DEAR ABBY: I feel lucky to have a wonderful circle of friends. We've always been there for each other, in good times and bad.
However, one of these individuals (I'll call her Ruth) has a more affluent lifestyle than the rest of us. Ruth and her husband earn professional incomes that allow her to enjoy the finer things in life.
She is well aware of the fact that most of us are unable to live the way she does. The problem: When any of us purchases new clothing, furniture, etc., she invariably asks -- in front of everyone -- where it came from, who designed it, if it was on sale, etc.
Apparently this information is important to her because she's always talking about where she purchased her designer outfit and how much it cost.
Can you give me a clever comeback for the next time the interrogation begins? I'd like to put Ruth in her place without destroying our friendship. By the way, she's pretty good about dishing out criticism, but not at taking it. -- OFFENDED IN THE SOUTH
DEAR OFFENDED: Since Ruth is part of your "wonderful circle of friends" who have "always been there for each other in good times and bad," give her the benefit of the doubt. She may just be trying to make conversation, or to compliment you on your taste, so there is no reason to put her down.
Take her aside and tell her privately that her questions make you uncomfortable, and why. If she continues to quiz you publicly, smile and say, "I've told you before, I'd rather not discuss it." And change the subject.