DEAR ABBY: I am 27 and have been a vegetarian for five years. I am trying to develop a thick skin when it comes to people who question or make fun of my choice, but I'm tired of laughing and letting the comments "roll off" my back.
When my grandfather sits near me at a family event, he will analyze my plate, look at me in disgust and then tell me, "Carrots have feelings, too."
When I go to a well-known sandwich shop, I order a basic and "boring" sandwich, which I really enjoy. The sandwich makers give me funny looks and ask, "That's all?" or, "You're spending five bucks on THIS?" followed by laughter or a shake of their heads. One even asked me if I was crazy!
I am tired of people questioning what I eat or what kind of sandwich I choose to spend my money on. I don't make comments or question those who eat meat. What is the best response to people who are so rude about my choices?
— HERBIVORE BY CHOICE IN NEW YORK
DEAR HERB: Sorry, there is no one-size-fits-all snappy one-liner. But take comfort in the fact that a growing number of people are choosing to avoid meat and poultry not only for the ethical reasons, but also because they prefer to avoid the hormones and antibiotics used in the production of these food products.
When someone comments or questions you, it's important to consider the source as well as the intent behind the remarks. Your grandfather may be trying to be humorous — or he may be showing concern because he comes from a generation that didn't learn there can be benefits from a vegetarian diet. Because he's getting under your skin, rather than take the bait, sit next to some other relatives at family events.
As to the employee at the sandwich shop — the person may be trying to "sell you up." After all, the more ingredients in your sandwich, the more expensive it will be. I completely agree that ridiculing a customer is not only bad manners but also bad for business — and the next time it happens, do not hesitate to complain about it to the manager.
DEAR ABBY: For the last three years I have been dating a woman who, 15 years ago, divorced an Army colonel after 20 years of marriage. She loved the prestige of being an officer's wife.
There always seems to be a reason why she must mention her ex, no matter what the topic is. I finally told her it seemed like she missed him. Now, instead of saying his name, she says, "When we were in Germany, we did this ..." or, "When we lived in Idaho we used to ..." No matter what I say, she never fails to find a way to tell a story about life with her ex.
I am an Army vet and I cannot mention anything about the Army because if I do, she'll one-up me with yet another war story about him. And when we are together in public, she never misses a chance to disclose that we do not live together, and she always speaks in the singular regarding her plans.
Is her conduct an indication that she's unhappy with me? If not, what's going on?
— OVERSHADOWED IN SALEM, ORE.
DEAR OVERSHADOWED: Let's see. First of all, this woman is surprisingly insensitive to your feelings. Second, when people feel the need to "one-up" others, it usually stems from insecurity. Third, when a woman consistently points out that she and her companion of three years "don't live together" and speaks in the singular about her plans, it's a strong indication that she doesn't regard herself as part of a couple.
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.