DEAR ABBY: I have made a terrible mess. A couple of months ago, I had lunch with one of my father-in-law's girlfriends. He was dating several women at the same time without their knowing about the others.
During the eight years that I have known "Frank," he has been a selfish, womanizing, manipulative, controlling user. Nor does he have a good relationship with any of his kids, including his youngest son, who happens to be my husband.
During this lunch, I foolishly confided my true feelings about Frank to the girlfriend. I mistakenly thought she would keep it between us. Wrong!
Six weeks later they were married and, during an argument, she blurted out everything I had said about him. Needless to say, I am very embarrassed and would like to crawl into a hole. What can I do to repair this mess? I could really use your input. -- EMBARRASSED IN BOCA RATON
DEAR EMBARRASSED: Consider your options, and I'm sure you'll agree that the less said about this, the better. The alternative would be to say, "Dad, I owe you an apology. I'm sorry I called you a selfish, womanizing, manipulative, controlling user -- even if it's true." And in the future, do not confide in your new mother-in-law now that you know she "leaks."
DEAR ABBY: Please share this lifesaving information with as many people as you can. A person who has a stroke may suffer brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms.
A bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:
1. Ask the individual to smile.
2. Ask the person to raise both arms.
3. Ask him or her to speak a simple sentence.
If the person has trouble with any of these tasks, call 9-1-1 immediately.
After my friend Sherry saw her friend Suzie stumble, she asked her the three questions and Suzie failed all three, so Sherry called 9-1-1. Even though Suzie had normal blood pressure readings, did not appear to be having a stroke, and could -- to some extent -- converse with the paramedics, she HAD suffered a massive stroke.
The good news is, thanks to the quick diagnosis and medical treatment, Suzie is recovering at a remarkable pace. -- CATHY IN SAN LUIS OBISPO, CALIF.
DEAR CATHY: I'm relieved your story has a happy ending, and that your friend Sherry was informed enough to summon medical assistance right away. Thank you for sharing these important tips. I'm sure everyone who reads your letter will be grateful that you took the time to write.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 13-year-old girl. I have a brother who is 14. He comes into my room when I'm asleep and tries to have sex with me. This has been going on ever since we moved here. I have also been cutting myself and wanting to die since the move. I am starting to get scared of my brother.
I want to go to my parents, but they don't really care much about me. What should I do? -- TERRIFIED IN TWIN FALLS, IDAHO
DEAR TERRIFIED: You have a right to be able to sleep through the night without worrying about someone trying to rape you. If you are unable to discuss this with your parents, then I urge you to confide in a trusted teacher at school about it -- ALL of it -- or your clergyperson. Either one can see that you get the help you need. Please trust me and do it now.
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 $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600