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by Abigail Van Buren

Men Married to Television Turn Wives Into Widows

DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter from "Driven to Distraction," whose longtime boyfriend was a television nut, I had to write. Believe me, I know how she feels. I was married twice, and both of my husbands were addicted to television. Both tuned me out for that busy box.

My first husband didn't even care what was on. He just needed the picture and the noise. He said they helped him "unwind."

My second husband bought the largest set he could find and turned the volume up as loud as it would go. A bomb could have gone off in the room and it wouldn't have distracted him.

Once, I even stood next to the TV stark naked. He gave me a quick glance, then turned his head and went back to watching TV.

Please tell "Driven to Distraction" she had better think long and hard before she marries a man who is already married to television.

Please don't use my name or the initials of the town I live in. This is a small town and everybody knows me. Sign me ... EX-TELEVISION WIDOW

DEAR EX-WIDOW: If it's any comfort to you, I received letters from many other "television widows" singing your song. Television can be the subtle thief of precious time -- and he or she who falls into the lazy habit of watching just anything that moves is destined to become an intellectual pauper.

DEAR ABBY: I am writing regarding the letter from the lady in her 70s who had been victimized by telephone scams and had ended up broke and in debt, not daring to tell her husband.

You told her to tell the Mr. because "two heads are better than one in a crisis." You should know that senior citizens have available more "heads" than just their own. Because of the number of older victims in so many different scams, there are ombudsmen in most (if not all) states who will give assistance or put these people in touch with those who can help them.

One of the services available in our area is free legal assistance, which this lady could use. It appears that not very many people, elderly or otherwise, are aware of the various kinds of services that are out there. The only way I became aware is through volunteer work that I do at a local senior center. Our ombudsman follows up on all kinds of abuse claims and counsels on any matter that may be beyond the capability of people like the lady who wrote to you.

Tell your senior readers to find out where their closest senior center is and what services they offer. They do a lot more than provide hot lunches. -- EVELYN TANNER, KAYSVILLE, UTAH

DEAR MS. TANNER: Thank you for a valuable addition to this column.

DEAR ABBY: The letter you printed from Dr. Davidson about medical treatment for what he called "social phobia," characterized by fear of humiliation/embarrassment in front of others, took me back to the time I was 14 years old in a Catholic boarding school.

I was very shy, and the sisters suggested I take a course in drama. This required me to stand in front of the class and recite poetry. I could feel my cheeks burning each time I had to perform.

Finally, I confided in my teacher about my embarrassment at blushing. I still remember her response -- after 60 years!

"Annette, there are thousands of women out there who would give anything to be able to blush. Besides, it's very good for the complexion!"


CONFIDENTIAL TO MY CHINESE READERS: As is my custom, I would like to wish all of you a Happy New Year. In past years, I have said, "Gung Hay Fat Choy," but several of you wrote to say that is not correct for all Chinese. It was suggested that I convey my wishes as follows: Kung Hsi Fa Tsai; Kung Ho Hsin Hsi; Hsin Nien Kuai Le; San Ni Fei Lo.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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