DEAR ABBY: I would like to share my pet peeve with you. It's being invited to "sales parties" for kitchenware, beauty products, etc. I can't afford to spend money at these so-called parties because I have three children to feed.
I would prefer not to disclose my financial situation to every person who issues these invitations, which arrive sometimes on a weekly basis. I have tried to tell friends that I am busy that night, and they either find out that I really don't have plans or try to sign me up for an "outside order." I have shared with a few friends that I am on a strict budget, and they reply with "just come and don't buy anything."
That's not a workable solution, because the consultants see the word "no" as a challenge and won't take "no" for an answer. Also, it's intimidating to see everyone else pull out their checkbooks. How can I get uninvited permanently so I can stop avoiding the mailbox? -- CAN'T AFFORD MY FRIENDS IN ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.
DEAR CAN'T: Real friends don't subject friends to embarrassment or use them to get special deals by promoting commercial products. Ignore the solicitations as you would any other, and don't feel guilty. If you're questioned, just say you weren't interested in buying -- it's the truth.