DEAR ABBY: I would like to share my pet peeve with you. It's being invited to "sales parties" for kitchenware, beauty products, etc. I can't afford to spend money at these so-called parties because I have three children to feed.
I would prefer not to disclose my financial situation to every person who issues these invitations, which arrive sometimes on a weekly basis. I have tried to tell friends that I am busy that night, and they either find out that I really don't have plans or try to sign me up for an "outside order." I have shared with a few friends that I am on a strict budget, and they reply with "just come and don't buy anything."
That's not a workable solution, because the consultants see the word "no" as a challenge and won't take "no" for an answer. Also, it's intimidating to see everyone else pull out their checkbooks. How can I get uninvited permanently so I can stop avoiding the mailbox? -- CAN'T AFFORD MY FRIENDS IN ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.
DEAR CAN'T: Real friends don't subject friends to embarrassment or use them to get special deals by promoting commercial products. Ignore the solicitations as you would any other, and don't feel guilty. If you're questioned, just say you weren't interested in buying -- it's the truth.
DEAR ABBY: I recently attended several soccer practices for 6-year-olds. One boy on the team, "Timmy," is so obese he can barely run. His mother screams at him from the sidelines, giving him directions every few minutes. Sometimes the poor child "runs" in the wrong direction and scores for the opposing team. (I personally believe he suffers from ADD.) Timmy said to his mother, "I can't run!" -- and he can't. His large belly and huge thighs prevent him from running. One can see his frustration.
After the game, each player is given a paper sack of refreshments. One time, it was a chocolate cupcake, a bag of chips and a cold drink. At the end of the game, after the snacks, Timmy ran to his mother. He was crying. She was talking on her cell phone. She said, "Here's 50 cents -- go buy a candy bar." My heart aches for this boy. What would you suggest? -- CONCERNED PARENT, BLOOMINGTON, IND.
DEAR CONCERNED: Since you can't change Timmy's mother, speak to the coach. That's the only person the boy should be listening to during a game. Perhaps the mother will take guidance from the coach regarding a healthy diet and exercise regimen for her son. Another thing you might do is volunteer to provide some healthy snacks for the players after the games, and organize the other team moms to do the same.
DEAR ABBY: My 14-year-old son was invited to a 14-year-old neighbor's birthday party. On the invitation it said, "Suggested gift -- $20." The boy's parents were aware that he put it on the invitation. I think it was inappropriate to ask for a specific gift, especially money. What's your opinion? -- OFFENDED IN MASSACHUSETTS
DEAR OFFENDED: My opinion is the same as yours. The fact that the parents didn't put a stop to the gift "suggestion" shows they either endorsed it or didn't know any better. By allowing it, the parents did a disservice to their son.
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