Advice on how to be a civilized Torontonian
When my husband and I got married last month, we requested that we receive no gifts. Our place is tiny, and we don’t need anything. But the week after the wedding, his aunt gave us a hideous two-foot-tall sculpture. I think it’s meant to be a couple dancing, but it looks like Plasticine aliens getting it on. We desperately want to get rid of it, but we have nowhere to store it and don’t want to hurt her feelings. What should we do? —Statue of Limitations, Malvern
Given your explicit no-gift stipulation, it’s fair to ditch the thing. If your place is as tiny as you say, I assume you won’t be hosting your aunt-in-law all that often. However, if she does visit and notices the piece is missing, you have two choices: lie and say you broke it, or be upfront and tell her you gave it away because you didn’t have space for it. The conversation is bound to be uncomfortable—but nowhere near as awkward as explaining the copulating extraterrestrials to every new person who comes over.
Dear Urban Diplomat, I travel often for work, and when I get off a plane, I usually rush out since I just have a small carry-on. Recently, coming back from a vacation in Mexico, the plane landed at Pearson and, as usual, I stood up and waited in the aisle a few rows ahead. A mom with three preschoolers then yelled at me, “You’re gonna cut in front of a baby?” Am I a horrible person for wanting to blast past families that are bound to take forever to schlep their kids off the aircraft?
—Fight and Flight, West Queen West
Human beings weren’t designed to spend hours sardined in metal tubes, so I understand the instinct to dash. But imagine how much more exhausting the rigmarole of flying is with three toddlers in tow. By jamming yourself in the aisle, you’re making it harder for them—and other passengers—to grab their own carry-on luggage, slowing down the process for everyone to save
yourself, what, 10 minutes? If the parents in front of you are juggling baby bottles, be a freaking mensch, why don’t you, and offer to grab their overhead luggage. More often than not, they’ll let you pass anyway.
Dear Urban Diplomat, Last summer, I invited a work buddy to join a golf foursome with a couple of old friends of mine. He must have lied about his handicap, because he’s terrible. After a season of painfully slow games and angry play-throughs, we’re ready to make a go as a trio. But now he’s asking when we’re starting up again. How do I ditch him without huge friction?
—Unhappy Gilmore, North York
Look, you’re not playing in the PGA Tour, so before you give your friend the heave-ho, ask the team if they’d consider playing scramble (that is, everyone takes their second stroke from the group’s best tee shot), which would speed up the game without bruising any egos. If the other two don’t bite, break the news to the weakest link over lunch. It may not surprise him—he probably figured out he’s the Ringo of your band in your first game together— but it will still sting, so focus on your chemistry with the other guys, not on how awful he is. Assuming you refrain from bragging about birdieing hole six around the office, he’ll get over it.
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