DEAR AMY: For 25 years I have been best friends with a woman I’ll call “Tracy.” Tracy is 35 years old, and she has Down Syndrome. Tracy is high-functioning, as is her longtime boyfriend, “Tyler.” Amy, they have been together for five years. They have lived together for the past three years, and recently announced their engagement. Everyone on both sides of their families is happy for them — at least we all thought so. Since Tracy made the announcement a few months ago, their families and I have been getting questions and comments about it that are so rude, stupid and downright ignorant, it’s not even funny. A brief example: “It’s nice you’re letting them play pretend like that.” “Is it going to be legal? I mean, since they’re like, not right in the head?” “You had them fixed right? Otherwise you’ll be stuck raising another one.” “Why are you letting them get married? I mean, they’ll just forget.” There have been other comments, but those are the more polite ones. When referring to the couple, they use a slur for intellectually disabled people. Amy, both Tracy and Tyler have jobs, they can balance their checkbooks, and yes, they know what sex is. They live in a one-bedroom apartment, and neither of them is sleeping on the couch. Basically the only thing they need help with is transportation, as neither of them drives. Between both families, some kind co-workers and friends — it all works out. How do we respond to theses idiots? I’m seriously about to slap some people and trust me, I ain’t the only one! Help!
DEAR FRIEND: Honestly, in this day and age, if someone uses a slur for intellectually disabled people, then they deserve to be slapped.
Of course, I don’t advocate for violence, but what you can do is to say, immediately, “That’s so offensive that I’m not even going to dignify it with a response.”
If you feel like educating idiots on the capabilities of people with Down Syndrome, then by all means, go for it.
Otherwise, you can say, “If you want to do some research into Down Syndrome, you’ll learn that it is caused by a chromosome imbalance. It is a random occurrence and is not inherited or contagious. People born with Down Syndrome might have to work harder to grasp some concepts. Now, what’s your excuse?”
Please pass along my congratulations to the happy couple.
DEAR AMY: I like to drive myself to social events because I like driving alone. I find it relaxing. I can listen to my own music or books or thoughts, and I can come and go as I please. Somehow, I have become the person to call if any of my friends want a ride to an event. I’ve tried being vague, but that just invites multiple calls to see if I’ve made up my mind. And then they invite another and another (“we can squeeze in”) and pretty soon I’m driving everywhere with a full car of loud women. At one point, I asked, “Why am I always driving?” and the answer was, “Because you love us!” I have stopped answering or returning calls and I am making up excuses — or not going somewhere. I don’t want to add another hour or more to my trip to pick everybody up at home and make room for whatever they purchase and then drop them off. How do I stop this free taxi service and keep my friends?
DEAR TURNING: If your friendships hang in the balance over your willingness to be a driver, then you definitely need some new friends.
Your choices so far are to do something you don’t want to do, and then stop communicating altogether when you no longer want to do it.
Those are not friendship-building choices.
I hope you will trust the strength of your relationships enough to simply start saying, “I’m driving by myself today.” If people ask why, you can answer, “Because I want to.”
DEAR AMY: I’m a man, and, like the “Crier,” who wrote to you about crying at weddings, I get very misty and emotional. Before my own wedding, my physician gave me one anti-anxiety pill, and that completely did the trick. I was happy, but not blubbery, on my big day.
DEAR GROOM: Great solution. However, meds and alcohol do not mix. Anyone considering this should be aware of the risks.