DEAR ABBY: I went to school with "Bert" from grammar through high school. It's no secret that he's been in love with me since seventh grade. After we graduated from high school, Bert remained in our hometown. I moved away and go back only to visit my family.
Bert got my phone number from a mutual friend and, in the four years since high school, has called once in a while. Out of courtesy I'd chat with him, thinking his calls would eventually stop. I was wrong.
For the last two months, Bert's calls have become so frequent, I have stopped answering my phone -- or if a girlfriend is visiting me, I'll ask her to answer for me and tell Bert I'm "on a date." I hoped he'd take the hint, but it hasn't worked.
Last Christmas he sent me an expensive present. I did not accept it and still have not spoken to him.
Then one night last week, while I was out with the girls, Bert called every 20 minutes and maxed out my voicemail with messages saying he loves me. I don't know what to do. This has escalated to the point I'm afraid Bert could become violent. What should I tell him? -- NERVOUS IN MAINE
DEAR NERVOUS: Stop evading Bert's calls. Tell him, "I know we're old acquaintances, but I'm not interested in any kind of relationship with you. Please do not call again." If he continues, speak to your lawyer and to the police about a restraining order. He appears to be unable to face rejection.
DEAR ABBY: This summer I will be marrying "Joan," a wonderful woman who means the world to me. She is a professional who has done very well for herself, in spite of her poor command of the English language. For example, Joan uses "them" preceding a noun, says "don't know nobody," and other nonstandard forms. I have noticed her grammar is worse when she's under pressure or tired.
In six weeks, Joan will meet my family for the first time. I fear they'll be appalled by some of the things she says. How can I help my sweetheart clean up her grammar before she meets them? To Joan's credit, she is making a sincere effort to improve her language skills and has repeatedly asked me to correct her -- but it's a daunting task.
Please don't tell me my fiancee's positive qualities outweigh the language problem. This is a big roadblock for me. Your suggestions would be appreciated. -- WELL-SPOKEN GENT IN TENNESSEE
DEAR WELL-SPOKEN GENT: The best advice I can offer is this: Make up your mind whether or not you love her enough to accept her AS SHE IS -- with room for improvement. Do not correct her in front of your parents. If Joan's only flaw is her grammar, you're really a lucky man. Nobody is perfect.
DEAR ABBY: I can't help feeling "Gotta Get Good Grades in Wyoming" needs more than a bright math student to tutor her in math. That student should be tested for visual perception problems. I know. I was 60 years old before I was tested. It doesn't help to understand what to do with numbers if your perceptual problems scramble them. -- PENNY IN BUCKLAND, MA.
DEAR PENNY: I agree. The child should be tested, because the problem could also be dyslexia or some other learning disability.
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