Dear Ann Cannon • I have two children, a son and a daughter, who are currently playing high school basketball in Utah. And the fans are TERRIBLE. The kids are bad, but the adults are worse. You would not believe how they behave and the horrible things that come out of their mouths. It’s downright scary at the girls’ games because there are fewer people in attendance, so you can really hear what’s being said. Now I have a better understanding of the Utah/BYU rivalry and all the bad behavior that goes along with it.
I want to support my kids and their schools, but I really want to figure out how to change this behavior. I personally do pretty well, but my wife is crazy, too. Our kids can hear her. Help! What should I do?
— A Fan, Not a Fanatic
Dear Fan • Yikes! After reading your letter, I hung my head in shame. Why? Because I was one of those parents — the kind who could (and did!) lose her cool when watching her kids play. Looking back on it, I feel like a dope. Seriously, what was I thinking? They were just kids! It was just a game! They were just kids playing a game! Why did I lose my mind watching them? WHAT WAS MY DEAL?
Whatever my deal was, it’s probably your wife’s deal now, too, which means that you saying something to her will probably make her behave even more badly.
So, what can you personally do? Continue to model good sportsmanship yourself and pretend you have absolutely no idea who that unhinged woman sitting next to you is.
Dear Ann Cannon • I have a problem with scents: perfumes, lotions, candles, etc. It’s not just that I don’t like them, which I don’t, but they make me physically sick. Even when I’m at a venue and someone is wearing a strong perfume I have to change my seat. How can I politely let people know without offending them?
— Wishing Salt Lake City Was Scent-Free City
Dear Scent-Free City • I’m pretty sure most people will understand your situation, so tell them exactly what you’ve told me here except for the part where you say you hate fragrances. No one likes to have their pumpkin-scented candles insulted. Good luck!
Dear Ann Cannon • How do I mow my lawn with snow on it?
— Super Sick of This Weather
Dear Super • With a snowblower, obviously. (I’m super sick of this weather, too!)
Sometimes people will write with suggestions I didn’t include in my original advice to readers with questions. A few examples follow:
To the woman who’s sick of listening to a friend brag about her kids …
“That woman should have been advised to take courage and tell her friend that while she loves hearing about her friend’s children and celebrating their successes, lately it has made her feel worse about her children who are struggling. If her friend is a true friend, she will dial down the bragging and show sympathy and concern in return. And if this friend is hurt and offended, well, this friend can be moved to the Acquaintance List.”
To the woman who’s sick of dating losers …
“My suggestion? DON’T travel/have sleepovers with someone until after the wedding. While that may sound like a parent’s/religious leader’s counsel, it’s actually good common sense. Save deep emotions and commitments for after the vows.”