Dear Gayle,

We recently attended our great-nephew’s wedding. At the reception there were name cards to show where the guests were to sit. We found ourselves at a table near the exit. It was tempting to use it. Closer to our relatives at the head table were the hosts’ neighbors, friends and the kid who mows their lawn. Even their in-laws were seated closer. Were we right to feel hurt by this? We thought we were close with these family members. My husband is often told that he’s his nephew’s favorite uncle. Is this how favorites get treated?

— Miss Placed

Dear Miss Placed,

Are you certain that no one traded your two cards for their own? Much card movement occurs at such events after they are first placed. This moving of name cards usually has nothing to do with the wishes of the hosts.

But let us say that the card placement at that reception was planned. Perhaps the two of you are not as popular as you had believed. It just may be that everyone you saw seated closer to the happy couple are more involved in their lives, and have interacted with them to a greater and more meaningful extent in some way. It may also be that your nephew knows and loves you well, but his son is more removed, and that younger man and his bride had an influence on the seating arrangement. Perhaps you could start becoming the great-aunt and uncle who would always warrant favored treatment. Invite the newlyweds out for dinner and a movie, for instance. Give the boy his great-grandfather’s whatever, and tell the young man that the one now gone would be proud of the direction the younger one’s life is taking. You get the idea.

If this great-nephew’s life goes well, there will never be another wedding reception to attend for him at which you might have closer seats, but in many ways to come, all of you can grow ever closer as a family.

Dear Gayle,

At a family party, my sister-in-law had a bit too much to drink. She wasn’t sloppy drunk, but she’d had enough that, when she went to leave, another sister-in-law offered to drive her home. She got upset with us for thinking this was a good idea. She insisted she was fine to drive. We let her, but asked her to call us when she got home. She got upset about that, too, but did it. How do you know when to insist on driving someone under the influence?

— Tipsy’s Kin

Dear Kin,

If the woman had been your 21-year-old child instead of a sibling-in-law, would you have insisted? The woman having arrived at her home after driving there is not an indicator that she had been OK to drive herself. Even a single drink can impair some people such that reaction times are slowed significantly. The deer wandering onto the roadway is more likely to be hit. So is a human pedestrian, or the back of another car.

Perhaps it would have been best had everyone’s reactions to your sister-in-law’s state of being begun well ahead of the woman’s first drink. At the start of any future events at which alcohol is served, you may wish to announce that anyone drinking enough that he or she would not likely pass a field sobriety test WILL be driven home at the end of the party, so all guests need to understand that before drinking anything. Announce, too, that throwing tantrums about being driven will not be sufficient to keep impaired ones from being given chauffer treatment. Say that no one is to drink anything harder than soda pop unless agreeing to these terms. Obviously, you can make this announcement only if there will be drivers available to transport those who become unable to drive themselves safely. If you do not have enough transporters, I would strongly advise that you do not serve alcohol at the event.

Dear Gayle,

You had a column a while back about stinky feet. It wasn’t my letter, but I paid attention because my husband’s feet always smell terrible. It was a big problem. Anyway, we tried your suggestions, except that he won’t spray the vodka on his feet before he wipes the soles with the deodorant salt crystal. That’s why I spritz the vodka straight into his shoes. It has helped and I wanted you to know. Thank you.

— Clothespin Off

Dear Off,

You are welcome.

[Write to Gayle at: LV MY TAKE ON IT, 435 Broad Street, New Bethlehem, PA 16242, or send email to Anonymity will be maintained in keeping with all current HIPAA standards. Not all letters can be answered, but those that might have broader interest among our readers are more likely to be chosen. If you believe that you have something useful to add to a published response, please send it in; it will be considered.]

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