DEAR STEEL ADVICE: My wife and I love to have other people over throughout the year for dinner and in the summer, especially for cookouts and to enjoy our pool. Some of these couples in particular have been at our home many times over the past 25 years. The problem is that although we enjoy being with them, we have never been invited to dinner or a cookout at their homes. The only invite we ever get is when it is gift-giving time such as graduations, retirement, etc. I know they are well off and finances are not a problem, but we have gotten to a point where we no longer invite them over. How should we handle this, and I wonder if others have experienced the same problem?
— FEELING UNWANTED
DEAR FEELING UNWANTED: Your house was the established party house, and you fostered this dynamic over the past 25 years by being great hosts. Perpetual guests who never reciprocate may not enjoy entertaining. They view their homes as sanctuaries and are uncomfortable sharing personal space. Entertaining is a budget jolt, and others do not entertain because they are tightwads. In spite of appearances, they may not want to justify the additional expense of hosting. On the other hand, these couples may now circulate in a different social direction with new friends. Invite the old friends to go Dutch at a restaurant and see if there is enough momentum and interest for you to continue your relationship. The lack of reciprocity is an indication of a friendship gone stale.
DEAR STEEL ADVICE: One of my professional male colleagues believes that the phrase “sun’s out -- guns out” is an open invitation for a man to wear colorful tank tops throughout the summer — no matter the occasion. Did I mention “professional colleague”? I think this “fashion” choice is appropriate only for bodybuilders, meat-heads or our buff-armed women like first lady Michelle Obama. How can we (as his friends and co-workers) get our pal to commit to sleeves?
— SLEEVELESS IN PA
DEAR SLEEVELESS IN PA: You cannot force your buddy to ditch his summer garb. If you tease him you all but guarantee he will continue to wear the tank tops. Your group has to accept this Stanley Kowalski impersonator and refrain from yelling “Stella” when you see him. He likes the attention he gets from the tanks. Your collective fashion sense however, is correct. Tank tops are permissible attire in the gym or at the beach. A professional man looks out of place in a tank top, and wearing one broadcasts his own insecurity. He is trying to look sexy. As a courtesy remind him of dress codes for men at some of the nicer spots your group may attend. Other than that, let it go. He is a fashion oddball who hopefully doesn’t wear shorts, socks and sandals with his tank tops.
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