DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Clay," and I recently met another couple, "Doreen" and "Bob," who let us know they're interested in socializing together. I like the concept of double-dating. It has a different social dynamic than hanging out with Clay's or my single friends.
At first we enjoyed our time with them. We met twice for dinner that first month. However, lately we've been feeling pressured. Doreen sends four or five e-mails during the week and then a few text messages asking about our plans and if we want to meet them on Saturday.
I have tried to explain that we can't afford to go out every weekend and that Clay and I sometimes have other plans. I have told them I'd be willing to host a game night or rent a movie, but I get the impression they consider it an insult.
The issue here is that we don't like being pushed. One text or e-mail toward the end of the week is plenty for us. But receiving several inquiries all week makes us feel trapped. We have our own projects, friends and activities. We can't spend every weekend with this couple. As much as we enjoy spending time with them, how can we politely let them know that it is becoming too much? -- IN DEMAND IN ANNAPOLIS
DEAR IN DEMAND: Doreen and Bob obviously do not have as full a social calendar as you do, and they love your company. It would not be rude to explain to Doreen that, as you so clearly stated in your letter, you "have your own projects, friends and activities" and "can't spend every single weekend" with them. You should also say that being snowed under with e-mails and texts makes you uncomfortable.
Tell her that you enjoy them, too, that you have financial limitations and that you will contact them to schedule something. If they take offense because of it, the problem is theirs, so don't make it yours.
DEAR ABBY: I can't be the only person with this question, and I hope you can point me in the right direction. Nowadays many restaurants, airports and department stores have automatic flush toilets. But sometimes they don't work. Is there an override switch somewhere? I hate to leave them unflushed.
For obvious reasons, I'm not signing my full name, but this is a genuine concern. -- LISA IN SACRAMENTO
DEAR LISA: The answer is yes. There usually is a manual button you can push when the infrared signal fails to operate. Sometimes it's a little black button on the front of the metal post, or a large metal button on the top.
You are absolutely not the only person with this question. And you know what? If you have tried without success to locate the button, you have my permission to leave the stall knowing you have done the best you "can."
DEAR ABBY: Every year, the day after my birthday, my father-in-law calls to yell at me for not letting him know it was my birthday. He says he "just found out" after talking to other family members. Then he'll say he would have sent me a gift -- or at least a card -- if I had told him.
Does he really expect me to call him two weeks before my birthday to remind him to start shopping for my gift? -- A DAY LATE ...
DEAR DAY LATE: Yes, he does. So next year, call his bluff and see what happens.
CONFIDENTIAL TO MY DEAR MOTHER, PAULINE PHILLIPS: Happy Mother's Day, Mama. You have always been so many things to so many people -- a surrogate parent, a role model, a moral compass as well as an inspiration. You are in my heart and in my thoughts today and every day.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)