St. Charles, I think we need to sit down and have a heart-to-heart. You see, many of us-- your family and friends, who have known you for so long-- have been noticing some disturbing changes in your behavior across the past several years. We do not want to see you hurt yourself any more because we love you, we care for you, and we want to help you to make changes to your life that will get you out of the bad situation in which you presently find yourself.
Although you are not even close to being an old lady (talk to Rome or Cairo for that perspective), you are also not the sprightly young girl you once were. As such, we think you should conduct yourself with the decorum befitting of a mature woman of your age. We know you have had your ups and downs in the past, but it is how you have handled some of those last down periods that have us the most concerned. Specifically, it seems that the loss of some old, dear friends across the last several years has led you to try to find new acquaintances. While there is certainly nothing wrong with trying to find new friends to fill the spaces left in your heart by the departure of old friends (like the florist and the antique malls), we think that your new associates have not been a good influence on
you at all. Yes, we know that there were other folks in your social circle that told you these new acquaintances would be just what you needed; that you would feel cultured, vibrant, and young again, if only you started hanging out with them. However, our fears have come true in that we can now see so very clearly how these new acquaintances with whom you were encouraged to socialize have actually hurt you.
At first, we noticed that your demeanor changed just a little bit. You were no longer as friendly to some of the families that you had known for years and years. Then, we started noticing the unexplained bruises with which you would come home after an evening out with your new acquaintances. At first we tried to tell ourselves that you must have just had an innocent accident; you must have slipped, tripped, or just fell down. It was an anomaly, we told ourselves - our old girl was just fine. But then we kept noticing more of those unexplained bruises. They kept coming faster and faster, and they kept getting more and more obvious. We noticed that even you could no longer conceal them from our view. We were getting concerned for you, as we did not want to see you hurt any further by these new acquaintances.
Concurrent with your unexplained bruises, we started noticing what other people were saying about you. As you know, perception can become reality, and we do not want what is a growing perception about you to actually come to define you in reality. If that were to pass, you could be seriously, and permanently, hurt. We do not want to see that happen to you because we want to see you flourish for many generations to come.
As hard as all this may be for you to hear, you have to know the truth. It started at first with little comments here and there, all mentioned in quiet conversation.
The damage to your reputation was happening, but at that point in time many of us still felt that you should be able to deal with it on your own. But then, as things progressed, people started talking openly about these new problems of yours. In fact, they started writing about them in the local newspaper. Regularly, in fact. The reports of your behavior and that of your new circle of associates began to be a staple of water-cooler talk around town. As the reports about you and your new acquaintances got more and more outrageous, folks from all over started reading these reports just for sport, simply to get a laugh at your expense. That is what moved us to have this talk with you today. It pains us to see people laughing at you. Even if you are not aware of it, it is happening on a regular basis, and we do not want to see you or your reputation hurt any further in that manner. We would like for you to understand that your behavior, and with whom you choose to associate, has actual consequences for you for the long-run. Your reputation is everything, and you need to guard it far, far better than you have in the recent past. Once lost, your reputation is something that you cannot recover, no matter how hard you try.
Yes, we know, there are still folks out there who are telling you that you look
fabulous with your new set of associates; that you look younger, cooler, more
sociable, more cultured, more vibrant. We are here to tell you that you simply look foolish, the folks telling you these things are not doing you any favors, and you need to stop listening to them. They have been feeding you this line for several years now, and all we have seen as a result is the damage that has been done to both you and your reputation. Even if you do not see it, we do, the people laughing at you certainly do, and it pains us very deeply.
Please, do the right thing and cut your ties with those bad influences. They may say that they are your friends, but the truth is that ultimately they are hurting you, and you can do far better than them. Stand up like the proud lady you are, tell them enough is enough, and that you will be taking care of your own affairs again. We will be there to back you every step of the way because we love you and want what is best for you.
We love you –
Your Concerned Family.