Apologizing for an awkward dinner

DEAR ANNIE

Dear Annie: My brother and I were born on the same day, exactly one year apart. Our birthday fell on a Saturday this year. He told me that his girlfriend was going to take him out on his birthday and that we would celebrate together with our parents the following day for brunch. I said OK.

My husband and I also went out to dinner for my birthday that Saturday night. As we were driving to the restaurant, I saw my dad standing across the street in front of a restaurant that my brother and I both love.

My husband and I had reservations across the street. After we finished dinner, we decided to walk up and down the street. We happened to pass the restaurant I had seen my dad in front of. I decided to pop in and see whether my parents were there.

I looked around and saw my brother with his girlfriend and our parents. He saw me and waved us over. When I got to their table, I was laughing. I thought it was funny to find the four of them there.

My mother, under her breath, said, “I couldn’t tell you.”

The girlfriend looked at me and said, “This is my doing. It’s my party.” I replied, “That’s great.” We chatted briefly and left.

The next day, my brother texted me, “Do not bring up last night.” I said, “OK, but why? I’m not angry. All is cool.”

We met for birthday brunch. I asked my brother whether he told his girlfriend what I’d said. He told me to tell her.

When I did, she replied with, “Well, it made the rest of the evening awkward.” That was it. I just laughed it off.

Well, just recently, my brother told me I needed to apologize to his girlfriend. I said, “For what?” It was not a pleasant conversation. He was adamant that it was my fault.

Just to appease my brother, I will apologize, but I just don’t know what to say and still feel I did not do anything wrong. Help. — Confused

Dear Confused: I’m confused, too. The best way to straighten this out is just to call your brother’s girlfriend and say, “Did I offend you somehow? I really didn’t intend to, and I’m not sure where things went wrong.” Either it’s a misunderstanding or she’s a little nuts. A candid conversation is the only way to figure it out.

Dear Annie: I’m writing in reply to “Halloweary,” who complained about trick-or-treaters being too old, not in costume or out after 8 p.m. I grew up in the inner city, where parents worked multiple jobs and took multiple buses to get home. The understanding was that Halloween doorbell ringing ended at 9 p.m.

Some kids are too poor for costumes. Some have parents who don’t care or aren’t really around for them because of addiction.

As for the age aspect, I have known kids who looked like adults at age 9. My brother had a friend who had to have an adult desk in kindergarten because he didn’t fit in the type that the other kids had.

Any child learns soon enough that he has to give up being a child. Let children remain children as long as possible, and take pity on those who are less fortunate. Your kindness may be their fondest childhood memory. — Be Kind