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Ask Mindy: Separating the Giver from the Gift

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

AVENUE is proud to welcome its newest columnist, Mindy R. Morals (yes, that’s her real name!). Mindy hails from the dust-choked suburbs of Wichita, Kansas, where her senior class voted her “best at advice.” Four years at a small Northeastern college followed, which introduced her to an all-new set of etiquette concerns.

Today, Mindy may divide her time between New York, Palm Beach, Southampton and Gstaad, but she’s still that same no-nonsense Midwestern girl. So please, if you will, join us in giving Mindy a big AVENUE welcome. This week, for her inaugural column, Mindy answers your burning questions about gift-giving and receiving.


My Dearest Mindy,

Recently, I met a beautiful young woman. After several weeks of passionate canoodling, she invited me to her garret of an apartment for a wonderful supper of all my favorite dishes—Cracked Crab risotto, Veal Prince Orloff, Chicken àla King and a London Broil, all topped off by a delicious Bananas Foster. But the real entrée, if you will allow me to be so droll, was yet to come. As I bit into my succulent Foster, I suddenly felt something sharp and cold—hardly the sensations one expects from banana. In fact, it was so solid I nearly chipped a tooth. Spitting out this strange obstruction, I was surprised to find a gold engagement band. “I would like you to be my husband,” my beloved said. “Will you be mine in matrimony?”

I was floored, Mindy—so floored that I took off at once, retreating to my country chalet. There I’ve stayed, nervously pacing my drawing room in a flannel bathrobe, clutching a Sazerac to my breast. I really do love my inamorata, truly. But what kind of woman is so bold as to ask a man to marry her? If I accept, will she reveal other feminist inclinations throughout our coupling?


Who Wears the Pants Here?


Dear Pants,

It’s 2018! While it was once unheard of for a woman to propose to her boyfriend, today such scenarios happen more and more. A declaration like the one your girlfriend made shouldn’t be a cause for consternation, but for celebration. She chose you.

At the same time, I wonder whether you deserve a woman so headstrong and determined. Your sudden flight, and your comments about “feminist inclinations” make me think that your beloved might belong with somebody who can respect and appreciate her better than you.

I’ve had more than one suitor break things off upon discovering that I planned to continue working even after marriage and children. A woman who speaks her mind can be intimidating.  So when you apologize to your lover for abandoning her, tell her that you can accept her independent spirit. Or don’t—maybe she deserves better.


Dear Mindy,

For Hannukah, a gentleman friend—let’s call him “Ralph”—got me two tickets to see the new Broadway production of Aladdin. I couldn’t be more excited—I love all the songs, and that genie just cracks me up! In any other circumstance, getting to see a cast of talented actors sing and dance to classic numbers like “One Jump Ahead” would be a dream (or a wish!) come true.

But in this case, it’s more like a nightmare. Ralph has texted me multiple times asking when I’m free, but I’d much rather take one of my girlfriends (my sorority pledge class referred to itself as the Aladdin eleven, so going with any one of them would be preferable). I also think that Ralph thinks that us going together would constitute a date, when he’s just a friend—and not even a particularly good one at that. Let’s just say that he’s more of a Jafar, or even an Iago, than he is an Aladdin. What do I do?


Looking a Gift Lamp in the Mouth


Hi Looking,  

You wouldn’t happen to be Abu the monkey after Aladdin wished to be Prince Ali of Ababwa, would you? Because it sounds like you’ve got an elephant of a problem. It’s often hard to know how to receive a gift—especially when you’re not too hot on the gift-giver. While Ralph gave you a wonderful gift, his ulterior motives threaten to ruin it!

In situations like these, honesty is always the best policy. The next time Ralph texts you, just let him know you plan on taking one of your sorority sisters. Tell him that you’re sorry to take somebody else, but that Aladdin is very important to you and your friends.

If he protests, just tell him firmly that you’d prefer to just remain friends, and that a late night at the theater might complicate that. (It sounds like going to a matinee with Ralph would be just as painful, but he doesn’t need to know that!) It may cause some awkwardness afterwards, but it’s certainly better than having to sit through a three-hour musical with whom you don’t share much of a connection. Hopefully, he’ll understand that you just don’t want to explore a whole new world with him.


Hi Mindy,

This past Christmas, my uncle gave me a beautiful walnut grandfather clock, with emerald and topaz-encrusted hands, a lapis inlay and an organza canopy from its upper points. But here’s the thing, Mindy: I’m blind. I can’t read a clock, and even if I could, it wouldn’t matter—it takes up so much space in my apartment that I can barely move. All I can do with this thing is hope that I don’t bump into it. What do I do?


Clock it to Me


Dear Clock It,

You should give it to me!! No, I’m kidding—I never learned how to read a clock, and it’s too late for me now.

What you need to remember, Clock, is that your uncle probably thought he was conveying a deeper meaning. Whether or not you actually do, he picked it out thinking you would gain something from it. Live with it for a little bit, let the gentle rocking of its pendulum suffuse your very being, forget what life was like before you encountered its horological magic. You can’t reject a gift without at least allowing yourself to be given it in the first place.

And if all that fails, you can always discreetly list it on Craigslist.


That’s it for this week, but Mindy is always taking questions. Need help solving your dilemma? Just email Who knows? You just might read your answer in next week’s column.


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