DEAR ABBY: I am a 27-year-old woman who lives alone in a house I own. Sometimes strangers come to the house for various reasons — plumbers, electricians, etc.
One question I am frequently asked is, "Do you live alone?" I just don't know how to answer that question without feeling like someone might take advantage of me. Can you help me and other single women by providing an appropriate response?
— CAUTIOUS BACHELORETTE, HUNTSVILLE, ALA.
DEAR BACHELORETTE: Gladly. Your gut instincts are on target. I ran your question by my local police department. While I do not usually advise readers to lie, this is the exception that proves the rule. If you are asked if you live alone, reply: "No, I do not live alone. My boyfriend (brother, nephew, etc.) lives here too. Why do you ask?"
DEAR ABBY: My parents are in their 60s and very healthy. Dad has always been frugal. But ever since his retirement, saving a buck seems to be the only thing that makes him happy. Mom and Dad are comfortably well off, but all they seem to think about is saving money.
My sibling and I are doing well enough that we don't need to rely on inheritance money. We would rather see them enjoy life than hold onto that money for us. Is Dad bored, or does he need a hobby?
It has reached the point where it's embarrassing to go anywhere with them because Dad berates waiters at restaurants and argues with store clerks over prices. When we're shopping, he "disappears" until everything is paid for. When I tell him I didn't expect him to pay, he gets defensive and denies he was hiding. What do you make of this?
— PULLING MY HAIR OUT
DEAR PULLING: I make of it that your parents are healthy, retired with less money at their disposal than — perhaps — they had counted on, and expect to live a long time. That may be what is driving your already frugal father's behavior.
Many retirees today are doing with far less because of the financial turmoil over the last few years. Some have had to postpone their retirement entirely.
Because your father is arguing with servers over the price of food — which is not their fault because they don't set the prices on the menu — take him to less expensive restaurants. And if his behavior when you're shopping embarrasses you, find other ways to spend time with him.
DEAR ABBY: I am a college student and four months pregnant. This is my first pregnancy and I'm having a baby shower. I recently heard that sometimes males are invited to the shower. I would like to know if this is appropriate and if I can do it. My mother thinks it's tacky, but this is 2010! Is it acceptable?
— JESSICA IN CONNECTICUT
DEAR JESSICA: Yes, it is acceptable. Allow me to quote from Emily Post's Etiquette, 17th Edition: "It is not uncommon for men to be included on baby shower guest lists these days — and some lucky guys become shower honorees. (An Emily Post Institute survey showed that over a third of respondents had attended showers where the guest list was mixed.)"
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.