DEAR ABBY: I have a good friend, "Nina," whom I have known more than 35 years. I relocated 1,500 miles from her recently, and would like to invite her to visit me. The problem is, I want her to come alone. My husband and I have no desire to entertain her husband, "Sam."
Sam is a verbally abusive know-it-all on every subject who monopolizes every conversation, allowing no one else to get a word in. The few times we went out together as a foursome, my husband came home with a pounding headache.
How do I tell Nina I would love for her to come, but to leave Sam home? I don't want to hurt her feelings, but we will no longer tolerate his self-centered personality nor the way he treats my friend.
P.S. None of Sam's family will invite him to stay for the same reason. -- NO ROOM AT THE INN IN MISSOURI
DEAR NO ROOM: Try this: Invite Nina for a "girls' visit" -- perhaps to shop, spend a day at a spa, or just put her feet up and gossip. List whatever mutual interests you have that you can think of that would bore Sam to death. Also, try to invite her at a time when your husband might be away -- so there isn't the expectation that Sam "should" be included. If the situation is as you describe with Sam's family, he's used to it.
DEAR ABBY: I am a male who wears women's underwear, as well as skirts, shorts and nightgowns. I will soon be flying to Florida and will be taking a carry-on bag with me and checking another one.
Will security agents open my luggage and inspect the contents of each bag? I worry about being embarrassed and considered a "suspicious person" when they see what's in my bag. Abby, how can I lessen my chances of an embarrassing scene? -- WORRIED TRAVELER IN COLORADO
DEAR WORRIED TRAVELER: Please stop worrying about "an embarrassing scene." Airport security has seen it all -- and I do mean all -- and with the new scanners they'll soon be seeing even more. They are interested only in preventing contraband from being taken on the plane. Period.
P.S. Many men buy gifts of clothing for their wives or girlfriends -- and if you don't cross-dress at the airport or tell them anything to the contrary, inspectors will probably assume the same about you.
DEAR ABBY: I have recently filed for custody of my 6-year-old niece, "Ella." My mother has had custody for the last few years, but Mother is an alcoholic. I have tried to control various situations that arise, but I cannot let my niece be in my mother's care. I know what it was like for me growing up in that environment, and I want better opportunities for Ella.
My mother will be heartbroken, but I see no alternative. How can I explain this to my mother? I want her to get help, but she still doesn't admit that she has a problem. -- CONFUSED IN ARKANSAS
DEAR CONFUSED: If you have custody of Ella, it doesn't mean that your mother can't see or spend time with her -- when she's sober. But right now, your niece's welfare is more important than your mother's feelings.
Surely you are not the only person who realizes your mother has a problem with alcohol. Gather some allies and stage an intervention. All of you should tell her the effect that her drinking has had on those around her. That may be her "wake-up call," and may cause her to seek help.
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.)