The problem: My homebound friend and I get together monthly to play cribbage. She often says things that I know are incorrect — like who the king of Sweden is, or that a singer we both like is dead — things that quickly can be proven incorrect by checking the internet. Most are insignificant, but if I say I know something is not true, she argues with me loudly and then gets angry if I Google it and show her. I’ve tried ignoring these things (obviously unsuccessfully). Her daughter just rolls her eyes. My friend is sharp otherwise, so it doesn’t seem to be dementia.
Low road: Next time you visit, tell her you’re changing the card game. Now you’re playing “War.”
High road: Thank you for creating a regular routine with your friend. Being homebound, she already has lost so many simple freedoms, such as taking a walk around a lake or driving to a concert. Aging can feel like a series of pride-sucking daily assaults, as simple pleasures — and brain cells — evaporate. Your memory-stirring visits are a connection to a life she once enjoyed.
But, oy, the know-it-all. The desire to correct is understandable. But no matter how ornery she might seem, I’m certain she hungrily anticipates human contact. What then? My go-to question: Is it more important to you to prove that you’re right or to be kind to your friend? You know that you’re right, but how about if you keep that to yourself? Let her win, even if she’s wrong. What difference does it make? She’s not working for Wikipedia.
Follow her daughter’s wise lead. Roll your eyes (but out of view). Kindness, with a big dollop of patience, is absolutely the right play.
Send questions about life’s little quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at startribune.com/highroad.