DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Richie," and I have been together three years. Richie watches his pennies, so I was very surprised two days before Valentine's Day to return from a family trip and find a gorgeous vase of professionally arranged flowers and a small heart-shaped box of chocolates on my coffee table.
I was very impressed, surprised and excited. I asked Richie where he got them, and he told me the name of a high-priced florist. I was off work the day before Valentine's Day, so I went out, bought expensive wine and filet mignon and made a fantastic home-cooked meal for him.
When Richie got home from work, I asked him again where he got the flowers, and he again named the florist. I asked if he really went and got them, and if they were really intended for me. (It was just so out of character for him to splurge like that. The arrangement must have cost at least $100.) When he didn't respond, I probed some more. He finally confessed they were from a funeral his parents had attended the day before I got home.
Can you believe Richie was trying to pass off flowers from a complete stranger's funeral as nice flowers he got me for Valentine's Day? He lied to me. Now he says I'm ungrateful and that there's nothing wrong with what he did! I told him he is greedy and cheap, and the thoughtful thing to do with leftover funeral flowers would have been to take them to a cancer ward at a hospital or to a local nursing home.
What do you think? Am I overreacting? I'm afraid this may be a deal-breaker. -- ANN IN GRAND RAPIDS, MICH.
DEAR ANN: You're not overreacting. Your feelings are justified. You now know exactly what kind of things Richie is capable of -- and being generous to make you happy is not on his agenda. Wake up and smell the flowers. You have glimpsed what your future will be like if you marry him. When it comes to making you happy, Richie will always be playing the angles, and you will be shortchanged because he is cheap.
DEAR ABBY: Will you please suggest a response that will end the conversation when someone comments in a negative way on how young I look, and asks what I have done? I'm 69, but look a decade younger.
I grew up plain and poor, but became a successful professional and changed my appearance. I have had hair and makeup lessons, advice on clothing and cosmetic surgery.
I often receive rude comments from both strangers and acquaintances who have chosen to age "naturally." I'm not interested in answering their sly questions about cosmetic surgery, but because I'm usually accosted in social settings, I don't want to be rude. I just want to make them realize that I consider their questions impolite and want them to shut up. Any ideas? -- PRETTY CAN BE BOUGHT, WACO, TEXAS
DEAR PRETTY (Regardless of how you got that way): Has it not occurred to you to be proud of what you have accomplished? You are a successful professional, and you should enjoy it and all of the "perks" that go with it. You may have grown up plain and poor, but you have turned yourself into a "swan." Why are you defensive about it? If you can help another woman by sharing information, it would be the generous thing to do.
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 only) 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