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LifestyleColumnistsAsk Amy

Friendship strained after drunken irritability

DEAR AMY: My husband and I are longtime friends with another couple, who have been very good to us over the years. We have spent evenings together, when we enjoy drinking wine. Unfortunately the wife gets mean after she has had a few drinks and picks fights with her husband. It can get very uncomfortable when they argue. This is all forgotten the next day, and nothing is ever mentioned about it. Lately her irritability is starting earlier in the evening and her barbs have been branching out; she has been unpleasant to our daughter, and she recently created a scene and was extremely rude to my husband and me with absolutely no provocation. Again, this is forgotten the next day, and we have not received an apology. But we can't forget and we don't feel good about our friendship with them. Is it wrong to throw away a relationship that has lasted decades because of some occasional unacknowledged unpleasantness from a person who is generally quite lovely? Are we being too sensitive and should I talk to my friends about this?

Unable to Forget

DEAR UNABLE: You and your husband are pawns in this couple's personal production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" There is some likelihood that your friend is actually forgetting her alcohol-fueled behavior. Equally likely is that the couple simply doesn't want to acknowledge that she is a mean drunk.

Your choices are to react in the moment: "Um, we're going to leave now...", to react the next day: "I want you to know that we do NOT enjoy watching you pick fights with everyone when you've had too much to drink," and to react through a very carefully worded note saying, "We've known you for years. We care about you. But when you're drinking, you have lashed out and have been rude, unkind and mean to all of us. We want to continue our friendship, but we won't tolerate this any longer." I hope you'll do all three.

DEAR AMY: My husband and I are expecting our second child. Our son is 4 years old and we didn't initially think we would have a second child, so we haven't kept many of his baby items. We gave away almost all his baby items to friends and charities when we moved two years ago. We have very few things for the new baby. We would like to host a baby shower and have a registry. We plan to ask only for a few smaller things and used items too. Some family members say it is bad etiquette to have a second baby shower and ask for gifts. There seem to be many opinions about this, so what etiquette should we follow when throwing a second baby shower?

Expecting Up North

DEAR EXPECTING: There is nothing at all "wrong" about celebrating the impending arrival of a second (or subsequent) baby. BUT (and this is important) it is not at all cool to host a shower for yourselves. You see the awkwardness here -- I hope -- of having a party for yourselves and directing guests to a gift registry.

As you well know, a new baby's needs are actually pretty modest -- a basket to sleep in, some onesies and blankets, a car seat and a stroller. Craigslist is a good way to find used baby equipment (just make sure the equipment is safe for your child).

If you gave your crib to a friend, perhaps your friend is ready to relinquish it back to you.

If someone else -- a family member or a friend -- offers to host a shower or put together a coalition of people to purchase a larger ticket item, you should welcome it, but no -- you should not throw this party for yourselves.

DEAR AMY: Good answer to "Unhappy and Successful." I had a friend, a single, working mom who couldn't leave the house after her kid's bedtime, so she trained to climb Mt. Rainier by wearing a loaded backpack climbing up and down the stairs in her home for hours every night. How badly does Unhappy want that ultra-marathon?

Owner of My Life

DEAR OWNER: Exactly. If you want it, do it.

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