DEAR ABBY: I am a 43-year-old male with major dental issues to take care of. Because I have no insurance, and dental work is costly, I plan to have my treatment overseas. A close friend has arranged for me to stay with his parents for two weeks while I'm there.
The parents were here on vacation recently, and I spent a lot of time with them and we got to bond a little. Everything was comfortable because my friend was there as a "buffer" to enhance the conversation. However, because of the difference in our background, culture and, particularly, our ages, I know I'll feel awkward being in their home during my stay. I'm afraid of running out of topics to talk about. I would rather stay in a hotel and spend some time with them, but that would probably be an insult to my friend who graciously offered his help.
Cancelling my trip is obviously not an option. I need some wise advice and suggestions on what I can do while staying with this elderly couple. -- SHY GUY IN MIAMI
DEAR SHY GUY: First, ask your friend what you should bring his parents as a house gift. Second, take along an English/whatever-language-his-parents-speak dictionary to help you all translate what you need to say.
Third, just be yourself. And last but not least, remember that older people are just like you, with the same feelings you have, just grayer. Because you are having extensive dental work done, they will understand if you aren't a fountain of conversation. But do try, and I'm sure whatever efforts you make will be appreciated.
DEAR ABBY: I am 25, and over the last two years a patch of gray hair has appeared on the front of my head. It's small, but noticeable. The problem is, people constantly mention it to me, especially co-workers I barely know.
At this point, I have chosen not to dye it because it doesn't really bother me. I just think it's rude for people to go out of their way to bring it up. I would never say something like that to someone else. What's the proper response to these people? -- YOUNG MAN, OLD HAIR IN OHIO
DEAR YOUNG MAN: Smile and say, "Yes, I've noticed it. And sooner or later it will happen to you, too." Then change the subject.
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Ernie," and I have been together almost a year. He has two wonderful children from a previous marriage. I love Ernie dearly, although we have only been dating for what seems like a short while.
The other night he brought up the subject of marriage and said he wanted to get me a promise ring. I was caught off guard. I know his feelings were hurt when I shied away from him when he mentioned it. What should I say to him? I don't know if I'm ready for the next step, but I don't want to hurt his feelings by rejecting him. Give me the words, Abby. -- APPREHENSIVE IN LOVE
DEAR APPREHENSIVE: Tell Ernie that although you care for him, you are not ready to make a lifetime commitment. And unless you are sure that you want to be married to Ernie (which you are not) and are prepared to help him raise his children, you should not accept his promise ring.
It will then be up to Ernie to decide whether he wants to wait around, hoping you will change your mind, or move on and look for someone else.
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