DEAR ABBY: Today, after an absence of many years, I met a former employee. He looked the same as he did, except he had no hair. He said he felt fine but -- could it be cancer? Chemotherapy? Should one comment? I ignored it and we exchanged small talk going back several decades. Would it have been proper to ask about his baldness? -- CURIOUS IN NEW ENGLAND
DEAR CURIOUS: The questions, "How are you?" and "How have you been?" are a part of normal discourse. If his response was he is "fine," then that's an indication that he didn't want to discuss his changed appearance. He could be in treatment for cancer. He could also have an immune disorder that caused him to lose his hair. Because he didn't volunteer more information, you were right not to question him.