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Polar bear

A Splash of Chamomile With Your Narcissism?

Dear Bea,


A few weeks ago my husband Gilbert and I left for a weekend away and let our daughter Coral stay home alone because she’s 16 and very responsible (we gave her a credit card two years ago and she has never exceeded the limit). When we got home, Gilbert watched our doorbell camera footage and saw that Coral had entertained some visitors. 35 to be exact. One of them was our neighbor’s son, Fletcher, who was the last to leave. We asked Coral about it and she said the group had come to have tea and watch a documentary about polar bears. She said it was a three-hour film, which explained why some of the kids looked disheveled on camera when they left. Fletcher’s shirt was on inside-out, which Coral said was because he had teared up when he saw the polar bears clinging to ice, and had to take off his shirt to wipe his tears. Apparently when he put it back on, he didn’t notice it was inside-out.


My husband says the brown paper bags some of the kids had with them were booze and is especially angry that Fletcher, who is a senior, came over with alcohol. But Coral said each kid brought a different flavor of tea so they could do a tea tasting, and I totally believe Coral because she took an honesty pledge with us when she started high school. She also said Fletcher is class president so he’s really moral. 


I didn’t want Gilbert to start a confrontation with Fletcher’s parents–Todd and Margo Woodcock–because they’re sponsoring us to get into a local yacht club. I cannot risk them blackballing us if we make any accusations about Fletcher. So when I saw them coming back from Pickleball the other day, I gingerly asked them if they had heard anything going on at our house on Saturday night because I thought maybe we’d been burgled. They said they’d been on a marriage retreat, so they hadn’t, and that Fletcher wasn’t home because he’d been tutoring the disadvantaged all evening. I didn’t tell them that he’d been at our house. 


I’m really worried Gilbert will still confront the Woodcocks about their son and we’ll lose the membership opportunity, which honestly Gilbert doesn’t even want. I am not worried about Fletcher because tea and polar bears are good. 


What should I do, Bea?






Dear Skylar,


Before you read my full response, please walk over to the nearest mirror and take a good, long look at yourself. At least 15 seconds. Go ahead. I’ll wait right here. 


Okay. How was that? Are you pleased with what you saw? You are. I know you are. And you should not be. The shallowness of the person in the mirror is only outdone by her wilful ignorance, and she needs a wake-up call…now. Shatter that mirror immediately (it’s not bad luck; your behavior in general is bad luck). Slap your own face twice and listen carefully: 


The yacht club membership won’t soothe you when Gilbert wakes up one day and realizes he’s married to an empty vessel. It won’t dry your tears when you realize Coral would have been better off raised by a hamster. (You are correct if you remember that high school science class where you learned that hamsters often devour their offspring.) There is a preponderance of evidence suggesting that Earl Grey was not the beverage of choice, and that the only thing Coral cares less about than polar bears is honesty. Great job, mom! 


With that said, Skylar, all is not lost. You can have redemption but it will take several beginning steps, after which I would like an update so that I may further guide you.


  1. Un-apply to the yacht club;
  2. Sit Coral and down and tell her you’ve been focused on the wrong things for a very long time, but that you want to make it up to her by being a better role model;
  3. Advise Coral that you’ve willfully turned a blind eye to her lies but that’s about to change; and
  4. Invite Gilbert for a chat over dinner, apologize for the years you’ve spent focusing on lip filler, and promptly advise him that he’s welcome to show the footage of Fletcher sans the disadvantaged to the Woodcocks. 


Try the above and then if you write back, we can move to the next phase. Good luck.



P.S. Don’t ever use the word “burgled” again. 


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