DEAR ABBY: While I am not from the South, many of my relatives are. They all were raised in medium to large cities, not rural areas. I'm embarrassed when they use crude terms and call their parents "Ma" and "Pa" in public. These are well-educated people, but they come across sounding like hicks and buffoons.
They think it's funny, but no one outside our family does. If someone laughs with them, it's because of embarrassment or discomfort. No one else is willing to speak up and when I try to, they make me feel like I'm a spoiled brat.
If these people were from rural areas or uneducated/uncultured I'd understand, but they're not. The sound of their "fake hickness" is like fingernails on a chalkboard! Please help. -- KEEPING IT REAL IN LAGUNA BEACH, CALIF.
DEAR KEEPING IT REAL: I'm sorry that visits from your relatives are so painful for you. However, I see nothing wrong with calling one's parents "Ma" and "Pa" if those are the names they have been called all their lives. Believe me, I have heard parents called much worse.
The best advice I can offer would be for you to grow a thicker skin and, if that doesn't work, spend less time with your relatives. With your attitude, you'll be doing them a favor.