DEAR ABBY: A former colleague recently moved nearby and sent us an invitation to dinner at her new residence. She lives in an area that's populated by wild peacocks, which she knew before she moved there.
A condition of her invitation is that we (my spouse and I) agree to use a type of high-powered water gun to shoot at the peacocks from her balcony while we are visiting. I understand that these birds can be messy (I assume from their droppings). However, we find conditioning the visit upon our willingness to shoot water at the birds disconcerting.
Because we find this activity distasteful, should we decline and state why, or accept but make clear that we won't participate in the fowl-watering activity? How does one handle this tactfully? -- NO FOWL PLAY IN FLORIDA
DEAR NO FOWL PLAY: Because your former colleague invited you with the expressed understanding her guests will be expected to "fowl-water," which would make you uncomfortable, politely decline the invitation. If you feel you must pass judgment on shooting at the peacocks, all you need to say is you prefer not to shoot at any creature that can't defend itself.
DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 30 years and have no children. Now in my mid-50s, I realize what a negative force my husband has been in my life.
I was not allowed to have children, and over the years I have lost all family and most friends because he didn't like anyone. He constantly badmouths the town we live in -- it's my hometown -- and any interests I have. He hasn't worked in 10 years since closing his business.
I wake up every morning with the thought of just trying to make it through one more day. I am a shell of the person I once was, and don't know where to turn. Please help. -- NAMELESS IN THE USA
DEAR NAMELESS: Get out of the house and out of isolation. Volunteering in your community will give you an escape from your husband's negativity and an opportunity to meet others who are involved in positive activities. He won't like it, but do it anyway. If you do, it will save your sanity.
DEAR ABBY: At a wedding reception I attended recently, the mother of the bride gave a sales pitch for her insurance company. She concluded with the statement that she would now be able to write this off on her taxes.
Was this legitimate? She had numerous clients there, as well as prospective ones, and gifts with corporate logos for them stashed in the bathroom. -- TAKEN ABACK IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR TAKEN ABACK: Talk about a "marriage of convenience." How unbelievably tacky! Actually, my tax experts tell me that she's not entitled to write the reception off because the predominant motive of the occasion was not business. Let's hope the IRS doesn't get wind of it.
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