DEAR ABBY: We are a group of ladies in retirement in a smallish town. One member of our group has, over the last few years, started to "put on a show" -- and I mean that literally.
"Dottie" writes revues and, of course, stars in them herself. While there's nothing wrong with a vanity production, this woman is making herself look foolish. She is not slender (no sin), but she is also not talented.
Dottie's friends feel she looks ridiculous singing and dancing, but no one has the nerve to tell her because she is vain and has a short temper. We can't tell our pudgy, gray-haired friend to get off the stage, so we thought you might be just the person to save our friend's dignity. Can you help? -- IN THE WINGS IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
DEAR IN THE WINGS: Your friend is living her dream of being in the footlights. It is not up to you or me to "save her dignity" by bursting her bubble. If you don't like her performance, no law says you -- or anyone else -- must attend her revues. And feeling as you ladies do, it might be kinder if you stayed away.
DEAR ABBY: My girlfriend, "Kim," believes that saying "Bless you" after someone sneezes is a universal requirement. I think this is something out of the 15th century so I never say anything. Kim thinks I'm rude. What say you, Abby? -- ALREADY BLESSED IN LAKE FOREST, CALIF.
DEAR ALREADY BLESSED: I say you and Kim are both right. The custom of saying "Bless you" or "God bless you" after someone sneezes did originate in the Middle Ages, when it was believed that when people sneezed, their souls left their bodies for an instant -- and saying "God bless you" would prevent the devil from snatching it. And Kim is correct that the polite thing to do is to say it. If you care about her feelings you will accommodate her -- not just because it's good manners, but because you know it'll make her happy.
DEAR ABBY: I have a 3-year-old, muscular male American pit bull terrier. When I walk "Petey," I am often asked by young and old alike if they can pet my dog because of his good looks. While Petey has never bitten anyone, I am not comfortable letting strangers pet him. The breed can be aggressive.
I always reply to these requests with a "no" and a "thank you," after which I am invariably asked if my dog is mean. Now, if there is a possibility that a dog is mean, why would someone ask to pet him in the first place? Perhaps I'm overly sensitive, but it's an annoying rhetorical question. Is there a nicer way to answer? -- A DUTIFUL PET OWNER, GLENS FALLS, N.Y.
DEAR DUTIFUL PET OWNER: An honest response would be that your dog isn't mean, but you can't guarantee that he won't snap if someone he doesn't know touches him. Another way to say it would be, "My dog hasn't bitten anyone ... yet."
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