DEAR ABBY: My mother is married to a pervert Ill call Harry. He has destroyed our family. Harry has made sexual comments to my sister and me about our bodies until we finally moved out of our mothers home when we reached 18. His behavior stopped for a long time, until my daughter, Allie, began to develop. After she turned 11, the sexual comments started again. Harry also began calling her names, and saying that if she were his daughter he would slap her mouth.
It has reached the point that we no longer visit Mother nor do we attend family functions. At the last one we attended, Harry kept staring at Allie and following her around. It made her sick to her stomach, so we went home.
My grandmother died last December. She was very ill the last six months, but we would see her only when she was in the hospital because Mother and Harry live in the house next door to hers, and he kept showing up when I was there.
Now my grandfather is all alone. Id like for my children and me to be able to visit, but again Harry is always there. I have tried talking to my mother, but its one excuse after another. I had hoped she would have a relationship with her grandchildren, but we cant invite her to our home for a picnic or a party because she wont come without him. Please help.
HEARTSICK IN BUFFALO
DEAR HEARTSICK: If your grandfather isnt already aware of the problem with Harry, he should be told. You do not have to visit him at his house; you can pick him up and take him out for a meal or take him to your home. If you havent already resigned yourself to the fact that your mother isnt going to have a relationship with your children, please rethink the wisdom of her having one. You have described a woman who tolerated the sexual harassment of her two daughters and grandchild. She made her choice long ago, and you are all better off keeping your distance from her and her husband.
DEAR ABBY: Im ready to tear my hair out. My boyfriend of two years refuses to divorce his wife. He tells everyone he wants to marry me. He says he doesnt love her, he just doesnt have time to go and get the divorce.
She was in a mental hospital for a while for killing her boyfriend. Now they talk a lot, and he says he feels sorry for her. I want him to get the divorce so he can marry me.
Am I pushing too hard on this, because I told him if he isnt divorced by July 4, I am leaving.
CONFUSED IN INDIANA
DEAR CONFUSED: I dont think youre pushing too hard, and I also dont think he is being completely honest with you. Your timing seems logical to me. What better time to declare your independence than Independence Day?
DEAR ABBY: Twice now, I have inquired about the beautiful accents of strangers. One was a cashier and the other was a bank employee. Both seemed embarrassed and unwilling to reveal their country of origin.
Was this attempt to show personal interest actually a tactless invasion? Is there a rule of etiquette on this subject? I never meant to put anyone on the spot.
SEAN IN AFTON, VA.
DEAR SEAN: Some people are sensitive about revealing their background because of the circumstances that brought them to this country war, poverty, torture, loss of family members. Although your question was well meant, it is better to let time pass, let them get to know you, and get to know them before venturing into such personal territory. If they want you to have the information, they will volunteer it. It should not be necessary to ask.
DEAR ABBY: My girlfriend, Rita, and I have been together almost two years, and living together for about a year. We have decided to marry, but have not yet set a date.
Recently our marriage plans have run aground because I told her that I had made changes in my estate planning. I assigned Rita as my 100 percent beneficiary for my savings/retirement benefits. She will also get 75 percent of my state retirement benefits; my sister will get the other 25 percent. In addition, I also had my $100,000 life insurance policy increased to $300,000. I allocated one-third of that for her, the rest to my parents. (Until recently, she had not been assigned a percentage of anything.)
Rita is very upset that I did not make her my sole beneficiary. She says that traditionally, a spouse leaves everything to the other spouse. She says that by assigning her less than 100 percent, I have not made her the No. 1 priority in my life. Based on your knowledge and experience, is her request reasonable, or am I headed for disaster?
DEAR GETTING WORRIED: Let me put it this way. You should not be faulted for wanting to make sure that your parents and your sister are taken care of if anything should happen to you. It appears your girlfriend has a calculator where her heart ought to be. If I were you, Id run for the hills.
DEAR ABBY: A close friend of mine my college roommate is being married in three months. Because we are close, he asked me to be one of his groomsmen.
The problem is, I do not approve of the woman he is marrying. Shes controlling, talks down to him, and degrades him in front of family and friends. I think she is just plain cold-hearted. She is the same way with friends and family. He makes excuses for her behavior, so I know he sees it as well.
Should I still stand up in his wedding, even though I dont think they should be married? If I dont, it is sure to put extreme stress on our friendship. I have tried to talk to him, but he doesnt seem to hear me. Help!
RED FLAGS IN OHIO
DEAR RED FLAGS: It takes character to take a stand and do what is right. Being a member of the wedding party implies that you endorse the marriage. Because you cannot do that, you need to level with your friend, and explain that because you care so much for him and his future, you cannot be in his wedding. Do it soon, so you can be replaced without a hassle.
DEAR ABBY: When taking advantage of a restaurants offer of buy one meal, get one free, what is the proper way to calculate the tip? Should a percentage be calculated on the price of the first meal only, for which the diners are actually billed, or for the value of the two meals combined? Also, what is the current tip percentage for adequate service? (A free dinner is riding on your answer!)
STUCK FOR THE TIP
DEAR STUCK: The current tip percentage for adequate service in a restaurant is 15 percent. And, when taking advantage of the buy one, get one free offer, you should calculate the tip as though you had actually paid for the two meals. (Its called not stiffing the server.)
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