DEAR ABBY: I am 18 and have been seeing a 21-year-old college man for the past two years. Both of us were the products of teen-age marriages. Our parents met in high school, married shortly thereafter, and had children in their 20s. Our parents are happy and have stayed together. However, both sets of parents have tried to "warn" us not to be tied down so young; that we should have more experience before selecting a mate. It's like they are saying, "Don't do what we did."
My boyfriend and I have discussed this and decided we're very happy together. I don't see the point in playing the field when I am already with the man I wholeheartedly love and enjoy.
Are our parents bestowing their wisdom upon us -- or are they voicing midlife regret? -- DONE SHOPPING
DEAR DONE SHOPPING: Probably a little of both. Your parents are also conveying an important message. People grow and change as they mature. What attracts someone as a teen-ager may not seem as important at 35. That's why I advise couples to wait until they have completed their educations and are self-supporting before they marry.
DEAR ABBY: I am 14 years old and looking for a girlfriend. I can wash up -- dress up -- but when it comes to asking a girl out, I choke up.
When I see a girl, I turn red and run the other way. What should I do? -- FEELING BLUE IN SOUTH DAKOTA
DEAR FEELING BLUE: Most people your age feel awkward asking for that "first date," so forget about it for a while. You've placed too great an importance on "dating" and psyched yourself out.
Get involved in clubs or activities that appeal to both sexes. Learn to be part of a group of friends. Start making casual conversations with girls you like. Examples: Talk about the weather, a recent news event, a classroom assignment, or a new movie opening this weekend. Maybe she and others would like to see it, too.
If she doesn't want to go -- or has other plans -- don't take it personally. Ask another girl. Suggest some other activity. Soon you will be part of a group, feeling more comfortable and less shy.
Then, when you want a date for a school dance or sporting event, you'll naturally ask someone you've gotten to know, and you won't turn red and run away again. Trust me.
DEAR ABBY: The other night I went out alone to eat at a national seafood chain restaurant. I took along my newspaper, and as I sat there reading, with my paper spread out across the table, it occurred to me that what I was doing might be considered bad manners.
I'm pretty sure that reading a newspaper at the table in a diner or fast-food restaurant is permissible. But how about at an upscale restaurant? Can I read Dear Abby anywhere? -- WILLIAM IN GLENDALE, CALIF.
DEAR WILLIAM: As far as I'm concerned, you may read my column anywhere, anytime -- and I'll defend to the end your right to do it. However, sometimes it's not what you say or what you do, but how you do it. If you're eating alone in an upscale restaurant, instead of spreading the newspaper like a blanket over the tablecloth, fold it neatly and inconspicuously and enjoy it. That way there will be fewer smudges from the newsprint -- and no dirty looks coming your way.
Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 per booklet ($4.50 each in Canada) to: Dear Abby Cookbooklets I and II, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)
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