DEAR ABBY: My husband and I spend one weekend a month with his mother, taking her shopping, to dinner, movies, etc. My problem is I always wind up sitting in the backseat whenever she is with us.
It's not as though we have a little car and it would be hard for her to maneuver in and out. We have a nice-sized van, and I think she could get in and out of the back just as easily as she can from the front seat.
It has been this way for a couple of years now, and I haven't said anything to my husband because she is his mother. But I feel as his wife I should be honest with my husband.
Please help. We are about to go on vacation with my mother-in-law, and I don't want to have to spend it in the backseat for a six-hour drive. -- AFRAID TO SPEAK UP IN PHILLY
DEAR AFRAID: If you want to sit in front, you must be up-front with your husband about your feelings. The longer you quietly tolerate the seating arrangement, the longer it will continue. The next time the two of you go to pick up his mother, roll down the window and say, "Hop in the back, Mom; I want to sit next to your wonderful son." And your husband should back you up. Bon voyage, and have a nice trip.
DEAR ABBY: My neighbor of five years, "Christopher," recently confided to me that he is a cross-dresser. At first I gave him credit for being so open about it, but ever since that conversation, I see him dressed only as "Kristin."
Whenever he sees me outside, Christopher comes over all dolled up. He even walks his dog dressed as Kristin -- complete with heels and hose. He thinks I don't have a problem with it, but now that I'm actually seeing him dressed in women's clothing, I'm not so sure.
He is now asking me to "do lunch" and wants to accompany me to my all-female gym.
Please help me, Abby. I liked him as Christopher, but I'm really uncomfortable with Kristin. It's to the point where I no longer feel comfortable going outside for fear I'll have to deal with this guy. What can I say to him? -- CONFUSED IN MINNESOTA
DEAR CONFUSED: Honesty is the best policy. Say, "With all respect, I think you're lovely as Kristin, but I'm more comfortable with my friend, Christopher." That should get you off the hook.
DEAR ABBY: One of my co-workers, "Helen," celebrated her birthday. It's a tradition at our office to "surprise" the birthday person with a cake, so Helen's closest co-worker went out to buy one. When it came time for the surprise, everyone was astonished to see Helen's age written on the icing!
None of us here is a kid anymore, and that information should not have been included on the cake. The woman who planned the party thought it was hilarious, but Helen was not amused.
Abby, was it wrong for Helen's age to be revealed in such a manner? And how should she approach her friend to let her know it was a bad idea? -- CARING CO-WORKER IN THE GARDEN STATE
DEAR CARING CO-WORKER: Yes, it was wrong. Helen deserves an apology. Mentioning age in the workplace can be discriminatory. And unless you want a prankster doing the same thing to you, I recommend that everyone present at the "surprise party" tell the offender it was a bad idea.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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