DEAR ABBY: A person very dear to my heart, "Ruth," has always donated to her community blood drives. It's a form of philanthropy she enjoys. Ruth remarried a few months ago and asked her new husband, "Tony," to attend the blood drive with her. His reply left her stunned and changed her life forever. Tony confided that in his youth, he had been a needle-type drug user and now he can't give blood.
Mind you, Tony is a good, hardworking, straight-arrow man now, but he was foolish in his youth. When Ruth went to the blood drive, she was asked: "In the past 12 months have you slept with anyone who has ever used a needle?" She explained that yes, as a teenager, her husband had done drugs. She was told that as long as she is with Tony, she can't give blood anymore. Ruth is hurt and angry at her husband for what he took from her. I feel lost as a friend about what to say to help her.
Abby, Tony's drug use was more than 27 years ago. Is Ruth right that this will follow them forever and she can never give blood again? -- GIFT OF LIFE GONE IN MARYLAND
DEAR GIFT: Your letter is a pertinent reminder that youthful experimentation can have lifelong consequences. Those rules were established for a good reason -- to protect our blood supply. In years past, some people were infected with life-threatening diseases because the supply of donated blood was not screened well enough, so it makes perfect sense that organizations now go to exceptional lengths to guarantee the safety of blood and blood products.
It might lift your friend's spirits if you remind her that there are other things she can do to contribute to her community. She could volunteer to work at the blood drive in some capacity other than a donor. She could also hold a bake sale to raise funds for "the cause." Rather than blaming her husband at this late date, she should respect the rules and explore her other options.
DEAR ABBY: My nephew, who is also my godson, has decided to marry my youngest stepdaughter. Which side of the church should I sit on -- the bride's or the groom's side? My husband and children think I should sit on the groom's side. I am afraid someone will feel hurt no matter what I do. -- BETWIXT AND BETWEEN IN FLORIDA
DEAR BETWIXT: Ask your nephew and stepdaughter where they would like you to sit and abide by their decision. The alternative would be to bring a folding chair and sit in the middle.
DEAR ABBY: With the holidays approaching, I would like to share an alternative to the traditional office gift exchange. For the past few years, we have drawn names, but instead of buying gifts, we buy toys that in some way remind us of the person whose name we have drawn. The toy can represent their hobby, their job, their personality, etc.
After exchanging the gifts at our annual Christmas party and seeing how creative our fellow workers have been, the toys are then donated to a toy drive.
This tradition is rewarding for us and joyful for the children who otherwise would not receive gifts. -- ELVES IN GLENDALE
DEAR ELVES: I love the idea. The gifts don't have to be expensive, and more than one person can enjoy them.
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