy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.