A long-ago subordinate (a woman; I'm a guy) was an ex-model. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. The comments, back-biting and sabotage by envious women were disturbing. While some men viewed her as beautiful, an equal number didn't seem to notice. In retrospect, I think her life was awful.
On going to reunions despite a painful school experience • I have been to all of my reunions. The 10th was awful very competitive, still playing the old games. By 20, everyone had seen some hardship and tragedy and was much more forgiving and willing to share the people they had become. By 25, the mellowness was just delicious. Keep in mind that "it's not over until it's over." One of our "Senior Beauties" came up to me, the class nerd, at a reunion and said, "I always envied you in school." (ME?) "You were admired for your brain, and I was just a pretty face." Healing is possible, but you have to decide to be a part of it.
On showing concern without dwelling on difficult topics • Over the years, various members of my extended family have been in counseling for one reason or another. Our code is simple. All parties are in on it ahead of time. The caring family member says to the counselee, "How did it go?" This is code for: "I care about you. If you want to talk about it I'm here." Any answer is acceptable, from a one-word "fine" or "terrible" to a blow-by-blow account of the whole session and the issues addressed.
Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.