DEAR ABBY: I have been friends with "Ruth" for more than 40 years. She married, moved away, divorced and raised her family on her own. After 20 years, she moved back to town, and I was thrilled.
But now that we live a half-hour away from each other, Ruth has no interest in spending much time with me. My husband and I aren't ostentatious, but if he buys me a piece of jewelry for my birthday, she makes me feel spoiled and shallow for getting it.
Ruth has turned into a reverse snob who harshly judges anyone who has more than she does. If we go out to lunch (which is rare) and I wear a nice pair of slacks or a sweater, Ruth belittles me. She calls me self-absorbed because I fix my hair and wear makeup. What I see as taking care of myself, she considers vanity and showing off.
I hurt all the time over this. I just don't know what to do. Ruth talks on and on about people being strong and surviving hard times. Maybe I haven't suffered enough to be worthy in her eyes.
I don't know how to handle this, or if I even want to anymore. What should I do? -- TIRED OF IT IN ILLINOIS
DEAR TIRED OF IT: Your friend appears to have had a hard life. Accept that people sometimes grow apart as they mature. If you feel you must see her, dress simply, leave your jewelry at home and exclude the topic of grooming from your conversation.
People who are unhappy with themselves sometimes take it out on others. During your years apart, Ruth seems to have picked up a lot of baggage. Accept that you can't fix what's ailing her, refuse to allow her frustration to get to you, and if that doesn't work, see less of her.
DEAR ABBY: As a recent college graduate, what should I do when potential employers ask for "salary requirements" along with my cover letter and resume? I am entry-level, to put it optimistically, and in addition to having no idea of what an appropriate salary would be, I feel uncomfortable making such demands given my age and experience level. Can I ignore the request, or must I give them an answer? -- YOUNG JOB SEEKER IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR JOB SEEKER: Do not ignore the request. Employers ask about salary requirements in order to ascertain whether the needs of the applicant are within their ability to pay.
Do a little research and find out what the going rate is for entry-level positions in your area. You will find the information by visiting your public library and reviewing some of the trade publications in your field.
DEAR ABBY: I have been reading your column for many years. When I see a letter of interest, I read it aloud to a couple of co-workers during the lunch break.
A couple of months ago, one of my co-workers stated that your columns are "asked and answered" by you. In other words, he suggested that the letters are fabricated. Is there any way you could help me convince him that they aren't? -- TIM IN LONG BEACH
DEAR TIM: Probably not. However, I am not guilty as charged. The truth is, I could never make up anything as interesting -- and sometimes bizarre -- as the letters and e-mails that cross my desk every week. And that's the gospel truth.
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