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DEAR ABBY: I am sometimes invited to friends' birthday parties and, while I enjoy the celebration, I have one hang-up. When it's time to blow out the candles, sometimes my friends will blow real hard or even need more than one breath. (We're not exactly spring chickens.) To me, this is the equivalent of spitting all over the cake, and I can't bring myself to eat any after this display.

What is a "nice" way of saying, "I don't want any cake," without falling back on the old, "I'm trying to lose weight," especially since other snacks and drinks are also being served? I don't want to be a ... PARTY POOPER

DEAR PARTY POOPER: Your distaste is shared by many people. An effective way to handle the problem would be to mention your "quirk" to your friends long before their birthdays roll around. You could also set an example when your birthday arrives by serving cupcakes instead of a large one to your guests. Many people avoid the problem in this way -- and the portions are perfect.


DEAR ABBY: My handsome, intelligent, physically fit husband looks much younger than his age. But he is vain and won't get hearing aids. Because he can't hear, he stands looking at people with a faraway expression on his face that makes him appear like he has dementia. It takes him a while to process the spoken word, and then sometimes he gets it wrong. He has gotten angry with me because he couldn't understand something I was saying.

Any tips for me and others on how to deal with this? I'm ready to quit trying to have a conversation with him. He could easily afford to buy hearing aids. -- END OF MY ROPE IN OKLAHOMA

DEAR END: What's going on is not only not good for your relationship with your husband, but also extremely isolating for him. I do have a suggestion for you: Discuss your concerns with your family physician. Perhaps if the doctor suggests he have his hearing checked by an audiologist, your husband will be less likely to tune the message out. Advances in hearing aids are being made all the time, and some of them fit into the ear canal and are hard to detect.


DEAR ABBY: I would like to give a wedding gift to a friend's son who is being married soon. We were not invited to the wedding. Is this OK? -- NOT INVITED IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR NOT INVITED: Not only would it be OK to give the happy couple a gift as a token of your good wishes, but it is generous of you to want to under the circumstances.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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