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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Please help me. I'm at my wit's end.

My husband (I'll call him Herman) is a retired builder who likes to putter. We just moved to Florida and live in a lovely neighborhood. My problem is everyone, no matter where we go, seems to think that Herman is his maintenance man.

Abby, my husband gets dizzy spells! Our neighbor, who's the same age, often asks Herman to fix his roof, hang his Christmas lights or cut his palm trees. He doesn't give us a moment's peace.

We came down here to retire, not so Herman could be everyone's free maintenance man.

If we go on vacation to visit his family in Canada, the same things happen. It's no vacation. My poor husband comes home exhausted and aching and has to be in bed by 6:30.

I've had it. I'm ready to explode. If I say anything, Herman gets mad.

If people can afford to live in Florida, they can afford to pay someone to do the work. We don't need the money. We need the peace of mind. Herman says we need friends. I'm happy with the ones we have. Your thoughts, please? -- FORMER SNOWBIRD

DEAR FORMER SNOWBIRD: Your husband sounds like a sweetheart, but he shouldn't confuse free handyman services with friendship. No one who values his friendship would ask him to risk injuring himself.

Since Herman won't listen to you, a word of caution from his doctor might help. Tell his physician that despite his dizzy spells, your husband continues to do high-altitude handiwork.

If that doesn't succeed, the next time the neighbor asks your husband to do something he shouldn't, cheerfully inquire about how much insurance coverage he's carrying -- in case someone who's been having dizzy spells should fall off his roof or out of his tree.

DEAR ABBY: In a recent letter written by "Miserable in Missouri," the husband kept telling his wife, "My mom didn't do it that way."

I am 88 years old and have kept this poem for more years than I can count. It carries the same message:

"He didn't like my pudding

"And he didn't like my cake.

"My biscuits were too hard.

"Not like his mother used to bake.

"I didn't perk the coffee

"And I didn't make the stew,

"I didn't mend his socks

"Like his mother used to do.

"As I pondered for an answer

"I was looking for a clue.

"So I turned and boxed his ears,

"Like his mother used to do."

Abby, I enjoy your letters and remarks, and often take them to the senior center and share them with others. -- MARION V. COLLINS, MILTON, DEL.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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