DEAR ABBY: You sometimes print letters from people who are looking to meet decent, honorable and interesting other people. While you have recommended volunteering, joining health clubs, going to church -- and staying out of bars -- something I have yet to see mentioned is a community-based arts organization.
Someone who is musically inclined might look for a local band, orchestra or community chorus. But I'd like to put in a word for community theater. A person doesn't have to be a performer; these groups need people to build sets, make costumes, locate props, run the backstage operations during a performance, etc. In the front of the house, they need people for promotion, selling tickets, ushering and soliciting donations from sponsors.
I met my husband of 30-plus years through a community theater group, and know of several other long-term marriages that came about the same way. I'm a seamstress, so I have made my share of costumes. But I have also learned how to frame a wall and build a staircase while working on set construction.
Even if you don't find that special someone, you will make dozens of new friends and have the satisfaction of accomplishing something at the same time. -- ALWAYS BUSY IN DES MOINES
DEAR ALWAYS BUSY: I love your suggestion. Not everyone is meant to be in front of the footlights, but that doesn't mean one can't be an important member of the team. And community theater is definitely a team effort.
DEAR ABBY: I find my wife's daughter and son-in-law, who live nearby, to be very unlikable. Her daughter is gossipy, arrogant, smug and superficial. The husband is ill-mannered, devoid of social skills, lazy, impossible to carry on a normal conversation with and, worst of all, a liar.
Naturally, I am expected to see them often, and the more I am around them, the less I like them. This has become apparent to my wife. We have had more than a few "spirited discussions" about it, which I view as a real threat to the long-term well-being of our marriage.
I have tried mightily for her sake to overlook their major personality and character flaws, with no success. I don't want another divorce. Please help. -- DESPERATE IN THE MID-ATLANTIC
DEAR DESPERATE: If you love your wife and don't want this marriage ruined, accept that you are going to have to accommodate to some degree her insufferable daughter and son-in-law. This does not mean you must love them or even enjoy their company. It does mean working out a compromise that includes spending some time with them.
You and your wife are not joined at the hip. Every visit doesn't have to include you. Take up some hobbies you can enjoy on your own. Develop a sense of humor where they are concerned. If you do, you won't force your wife to choose between you and her child, because the chances are you would lose.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)