Ask Amy: Home movie became humbling experience

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • December 6, 2013 - 1:57 PM

Dear Amy: I’m 40. My husband and I have three children: 14, 10 and 5. We live in a lovely suburban area with wonderful neighbors who have become close friends. We’ve been on family trips with these friends, done projects together, had parties, etc.

For some time, we’ve talked about making a dramatic movie together and finally got serious: We began discussing a script, making plans, assigning parts. I was cast as the lead. One of the neighbors has a country cabin, and we decided to film it there. Our idea was to make an action-adventure movie with some slapstick, just for our families and friends.

We really had a lot of fun. My big scenes involved getting kidnapped, bound, gagged and eventually escaping. I was gagged with a kerchief and spent the first 20 minutes in a chair watched over by the “bad guys” until the big escape scene. I had to stand up and (with my legs tied and my hands bound behind me) hop through the cabin and across the lawn, where my husband “rescued” me. I enjoyed being the center of attention and showing off my agility.

We arranged to have a “premiere” with our kids (who weren’t there during filming). I felt utterly humiliated listening to my children laugh as I hopped around on the screen. I hated having my kids see me that way. The kids loved it, and now they want to see it again and again. I sit there bravely, but I am mortified. Instead of being an agile, clever heroine, I’m a hapless schnook. I can’t undo this, but I’d like to recover some dignity. I know this is a strange problem, but do you have any suggestions?

Amy says: It takes a certain kind of bravery to let yourself be seen in an unflattering way, especially in this era when even younger children stage-manage their public profiles through flattering “selfies” and demanding the right to delete any photos/videos they deem insufficiently awesome.

My advice has been personally road-tested (I’ve tripped, slipped and fumbled my way through life, sometimes before large audiences).

You just have to own it. Even if you have to fake it, you take a deep bow and say (with a flourish), “Thank you. I’ll be here all week.” What a great lesson in humility, ego balance and social bravery for your kids.

Night noises

Dear Amy: New neighbors recently moved in upstairs. They are a lovely young couple who do what young couples do.

However, their bedroom floor is my bedroom ceiling, with no insulation in between. I have been awakened several times by the noises above, but I don’t know what to do! Usually I just go to a different room for a few minutes, but it’s quite disruptive.

I’ve met them personally but would be too embarrassed to tell them what I can hear. I think a simple solution like an extra-thick rug could stop the worst of the noise. But how do I convey such a message? Should I put a note in their mailbox?

Amy says: This couple has no way of knowing how the noise in their apartment translates to the noise in your apartment — unless they also have an upstairs neighbor in need of a rug.

You should assume that they don’t want to be heard. The kindest thing is to write a note saying, “I want you to know that there is no insulation between your bedroom floor and my bedroom ceiling, and I can hear you at night. Having a rug on your floor would definitely help.”

They owe you a bottle of wine and an Ambien.

Great answer!

Dear Amy: A “betrayed” parent was trying to pressure his/her 17-year-old son into not being gay. When I read the letter, I wondered if it was even real, but, regardless, your answer was very real.

Amy, thank you so much for offering the best argument against “gay by choice” thinking I have ever read.

Amy says: I have no way of verifying letters, but the position the letter-writer conveyed is all too common. Readers from around the world have responded, and I thank you all.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

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