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All eyes on me

  • Published at 06:13 pm May 17th, 2018

Ways to deal with a bragging husband and crabby colleague

Dear Dina,

My husband has developed an unfortunate new habit of interrupting any story or shared experience I might be narrating to friends and family, hijacking the narration and retelling it to make himself the hero of the story (even when sometimes he's actually the villain), and almost always reducing my role to that of a hapless bystander. The Zen part of me tells me to let it slide; my inner feminist is fuming. What should I do?

Dear Damsel in Distress,

It sounds to me as though your husband is going through some sort of mid-life crisis, in which his burgeoning insecurity can only be alleviated through grandiose story-telling. Perhaps he needs to paint himself as the swash-buckling vanquisher who saves the day so as not to feel like a paunchy, middle-aged, has-been whose better years have passed him by. Are you really such a cruel and unfeeling woman that you will deny him this little bit of solace in his time of need? You could support him and prop up his failing ego by laughing loudly and clapping at his stories like the hapless female he needs you to be, or you could roll your eyes and drop a few sarcastic remarks under your breath after each of his hyperbolic tales of heroism. Whatever you decide to do, take comfort in this small fact: many men in the throes of a mid-life crisis resort to mortifying Trumpesque toupees, inconvenient hot rods into which they have to squeeze their excessive girth, and the trophy floozy who they think will help them recapture their youth but instead simply capture their wallets before moving on. So just tell your inner feminist to do a little yoga and drink lots of wine until this unseemly phase of his life slips slowly into obscurity.

Dear Dina

We've got this new colleague who keeps slowing us down with her personal problems. Often she'll butt into one-on-one meetings and start rambling about her completely pointless experiences (usually memories of college days and partying). She is also prone to bursting into tears at the drop of a hat. The other day I saw her sniffling at work and made the mistake of asking her what was wrong, and she ended up blubbering over my shoulder about something that someone (outside of work) had said to her two days ago. Funnily enough, she doesn't indulge in this behaviour when our supervisor is around, and whenever we bring this up, she frames it as us politicking about her. How do we make it stop?

Dear Crabby Colleague,

The simple solution to this problem is to stop enabling this overly dramatic attention- seeker. The next time she interrupts a meeting with personal stories, feel free to cut her off with a curt, “I’m sure we’d all love to be regaled by tales of your unbridled youth at a more appropriate time, say when you take us all out for drinks!” If you’re lucky, it may never happen! If she tries to accost you for a one-on-one, just hack loudly in her face and tell her you’re very contagious with X ailment and need to be avoided at all costs. Conversely, you could all join in and play the “Who’s more miserable?” game, which I often employ with my whining relatives. The point of the exercise is to outdo the complainer with even louder and more pronounced ailments or problems. For example, when she tells you how she’s been wronged of late, proceed to cut her off with tales of similar situations you’ve been in, and be sure to insert lots of boring and extraneous details. She’ll be shimmying out the door before you’ve breathed your last sentence.