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by Abigail Van Buren

Husband's Young Crush Leaves Wife Feeling Flat

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Roger" -- 64 and retired -- has a crush on a 25-year-old woman who lives in our small community and who runs a dress shop I frequent. Roger is usually quiet and reserved, but when he sees "Patti," he utters loud cries and runs to her side. He examines every detail of her clothing, makeup, etc., and takes her hand and compliments her on her soft skin, her ring or the color of her nail polish.

From the expression on her face and the looks she exchanges with the other women in the shop, it's clear she considers him a pest.

I have spoken up and said, "Patti must have a grandfather your age," or, "There's no fool like an old fool," but Roger ignores it. My concern is that he's making a fool of himself in public and, by extension, me. I'm so embarrassed, I can no longer walk into my favorite dress shop. Patti is popular. She has many dates and is not interested in Roger. I hate to be pitied by others. What can I do to stop this? -- OLD FOOL'S WIFE IN ALABAMA

DEAR WIFE: Roger's "crush" is a reflection on him, not you, so keep your cool and please stop calling him an old fool. It's insulting and belittling, so of course he'll tune you out. Try this instead, "Roger, when you act the way you do when you're around Patti, it's embarrassing to me. That's why I prefer you no longer accompany me when I go there."

Then, when you shop for clothing, go without him. And instruct Patti and the saleswomen that if Roger drops by without you to tell him he's welcome -- IF he's buying something for you. That way, instead of a problem, you'll have a windfall, and so will they. You can even leave a "wish list" with Patti in advance.

DEAR ABBY: I was recently married, but we had to postpone our honeymoon for a couple of weeks due to weather and the loss of a sitter for my wife's daughter. The day after our wedding, my bride, "Brenda," informed me that we had a dinner date the following Monday with another married couple who are friends of hers. I gladly accepted, thinking it would be fun to go out and celebrate since our plans had fallen through.

The day before the dinner I was told that the husband (in the couple) had to work -- so Brenda and his wife would go out to dinner and, if it was OK with me, I would stay home and baby-sit my new stepdaughter. I felt I had no say in the matter, and to keep things positive in this brand-new marriage, I agreed.

I have no problem with Brenda going out alone with her friend, but I did feel slighted. Shouldn't the dinner have been postponed until a time when we were all available? Or should I have accepted this "girls' night out" with more grace? -- HONEYMOON-DEPRIVED IN KNOXVILLE

DEAR HONEYMOON-DEPRIVED: It depends upon how "graceless" your reaction was. While I don't blame you for feeling slighted, the dinner could have been rescheduled for when the husband was available, or you could have been included. I hope you told your wife how it made you feel because it may make her more sensitive to your feelings in the future.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I were out to dinner with two other couples who are also good friends. We all enjoyed a couple of bottles of wine during our meal.

When the check came, we split it three ways. However, one of the other couples insisted that we should tip only on the food portion of the bill. I said we should tip on the entire bill, including the cost of the wine. Who was correct? -- PROPERLY SERVED IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

DEAR PROPERLY SERVED: You were. The tip should have been computed on the entire tab -- and that includes the wine that you "all" enjoyed with your meals.

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.)