DEAR ABBY: I have been involved with "Barbie" for about six months. She's everything I ever wanted in a mate. We have a similar sense of humor, and our goals and ambitions are almost identical. Our values match, too -- except for one: My sense of propriety seems to be a stumbling block.
Abby, Barbie wears sheer tops and no bra. She doesn't usually wear any undergarments, either, even when she's in a fairly short skirt.
I grew up Southern Baptist, raised around women who feel that kind of attire is unacceptable and trashy. While the female body is, to me, one of the most beautiful things on Earth, I was brought up to believe that leaving something to the imagination is more desirable than showing everything. Barbie says I've got hang-ups, and I don't necessarily disagree. How can I deal with this? -- TRYING TO LOOSEN UP IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR TRYING: While you didn't mention it specifically, it appears you live far from your family and no longer attend church regularly -- because you do not seem to be taking into account what kind of impression Barbie is going to make when she is exposed to them.
Barbie may be a lovely woman, but she needs to understand that there are other ways to attract attention than the way she's going about it, and if you are seriously considering a future with her, you will try harder to get that message across. If she cares about you, she will compromise. That's how you "deal with it."
DEAR ABBY: Millions of baby boomers are caring for, or offering moral support to, parents or other seniors. It is sometimes hard to find the time and motivation to go and visit, and challenging to hold conversations.
May I offer a suggestion to them? This is what I did for my sweet father-in-law when he was in his late 80s and newly widowed. Rather than visit him at his home, I would pick him up and take him for rides. I made it a "sentimental journey," driving him around to his former homes, places of employment, schools the kids attended, churches where marriages were held.
He loved it. It not only gave him a chance to see old landmarks, but also how things were changing in the towns. It led to some wonderful discussions. I know for sure that long-term memories outlive short-term ones. -- JERI IN GARDEN GROVE, CALIF.
DEAR JERI: Your suggestion is an excellent one, and you are sweet to share it with my readers. Your statement about long-term memory is true -- and another effective way to stimulate it is through music. A gift older relatives might enjoy would be discs or tapes of popular music from the '40s and '50s. That, too, should lead to some interesting topics of conversation.
DEAR ABBY: When inviting someone to a famous restaurant for a birthday celebration, is it appropriate to mention its dress code? One family member took it as an insult and that I was implying she doesn't know how to dress appropriately. (She always looks lovely when she goes out.) Because of it, she refused to attend the party, and it has caused an uncomfortable rift in the family. -- NO OFFENSE INTENDED IN MISSOURI
DEAR NO OFFENSE INTENDED: Sometimes it isn't what you say, but the way it is phrased that can offend someone. From my perspective, warning a guest in advance that a restaurant has a strict dress code is doing the person a favor. While few establishments have one anymore, this could prevent confusion or embarrassment when the group arrives.
However, because your relative felt insulted, in the interest of family harmony, extend an apology. If she doesn't accept it, the problem then becomes hers.
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 in the price.)