Knock knock...

Dear Kortney, 

I recently moved from my parent's house to a large dormitory building. Although I love being just a short walk away from everyone, I'm not always in the mood to hang out with people from my floor.

For some reason, the common 'knock before coming in' policy has been thrown out the door by certain individuals, and once they are there they can be pretty hard to deter without saying "for god sakes go home." Is there a way to make it clear when I want to be alone and when its appropriate to stay without having to drop hints that are rarely detected?


Dear Introverted,

Have you ever noticed that there are three kinds of advice column letters?  

1.  Kind, polite people writing for advice on how to deal with thoughtless or impolite people without creating suffering or embarrassment for the impolite; 

2.  Impolite people who want support for their rudeness (remember that letter to the NYT from a guy who was a guest of another family at a restaurant, and the host ordered Clams Rockefeller but didn't share, so the letter writer went into the bathroom and departed through the window?  Without saying goodbye.  After the host had paid for his steak dinner and drinks.  His question was, essentially, "should I write to them and tell them how rude they were for not sharing?")

3.  People who have way too much time on their hands, and make everything into a Really Big Deal, when most of us would just move on with out a second thought.

I'd like to congratulate you on being a Category One-r.  You can put that on your resume.

But back to your problem.  Using humor is always a good, because at least it isn't boring.  Maybe a sign on the door, something like this:


Please do not disturb!  We are:

______  Irritable.  Really irritable.  I'm serious.  It's not even a tiny bit funny, how grouchy we are.  I wouldn't risk it if I were you.  And no, there's no sense in trying to cheer us up.  This is an actual condition, and it's highly contagious.

______  Not eating homemade brownies that my mom sent.  We absolutely do not have anything good in here.  Go away.

______  Studying.  I know!  Even at this fake hippy college, we do that.  Or at least I do.  Or at least I'm checking that off on this sign, because I don't want you to have any of the brownies, which, by the way, we aren't eating.  Who said anything about brownies?  Sheesh, now you're making stuff up. 

_______  Super boring.  Yep.  We're trading long, tedious accounts of minutia that we can't even remember very well. You know those stories that start, "Once, I think it was a Tuesday.  Wait, no, it could have been a Wednesday.  Well anyway, I was putting my shoes on, the way I do each day, those black ones.  I put my left one on.  You know, now that I think about it, it may have actually been a Thursday, because I noticed a little clump of mud on my shoe, and I think that's because it was garbage day. . . "  It's like that in here, only worse.  Tedium.  We are not the funny smart guys you've pegged us for.

___  Time travelling.  If all goes well, we'll be back yesterday.  If you really care, though, leave shoes and a robe by the door.  We may need them.  If you care about your future (or your past) don't come into the room.  That weird missing corner turns out to be a portal, and your safety is not guaranteed!  


 One other idea I have is to run an "advice column" seminar once a week.  Have people  read an advice column problem, and discuss the answers.    My son and I did that for years and I think he turned out great.  At the college you go to, I wouldn't doubt if you could get credit and possibly a small budget for such an endeavor.  At any rate, Introverted, you sound like a fine young man.  Namaste.


N'3lvra (pronounced Courtney, the three is silent)

P.S.  It's been a long time since Khortnee got a letter!  If anyone else has a problem, you can write to her here.


  1. Great advice...I think I'll risk coming in just in case you're lying about those brownies.

  2. So funny! Love the very, very apt description of "... long, tedious accounts of minutia that we can't even remember very well". My mom, bless her heart, does that, but it's had the wonderful effect of making me acutely aware of when I begin to do it (because I think it really is genetic) and stopping myself fairly quickly ... at least I think I do ...

    Hope your son is doing well at college, although it's really hard to tell so early in the year, isn't it?

  3. Your pretty much captured humanity with 100% accuracy here. Good eye.

  4. I love your solution. That's hilarious. I may very well solicit your advice someday. Just dropped in from Ms. Moon's page. Namaste you too.


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