DEAR ABBY: I have a friend, "Dick," who wears veteran hats -- "Vietnam Vet," "Proud to Be a Marine," etc. -- that imply he was in the service. The problem is, Dick was never in any branch of the military at any time.
Dick claims he's "honoring" them by wearing the hats. But when he goes into a restaurant or other place that offers military discounts, he always inquires about them. And he has never refused the offer of one or admitted he wears the slogans only to honor others and was never actually in the service himself.
I come in contact with real military service people who deserve to wear these hats. I asked a couple of them about what to do with Dick, but you can't print their responses. Abby, what's your take? -- VALUES HONESTY IN OHIO
DEAR VALUES HONESTY: The fact that I can't print the reaction of legitimate veterans to what Dick is doing indicates how offensive and wrong it is. It appears your friend is a small-time, chiseling con man who takes advantage of people's patriotism. Why you would call someone like this a "friend" is puzzling, because you seem to have a well-developed sense of right and wrong.
A word of advice: Sooner or later, people like Dick are discovered. When that happens, it would be better if you weren't around, because people are judged by the company they keep.
DEAR ABBY: I am dating a wonderful man, "Andrew," who has two sons, ages 10 and 12. Both of them have horrible table manners. Eating with them is like watching pigs at a trough. I have discussed this with Andrew, who agrees but has done nothing to correct them.
I don't know how to instill proper eating manners in the boys without coming across as though I'm better than they are. Do you have any suggestions? -- THE NAPKIN GOES ON THE LAP
DEAR NAPKIN: You can't blame the boys for not knowing something they were never taught. However, lecturing them at this point would be counterproductive and could cause a rift between you and your boyfriend.
Enlist Andrew's help and discuss with his sons the difference between "casual" table manners and those that are expected when people dine in public or at a friend's house. You and Andrew should also "mention" how good the food is at some of the local restaurants. This will give the boys an incentive when you both offer to take them if they learn what's expected in public.
Tell them you're willing to teach them, explain the rules, model the behavior and help them practice. Then reward them by taking them to the restaurants and praising them if they do well.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 56-year-old man who made some bad decisions when I was 16. I stole items from a close family member to pay for a drug habit. After 30 years of sobriety, what I did continues to cause me grief and torment.
I am torn over confessing to this family member because I know that when I do, any relationship between us will end. Do I confess to clear my conscience, or do I remain silent and tormented by what I did? -- DISTRAUGHT IN TEXAS
DEAR DISTRAUGHT: I think, deep down, you already know the answer to that question, so I'll give you the final push you're asking for to do the right thing. One of the 12 steps in AA is to make amends to the people you have hurt. You are no longer the person you were at 16, so apologize and show you are willing to take responsibility for what you did. It will end your torment -- and you may find that the revelation is nowhere near as shocking as you think it will be.
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