DEAR HARRIETTE: A good friend of mine is retiring from more than 30 years on the job. It was his choice to retire. He said he wanted to leave while they still wanted him to stay rather than staying beyond his welcome. He seems ready on one hand, but sad on the other. He is a teacher, and I know he is going to miss interacting with his students on a daily basis. I want to do something special for him after he retires, but he is a private person. What can I suggest that won't seem like an imposition? We have been friends for a long time, but this is a new situation. — Retiring, Scarsdale, New YorkDEAR RETIRING: Think about what your friend enjoys. If going to fun restaurants is his style, invite him to go with you to a place that may be a new discovery for him. Look in the local newspaper as well as those in New York City to find out about cultural events going on each week and weekend. Often, these activities are free to the public.
In addition to outings, you can simply call to touch base. Check in to see how he's doing, and ask occasionally if he would like to hang out. He must get acclimated to his new life and figure out a rhythm that works for him. You can support that, but ultimately it is his responsibility to learn how to fill his time differently.
DEAR HARRIETTE: An acquaintance of mine asked me to read a script that he had written, but I have never gotten around to reading it. It was such an awkward moment when he asked me to read it, in person in a restaurant, that I felt compelled to say yes, but then I was either too busy, uninterested or forgetful to complete the circle. I see this guy occasionally, and I know he remembers. This was something he had worked on for a very long time. I feel bad that I agreed to do something and then reneged on it. I have no idea where the script is anymore.This happened years ago. I bring it up now because I expect to see him at a reunion of our school in a couple of weeks. Should I apologize to him for letting him down? Should I act like it never happened? What should I do? — Unscripted, Albuquerque, New Mexico
DEAR UNSCRIPTED: It will probably mean a lot to this man for you to acknowledge that you dropped the ball. For him to know that you didn't mean to blow him off could lessen the blow that he has felt and possibly harbored over the years. Apologize for not fulfilling your promise. Be mindful, though, not to agree to read it now — unless you actually will. Just say that you are sorry that you flaked years ago, and ask for his forgiveness. You can also ask how his career is going and if he ended up writing scripts.
Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to email@example.com or C/O Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.