DEAR ABBY: My oldest daughter, “Teri’s,” mother-in-law snooped into Teri’s text messages and found a cartoon I had sent of two early Colonials at a bar, one saying to the other, “I’ve been in the doghouse ever since I tried to get my mother-in-law hanged as a witch.” An argument ensued over her looking at the texts without permission. Shortly after, I received a text from her mother-in-law with a middle finger emoji.
I live in the same city the mother-in-law lives in. Teri lives far away. Sooner or later, our paths will cross, and I’m not sure what I should say or do. My text was meant as a joke — though I must admit the mother-in-law is not an easy person to get along with. I did not respond to her emoji. Actually, I blocked her number on my phone. What should I do? No one has ever given me the finger before! — HUMOROUS DAD IN THE SOUTH
DEAR DAD: There’s always a first time. Tell the woman you are sorry “if her feelings were hurt” and explain that the cartoon was a joke, rather than a judgment of her personally — or, when you see her, laugh about the emoji, which was probably also meant as a joke.