DEAR AMY: I have a friend of about 40 years who has an expensive electric sports car. When he visits me, he parks it in the driveway blocking my wife and son from moving their cars and, most annoying, he insists on plugging into our electricity to recharge his car. I did some research and it appears that a recharge costs about $5 or $6 in electricity. I find it very annoying. Would he expect to pay for the gas that I consume to drive to his house? Why should I pay for the electricity for his drive to my house? Can you suggest a nice way to tell him to park his car in the street and to pay for the electricity to run his car? I have tried to tell him to park on the street, but he doesn't seem to get the message.
All Charged Up
DEAR ALL CHARGED: According to information published by the U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center (afdc.energy.gov), fully charging an electric car would cost approximately $2.64. Obviously this depends on various factors, but let's say it is basically the same price as a cup of coffee (and your friend would presumably not require a full charge). Are you sure you don't want to treat? If not, the nice thing about longstanding friendships is that you should be able to communicate effectively and with good humor.
Say, "I have two favors to ask: First, can you make sure to always park on the street when you visit? It drives Joan and Tom crazy to be blocked in. Also, if you can avoid plugging in at our place, I'd appreciate it. If you have to plug in, could you reimburse us for the juice we're providing?" Your friend could repay you in coffee if you wanted -- loading up a coffee card every time he charges.
DEAR AMY: My older sister is a lesbian with a wonderful partner. My family is loving and accepting. I'm thrilled that they have moved close to where I live. I have enjoyed having them get to know my boyfriend and circle of friends. While my boyfriend is an open-minded, loving person, his best friend from childhood is a devout Christian who is strongly antigay. My boyfriend calls him on it if he says something offensive, and the friend tends to back down. This is a recent development, and he has not always had this prejudiced worldview. My boyfriend is concerned and disappointed by it. I don't blame my boyfriend for wanting to continue this longstanding friendship. But I don't feel like I can justify spending time with someone who thinks my sister is going to Hell. Certainly I could not have him be a guest in my home if my sister were there. My plan is to give my boyfriend my blessing to spend time with him outside our home, but I would not join them. Am I overreacting?
Loyal Little Sister
DEAR LOYAL: You are discounting the potential positive effect of your presence. Your willingness to be in a tangential relationship with someone whose views you abhor could serve as an example of acceptance and openness of the very kind you would like this man to adopt.
If you are inclined (and able), you could put the concept of "hating the sin but loving the sinner" into action by accepting him while rejecting his prejudiced views.
If you can't manage this heavy lift, then yes, many romantic partners maintain old friendships which their partners don't fully share. It is your right to steer clear.
DEAR AMY: I agree with your response to "Feeling Used." My husband and I had a 20-year-old son living with us. He was making great money. We told him we were giving him 45 days' notice and he accused us of kicking him out. He found new living arrangements in seven days. After he moved we didn't see or talk to him for about 30 days. He came around little by little, and less than a year later we enjoyed a relationship with him again.
Tough and Loving Mom
DEAR TOUGH: Good job, Mom.