DEAR ABBY: My wife constantly craves compliments about her age. When we meet people, she regularly asks how old they are, which I think is rude and inappropriate. Then she asks me if I know how old they are, and I say "no" because I don't think it's any of my business. She then asks them, "How old do you think I am?" Almost always they guess low, which makes her happy.
She thinks there's something wrong with me for not being curious about someone's age. Abby, is it appropriate when meeting someone to ask how old he or she is? To me, it's like asking how much they weigh -- which is also none of my business! Is my wife rude, or am I the one with the problem? I like people but don't need the intimate details of their lives. -- MINDING MY OWN BUSINESS
DEAR MINDING: Many people dislike being asked their age, and to ask that question of a stranger is not appropriate. That your wife raises the subject because she seeks validation about her looks is sad. I'm guessing she will stop doing it when people answer her question honestly.
DEAR ABBY: Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I donate one of my framed oil paintings for fundraising. On one of these occasions, my friend and her husband purchased raffle tickets and won my painting. They happily took it home.
Months later, there was to be a silent auction at an event. My friend asked if I would mind if she donated that painting to it. It disturbed me that she obviously didn't care to keep my painting, but I told her that she owned it and it was hers to do with as she chose.
To this day this incident stirs up resentment because she obviously didn't wish to keep my artwork. Am I childish to harbor this disappointment? -- DEJECTED ARTIST IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR ARTIST: If your friend hadn't liked your painting, she wouldn't have bid for it. For whatever reason -- wrong size, colors didn't fit in with her color scheme -- it didn't work for her. Resentment is a disease that eats away at relationships. Let it go.
DEAR ABBY: I am 14 and have started dating a guy. "Jake" is really sweet and nice to me, but he also has some depression. I feel like if I break up with him, he will start hurting himself. I really like him, but my parents also don't know we are dating. He wants to be together forever, but I'm not sure what's best for me. For now, I want to focus on school and sports. What should I do? -- TEEN IN COLORADO
DEAR TEEN: You are an intelligent young woman. Tell Jake that your parents don't want you dating until you are older. It is no reflection on him; it is the truth. Explain that, right now, you plan to focus on school and sports and suggest that it wouldn't hurt him to do the same. If he reacts by threatening to harm himself, tell your parents or a trusted teacher so they can inform his parents and he can get the emotional support he needs, and possibly professional help.
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.)