Dear Short Answers >> I have been singing with my church choir for over 10 years and I think I have a pretty decent voice.
We recently got a new choir director who has decided that he wants everyone in the choir to "audition." I'm not good under that kind of pressure and I don't feel that I should have to "audition" for a volunteer job.
Do you think that the choir director is within his rights to do this? I'd be sad if I couldn't sing with the choir any more, but I'd be really upset if I auditioned and didn't get selected.
DEAR V >> Yes, he has the right to do this, but why don't you have a chat and tell him how you feel in the nicest possible way — perhaps you two can find common ground.
Dear Short Answers >> I recently read an article that said knitting is very good for your brain and your hands, especially if you have arthritis. I decided to try it and I love it!
The problem is that I'm a man and people give me quizzical looks when I take my knitting out at church or in a restaurant. Is there a snappy answer that will stop the gawkers?
— Knit 1 Purl 2
DEAR KNIT >> Oh, don't sweat it. Consider it "sensitivity training" — stepping out of traditional gender roles always has a price.
Some suffering is optional
Dear Short Answers >> Ten years ago, I had a long-term relationship and was cheated on. The woman he cheated with is now a friend of one of my best friends. This was a bad situation I never could forgive — and it now poses socially awkward situations if my friend and I bump into her.
I wish my friend didn't have anything to do with her. How do I navigate this social minefield?
— Still Hurting
DEAR HURTING >> Even crimes of the heart have a statute of limitations — and we think yours has expired. This is a "social minefield" only if you make it one. If you encounter the "other woman," act like you forgot it ever happened. And maybe you will.
When is a job not a job?
Dear Short Answers >> I do volunteer work for a local charity and I am frequently annoyed when the director or staff nag me about deadlines and expect me to act like its a real job — am I wrong?
DEAR R >> We hear you loud and clear and have been on both sides of this — the put-upon volunteer and the one driving the ship with a crew that is not always fully committed. Although much in our culture says that if you aren't getting paid, then it need not be a priority, we have to disagree: Responsible people behave responsibly. If the volunteer paradigm doesn't work for you — fair enough. However, if you say you're going to do something, then get it done because it is a real job.
Dear Short Answers >> A friend of mine recently announced the death of a close relative on FaceBook. I was shocked and thought it was, at the very least, very inappropriate. Am I hopelessly old fashioned?
— Over 30
DEAR O >> Yes. You are hopelessly old fashioned. FB is many things, but at minimum, it is the most efficient way to get news to your community — however you define it.