We had some leftover lunch scraps at the beach so threw them out for the seagulls. A man nearby started shouting at us, which seemed uncalled for. We were just practicing “waste not, want not.” Did we do something wrong?

Yes. Don’t feed the seagulls. When you do, you bring flocks to circle overhead. They will try to land on your head and grab your sandwich, poop on your hair, and scream at you. It’s horrible. All it takes is one person who thinks it’s fun to throw them a french fry to bring them in hordes. Even if you think it’s cute to see them zoom in on a crust of bread, then don’t do it because it isn’t healthy for the birds. Stuff we eat can make them sick.

I have a question about bachelor parties. I gather that some of these are now held at a club, where you pay admission and perhaps more, the idea being that the groom comes out making money. First I’ve heard of this — I guess it’s a brave new world, and a bit too mercenary for me at that. 

Here’s the answer: no, no, no, no! The bachelor party is not a moneymaking scheme for the groom; it’s a celebration of the groom. Yes, participants pay for their presence, and share the costs for the groom and often his father, if attending, but the groom does not benefit financially. If you are invited, you have to ascertain the costs and decide if you want to participate, or not.

How does one address a sympathy card and envelope to a married (or unmarried) couple? Is the envelope and card addressed only to the one whose loss it is? This is confusing to explain:  Example:  John/Mary Doe — Mary loses her father, do I address an envelope just to Mary and the card to both Mary/John? I've wondered this for years.  

It can be difficult to know what to do, but there is a good guideline that helps when you aren’t sure. If you know both Mary and John, it is safe to assume that both are sad at the loss of, in this case, Mary’s father, so you address your card and offer your sympathy to both. If you don’t know the other person (say you are good friends with Mary, but have never met her husband or partner), you address your card to Mary and offer your sympathy to Mary, including her family in your condolences. For example, “Dear Mary, I share your sadness at this difficult time and send you my love, and send my condolences to your family. I have always loved hearing your wonderful stories about your dad and know you all must be sharing remembrances of this remarkable man.” This way, you aren’t assuming that John, whom you don’t know, doesn’t care, but it also doesn’t have you writing a personal note to someone who doesn’t know you, which can feel awkward or insincere to you.

Questions for Catherine? Send them to michaels.catherine@yahoo.com