DEAR ABBY: My friend "Suzy's" husband recently got a pet monkey named "Jocko." He and the monkey play games together. The problem is he has now begun ignoring Suzy in favor of the monkey.
When Suzy wants to have sex and asks him to come to bed, her husband refuses and tells her, "I'd rather spend time with Jocko." That's only the beginning. She told me she and her husband no longer share the same bed. He says, "Jocko needs company," and he sleeps with it on the couch. He also has a special chair for Jocko at the table, etc.
I feel very bad for Suzy, but she doesn't want to break up with him. She thinks it's a passing fad. What should I do? -- BILL IN BRONX, N.Y.
DEAR BILL: This couple has deeper problems than a simian in the household. I speak from personal experience when I say that monkeys do not make good house pets. (My mother had two cinnamon ringtail monkeys for about six months when I was a child. Among other things, they cannot be housebroken.)
When a husband would rather monkey around with his monkey than monkey around with his wife, you know the marriage is in serious trouble. My advice to you is to take a giant step backward, but before you do, recommend to Suzy that she discuss the situation with a marriage counselor. She and her husband need more help than I can offer in a letter.
DEAR ABBY: I am very worried about a 13-year-old boy I know. I'll call him Jimmy. Although we are not blood-related, I have been friends with his mother, "Monica," since before he was born. There is no male parent in the picture, and there isn't going to be.
Monica is chronically depressed, possibly bipolar, and not entirely capable of taking care of her son. Jimmy, who was never a slim child, has gained about 100 pounds over the past year. He now weighs nearly 300. Monica and Jimmy eat almost every meal at fast-food restaurants, despite her chronic unemployment and a debt load that recently forced them out of their house. Jimmy isn't sedentary -- he is virtually immobile. Healthful snacks are rare in their apartment, and he drinks soda almost to the exclusion of water.
When Jimmy stays with me, we drink water, eat fruits and vegetables, and go outside every day and walk. These activities are nonexistent at Monica's.
How can I help this family get healthy before Jimmy's health is further compromised? -- FEARFUL FRIEND IN IDAHO
DEAR FEARFUL: You are right to be concerned about that child's welfare. Jimmy needs to be seen and evaluated by a health-care professional because 100 pounds is an enormous amount of weight for anyone -- child or adult -- to put on in one year, and the problem could stem from something other than excess calories.
Your friend Monica could be battling chronic depression, or she could -- like many other parents in the United States today -- be ignorant about what healthful meals consist of and how to prepare them. Please encourage her to check into adult education courses in nutrition through her local high school, community college or hospital. As it stands, Jimmy's lifestyle could put him at risk for serious illness, including heart disease and diabetes.
If she is unwilling or unable to help her son, then please contact Child Protective Services and let them know the boy needs help in the form of an intervention.
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