KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR | Annie's Mailbox 'Uncle Mike' obviously doesn't like 'Johnny'
Dear Annie: My sister-in-law told me frankly that her husband, who is my son's only uncle, can't stand being in the same room with the child. I'll admit "Johnny" was a terror when he was 2 years old, but he's 13 now, a good student and a polite young man. Unfortunately, my brother-in-law is not very subtle. Everyone can tell that "Uncle Mike" doesn't like Johnny.
At a recent family gathering, Uncle Mike refused to shake hands with Johnny when we were leaving. I was so hurt and shocked by this that I now avoid family gatherings where my brother-in-law is present. I certainly am not comfortable inviting Uncle Mike to our home, knowing how he feels about one of our kids.
How should this be type of thing be handled without hurting my son or other members of the family? Seething in the South
Dear Seething: Too bad Uncle Mike isn't mature enough to behave appropriately toward Johnny, whether or not he's fond of the boy.
Sometimes a person will rub someone the wrong way, and there is no logical reason for it. It's possible Uncle Mike will learn to like Johnny as the boy gets older. Meanwhile, you or your husband should have a candid talk with your brother-in-law. Tell him his attitude toward Johnny is both childish and obvious, and he needs to get it under control or he will not be welcome in your home.
Dear Annie: You recently printed a letter from someone who complained that it was redundant to say "ATM machine." He said, "Please tell your readers that ATM is an acronym for Automated Teller Machine." Just for the record, ATM is not an acronym. An acronym is a pronounceable word, formed by combining initial letters (UNESCO) or syllables and letters (radar, sonar) of a series of words or a compound term. Susan in Madison, Wis.
Dear Susan: Thanks for the education. Several readers pointed that out. In fact, we were surprised by the flurry of mail on that letter. Here's more:
From Silver Run, Miss.: While "ATM" may stand for Automated Teller Machine, it also stands for Asynchronous Transfer Mode, the networking protocol by which such money transfers are enacted. Therefore, it can be grammatically correct to say either "ATM" or "ATM machine."
Philadelphia: The person who is annoyed when they hear someone say "ATM machine" should move to Pennsylvania. Since I moved here three years ago, all I hear is "MAC" or "MAC machine." (That means Money Access Card.)
Lebanon, Mo.: I have a different pet peeve. Why do people insist on calling a water heater a "hot-water heater"? It is actually a cold-water heater that makes water hot. If the water were already hot, there would be no need to heat it. Thanks for letting me vent about a phrase that really "steams" me.
Denver: My complaint is the phrase "Easter Sunday." Easter is always on a Sunday. Why don't they just say "Easter"?
Dear Annie: I received a formal invitation to a baptism of a baby during a Catholic Mass service. Are gifts expected? This is unfamiliar territory for me. Thanks. Wanting To Do the Right Thing
Dear Right Thing: According to Emily Post, it is proper to take a gift to the reception following the baptism, or later, at the home. The gift can be a lasting memento, such as an engraved silver picture frame, or more commonly, it can be a government bond, books, toys or clothing. Hope this helps.
XE-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, Ill. 60611.