Dear Annie: Five years ago, we moved to a small town. Initially, it was hard to meet people, but then I found “Inez,” who was organizing a women’s group.
At first, things went swimmingly, but I noticed that Inez gossiped a lot about her friends and their children. I wondered if she was doing the same to me. When I foolishly confided that one of my children had ADHD, she excluded him from all group activities. She also flirted outrageously with my husband, talking about her “high sex drive” and running her fingers through his hair.
Last year, I discovered Inez had told these women some things about me that were untrue. I began avoiding her, but Inez asked what was wrong, so I told her the truth. I expected an apology, but instead, I got a verbal explosion. Since then, she has initiated a frightening campaign of lies, rumors and back-stabbing.
I have tried ignoring her, but she just keeps it up. Worse, some of these women believe her lies, giving me dirty looks and icy glares when I run into them. Another woman from the group who absolutely detests Inez has told me she is too scared to stand up to her.
Would a slander suit shut her down? How can I make her stop? — Perplexed
Dear Perplexed: The problem with a slander suit is that you must be able to prove, in court, that Inez said these things about you and that her comments caused you monetary loss. The threat of a lawsuit may be enough to get her to back off, but if it actually goes to court, and you lose, her vitriol will know no bounds.
Better to show withering pity for Inez. To the women you encounter, say, “I feel so sorry for Inez, poor thing. She is such an unhappy person.” You will not be saying anything unkind, but you will be giving the impression that Inez is pathetic. Any vicious retaliation on her part will only reinforce that image.
Dear Annie: Last year, I filed bankruptcy because I went through a divorce, and the loss of a second income was an economic hardship. The bankruptcy already has been discharged, yet employers are reluctant to hire me. I have a college degree, great work experience and a neat appearance, yet I am constantly being passed over.
I have had several terrific interviews in the last few months, but then the employer does a background check into my credit and I get a rejection letter. I had to move back to my hometown after the bankruptcy to live with my parents, but I want to get out and earn my own money. I know I will be an asset to any employer, but what can I do to get them to see past my credit record? — The Unemployed
Dear Unemployed: You may be wrong about the reasons you are being rejected, but if you’re convinced the bankruptcy is the problem, don’t wait for that background check. Tell prospective employers upfront at the interview that you filed for bankruptcy due to your divorce and that you hope it won’t influence the company’s decision to hire you. Good luck.
Dear Annie: My daughter is graduating from nursing school in December, and my son is getting married in February. We are having a party for our daughter, and the reception for our son and his new wife will also be at our home.
Is there a tactful way to request that parents not bring young children? Some of our relatives have very unruly kids who have done some real household damage in the past. These same parents do not supervise their kids, so it’s up to me to keep them away from the pool. Please help. — Hostess in California
Dear Hostess: Phone these parents and say, “We are so sorry we cannot accommodate little Susie and Jimmy at this party. We wanted to call so you would have plenty of time to find a baby-sitter.”
“Annie’s Mailbox” is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.