Dear Abby • My brother and I are in our 40s. We live several states apart and visit each other a couple times a year. We are both very active but on different time schedules. I’m a morning person who has been getting up at 5 a.m. for so many years my body will not sleep past then. He’s a night owl. He sleeps until 10 a.m. and expects to be doing fun activities until at least midnight.
He plans specific activities — buys us concert tickets to a 9-11 p.m. show that’s an hour away, which guarantees to keep us up past midnight. He gets upset if I don’t stay up late, because that means we don’t get to spend as much time together or do all the fun activities we want. He won’t wake up earlier because weekends/vacation days are his only chance to sleep in. (He has to get up at 8 a.m. on workdays, so he’s not willing to meet in the middle.)
After our visits, I’m so exhausted it takes me a week to recover from getting only four hours of sleep while he’s here, and it affects the quality of my work. Is there a rule of etiquette for guests and hosts regarding adjusting schedules to accommodate each other? Shouldn’t the host choose the schedule? For instance, at his house, activities go from 10 a.m. till midnight, but at my house, we get up earlier and go to bed earlier? Or must the host accommodate the guest’s preferred schedule? — Sleepy Sis in Wisconsin
Dear Sis • Houseguests are supposed to abide by the schedule of their host. What this means is your common-sense assertion that when you are at your brother’s house you would stay up later, and when he’s at yours he would go to bed earlier, is correct.
Dear Abby • I have worked for the same boss for nearly 40 years. He’s in his mid-70s; I’m in my mid-60s. Because we’ve been together for so long, we’re close friends. Our families are close as well.
He recently confided to me that he’s concerned he may be in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. He hasn’t seen a doctor yet to confirm this, but I have noticed questionable symptoms for some time. These could be explained by other things (he walks more slowly due to a recent knee replacement, etc.).
My question is: When others ask me if he’s feeling OK or if he’s ill, what should my response be? I will not betray his confidence, but I don’t know what to say when people question his health status. I don’t want to have an attitude that seems like “I know something you don’t know,” but I also don’t want to be so vague they will continue asking questions.
He’s a very dear man and people are genuinely concerned. I don’t want to say anything that might cause more suspicion about his health. — Unsure in Arizona
Dear Unsure • Ask your boss how he would like you to answer those questions. If he doesn’t want you to reveal that he is concerned, your response should be, “I know you care about ‘Harry,’ but if you have questions about his health, you should be asking him — not me.” And, because you are a close family friend (in addition to being a longtime employee), urge him to bring his concerns to his doctor.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.