DEAR ABBY: I started a new job a month ago. It's a well-paying job at a great company. My problem is I'm an insecure introvert. Making friends has always been hard for me. At this new job, my desk is away from everyone else, and no one has ever asked me to lunch.
I'm sure if I reached out proactively and asked to tag along, I wouldn't be rejected. But the thought of having to ask semi-strangers to include me and having to make small talk during lunch makes me anxious. I'm also afraid people will label me as part of certain subgroups within the department. I don't want to be in any clique. What should I do? -- INSECURE IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR INSECURE: Not everyone makes small talk easily, so don't fault yourself for finding it awkward. Ask your co-workers what places they recommend for lunch and tag along when the opportunity arises. I don't think you need to "do" much more than slowly get to know them as you interact over work-related matters.
A positive way to get attention would be to bring some pastries and a fresh fruit salad to share one day during the morning break. It's a friendly gesture I'm sure would be appreciated.
DEAR ABBY: My brother died 10 years ago. He was only 50. He was married for 15 years to a woman I'll call Alice. A few years later, Alice became engaged but never remarried because she would've lost my brother's benefits.
Her fiance died a couple of months ago, and now she's posting repeatedly on Facebook that she has lost "the love of her life." I think it's extremely disrespectful to my brother. I understand she may feel that way, but to continue to post it is a slap in the face to our brother. I've read your column for years, and you are usually spot on with your advice, so I would appreciate your opinion. -- SAD SISTER IN THE EAST
DEAR SAD SISTER: Alice's outpouring of emotion is less a slap in the face to your deceased brother than biting the hand that has fed her all these years. She isn't thinking about how her comments are affecting you and her other former in-laws, and there's nothing to be gained by trying to shut her up now. You will be happier if you stop reading her Facebook posts, and that's what I recommend you do.
DEAR ABBY: I have a relative who has, over the years, gotten many colorful tattoos on his arms, back and chest. I make no value judgments about this, but I am curious about what in today's culture motivates people to get tattoos, and why many people can't seem to get enough of them. -- CURIOUS IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR CURIOUS: People get inked for a variety of reasons. Among them: because they are currently in fashion, they think they are pretty, to mark milestones in their life, someone they admire has one or more, or because their friends are doing it. And I suspect that some individuals turn their bodies into canvasses because the practice is somehow addictive.
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 $8 (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.)