Personal grooming should be done in private, not public

Published 12:41 am Sunday, August 6, 2006

Dear Annie: I have a problem with my sister, “Eva.” She is my only sibling, and we live a half-hour away from each other. I love her, but she wants to spend way too much time with me, my family and friends.

Eva is a good person, but she has an obnoxious personality. She interrupts constantly, has terrible table manners and butts into every conversation. She has a way of inviting herself over frequently. If I don’t have specific plans, she sees no reason why we shouldn’t do something with her and her husband. Sometimes I am forced to lie simply because I don’t want to be around her. We recently purchased a summer cottage, and now she has somewhere else to invite herself. She sees no reason why we shouldn’t share the cottage.

Eva has friends of her own but prefers to hang out with mine. While my friends are gracious and don’t complain, it’s very uncomfortable for me. Even our own parents avoid her.

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I don’t want to hurt Eva’s feelings, since she can’t change who she is. On the other hand, my stomach is in knots whenever I have to spend time with her. And she drives my husband and kids crazy.

I am becoming less tolerant as the years go by. I work very hard and cherish my free time. I want to spend it with people whose company I enjoy, not with someone who annoys me and expects me to wait on her. I feel guilty and hate lying, but I’m losing sleep and patience. Any advice? — Going Crazy

Dear Going Crazy: Unless you want to tell Eva that she is obnoxious, intrusive, annoying and you don’t want her around, you will have to continue to tell little white lies in order to spare her feelings. You can, of course, be a bit more honest and let her know you want private time with your husband and children and you hope she will understand and respect that. But there’s no reason to feel guilty about saying, “Sorry, we’re busy. Maybe another time.” Repeatedly.

Dear Annie: I cannot believe the number of people who clip their nails in public. I have seen this done in airplanes and at church. Is it because one can buy a nail clipper attached to a keychain, and thus always have one at hand? Yesterday, in a coffee shop, a woman clipped her school-age child’s toenails while the child lay on a bench. Please remind people that this is not OK. — Appalled in Connecticut

Dear Appalled: This is NOT OK. It is gross and disgusting to clip your nails (or anyone else’s) in public, and particularly so in a place where people are eating. We bet that same woman would have had a fit if someone else’s toenail had bounced into her child’s scrambled eggs. That coffee shop didn’t have a restroom? Please, people, personal grooming is best done in private.

Dear Annie: This is for “Cramped and Poor in Ohio,” who is sharing a room while four other girls have their own. College students need to learn math.

Each girl should pay for the square footage allotted to them. Measure the square footage of the entire house. Divide the cost (rent, utilities, etc.) by the square footage. The result is the cost per square foot. Then measure the common space (entry, halls, living room, dining room, kitchen, bathrooms) to determine shared space. Divide the shared space by six to give each girl the same square footage “ownership” of common space. Measure each bedroom. In the shared room, each girl gets half the bedroom space. Add each girl’s bedroom space and proportionate share of common space together to get each girl’s total space. Multiply each girl’s total space by the cost per square foot, and that is each girl’s share of the rent.

Difficult? For today’s high school graduates, maybe. For those born in the first half of the last century, the calculation would be third-grade math. Love your column. — Carl

Dear Carl: Thank you for making us feel young. Our brains are spinning.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at