DEAR ABBY: There's a venomous old woman who roams through our neighborhood looking for victims to embarrass, humiliate or annoy. She told a neighbor's 11-year-old granddaughter she looked like a slut because she was wearing shorts currently in fashion for the young. She habitually cuts in front of people in line at the supermarket, puts 25 items on the 15-item service line, etc.
A new neighbor thought she should be treated with a little kindness. She had her opportunity recently when we were out to breakfast at a restaurant. The harridan sat alone (her husband refuses to be seen in public with her), and my friend commented to her on the beautiful day. Her response? "Don't waste my time with meaningless inanities!" She then proceeded to abuse the server by repeatedly sending her plate back, each time becoming more unpleasant. The girl ended up in tears.
At that point, my friend walked over and said quietly, "I hope you don't think your advanced age justifies your meanness." The witch accused my friend of "slandering" her and left vowing never to return. This elicited a round of applause from the customers and staff.
Why do some people go through life behaving so outrageously? How can she derive satisfaction from being so hateful? -- PUZZLED IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR PUZZLED: Ruling out the idea that the person you have described may be mentally disturbed, it's possible she may be so unhappy in her personal life that she's trying to make herself feel better by abusing others. She's a sad case. I'd like to think that when the other diners applauded, it was directed in support of your friend rather than at the disagreeable woman as she left the restaurant.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 34-year-old man, I have been divorced for a couple of years and have no children. I have been dating an incredible woman, "Nikki," who is a bit older than I am. She has three children.
The elephant in the room has always been whether or not Nikki would want more children. We finally discussed it, and she confirmed that she does not. She said she's looking forward to the next phase of her life as her kids get older, which I understand. That conversation has led to a break in our relationship. We haven't spoken for the past two weeks, and it seems like two years.
I am struggling with what to do. I have always wanted to be a dad. Would being a stepdad be as fulfilling for me? Is being in a good relationship more important? Having kids doesn't automatically make things great, right? Could I find someone as wonderful as Nikki, but who wants to have a kid?
Abby, I'm conflicted, and you're the only one I could think of for advice. -- JUMBLED IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
DEAR JUMBLED: Only you can decide whether being a stepfather to Nikki's children would be enough for you. For some men, it would be. For others, it wouldn't be enough. Of course, the primary relationship must be between the husband and wife. Children grow up, leave and establish lives of their own. And you're right, having kids doesn't "automatically" make things great if there is trouble in the relationship.
While there are no guarantees you will find someone as wonderful as Nikki, the odds are very good that you will meet a woman -- or more than one -- whose goals are similar to yours and who would love to have a family with you. But it won't happen until you firmly decide exactly what you want.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)