DEAR ABBY: I'm working on a school project with several other girls, but I have an issue with one of them. "Sara" wanted to write the paper for our project, which is a huge part of our grade. Once she started writing it, we all realized she wasn't very good at it. I felt I could do a better job, and asked if I could do it instead -- or help critique and edit it. Sara refuses.
I don't want to start a fight or anything, but this is a large part of my grade, and the project is being entered in a contest that I really want to win. Is there a way I can get her to let me help, or should I just let it go? -- REALLY WANTS TO WIN IN OHIO
DEAR REALLY WANTS TO WIN: I'm sure your desire to win the contest is no less strong than that of your teammates. Who submits the paper should be a decision that the majority of you agree on. Discuss your concerns with them and take a vote.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I recently had dinner with two other couples. As soon as the meal was finished, the woman on my left turned her back to me and leaned forward so I could neither see nor converse with the person sitting to her left. She remained like that for the duration of the dinner party.
Our friends say she wasn't angry or upset with me. She has done the same thing in other group gatherings, always with the same friend over whom she "hovers." She will whisper to this friend and exclude everyone else.
I honestly don't think she is aware of how rude she is being. Any idea how I might approach her without hurting her feelings? -- BLOCKED AT THE PARTY
DEAR BLOCKED: The next time it happens, speak up and say, "Excuse me, but I'm isolated over here! Would you mind if I change places with your friend, so I can participate in a conversation while you two talk?" And in the future, because this happens regularly, their preference for talking only to each other should be taken into consideration when the seating is arranged.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 27-year-old woman. Three weeks ago, I found out that my boyfriend of five months, "Louie," and I are going to have a baby. This was not planned, and not a happy revelation.
Louie and I are beginning to cope, and friends are really helping. My parents, however, are not. They are pushing me to marry Louie before the baby comes. I explained that I don't want that stigma and that I would like to have a big wedding later, perhaps in 2012.
My parents disagree and want nothing to do with a big wedding down the road since I won't marry Louie now. This will be their first grandchild, and they are ruining the experience by stressing me out. By the way, because of financial hardship, I currently live at home with them. What should I do? -- MAMA-TO-BE IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR MAMA-TO-BE: At 27 you are an adult, and presumably able to make important decisions for yourself. Do not allow yourself to be rushed into a loveless marriage that could lead to more children and a subsequent divorce. If you and Louie are still together in 2012, you can have the wedding of your dreams then. But please be aware that your parents are under no obligation to pay for it.
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)