Q. Recently a couple with whom my husband and I were casual friends some years ago moved to our city. We helped them with a few things related to their move, such as storing some of their items and finding various service people.
They’re now settled into their new house and have asked us to come to dinner. However, based upon some things they have said (and not said), we believe they have not received COVID vaccines. We are fully vaccinated but remain cautious and are uncomfortable with the idea of being in close quarters during an indoor meal with unvaccinated folks.
We feel hesitant to ask them about their vaccination status, as it seems intrusive. On the other hand, we feel strongly that those who eschew the vaccine for whatever reason need to be respectful of others by maintaining social distance and wearing masks, both of which won’t be possible if we accept their dinner invitation.
We’ve hinted broadly about being vaccinated, such as mentioning our joy at finally being able to visit vaccinated relatives, but they’ve said nothing about their own status.
So, what is the polite or appropriate way to handle this?
NOT NOSY, BUT CURIOUS
A. If you are nervous or unsure about others’ vaccination status then you could (also) choose to wear a mask and maintain social distance. It seems that some states are moving toward recommending this — even for vaccinated people — because of virus variants that are emerging.
Understand, however, that your vaccination is supposed to protect you from the more serious symptoms caused by the coronavirus and that some vaccinations seem to be effective — so far — against the variants (check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov).
If you want to know if people are vaccinated ask them. I believe this is a fairly common issue that will be cropping up often.
In my own experience, people who are vaccinated tend to offer up this information when issuing or accepting an invitation.
You can say, “Thank you so much for the dinner invitation. We would love to see how you’ve fixed up the place. Sorry if this is awkward, but are you both vaccinated? We’re being super-cautious, especially about indoor gatherings.”
This is an intrusive question, and I look forward to a time when people won’t feel compelled to ask it.
Q. I’ve come to realize that I’ve been enabling my friend “Jack” in his addiction to medication.
At first, I didn’t realize he had a problem. He claimed he had intermittent neck pain and didn’t have time to see a doctor because he’s caring for his mother, who is in very bad health. As time went on, his requests for my medication became more and more frequent.
I asked him, “If this is so serious why don’t you have a prescription?” He says he does, but it has lapsed. After hearing that, I told him that I can’t provide my medication anymore. I need my medicine.
I thought I was helping him because he was helping his mother. I told him that I realized this is an emotional time for him, and then suggested that he might be self-medicating. He said he probably was, then asked me for more. I said no.
I feel guilty for giving him the medication in the first place. I want to help, but I don’t think I can. I feel like I’ve been a horrible friend.
A. You are right — you should not have given your medication to anyone else. In addition to the fact that you need your medication to treat your own illness, you are not a physician and can’t prescribe an appropriate and safe medication and dosage for another person.
However, addicts tend to be persuasive and manipulative. Your friend counted on you to respond with generosity and compassion, and you did. I hope you won’t make the same mistake again.
He obviously needs professional help, and making this suggestion is the most you should do.
Q. I’m responding to the question from “Widower,” who wondered when it was OK to start dating after the death of his wife of 40 years.
My late wife passed away 19 years ago (may she rest in peace). My current wife brought a condolence casserole to the house — and didn’t go home.
Best 19 years ever!
NOT QUITE NEWLYWED
A. Never underestimate the magical powers of a good casserole.
Amy Dickinson can be reached at email@example.com.