DEAR ABBY: I have read your column for more than 20 years but have never written. However, I have not seen my problem addressed, and I'm hoping you can help me.
My wife and I enjoy season tickets to the Milwaukee Bucks with three other couples. When I go to the concession stand, I feel the polite thing to do is to ask if anyone else would like anything. Most of the time, the other couples will order a snack or beverage. I always buy them. The problem is they rarely reciprocate. Occasionally, they'll offer, but more often than not they simply do not go to the concession stand or wait until I go.
At times, I actually hold off getting a soda for fear that it will end up being a $30 trip. They are not otherwise what I would call "cheap." We have never had a problem splitting a restaurant bill.
As I'm sure you are aware, the prices at auditoriums and stadiums are quite steep. Any suggestions? Please hurry, or I may go broke through the playoffs. -- GOING FOR BROKE FOR THE BUCKS
DEAR GOING FOR BROKE: It's time to stop jumping through hoops for your friends. The next time you return from the concession stand with an armload of goodies, announce what each of them owes you for the items they requested. To do so is not considered impolite, and it's better than going broke in the bleachers.
DEAR ABBY: I saw the letters about class projects in which students wrote something nice about the other students, and how appreciated those comments were. Let me tell you about a project with unfortunate results.
I have a sweet, intelligent daughter I'll call "Gina." Two years ago, her fourth-grade teacher asked the students to write something nice about each of the other students, then gave the messages to the student to whom they pertained. The teacher did not look over the messages before she distributed them.
Abby, while Gina received many compliments, they were interspersed with painful, cruel comments such as, "Gina has a big nose," "Gina is fat," "Gina wears ugly clothes," "Gina is dumb." I didn't cry in front of my daughter when I read them, but I broke down later.
When Gina's teacher learned there were hurtful remarks on her paper, she tried to erase them, but the words were still faintly visible. She made the guilty students apologize, but the damage had already been done. I asked Gina if she wanted me to keep the paper because of all the nice comments written there, but she said, "No, I don't ever want to see that paper again."
I know the teacher meant well, but she should have reviewed the comments before she distributed them. Abby, please remind teachers to do that, because even with the most positive exercise, ugliness can show its face. -- MOM OF A WOUNDED DAUGHTER
DEAR MOM: You're right. Children can be cruel, and the teacher was thoughtless and naive to have circulated the papers without first having checked them over. The kind of hurt your daughter experienced can linger for years.
Help Gina explore and develop her talents in an area in which she can shine and receive positive reinforcement. And please reassure her that very few people are universally popular. It is unrealistic to expect everyone to like you. Some people require more time than others to develop their social skills.
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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