DEAR ABBY: I am an amateur playwright. Our local theater sponsors an annual playwriting contest. The prize isn't monetary, but something far more important to an author -- a full-scale production of the play.
I have won this prize four times -- more than any other writer in the history of the contest. But is my family impressed? Not at all! My wife told me she thinks I write everything the same way and have simply repeated myself four times. Her put-downs are deeply hurtful.
I am up in years. It's unlikely I will ever again win this prize. So how do I respond to such indifference? What do you do when you feel you have accomplished something important and the response is, "So, what else is new?" -- LOOKING FOR VALIDATION IN FLORIDA
DEAR LOOKING FOR VALIDATION: My hat's off to you. That you have won this prize more than any other writer in the history of the contest is a notable achievement, and one that's not likely to be matched for a long time -- if ever. Attend the production, take your well-earned bow in the spotlight, and accept that the less you look to your wife for validation, the happier your life will be.
DEAR ABBY: About a year ago, my fiancee, "Jayne," reconnected with her childhood friend through Facebook.
"Christine" is gay, unattached and very attractive. She has a great personality, and everyone who meets her seems to be attracted to her. Jayne and Christine have had overnighters together. I have asked my fiancee if Christine has ever made advances toward her and she said no. I want to believe her, but part of me is wary.
They are now planning to go on a trip for a few days to an island. Jayne says she loves me and that I have nothing to be jealous about. Am I being naive? What should I do? -- LEFT BEHIND IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR LEFT BEHIND: Believe it or not, gay people are capable of platonic friendships with members of the same sex, just as straight people can have platonic relationships with people of the opposite sex. The bottom line question is, do you trust your fiancee? If the answer is you're not sure, then you should rethink the engagement.
DEAR ABBY: My brother has systematically taken over my parents' lives for the past 20 years. He uses his depression and agoraphobia as an excuse not to lead his own life. He lives on government disability payments, and the majority of his support comes from my parents, whom he lives with and mooches off of. He doesn't help them around the house or contribute in any way. He refuses to get treatment for his disorders.
How can I help my parents finally be free of him? They are fast approaching 70 years old. Talking to my brother is useless, as he becomes extremely hostile and threatens to kill himself. My parents deserve some rest at their age. -- ANONYMOUS IN NEW YORK
DEAR ANONYMOUS: At the rate they're going, your parents may not get the rest they deserve until they're in the great beyond. Unless they are willing to take a stand and make living with them conditional upon your brother getting counseling and medication for his mental illness, nothing will change.
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.