Dear Urban Diplomat: A #MeToo debate ruined my dinner party. How do I clear the air?
I recently hosted a family dinner, which was perfectly pleasant until the #MeToo movement came up over dessert. When my aunt said women who used the hashtag were just looking for attention, I politely tried to rebut her. One thing led to another, and we ended up yelling at each other. I didn’t realize how bad it got until everyone immediately decided to call it a night as soon as we’d finished eating. I feel awful for ruining the evening and want to clear the air, but I don’t think I was wrong. What do I do?
Your aunt doesn’t sound like someone who’s bubbling over with empathy, so don’t expect an apology. If you want to smooth things over, tell your family that, while you stick by your position, you’re sorry for letting your frustration get the better of you. You’ll probably discover most of them are on your side. If you want to avoid another suppertime showdown, encourage them to speak up next time. A bit more pushback may prevent your aunt from sounding off at your next get-together.
Dear Urban Diplomat,
My roommate is a Bunz addict. In the past month alone, she’s traded for a floor lamp, a juicer, a cactus, a loveseat and all sorts of junk. What she does with her stuff in her own room is her business, but her hoarder habits are starting to impinge on my space: she stores some of her finds in our (already tiny) living room, people are constantly coming and going to pick up one thing or drop off another, and she even traded some of my avocados! I’ve asked her to cool it, to no avail. How do I save my house from becoming Bunz HQ?
—Trader Woes, Kensington Market
It’s time to stage an intervention, before your roomie swaps your family heirlooms for a case of used mason jars. Traders gonna trade, so don’t expect her to quit cold turkey. Instead, set some ground rules: no stashing trades in common areas, no unannounced or after-hours visitors, and—it should (but apparently doesn’t) go without saying—no swapping your stuff. If she can’t stick to those simple rules, you can always threaten to make a trade of your own and swap her for a new housemate.
Dear Urban Diplomat,
My five-year-old son made a new friend at school this year. His father and I arranged a play date, and now the boys hang out almost every afternoon. The only problem is that it’s always at our house. I often pick both kids up from school and cook them dinner. He’s a lovely kid, but I’m starting to feel like an unpaid babysitter. How can I get the other parents to pull their weight?
—Take a Load Off Nanny, Wexford
It may take a village to raise a child, but that’s no excuse to pawn off your youngster on an unsuspecting neighbour. These parents are clearly taking advantage of your goodwill, consciously or not. A nudge to pitch in may be all they need, so start by asking them to cover chauffeur and chef duties on a particular night, and go from there. If their jobs prevent them from hosting on weeknights, suggest a weekend play date—at their place—as a compromise.
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