DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Roger" -- 64 and retired -- has a crush on a 25-year-old woman who lives in our small community and who runs a dress shop I frequent. Roger is usually quiet and reserved, but when he sees "Patti," he utters loud cries and runs to her side. He examines every detail of her clothing, makeup, etc., and takes her hand and compliments her on her soft skin, her ring or the color of her nail polish.
From the expression on her face and the looks she exchanges with the other women in the shop, it's clear she considers him a pest.
I have spoken up and said, "Patti must have a grandfather your age," or, "There's no fool like an old fool," but Roger ignores it. My concern is that he's making a fool of himself in public and, by extension, me. I'm so embarrassed, I can no longer walk into my favorite dress shop. Patti is popular. She has many dates and is not interested in Roger. I hate to be pitied by others. What can I do to stop this? -- OLD FOOL'S WIFE IN ALABAMA
DEAR WIFE: Roger's "crush" is a reflection on him, not you, so keep your cool and please stop calling him an old fool. It's insulting and belittling, so of course he'll tune you out. Try this instead, "Roger, when you act the way you do when you're around Patti, it's embarrassing to me. That's why I prefer you no longer accompany me when I go there."
Then, when you shop for clothing, go without him. And instruct Patti and the saleswomen that if Roger drops by without you to tell him he's welcome -- IF he's buying something for you. That way, instead of a problem, you'll have a windfall, and so will they. You can even leave a "wish list" with Patti in advance.