DEAR ABBY: In 1964, I read a column of your mother's that hit home with me. It was about a man leaving his wife, a lady, for a tramp. I was enduring a similar situation at that time, and my mother cut the column out and gave it to me to comfort me. The clipping, now fragile and yellowed with age, was a contributing factor in my healing.
Now I'd like to do the same for others who are experiencing my pain. There appears to be an epidemic of spousal infidelity here.
It would help them if you would reprint that article. Curiosity prompts me to inquire whether professionals were consulted regarding that inspired response. Would you please consider printing it again? -- LONGTIME READER IN NEW YORK
DEAR LONGTIME READER: No professional was consulted; my mother was a woman of great insight. The letter first appeared in 1964. It is one of my favorites, and I'm pleased to reprint it. Read on:
"DEAR ABBY: Why will a married man pick up a tramp and treat her like a lady, then turn around and treat his wife (who is a lady) like a tramp? -- MINNIE
"DEAR MINNIE: A man picks up a tramp because he wants a female companion who is no better than he is. In her company, he doesn't feel inferior. He rewards her by treating her like a lady.
"He treats his wife (who is a lady) like a tramp because he feels that by degrading her, he will bring her down to his level. This makes him feel guilty, so to get even with his wife for making him feel guilty, he keeps right on punishing her."
Years later, a reader asked, "What is the difference between a lady and a tramp?" Mother was stumped, so she asked the readers for their input. Their answers were enlightening -- and reviewing them is like looking into a time capsule.
"The difference between a lady and tramp? About three drinks." -- TENDS BAR IN MILWAUKEE
"A lady goes out, goes home and goes to bed. A tramp goes out, goes to bed, then goes home." -- MURPH
"There's no difference. Kipling said, 'The Colonel's lady and Judy O'Grady are sisters under their skin.'" -- F.C.H. IN TEXARKANA
"The difference between a lady and a tramp is men with big mouths." -- MET A FEW
"A lady draws a line. The tramp falls for it." -- ROBERT BYRNE
"A lady is chaste. A tramp is chased." -- ROBERT FROM SAN DIEGO
"There are no tramps. Only lonely ladies." -- MARGIE FROM MANSFIELD
"A lady lies around and sleeps. A tramp sleeps around and lies." -- J.S. IN ASHLAND, ORE.
"You pay a tramp in advance -- but a lady costs more in the long run." -- WESTPORT PETE
"A lady is the female you're living with right now. A tramp is the one you used to live with." -- CHICAGOAN
"A lady lives for a loving. A tramp loves for a living." -- CHUCK IN FAWN GROVE, PA.
"A 'lady' is the woman my father left. A 'tramp' is the woman he left her for." -- STILL MAD AFTER 14 YEARS
"The difference between a lady and a tramp is discretion. I should know. I've been both." -- RICH AND FAMOUS
"There is no difference. Both are the children of God." -- KENNETH A. FRITCHMAN, HELLAM, PA.