DEAR ABBY: Before we went on vacation, we trusted our 15-year-old neighbor "Mia" to feed our cat, take in the mail and water the plants. While we were away, she invited some of her friends and their friends to our home. Some of them she knew by their nicknames and only for a short time.
When Mia's parents learned about the party, they forbade her to go. However, she failed to mention she had left our door unlocked for strangers to enter. It was obvious when we returned that people had been there because things were out of place and garbage was left behind. We're missing about $100 worth of beer and liquor, $50 in change and $150 in old coins. Mia claims she doesn't know who was there, and her friends aren't being honest.
I'd like to get the police involved. Mia, her parents and my husband think I'm "unfair" for wanting to involve the police. I believe a crime has been committed and don't understand why I'm being treated like the bad guy when I'm the victim. The police have told me Mia would not get into trouble as long as she cooperates. Am I overreacting? -- VIOLATED NEIGHBOR IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR VIOLATED: I don't think so. The party animals who invaded your home are guilty of trespassing and theft. You should be compensated for anything that was taken and those responsible held accountable. Now that the "kids" have seen where everything of value in your house is located, you could be further victimized. You did the right thing in informing the police.
DEAR ABBY: I am recently widowed. Men I work with and the husbands of some of my friends have been hitting on me. They'll ask me out for a meal, give me big hugs -- and a couple of them have even kissed me on the mouth.
I don't lead them on, and besides, I'm a chubby great-grandmother. What drives men to do this? Do they think they're "consoling" me? When these things happen, I act as if they never did and go on as usual because to do otherwise would be hurtful to their wives, who are my friends. These men don't frighten me, but I don't understand their motivation. Do you? -- GRANNY IN HER 70s
DEAR GRANNY: There isn't a blanket explanation for the behavior you have described. Some of your friends' husbands may be trying to console you; others may have lecherous intentions. As to your male co-workers, big hugs and kisses are a no-no in the workplace and you should tell them so.
If these incidents happen repeatedly with the same people, you will have to speak up and say they're making you uncomfortable. And as to your friends' husbands, try this: Stiff-arm them when you greet them with a sweet smile, then turn your cheek when you see them coming at you.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are not religious. We believe that people are entitled to their own beliefs. My problem lies with my brother-in-law and his wife. They are two of the most judgmental, sanctimonious people I have ever known. They "hate" (their word) Mormons, Catholics, etc. How would you suggest I respond to their criticism of our "lack" of Christianity and their offers to pray for us? -- BITING MY TONGUE IN GREAT FALLS, MONT.
DEAR BITING YOUR TONGUE: If your relatives are an example of people who practice Christianity, heaven help the rest of us. If you must interact with them, practice selective deafness, and when they spout hatred, excuse yourselves.
DEAR VETERANS: I salute you for your service to this country. My thanks to each of you, as well as to the brave and dedicated men and women who are still on active duty. You are the personification of patriotism and self-sacrifice for your dedication to this country. -- ABBY