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DEAR ABBY: I lost my longtime job but have remained in contact with a few former co-workers, meeting for an occasional lunch or dinner. One woman in particular has been pushing to meet at my place. Abby, I'm not proud of where I live now, and I don't want to have to explain this to her.

So far, I have side-stepped by saying that I prefer to get out of the house, but I'm worried that one day she will announce that she's "in my neighborhood" and ask to drop by. I'm really uncomfortable with that, but I don't know an appropriate response that will keep our relationship cordial, because I do value the times we see each other. Any suggestions? -- DOWNSCALE IN DELAWARE

DEAR DOWNSCALE: There are various excuses you can use if she wants to drop by. Your place "might not be presentable now," or you might "not feel up for company," or you are "in the middle of a project you need to finish," or you will be "leaving shortly and don't have time" that day. If you rotate the deflections as needed, your friend may eventually get the idea without your having to say it directly.


DEAR ABBY: My wife and I were sitting in a restaurant one night. A woman, her boyfriend and two children were at the table next to us. The boyfriend was loudly verbally abusing the children (5 to 8 years old) for not eating "the food he had paid for." It was truly ABUSE -- his language was awful -- and it lasted for 20 to 30 minutes. I wasn't concerned about it ruining our night out, but rather what this guy must be like in private with those kids and that woman. Should I have called the police? Would it have made it worse? -- NIGHT OUT IN FLORIDA

DEAR NIGHT OUT: Yes, if you had intervened, it probably would have made matters worse. Unfortunately, the police can't arrest someone for verbal abuse. However, since the man was making a scene, the manager of the restaurant should have stepped in because he was disturbing the other diners.

Read more in: Abuse

DEAR ABBY: "Breaking With the Past" (Feb. 29) said she no longer wishes to "schlep" her parents' wedding album to yet another location when she moves again. You wisely advised her not to dispose of it hastily.

Another option might be for her to preserve the photos in a digital format, and then return the album to her mother or give it away as you suggested. That way, she can assure her sentimental mother that she still has the photos. In the future she may come to value these keepsakes because they may contain important information about family members, in addition to her parents. -- CATHY IN OREGON

DEAR CATHY: I had originally included the option of digitally scanning the photos in my answer, but second-guessed myself while editing my column. Judging by the number of readers who wrote to suggest it, I should have left it in. It's a common-sense option for "Breaking" to consider. Thank you for writing.

Read more in: Family & Parenting

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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