DEAR ABBY: Is it me, or do others agree that it's tacky to announce to anyone within earshot how much money someone has spent on an item? I have a friend who brags constantly about the amount she spends on clothing and other things. I also suspect that she inflates the actual figures most of the time. How would you respond to a statement such as, "This new shirt I bought cost me $200"?
— NOT A SPENDTHRIFT IN BALTIMORE
DEAR NOT A SPENDTHRIFT: It depends upon how I wanted her to feel. If I wanted to make her feel guilty, I'd say, "Gee, that's the amount I just donated to the food bank." If I wanted her to feel envious, I'd tell her, "Really? I just put that amount in high-yield CDs." And if I wanted to make her miserable, I'd say, "It just went on sale at 70 percent off."
Or I could tell her the shirt is beautiful — but that wouldn't be as much fun.
DEAR ABBY: For the life of me, I cannot understand why being a single person seems to make some people uncomfortable. Occasionally, I really do want to do something by myself. If I say, "One for dinner," why would someone ask, "Are you by yourself?" If I purchase one ticket for a show, why would someone try to find "someone nice" for me to sit next to?
I am not a rude person, but this happens often. I am astonished at the number of times I am made to feel that I must provide some sort of explanation. Does this happen to single men as well as to women? All I want is to be treated with respect and not be made to feel as though I don't belong. Is there something I can say in these situations, or must I simply tolerate it?
— SINGLE DINER IN HOUSTON
DEAR SINGLE DINER: The people who say these things and make these offers are well-meaning, and yes, it does happen to single men, too. The way to handle it is to smile sweetly and reply, "Thank you, but that won't be necessary."
DEAR ABBY: I'm 39 and a college graduate with plenty of common sense. I'm not stupid, yet throughout my life I have had trouble differentiating between left and right, east and west. Any explanation?
— LOST IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR LOST: There is a name for your problem. It's "directional dyslexia," and intelligence level has nothing to do with it. Fortunately for you, cell phones can be outfitted with GPS devices to help you find your way.
And as to your difficulty differentiating between left and right, hold both hands in front of you with palms out and thumbs touching. Notice how the angle of your left hand forms an "L"? I hope this solves your problem.
DEAR ABBY: Please help me. Several years ago, my granddaughter — age 17 — beat me up. It was awful. She beat me all over and broke my knee. I have forgiven her, but somehow it eats at me. What should I do? I will never forget that beating, which happened because I wouldn't let her drive my car.
— GEORGIA GRANDMOTHER
DEAR GRANDMOTHER: May I be blunt? It's amazing that you were able to forgive your granddaughter for her unforgivable behavior. But forgiving does not mean that you should ever forget what happened to you. My advice is to keep your distance and never be alone with her because her impulse control is absent, and she could have killed you.
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.