DEAR ABBY: A friend told me something recently that was so disturbing I'm having trouble sleeping.
"Marie" was at a mini-mall when a man parked his car next to hers and walked into one of the stores, leaving a boy about 8 years old in the back seat with a cat. Marie saw the boy abuse and torture the animal. She said she could hear the cat howling through the closed vehicle. When the man returned to the car, my friend approached him and told him what she'd seen.
Abby, the man did not say one word. He climbed into his car and drove off. I haven't been able to get the image out of my head. That child learned his behavior somewhere, and his father condones it! If Marie hadn't been so shocked, she would have scribbled down the man's license number and reported the incident to the police or the SPCA. -- HORRIFIED IN WISCONSIN
DEAR HORRIFIED: What your friend witnessed was a child in dire need of emotional help, and a parent with his head in the sand. Emotionally healthy children do not abuse animals. For the father to have ignored what your friend told him is very sad. Of most concern to me is the fact that children who abuse animals become increasingly aggressive, and sometimes go on to abuse other children. I hope the father reads my column and recognizes the fact that this son desperately needs counseling now!
DEAR ABBY: I just turned 28. I have a full-time job and am also pursuing a career as an actress, which takes up a lot of my spare time. I have good friends and I'm a people person. I'm attractive, have a good personality and consider myself to be intelligent.
I'm pretty good at putting myself out there. I talk to guys I see in the grocery store, in my office building, anywhere I can. I try to smile at everyone when I'm out and about. I ask friends to set me up, but haven't met any nice single men who are interested in dating. Almost all my close friends are married or in long-term relationships. At parties it's usually a bunch of couples and me. I feel like the token single friend.
I have a busy life, and the theater hasn't exactly been a great place to meet straight guys, but where is a good place? I have tried speed dating, online dating, bar-hopping and singles events to no avail. Why can't I find a nice guy who's ready for a real relationship? I'm starting to lose hope. -- LOOKING FOR LOVE IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR LOOKING: Please don't lose hope. But let's review the venues in which you have been searching. I'm struck by the fact that all of those you mentioned require you to make a "quick sale."
With speed dating you establish that you're both available and there's a superficial attraction, but not much else. Bars are the worst places I can think of to look for a serious relationship. No one's at their best after downing a couple of shots, and the noise level isn't conducive to meaningful conversation. The Internet has been known to bring results, but many people -- of both sexes -- are wary because so many users fudge the facts on dating sites.
Singles events are better, but you might have more luck meeting men if you go places that nice people go, where there's less pressure. How about volunteering some time in your community -- the library, a hospital, the police department, a shelter? I recommend places like these because they offer the chance to form relationships with more depth. Even if you don't find Mr. Right, you may meet someone who can introduce you to someone eligible.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)