DEAR READERS: I'll be on vacation between Aug. 18 and Aug. 31. Don't panic -- I've selected some of my favorite letters from past years to fill the gap. I hope you enjoy them.
DEAR ABBY: I used to own my own business and usually kept hours from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., six days a week. When I started to talk about retiring, my wife said, "When you retire, you'd better find somewhere to go because I don't want you hanging around the house, under my feet all day!"
I thought she was kidding. But after I sold my business and actually retired, I found out she wasn't kidding.
So, Dear Abby, where do you suggest I go? I'm reasonably intelligent and in good health. -- TIME ON MY HANDS
DEAR TIME: You rattled the right cage! In light of the current budget cutbacks in programs for education and for the handicapped and senior citizens, volunteers are badly needed.
Contact your area volunteer center. You will be amazed and delighted at the variety of activities that are available to you. Or look in the Yellow Pages under "Social Service and Welfare Organizations." Offer your services. Some organization will thank you, and you'll thank me. (And so will your wife.)
DEAR ABBY: How do I handle a habitual eavesdropper who sits at the desk next to me in an office where we are both employed? Whenever she sees me talking on the telephone, or if someone comes to my desk to talk to me, Ms. Eavesdropper turns off her typewriter and listens to what I'm saying.
Eavesdropping is one thing, but she even joins in on the conversation and asks questions about whatever it is we're discussing.
I don't want to start a fight because I have to see her every day, but I would like to put an end to this. Any suggestions? -- IRRITATED AND FRUSTRATED
DEAR IRRITATED: Anything less than a direct confrontation would be ineffective in dealing with one so obviously insensitive. Simply tell Ms. Eavesdropper that it's not nice to shut off her typewriter and listen in on other people's conversations. If you tell her in a friendly, helpful way, you'll probably get results. If you keep your frustration bottled up and your irritation builds, you'll probably get ulcers.
DEAR ABBY: Please, please put something in your column about the futility of sneaking around to date married men! My beautiful 24-year-old daughter is having an affair with a married man, and nothing I say can stop her. He's twice her age and gives no hope of leaving his wife. He works in our small town and goes home to his wife on his days off, but my daughter sees him when she can.
I am afraid the whole town (including his wife) will find out about it, and I don't want to see my daughter dragged through a divorce court, but she won't listen to me. Maybe she will listen to you. -- NO TOWN, PLEASE
DEAR NO TOWN: Love is not only blind, it's deaf as well. The best case against going with a married man is not the futility of it -- it's finally getting him. Then what do you have? A husband who cheats on his wife. Some bargain!
DEAR ABBY: The question has arisen in some of our singles' coffee "get-togethers," who should pay for the baby sitter? I am a single guy dating a divorcee with two children. When I ask her out, should I pay the sitter? Or should she? -- V. IN FARMINGTON, N.M.
DEAR V.: Single women (divorced or widowed) are usually living on a tight budget, especially with small children to raise, so I would suggest that you offer to pay the sitter. If the woman feels that it is either unnecessary or inappropriate, she will object, in which case you can back off.
DEAR READERS: If you would like your letter considered for publication, please include your name, area code and telephone number.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)