DEAR ABBY: I am a 29-year-old mother of four. I have had the same problem with my husband ever since we were dating.
My husband is a fifth wheel! When I have friends over, he is always right there. My girlfriends and I can be sitting at the kitchen table talking about anything from childbirth to table settings, and he will come in, sit down, and throw in his 2 cents' worth. It's embarrassing; no one else's husband ever hangs around. They are all somewhere watching football, having a brew or whatever else men do when women aren't around. (And sometimes when we are around!)
It makes me so mad I could spit fire. Abby, I don't sit in the middle when my husband's friends come over. I try to respect his privacy. What would I have in common with a bunch of men anyway? That's why I can't understand why he's always sitting around with all of us women.
How can I tell him to get lost without hurting his feelings? The only thing that has kept me from blowing my stack so far is the fact that I love this man, and I know how sensitive he is. He will be hurt if I tell him I don't want him around my friends and me all the time. No matter how nice I am, he'll take it as an insult. -- MUST I SHARE EVERYTHING?
DEAR MUST I: You married a man who doesn't fit the usual masculine stereotype and appears to have broader interests than your friends' husbands do. Many women would love to have a husband like yours, someone with more than the usual common male interests.
However, since you're feeling encroached upon, rather than waiting until you explode with frustration, find a time when he's receptive and explain that there are times women like to discuss "private" things, that the presence of a male is inhibiting, and your friends need some time alone with you.
DEAR ABBY: The letters about obscene phone calls reminded me of something that happened when I was a teen-ager.
A group of us would hang out at "Charlie's" house after school and on weekends. We'd play pingpong, cards, watch TV or just "shoot the breeze." One night, a boy named "Mark" began making obscene phone calls. He would dial random numbers, make a few crude remarks, and then hang up and laugh. We all wanted him to stop, afraid the calls could be traced and we'd all get in trouble. He refused. He said he was having too much fun to stop.
Another friend, "Clint," said he wanted to make the next call. Mark handed him the phone. Clint dialed a number, then quickly handed the phone back to Mark, saying, "I'm too nervous. YOU talk."
Mark took the phone and made his usual crude remarks. His face turned white as he heard a woman say, "Mark, is that you?" Mark slammed the receiver down and asked, "What number did you dial?!" "Your home phone," Clint replied.
As the rest of us howled, Mark actually burst into tears. Perhaps it was a cruel lesson, but Mark never again made an obscene phone call. -- STILL LAUGHING IN L.A.
DEAR LAUGHING: It may have been cruel, but the day your friend "talked trash" to his mother was a day I'm sure none of you will forget!
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