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Column: Gumption and blowin’ smoke
by Lauretta Hannon
July 03, 2013 08:58 AM | 4398 views | 0 0 comments | 109 109 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lauretta Hannon
Lauretta Hannon
Q: I have recently reconnected with a dear high school friend who now lives in my area. She loves to throw parties. Being from Texas, I am all for peace, love and BBQ, but this woman and most of her friends smoke so much that entering her house is like walking into a West Texas pit BBQ shack. I hate to keep making excuses and avoiding her parties, but I only stayed 30 minutes the last time I went and was physically ill for three days afterward and had to hang my clothes out on the porch. I feel dishonest making excuses but don’t want to step on her smokin’ toes, either. It is, after all, her house. Any suggestions?

A: Stop the excuses. The next time she invites you to a shindig at her place, just explain that you are sensitive to the smoke but look forward to spending time together outside of her carcinogenic environs. A real friend will respect your honesty and honor your needs.

Q: My coworker coughs a lot and never covers her mouth. Since she isn’t really sick, you don’t really expect it when she coughs right in your face while you’re talking to her. Worse than that, she is constantly picking at her scalp while you are having a meeting or working on a project together. Today she went straight from her scalp to picking her nose. I do not want to offend her, but I also do not want her to keep hacking up a lung in my face. Help!

A: Okay, you need to be ready to pounce the next time she spews germs. Within a split-second of the cough, blurt out, “Whoa, please cover your mouth when you cough.” Continue to do this until she obeys. Remember that you’re teaching her something she didn’t get in home training, so it may take a while for it to stick. As for the scalp and nasal mining, I’m reminded of what we said as 12-year-olds in the 1980s, “Grotty to the max!”

Q: My daughter will be getting married soon. This is not a big affair, and neither family has the bucks to make a big outlay for the festivities. My husband insisted on inviting his step-family. We are not and have never been particularly close, and his dad has passed away anyway. One of his stepsisters had the hutzpah to inquire about rehearsal dinner arrangements. I know it seems to be the custom now to invite out-of-town guests to the rehearsal [dinner], but that might as well be anyone and everyone invited to the wedding. Whatever happened to limiting rehearsal dinners to the wedding party and immediate family? What would be a gracious yet firm response that says “Heck no, you’re not invited” in a nice way?

A: The words you need to say are simple. The trouble you’re having is in telling them no. So get yourself psyched up for the task. Don’t view this as a confrontation but as a calm, assertive conversation in which you state, “We are limiting the rehearsal dinner to the wedding party and immediate family.” Keep it brief, and then change the subject so that their exclusion doesn’t garner any more attention.

Note to Readers

Do you notice a theme in today’s column? So many of our dilemmas can be cleared up when we speak up. Like the situations in this edition, often the best response is to “just tell her/him/them.”

We can cause harm when we hold back in order to spare feelings, avoid conflict and icky topics or hide our true thoughts. Our being transparent actually raises the whole atmosphere and encourages others to be more authentic and understanding.

Certainly there are occasions that merit restraint and silence. But there are other moments when we must climb out of our comfort zone for the good of all concerned. It takes gumption but so does anything worth doing.

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Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of “The Cracker Queen — A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life” and a keynote speaker. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at

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