Dear Margo: Time To Read the Tea Leaves

Margo Howard’s advice

Time To Read the Tea Leaves

Dear Margo: I am no longer speaking to my best friend of 20 years, “Katie,” who is also godmother to my daughter. Two years ago, she and her husband were invited by my husband to a surprise 50th birthday party for me. They did not attend, stating the 10-day RSVP timeframe was not sufficient for them to plan to travel from New York to Pennsylvania (four to five hours).

Two weeks prior, they had returned home from a trip dealing with her mother’s belongings and difficult family members. While on that trip, they decided to take a six-hour drive to see other friends for a mini-vacation. They said they weren’t up for another road trip for my 50th. I understood, but I did expect a phone call or, at the very least, a card. I received neither. After a month, Katie called just to chat. It was a strained conversation. Afterward, she wrote me a letter with her excuses and told me that I am not a real friend to think she would not have sent me a card. She said it must have gotten lost in the mail.

This past January, we invited Katie and her husband to my daughter’s Sweet 16 party. They declined, but did send her something. In June, we sent them an invite to her confirmation; Katie is her godmother, and we felt she would want to be at this important event. We received an e-mail declining, and my daughter did not even receive a card from her godmother.

I keep hoping they will just show up at one of our parties or make some type of good-will gesture so that all will be forgiven and we can move on. I feel that our daughter should somehow be connected to her godmother, but my husband feels differently. What would you suggest? — Peeved and Perplexed in Pa.

Dear Peeve: You cannot make a godparent pay attention, as it is an honorary position to begin with. Clearly, some people take it more seriously than others. From what you’re reporting, this two-decades-long friendship may have run its course. For myself, I would accept that the curtain has fallen on the closeness for the reason that her actions (or lack of them) suggest she has already moved on. It is always too bad when these things happen, but people change, life happens, and there you are. — Margo, regretfully


Dear Margo: I hope you can help me. I am a college man whose cousin may be in a lot of trouble. He asked me to help him drive some big sacks of an unidentified substance out of state. He said we would have to drive absolutely within the speed limits because we could not afford to be stopped by the police. I of course asked what was in the sacks, but all he would say was, “It’s best you don’t know.” We made it to our destination, and the man on the receiving end looked really scruffy — unshaven and kind of like a gangster. Do you think I have an obligation to turn in my cousin? And should it be to the state police or the sheriff? I am pretty sure that drugs were in the sacks — or at least pot. — Tormented Cousin

Dear Tor: So, are you excited about starting 8th grade? — Margo, satirically

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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33 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1:  I understand your feelings entirely because I lost a friend in the past year under very similar circumstances and it is sad.  I am trying to accept that this person who I considered a dear friend *is just not that into me* and maybe never was.   While I have not decided to *write her off entirely* or be shun her when we meet on social occasions that are inevitable (our husbands work together), I have decided to accept that our friendship is over.  You have made an effort to repair the friendship, the efforts were rebuffed, and sadly you must put her out of your mind and move on.  Easier said than done I  realize. 

  2. avatar Mango1207 says:

    LW#2: I would keep my mouth shut and never do something stupid like that again. If I am not mistaken, if it was drugs that you were carrying in your car, you would also get in a lot of trouble. Just because you didn’t know what was in the big sacks, doesn’t mean that you won’t be held responsible for delivering it to the intended destination.

  3. avatar Obediah Fults says:

    Margo’s response to LW2 was exactly what I was thinking when I read the pouting tantrum from LW1. Katie’s mother died recently, she’s dealing with the estate, and she has “difficult family members” in the mix…but she hasn’t sent cards or come to birthday parties lately. Oh, boo-hoo! Cards, really? Wasting money on trivial cardboard greetings is LW1’s requirement to demonstrate friendship? Driving eight to ten hours, round-trip, to have cake and punch is another? LW1 is acting like an adolescent and needs to grow up.

    • avatar Donna Sampson says:

      I agree with you very much! I think the letter writer is expecting way too much from the friend. It appears the letter writer is wanting the friend to do all of the traveling and lw1 do none of it. Putting costs onto the friend. I figure the friend has children of her own with activities and such that keep them just as busy, and she may not can afford a trip at the whims of lw1. LW1 needs to quit thinking that people are revolving around her! If she wants to talk to her friend and keep the relationship going….JUST CALL! Don’t sit around waiting on the friend to do it!
      As for send cards…..not very many people send cards these days. I haven’t sent a card in years, but opt for emails, ecards, or fb posts instead. Go over yourself! 

    • avatar LuckySeven says:

      I can see the ex-friend not wanting to drive, but she could send a card! Good grief–you can buy them at the grocery store, where we all go anyway. You can even buy stamps at the grocery store, and some grocery stores have mail drop boxes out front. Fine, don’t make the trip, but, man, some people are lazy!

      • avatar persey78 says:

        I hate getting cards. I hate sending them (my parents anniversary card is on my fridge and it was Aug 2) and I hate receiving them. It is such a waste of money and do you keep them or chuck them. My family are card senders and I told them to not send them. It is one of the few irrational guilt’s I have, what to do with the card. I feel like crap when I throw them out, but I am an anti hoarder so I throw out or donate anything I am not using.

  4. avatar Deborah Key says:

    LW1 is a retread.

  5. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #2 – ROFL!   I was thinking the same thing Margo…..

    Letter #1 – Bless your heart (letter writer) for wishing and wanting this relationship to be what it once was. Who among us hasn’t experienced the sting of a relationship that withers on the vine. No longer full and robust.  You need to as Margo pointed out, accept it for what it is and that is that it is essentially over.  Godmother truly is symbolic, and you need to remind yourself and your daughter of this.

    Based on the letter, this letter writer shouldn’t second guess her choice of Godmother to her daughter, its simply that sometimes people grow apart. I have slowly walked away from MANY people in my life who I am sure…..100% positive questioned “why Bee doesn’t keep in touch anymore”    Which is why in my later years I no longer do that and if I do, I always explain why I am walking away.

  6. avatar harmer says:

    I know I’ve read the first letter elsewhere before.. LW1 must have sent it to Annie’s Mailbox not too long ago.

    • avatar toothfairy910 says:

      Yes you have! I got deja vu immediately too. Trying to figure it out.

    • avatar meehoo says:

      Yes, that letter was in Annie’s mailbox August 14th.

      • avatar CanGal says:

        Just re-read that letter, the Annies edited it a lot, making the letter writer sound better than she does here and making the friend sound worse. I wish they would just print the letters as written, sometimes it changes the whole slant of the letter.

  7. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: Perhaps the only way to know is to ask her directly (politely). Is she a “gossip value” person? Maybe she’s heard something (an allegation you’ve said something about her/them), and for whatever reason has chosen to believe it. Or maybe as Margo suggests, the friendship has run its course. I’d let go (no e-mail, phone calls)…see what happens. If it’s “goodbye,” well then … that’s life. Or the situation might turn around. If it’s any consolation, it seems the older we get the more difficult “friendship” becomes — for many reasons (spouse, divorce(s), kids/teens, relocating).

    L #2: Oh, okay.

  8. avatar normadesmond says:


  9. avatar Chris Glass` says:

    Letter writer 1 is too in to herself and her own wants, needs and expectations. Her friend went through a terrible period of dealing with her mother’s belongings (a death?) and family issues. Was the letter writer there to support her friend?

    It is not unusual to have difficult times crop up along with a need for space and understanding from real friends. Not every relationship is about us and the lives we want dictated to others. Her friend is four to five hours away. I assume they work, have a mortgage and family matters of their own to care for. Maybe the friend is backing off because the letter writer is too demanding.

  10. avatar AOT says:

    LW1 – At 50 people just don’t have the energy levels they did at 30 but don’t always like to come out and say so. Give your friend the benefit of the doubt.

  11. avatar Courtney McPhail says:

    For LW1, I have to wonder if you ever invite your friend to events that don’t involve gift giving and/or spending money. All the events you list in your letter all involve your friend having to spend money either with gifts or with travel. Something I also notice is that there is no mention anywhere in your letter of your efforts to visit her or what you did as her close friend to support her when her mother passed. To me it sounds like you are expecting her to always step up for you without you ever have to do the same. Maybe your friend just got sick of always having to be the one making the effort.

  12. avatar R Scott says:

    LW1 – It’s rather apparent from your letter that your friendships are based on responding to invitations to your milestone events and, providing appropriate gifts. Be like your ex-friend Katie and get over you. 

    LW2 – “college man”, “gangster”? Who talks like that? You’re either 12 as Margo suggests or 85.

  13. avatar Teri Brown says:

    For god’s sake, LW#1, stop keeping score, holding grudges and grow up.  Friendships will wax and wane over a lifetime, maybe some day when your kids are grown, you’ll have more time to be able to get together occasionally, for now let it be what it is, and stop subjecting your friend to constant guilt trips over such trivial matters.  Lighten up. 

  14. avatar Diane Shaw says:

    I could care less if a friend forgets my birthday. It makes no diff to me. But it sounds like both of you are a bit dramatic. Calling her out for not sending you a card and her saying you must not be a real friend thinking she wouldn’t send one? Yawn.
    Also agree with Margo on the godparent thing. Some people don’t see it as big a deal as others. I also have to wonder if the daughter sent a thank you note or acknowledgement for the something she received for her birthday. If not, I can understand why she didn’t hear anything for her confirmation. Maybe that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

  15. avatar Miss Lee says:

    I hadn’t thought about the thank you note.  I myself have stopped sending gifts because of the lack of acknowledgement.  As for the birthday, I will be 58 this year and I truly hope EVERYBODY forgets it.  I can understand not wanting to make another trip after dealing with difficult relatives or easy relatives for that matter. It’s just too tiring.  LTR 1 should move on or pick up the phone and have a friendly catch up.  No drama needed with either.

    LTR#2 – thanks for the laugh!  I really needed it!

  16. avatar BeanCounter says:

    birthdays!   sweet 16’s!   confirmations!   wow!  This LW#2 really wants some attention and she wants it now!  

    I think her friend is better off without her!  lol. 

  17. avatar D says:

    You should not have made that mistake. Now I have to use a hammer and nails on you. Shame on you for making me do that.

  18. avatar darjeeling57 says:

    LW1: Time to move on. I have to re-ask question of a previous response: Did you send a sympathy card or send a memory garden arrangement to your friend or her Mother’s funeral/memorial? Did you call her or attempt to contact her to provide sympathy/empathy???I know personally, having lost my own Mother on Mother;s day of this year, that it is difficult at best, to be anywhere except available to family especially a beloved parent or partner. Perhaps you may want to send a belated sympathy card, so she knows you care… Take a look from her side, Read Mr Coveys excerpt
    revolving the phrase “Pardigm Shift”.

    LW2 obviously a kid who took a dare to see if response given “any attention is better than none of all”.

    Wishing all Brightest Blessings

  19. avatar Lym BO says:

    Let’ not knock LW2: Some people truly are that naive & gullible. When my 22 year old college-educated, in-laws immigrated here in 1970 from Beirut, a friend asked them to put a “package” in my baby husband’s infant carrier & someone in the US at the airport would retrieve it from them. It all went as planned. Fifteen years later, when their kids were teens they realized that maybe that package was drugs. I kid you not.
    Another one of my friend’s parents bought a house with a beautiful mural of a plant at the end of the hallway. They loved that mural for years. When the kids grew up, they informed their parents that the mural was in fact marijuana. They were shocked. The parents were products of the 50s. Leave it to Beaver I guess.

  20. avatar JCF4612 says:

    1) It would appear Katie and her hub have no interest in you, their god-daughter, or your parties. I’d stop extending invitations and call it a day on picking up the phone when she calls.

    2) Was it a kissin’ cousin?   

  21. avatar JCF4612 says:

    1) It would appear Katie and her hub have little interest in you, their god-daughter, or your apparently frequent parties. I’d stop extending invitations. Her current life may not be conducive to attending social events. As for the cards, maybe she prefers to call. If you don’t like it, screen her out when she rings.

    2) Was it a kissin’ cousin?