DEAR ABBY: I am constantly amazed at what irks people. Why are we so intolerant? This time, I am referring to "William's Widow in Mesa, Ariz.," who was upset that others were not using her "legal signature" since her husband's death. Why would her legal name be "William"?
When I married, I took my husband's last name, not his first. I have a first name my parents gave me and I am proud to have added my husband's surname to my own. That combination is my "legal name."
I believe that most women of the baby boom generation prefer to be known by their own names. -- MY OWN PERSON
DEAR PERSON: I received many letters from younger women who disagreed with my answer that "only divorced women are addressed as 'Mrs.' followed by their first names. A widow keeps her husband's name until she remarries." Read on:
DEAR ABBY: May I respond to the letter from "William's Widow in Mesa, Ariz."? She wanted to be known as "Mrs. William Jones," not "Mrs. Mae Jones." I was surprised that you agreed with her.
I have been married to a wonderful man for 2 1/2 years, and I was happy to change my maiden name to his. However, my first name is not "Robert," and I do not want to be called "Mrs. Robert Anybody"!
Isn't it enough for women to give up their last names? Must we surrender our first names as well? If so, then I'll have to be branded a breacher of etiquette because I insist on being known, socially and professionally, as "Susan," not "Robert." -- SUSAN IN CHESAPEAKE, VA.
DEAR SUSAN: Traditionally, a widow retains her husband's name, and that custom is supported by the etiquette books. However, in view of the protests I received (which appear to be generational), I hereby revise my answer: A widow should be addressed by the name she prefers. In this matter, her wishes should prevail.
DEAR ABBY: I have a friend who is incredibly self-conscious about her appearance. She is only 30 years old, petite, beautiful (both inside and out), but Abby, she wears so much makeup she looks like a hooker.
Friends have hinted that she doesn't need so much makeup. I have also tried to suggest tactfully that she would look much better if she toned down the cosmetics, but she insists she "needs" it to hide her wrinkles. Abby, she should not worry about the wrinkles -- it's her makeup that ages her by at least 10 years.
Because she is my friend, the comments people make about her bother me. Telling her again is useless, but maybe if she reads this letter in your column she will recognize herself and take the hint. -- A TRUE FRIEND
DEAR TRUE FRIEND: Don't bet on it.
One of the most thankless of all well-meaning gestures is offering a friend unsolicited advice. Instead of criticizing her appearance, ask her to join you in a visit to a department store's cosmetic counter for a makeover to learn the latest makeup "tricks."
If she declines, accept her for the inner qualities that make her special.
For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600