DEAR ABBY: For the last three years I have been dating this girl, "Annie," whom I love very much. We're both 18, and I am starting college in the fall and plan to go into the military.
My problem is that Annie is already talking about marriage and kids. I am now hearing from some of her friends that she's disappointed I haven't given her a promise ring yet. I'm not against giving her one, but I'm not sure I'm mentally prepared for the next step.
I don't want Annie to think I don't care for her, because I do. She is perfect. I just need some advice from someone outside the family. What do you think I should do? -- UNDECIDED
DEAR UNDECIDED: Lay your cards on the table with Annie. Tell her that, although you think she is "perfect," you're not ready to propose -- or even promise that you will. You are about to enter college, but you did not mention what her plans are.
Allow me to offer more advice. You and Annie have been involved since your sophomore year of high school. You would both be better served to continue your education, date others for a while, and grow as individuals before making any lifetime commitments.
DEAR ABBY: I have gone to a family-owned hair salon for more than 10 years. I love my stylist, "Suzie," and the other employees. The salon has a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere. However, I think that Suzie, who is one of the owners, has become "too" comfortable.
She's constantly on the phone during my appointments. I wouldn't mind if Suzie picked up the phone when the receptionist was busy, but most of the calls are from family members involved in some sort of drama or crisis. During a single appointment there are often multiple calls, some extremely long.
It seems like styling has become Suzie's "side" job, which is interfering with her "emergency counseling" practice. I feel I'm paying a lot of money for very little attention. Is this how salons are run today? Am I wrong to expect her undivided attention? How can I express my dissatisfaction without ruining our relationship? -- MIFFED IN MINNEAPOLIS
DEAR MIFFED: Hairdressing is a business, and the behavior you have described is unprofessional. Hairdressing involves far more than twisting and trimming tresses. It also involves concentration, and you are being shortchanged in that department.
You do not have to be rude in asserting yourself, just firm. Tell Suzie that you expect more of her attention than she has been devoting to you, or nothing will change. You'll actually be doing her a favor. Her inattention to her business could lose her clients in droves, because I'm sure you're not the only person she's treating this way.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary soon. We do not want a party or gifts. However, I would like to send out an announcement with a recent family photo commemorating the occasion. In other words, I'd like to share my entire family with friends who haven't seen my grandchildren. Is this proper? -- MR. AND MRS. P. IN WASHINGTON STATE
DEAR MR. AND MRS. P: To send an announcement and photo before the event could seem like a solicitation. However, if you do it after your anniversary -- with a short note explaining that you thought they might enjoy seeing all three generations -- I see nothing improper about it.
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