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by Abigail Van Buren

Father's Oddball Behavior Cries Out for Treatment

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend's father is very odd socially. If there is a line, he will unknowingly cross it. He has no sense of what is appropriate when it comes to personal space, and his only friends are teenagers. His wife and two grown children are constantly upset with his bizarre behavior, but dare not bring it up with him for fear of hurting his feelings.

As a health care worker, I suspect he has Asperger's syndrome, for which behavioral treatment is available. Must I "just ignore" this man's odd conduct as well? Or should I speak with my boyfriend about my suspicions in order to get his father help? -- NEW DOCTOR IN NEW ENGLAND

DEAR NEW DOCTOR: Of course you should discuss this with your boyfriend. To do so would be a kindness. Whether his father is open to therapy is not assured -- but if he's intelligent, he must be aware that he doesn't fit in with his contemporaries, and he may accept help if it is offered.

DEAR ABBY: As we head toward Christmas, would you remind people to please treat others as they, themselves, would want to be treated?

I work in retail, and it's amazing how many customers are rude. They don't acknowledge us, they'll talk on their cell phone throughout transactions and become angry at us if something beyond our control goes wrong. If we were to treat them this way, they would surely file a complaint against us.

Abby, can you remind folks to remember what the reason for the season is, and to act toward others with kindness, patience and respect -- no matter what? -- MINDFUL IN FAIRBANKS

DEAR MINDFUL: There is something about Christmas that can turn the most angelic individuals into gremlins. And that "something" is the pressure to buy, buy, buy -- accumulating debt that can't be repaid for months or even longer. Add to that, no place to park and long lines in understaffed malls, and the "joy" of the season can curdle into frustration.

But readers, please hang onto your tempers even if those around you are losing theirs. The folks behind the counters are people, too, and they feel as pressured if not more so -- than you.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married 40 years. Five years ago, she told me she didn't want me in our bedroom and that she is "off limits." She said she is not interested in me "that way" anymore.

Other than that, we have a great marriage and we're best friends, but I can't go on like this. I have suggested counseling, but she refuses to go. What do you think I should do? -- MISSING THE KISSING

DEAR MISSING: I think you should talk to a counselor without her. You have some important decisions to make about how you will spend the rest of your life, and it's a shame your wife does not want to be a part of the discussion and, possibly, reach a compromise. But unless both of you are happy being roommates, the current situation is unfair to you.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)