DEAR ABBY: I am a 43-year-old male with major dental issues to take care of. Because I have no insurance, and dental work is costly, I plan to have my treatment overseas. A close friend has arranged for me to stay with his parents for two weeks while I'm there.
The parents were here on vacation recently, and I spent a lot of time with them and we got to bond a little. Everything was comfortable because my friend was there as a "buffer" to enhance the conversation. However, because of the difference in our background, culture and, particularly, our ages, I know I'll feel awkward being in their home during my stay. I'm afraid of running out of topics to talk about. I would rather stay in a hotel and spend some time with them, but that would probably be an insult to my friend who graciously offered his help.
Cancelling my trip is obviously not an option. I need some wise advice and suggestions on what I can do while staying with this elderly couple. -- SHY GUY IN MIAMI
DEAR SHY GUY: First, ask your friend what you should bring his parents as a house gift. Second, take along an English/whatever-language-his-parents-speak dictionary to help you all translate what you need to say.
Third, just be yourself. And last but not least, remember that older people are just like you, with the same feelings you have, just grayer. Because you are having extensive dental work done, they will understand if you aren't a fountain of conversation. But do try, and I'm sure whatever efforts you make will be appreciated.