Person A tells Person B that his hair looks really distinguished now that it’s going gray. Person B takes offense. Person A claims he meant it as a compliment and doesn’t see why B was offended. Person B finds it dubious that A was being sincere given that i) A is generally known to be a smug asshole and, ii) to all but a few close confidants, A claims to be ten years younger than he actually is. A 40-year-old who says he’s 30 can’t feign obliviousness to other people’s insecurities about aging. At least, that’s B’s opinion.

Person C gives Newlyweds D and E a very generous gift certificate to an electronics store as a wedding present. Months go by, and D and E fail to acknowledge the gift, which I repeat was quite generous, in any verbal or written way whatsoever. Both D and E pass up many opportunities to acknowledge the lavish, heartfelt token given by their good friend C (in conjunction with several others) in celebration of their marriage. Eventually, E begins telling C of pricey items he intends to buy at the store where C purchased the bounteous gift certificate. Is E making use of C’s generosity? Well, no. In fact, E makes a point of telling C that he’ll be using cash his grandmother gave him for Christmas to procure the otherwise-out-of-their-young-married-price-range goods. C wonders if in fact D and E received the ample gift certificate, or perhaps it fell out of the envelope at some point between when C handed it to them at the garage at Disney’s California Adventure and two minutes later when they peeked inside in the stairwell? At what point is C entitled to check and say, “Hey, seriously, I’m concerned, did some horrible accident befall my generous gift, or are you just an ungrateful goon?”

Let’s say Person F has a difficult time buying Christmas gifts for Person G because G always buys everything he wants as soon as it becomes commercially available. Then F comes up with a great idea for a gift Person G doesn’t even know exists. But after F orders the gift, G learns of its existence and immediately announces his intention to buy it for himself just ten days before Christmas, because he’s too much of a clod to adhere to the rule that you don’t buy yourself ANYTHING in December. Is F allowed to punch G in the nose?

Person H has a girlfriend who’s looking for a job. Person I has a boyfriend who has the coolest job in the world. So H calls I and says, “Hey, is it okay if my girlfriend asks your boyfriend to help her find a job?” And I say, “Uh, sure.” Then girlfriend H proceeds to call boyfriend I ten gajillion times within two weeks. At what point am I supposed to call H and say, “Can she please stop calling? He’s doing his best, but he’s not an employment agent.”

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