DEAR ABBY: I have come to dread family gatherings. My extended family holds a different political perspective than I. It seems like at every occasion they sit around and expound on the good points of their candidate or elected official, while belittling the opposition and ridiculing his or her supporters. I have tried on several occasions to change the subject or tell them I don't wish to discuss politics, to no avail.
Recently at a family party, I sat down with some relatives I hadn't seen in a long time in an effort to reconnect. They soon began their political bashing. I excused myself to go to the bathroom, only to discover that while I was gone they had discussed my political leanings. When I attempted to go to another room, a relative asked whom I was voting for. I said my vote was a private matter — and the statement prompted peals of laughter in the room.
I would really like to spend time with my family, but with the elections coming up, I feel the need to avoid them. Please assist me on how to handle this.
— NO POLITICS (OR RELIGION) PLEASE, IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR NO P. OR R.: The surest way is to avoid them until all the votes are counted, after which they'll be so weary of politics that you won't be bothered again — until the next election.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 25-year-old woman who moved in with a friend, "Natasha," who is also 25, after her boyfriend of seven years kicked her out three months ago.
One of the conditions of my moving in was that I'd get to use her car for work and errands because I'd be moving out of my mother's house and had shared Mom's car.
Well, I accidentally spilled a drink in Natasha's car while I was using it, and she revoked my privilege to drive it. I'm looking for a car of my own, but I have already spent a great deal of money to move in with Natasha and help her in her time of need.
I understand that the car is Natasha's property, and she can do with it as she pleases. But I'm concerned that she went back on her word so quickly into our living situation. She has now started leaving me nasty, belittling little notes and is scathing with her choice of words. She refuses to talk to me and will communicate with me now only through writing. I'd like to take the high road, but I'm having a hard time finding it.
Until now, I enjoyed living with her, and I don't want to end our arrangement. How can I have backbone but still be a good friend and roommate?
— STRANDED IN A SMALL TOWN IN ILLINOIS
DEAR STRANDED: Because of the way your roommate is acting, it may not be possible. While I can understand Natasha being upset about the drink you spilled in her car, it appears she has gone a little over the top — unless there are other things about you that also make her angry. (Was the vehicle cleaned to her satisfaction after the mishap?)
It would be helpful if you could have a frank, face-to-face discussion. You need to hear what's on her mind, minus the nastiness. If she is unwilling, then you should look for other living arrangements as soon as possible.
P.S. Wouldn't it be interesting if the reason for her change in attitude is a desire to reunite with her boyfriend?
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.