DEAR ABBY: Neither of my parents do anything for fun. When Dad comes home from work, he either reads the newspaper or takes a nap. If Mom has free time after finishing the housework or running errands, she watches the news on TV or goes to bed early.
I never thought it was unusual because it has been this way since I was growing up. But once I was in high school, I started hearing classmates talk about their parents' friends or hobbies and I realized my parents are different. They don't even listen to music or read books.
When I want to go out with friends, my parents act annoyed and wonder why I want to go out instead of staying at home. Are there other people out there like this, or are my folks unusual? -- MYSTIFIED IN MAINE
DEAR MYSTIFIED: At the end of a busy day, many people want to simply unwind rather than look for things to do. Reading the newspaper, napping or watching the television news are some of the ways they do that. While your parents may be more introverted than those of your classmates, I don't think they are particularly unusual.
The question you should ask yourself is, "Is their relationship working for them?" And if the answer is yes, be glad. What's natural for some families isn't for everyone, and neither is their idea of what's fun.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 15-year-old girl and my favorite teacher, "Mr. Brown," is going to another state with some other teachers to start a new school. I'll miss him dearly because he is funny and charismatic.
We have an average student-teacher relationship, but I still would like to stay in contact with him and see how he's doing. Is there any way I can maintain our relationship and contact him on my own to show that I miss him? -- TEEN IN NEW HAVEN
DEAR TEEN: If he hasn't already left your district, I suppose you could tell him he has been your favorite teacher and ask for his email address. He may be willing to share it with you, but if he and the other teachers are starting a new school, you can bet they are going to be extremely busy and focused on that -- so he may not be able to respond as often as you might wish.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I were invited to a friend's house for dinner. When I asked her if I could bring anything, the hostess handed me a cookbook and said she had marked two items I should make and bring. When I looked at them, I was shocked.
She was asking me to bake bread and make a salad. The bread had many ingredients, and I have never made bread from scratch. I don't even own a stand mixer. The salad recipe was also complicated.
Was I unreasonable to decline the invitation? The ingredients alone were going to cost me at least $30, and the stress was more than I was willing to take on. -- AGHAST IN ARIZONA
DEAR AGHAST: I think you cut off your nose to spite your face. All you had to do was level with your hostess and tell her you had never baked bread and didn't have the necessary equipment -- and that you were prepared to make her a simple salad. What was she going to do, disinvite you?
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)