DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I are a gay couple. We live on a very friendly working-class suburban street and get along well with all the neighbors, all of whom know that we are a couple. We have a good friend whom I’ll call “Susan.” Susan is in her late 60s and is transgender. It’s not immediately obvious that she was not born female. (Most people probably attribute her low voice to the fact that she smokes like a chimney.) She often comes over to our house and sits with us on the terrace or works with us in the garden. Our next-door neighbor is a 70-something widower, “Harold.” I’m sure you can see where this is going. Harold has developed quite a crush on Susan. He flirts with her, gives her flowers, etc. We have no idea if he has even the slightest suspicion that she’s transgender. Harold is a terribly nice guy, and I would hate to see him get more and more interested, only at some point to perhaps feel that he’s been made a fool of when he finds out the truth. Do you think we should say anything to him before things go any further? The fact that Susan is transgender may not really matter at all, because she says she’s not remotely interested in having a romantic relationship with anyone. But then she’s said that before about men, only to get involved with them. Any advice?
DEAR NEIGHBORLY: I understand your intentions, and I assume they are 100 percent golden, but your friend “Susan’s” gender identity is her business, and your neighbor’s romantic intentions are his business.
If you want to spare him embarrassment, then why would you embarrass him by outing both of them, thus highlighting your own interest and speculation about his romantic choices?
The most you should do is to urge “Susan” to make her status clear to him. If she is not interested in pursuing any kind of romantic relationship with him, then she should let him know.
If she is interested in a romantic relationship, she should disclose her trans status at some point, but she gets to decide when that would be. If she has had relationships with men in the past, then she has dealt with this before.
DEAR AMY: My paternal grandmother recently passed away, and she did not clearly state how she would like her obituary written. Because my parents live close to my grandfather, they assisted him with the creation of the obituary and other funeral plans. In my opinion, the obituary was well-written, but instead of it including each grandchild’s name, the obituary simply stated “she was survived by several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.” This created an immense rift in the family. Many family members are upset because all names were not included in the obituary. My grandmother had around 14 grandchildren, and it was my grandfather’s decision to just state “several grandchildren.” He paid for all funeral costs, including the obituary. Do these other grandchildren have a right to be upset that their names weren’t included in the obituary? I am a grandchild, and I do not feel left out because I was not named. Who’s right?
DEAR WYOMING: You are referring to a paid death notice, which is a notice written and paid for by family. The way your grandfather handled this is common; listing the names of 14 grandchildren and other great-grandchildren can be very cumbersome (and expensive), especially if they have spouses (who would also be named).
Your family can create an additional memorial, either as a blog or a posting on Facebook or other social media. This is an opportunity for lots of sharing of photos and memories, and everyone can be included.
My husband’s 98-year-old uncle recently earned a social media high-five when he and his wife hopped onto Facebook (assisted by their granddaughter). Maybe you can help your grandfather in a similar way.
DEAR AMY: Regarding the use of cellphones in restrooms: I often spend a long time (longer than I’d like to) over my cellphone talking to my editing clients and community college students. When nature calls, I ask them a question that will take them more than 60 seconds to answer, mute my phone, do my business and flush, and no one’s the wiser.
Jill from Danby, N.Y.
DEAR JILL: I like your solution, although in a public restroom your clients’ and students’ comments might be overheard by other people.