DEAR ABBY: I am planning to attend a birthday party for my friend "Sophia" who is turning 50. When I mentioned to her that I would be shopping for her birthday gift, she asked that while I was shopping for her, that I also pick up a gift for her friend "Stacy."
I have met Stacy only a couple of times, and I think it was extremely nervy for Sophia to ask me to do it. The party is only for her, and I don't see the connection.
Sophia has done this in the past, and I'm trying to think of a way to tell her I'd rather not buy a gift for her friend. How should I handle this? -- NO LONGER A DOORMAT
DEAR NO LONGER A DOORMAT: Tell Sophia with a SMILE that you are not close to Stacy, don't know her taste and do not feel comfortable shopping for her. Smiling when you say it should prevent your refusal from appearing confrontational.
P.S. I agree she had a lot of nerve to ask.
DEAR ABBY: We went out to dinner with another couple. The wives are psychiatric nurses; the husbands are a banker and a business owner. All of us are accustomed to dealing with "sensitive" issues.
A woman at the table next to ours went to the ladies' room. When she returned, a short "train" of toilet paper was caught in the waistband of her slacks. It was very obvious. There was silence, but a palpable "energy," so the woman knew something was amiss and it might have something to do with her. The tissue "floated" with each step, so I knew it wasn't weighed down with moisture.
Because I didn't perceive it to be an imminent public health threat, I joined the silent legion. Did I miss a moral imperative by not letting her know? I didn't know how to do it discreetly. If this should ever happen again, what -- if anything -- should I do? -- MR. MANNERS IN MASSACHUSETTS
DEAR MR. MANNERS: Imagine if the person with the paper trail was you or your wife. Would you want to know, so that when you got up to leave the restaurant all eyes didn't follow you out? A discreet way to have let the woman know there was a problem would have been for you or your wife to have written her a note, and given it to her server to pass to her. That way, she would know there was a problem with the least amount of embarrassment.
DEAR ABBY: My husband, who is nearing 60, throws plates of food at the wall if he gets upset about something. It is usually minor and totally spontaneous. He then leaves it for me to clean up and won't apologize. I am sick of living with a 60-year-old going on 4. What can I do? -- HAD ENOUGH IN ILLINOIS
DEAR HAD ENOUGH: How long have you been tolerating your husband's explosive outbursts of temper? Has he been breaking other things, or raising a hand to you?
There are several things you can do. The first is stop cleaning up after him. Eat separately if you have to. You could also warn him that if he doesn't seek help now for his temper that you have had it. If you need my permission to go, I am giving it to 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.)