Ask Amy: Why I don’t want my charming son here anymore


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DEAR AMY: My 30-year-old son returned to live at home from several states away.

He has a college degree and is handsome, charming and quick-witted.

Columnist Amy Dickinson (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
Columnist Amy Dickinson (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune) 

His former position with a well-known insurance company ended when the contract ran out.

Initially I thought he would be living at home for two or three weeks, but we have now hit 12 weeks.

DEAR AMY: I’m responding to the question from “Kathy in Colorado,” who was shocked when she and her friend were asked to vacate their table at a cafe to make room for other customers.

When we retired a few years ago, my husband and I started taking trips. We often stop for coffee in small towns.

In one cute little Vermont college town, a well-frequented cafe had signs above the tables, basically saying: “Please use for up to two hours” or “Please stay no longer than 30 minutes” — something to that effect.

We were in this town for several days, and noticed people engaged in what seemed to be lengthy conversations, or studying with their laptops at the “long-use” tables, while others enjoyed coffee and bagels at the “short” ones.

The cafe owners were smart — they had their long-use tables in the front window, so it seemed that it was a busy place (even when the rest of the place might be relatively empty).

In small Iowa towns, a large, round, re-purposed wooden dining-room table is frequented by the “regulars,” with chairs pulled up as needed. There are smaller booths or tables as well.

It is so fun visiting these small towns — strangers are immediately spotted, and if we tell them we are taking tombstone pictures, pretty soon we hear stories of local tiny cemeteries and old pioneer times.

When we’re home, we read your column in Blair, Nebraska.

Small Town Tourists

Think that’s interesting? How about this:

DEAR TOURISTS: Like you, I have an abiding love of small towns. (I currently live in the town where I grew up, which has a population of 540). I like the solution these cafes have arrived at regarding “long-use” tables, and enjoy picturing old friends gathering and sipping their coffee. This probably wouldn’t work in higher-volume restaurants, which is one more reason to stay small and local.

Regarding your fascinating hobby of photographing tombstones — what a wonderful way to discover and chronicle history!

DEAR AMY: Hooray for your practical and wise answer to “A Lot to Handle,” the parents who were basically enabling their adult son’s drug addiction. It is so hard to detach from another’s addiction, while still remaining concerned and involved.

Family with Addiction

DEAR FAMILY: Concerned family members need to make a choice to lovingly detach, and to only support recovery.

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