Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: Last night my boyfriend and I went to a party. We ran into someone who used to be very rude to me, to the point where he once threatened me physically. This is all because I used to be in the same social circle as his ex. This guy offers everyone at the party a drink except for me, and tells everyone they can help themselves to drinks and yet made a point of excluding me in front of everyone. My boyfriend took the drink he offered him and started to make nice with this guy. I thought it was wrong of him to do so, knowing I have been mistreated in the past. My boyfriend thought it wasn't a problem at all to make friends with the guy who was being rude to me at this party. I would just like for him to understand that I wasn't trying to get him to start a fight or be rude to him but to simply show me (his girlfriend) some respect and defend my honor by at least not accepting a drink if I wasn't offered one, as well.
DEAR MISUNDERSTOOD: Most people don't conform to a strict code of conduct when it comes to defending someone else's honor at a drinks party.
The polite thing for your boyfriend to do would have been to accept the drink and then turn to you and offer you one, as well. Then the path would have been smoothed for a social (if not actual) reconciliation.
DEAR AMY: Kinfolk came to visit for my 92nd birthday. We went to church together. After worship there was a social hour: people talking pleasantly with one another. One little boy would cling to his father's legs, but periodically whirl around the room and then head back to his dad. Not a good arrangement with older people present. I tried to get the man's attention, but he was engrossed in conversation. When it came time for us to leave, sure enough -- here came the little boy, racing toward me. Down I went. Forewarned, I was able to brace myself for the fall, and avoided anything serious. Many young parents seem oblivious to such problems. Older people are vulnerable in these circumstances. Amy, could you pass the word along?
-- Older, Wiser Gentleman
DEAR WISER: I am happy to help. I hope that congregations will clip this and post it in their reception halls.
I admit to my own oblivion as a younger parent, but then I started spending time around elderly and frail people. It has been an eye-opening experience to see how vulnerable older people can be -- but also how relatively nimble and resilient they can be due to wise strategizing about how to stay safe.