DEAR ABBY: I am a lesbian. My girlfriend and I have been dating for six months. We have an awesome relationship and are very happy and open with each other.
I know she has dated guys in the past -- so have I -- so I'm not worried about that nonsense at all. But I recently found something of hers that surprised me. It was a container of pregnancy tests, and one was missing with a Plan B pill alongside of it. I am not mad about it because I know stuff happens, but I would rather that it not happen in our apartment.
I'm tempted to bring it up, but I would honestly rather not discuss it at all. I just don't want anything happening in the apartment. Would it be weird if I just threw the stuff out without telling her, or should I say something?
What if she wants to keep it? I don't think that would be the case, but it would start a fight because, as a female couple, we obviously don't need a pregnancy test. I know I am overthinking this, and I could use some advice on how to handle this uncomfortable situation. -- SURPRISED ABOUT IT
DEAR SURPRISED: I'm glad you asked. Do NOT "quietly" throw out those pregnancy tests or the medication. I don't know what kind of arrangement you have with your live-in girlfriend, but if fidelity was part of the agreement, you should absolutely talk with her about what you found. It does not have to degenerate into a fight, but it's important that you know why she feels the need to be in an intimate relationship, regardless of gender, with someone else.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have a wonderful life and much to be thankful for, but we have no children and are usually alone on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everyone makes such a fuss about sharing these holidays with loved ones, but I become depressed during this season.
I do volunteer work on these holidays, but still feel sad and like everyone else in the country is having a better time than I am. Any suggestions? -- NOT SO JOLLY IN ARIZONA
DEAR NOT SO JOLLY: You must be a new reader of my column or you would know that every year around holiday time I receive letters from people like you, expressing that rather than feeling joyful and elated, they feel depressed and deprived. Some of it may be the result of the incessant marketing of these holidays, which gives the impression that "everyone" is having a grand old time sipping cider, stuffing themselves with turkey and caroling under the windows of their neighbors.
An antidote for your holiday blues might be to do more than volunteer. Why don't you and your husband plan to do something special to treat yourselves, rather than stay home feeling like everyone else is enjoying themselves? Choose a different destination each year to visit and learn about.
Or invite some friends or acquaintances to join you at home. There's a saying that misery loves company, and in your case, company might be the solution to the problem.
DEAR ABBY: My 8-year-old daughter keeps asking me for a smartphone. I'm at a loss about who she would call besides me and her dad. She points out these different kids her age who have phones. They are the same kids I view as ones who will have no curfew, boyfriends at 12 and parents who aren't as involved as we are. At what age do you feel kids should have smartphones? -- INVOLVED PARENT
DEAR INVOLVED PARENT: I don't think there is a magic number, but your daughter is definitely too young to have one. Smartphones can be dangerous when they are used irresponsibly. A flip phone, perhaps, for her to contact you in case of emergencies, might be appropriate.
Because her friends have smartphones is not a valid reason for her to have one. Before that happens, you must be confident that it will be used responsibly, and that you and her father will be able to review its history.
DEAR ABBY: Could you help all of us guys named Shelby spread the word that Shelby is not just for the female gender? Many boys and men like me have the handle and are proud of it. -- SHELBY FROM TEXAS
DEAR SHELBY: So do some automobiles! I'm glad to relay your message. Today many women have names that were once associated only with the masculine gender -- Cameron, Bailey, Logan, Morgan, to name a few -- and turnabout is fair play. I'm reminded of the song "A Boy Named Sue."
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 17-year-old girl and a junior in high school. I have a crush on a guy who's 14 and a freshman. I know age gaps don't matter as much later on, but the difference between 17 and 14 can be drastic. "Jake" is really sweet, and he's as interested in me as I am in him (unlike the boys in my grade).
I'm friends with Jake's sister "Julie," who's a year older than me and a senior. Julie has made it clear she doesn't like the idea of a romantic relationship between Jake and me because Jake is only 14.
What can I do? Should I ignore this crush? I have judged people who have dated despite age gaps. (For example, a senior boy dating a sophomore girl.) But now I understand it. If the girl is older, does that complicate things?
I don't want to be seen as creepy or gross, but, to be honest, I'm not that experienced romantically or socially myself. (I have never even been to a real party.) Must I forget my feelings and move on, or do I talk to Julie and try to pursue this? -- TEEN CRUSH
DEAR TEEN CRUSH: Julie has already given you her answer. As you have pointed out, there is a bias against dating someone so much younger, and it could cause you problems not only with your peers, but also with the law if your relationship were to become sexual when you turn 18. That's why I'm suggesting you turn your romantic interests elsewhere. When you're BOTH adults, if you're still interested, you can pursue a romantic relationship then.
DEAR ABBY: My fiance and I are being married in a few days. We are expecting our first child a few days after that. The problem is my mother. We decided on a small ceremony, but my mother is opposed to the marriage because she doesn't like the idea of me marrying -- not just my fiance, but anyone. She has always told me a man will leave me destitute, pregnant with too many kids, and I won't be able to take care of myself. She has repeated it since I was about 10.
Because she has threatened to object at the ceremony, we decided not to invite her. We have invited his parents and my father and stepmother. Mom has said she will not allow my child to see her grandfather because "he is a bad person." She may have good intentions, but dictating who can be around my child is not her choice, considering she has had little to no contact with him in 25 years.
I wish she could be at our wedding, but she has now distanced herself from me and my fiance. Should I let her cool off and hope she comes around, or accept that this is the path she has chosen? Please advise, Abby. -- PROBLEM MOTHER IN KENTUCKY
DEAR PROBLEM MOTHER: Your mother may be anti-marriage because hers failed spectacularly. She appears to be a troubled woman. By all means, let her cool off, but do not allow her to dictate your life. If she does, her anger and bitterness could negatively affect your marriage.
DEAR ABBY: The winter months are hard for me. They remind me that another year has gone by without my father and my younger sister.
Dad had been a smoker since his teens and died from pancreatic cancer at 39. I was 13, and my siblings were younger. In those days, we didn't know that smoking was a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.
My sister smoked from the time she was 13. She died from lung cancer at 44, leaving behind two young sons.
Neither my father nor my sister got to experience the wonderful family milestones and celebrations we have had. Their grandchildren will never know them. Each year during the holidays, I feel a sadness in my heart.
I urge every smoker to make a vow to quit and carry it through, not only for their own sake but also their family's. Stay determined to quit so you won't cause your loved ones sadness and won't miss out on their futures. With all my heart, I wish smokers the best of luck in quitting. -- MISSING DAD AND SIS IN SACRAMENTO
DEAR MISSING: I'm glad you wrote because the American Cancer Society's annual Great American Smokeout will be held on Nov. 16. It's a day when millions of smokers put down their cigarettes -- just for one day -- with the conviction that if they can go 24 hours without one, then they can do it for 48 hours, 72 hours, and stop smoking for good. The idea grew out of a 1970 event in Randolph, Massachusetts, and became a national event in 1977.
Readers, I'm not going to harangue you with death threats. We are all aware of the grim statistics associated with cancer-related deaths caused by tobacco. If you're interested in quitting, this is a perfect opportunity. Call (800) 227-2345 to be connected with counseling services in your community, provided with self-help materials offering information and strategies on quitting for good, and to receive information about medications available to help you quit. This service is free and provided 24/7. Or go online to cancer.org.
DEAR ABBY: I need your help. Over the past few weeks, I have been vacationing at my mother-in-law's home. The other day I was browsing on her computer and accidentally opened her browsing history. It turns out that she regularly looks at and responds to Craigslist personals.
I was shocked when I read some of the perverted requests she has responded to. The language she used would make a sailor blush. Keep in mind, my mother-in-law is a married woman.
I don't know how to react. Should I tell my wife? Keep it to myself? Make a fake Craigslist post and catch her in the act? -- KINKS IN THE FAMILY
DEAR KINKS: If you disclose this to your wife, it could damage her relationship with her mother. If she tells her mother what you found, it will create a breach in the family. If you trap the woman by creating a fake Craigslist post and she realizes she has been made a fool of, it will not -- to put it mildly -- endear you to her. Let it lie.
DEAR ABBY: Help! I'm a 67-year-old man being relentlessly chased by a 68-year-old woman. I have told her I want to date other women and will be moving out of the country at the end of the year. Despite this, she is constantly trying to maneuver me into an exclusive relationship, probably ending in living together. I don't want to hurt her, but I'm at a loss as to how to get her to back off. -- HAPPILY UNCOMMITTED
DEAR UNCOMMITTED: Here's how. Tell her you can't handle the pressure she's putting on you and end the relationship NOW.
DEAR ABBY: I am in a predicament. My therapist is great, but sometimes I think she shares too much. Last time I went, she was running late. When I finally got into her office, she told me the previous patient was nonverbal and had painted her nails during the session. Later in the session, she confided that years ago she had been date raped.
Abby, I am in counseling because my father raped me when I was 15 (I am now 24). Her sharing has me worried because I don't want her telling others what I say or do during counseling. Further, her story of the date rape scared me. She described a situation that is not uncommon for me to be in, and it caused something almost like a flashback in me. I think what she did was insensitive, to say the least.
I have nobody else to ask, so what should I do? I'm getting counseling for free now due to my income, and it took months to get set up with a counselor. Should I report her or accept that this was a mistake and say nothing? If I need to report her, how would I go about doing that? -- CONFLICTED ABOUT IT
DEAR CONFLICTED: You should change therapists because it appears this one has more problems than you do. As to what agency you should report her breach of professional ethics to, contact the state organization that has licensed her to practice.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069
DEAR DOCTOR: It seems like if you just wait long enough, everything about nutrition gets contradicted. So now fat is good, carbs are bad, and we don't really need more than 4 servings of vegetables a day? Really? Is everything we've been taught wrong?
DEAR READER: We hear this same frustration from many of our patients, and honestly, we're right there with you. Healthful eating is an important goal, but how are we supposed to achieve it if the rules keep changing?
When it comes to why nutrition advice keeps changing, several factors come into play: science, media and marketing.
Conclusions regarding diet and nutrition are frequently drawn from observational and epidemiological studies. Unlike in a clinical trial, where a single variable, such as a medication or a treatment approach, is scrutinized repeatedly in a randomized and rigidly controlled environment, observational and epidemiological studies draw conclusions by identifying and analyzing trends within large population groups.
Well-designed observational studies can provide valid results. But it's important to understand that the data they use include multiple variables that can't be controlled. Eggs and coffee are two culprit foods that have gone through the "it's bad"/"no, it's good" whiplash. Each of those foods was the focus as researchers combed through piles of data. However, the people in those studies were eating and drinking many more things. Add in variables like lifestyle and environment, and isolating the effect of eating any one specific food becomes challenging.
When researchers publish results that suggest a causal link between a certain food and a particular outcome, they acknowledge that it's just one single data point in an ongoing analysis. It takes time and repetition to reach a reliable conclusion. But scientific rigor pretty much flies out the window when it comes to how the emerging studies get publicized, which leads us to the second factor -- the media.
While scientists are saying, "In this one study, we see a link between eggs and heart disease," in the hands of over-eager newscasters, this is translated as "Eggs will kill you!" Meanwhile, time goes on. Many more studies are conducted. A decade or so later, armed with a wealth of data points collected over the years, the original thesis doesn't hold up. For the scientists, it's the nature of research -- precision and repetition over time. For the rest of us, it's a new -- and contradictory -- headline. "Eggs are good!"
Which brings us to marketing. Diet and nutrition are multibillion-dollar industries in the United States. That means that as food recommendations are crafted, a good bit of lobbying takes place. When new dietary guidelines were released in 2015, a number of nutrition experts, including Dr. David Heber, founding director of the Center for Human Nutrition at UCLA, bemoaned the influence of the food industry in the process.
We need to be savvy consumers of dietary information. And when it comes down to healthful eating, we recommend that our patients stick with the tried-and-true basics. That is, eat fish and lean meats, grains and legumes. Limit or cut out processed foods, and eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens. Limit sugar and alcohol. When you're thirsty, reach for a glass of water.
Eve Glazier, M.D., MBA, is an internist and assistant professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Elizabeth Ko, M.D., is an internist and primary care physician at UCLA Health.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write: Ask the Doctors, c/o Media Relations, UCLA Health, 924 Westwood Blvd., Suite 350, Los Angeles, CA, 90095. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Happenstance or convenience or whatever has caused me to spend a lot of time with a co-worker who gets on my nerves. She constantly talks about people from the moment she gets to work until she leaves in the evening. She and I are the only single people at our job, so we gravitated to each other due to our situation. We started going to happy hour sometimes, and even working out on occasion. Now I realize I can't take her endless negativity. How can I peel myself away from her without causing a rift at work? I don't want to end up being one of the people she starts talking about. -- Running for Cover, Monticello, New York
DEAR RUNNING FOR COVER: Friendships that begin based on convenience often become fraught with challenges over time, because they are cultivated for less-than-optimal reasons. That said, you do not have to commit to hanging out with this woman for the rest of your tenure at your company. You need to wean her off of your constant interactions with care and strategy.
Think about how you would prefer to spend your time. What hobbies might you want to take up after work? Join a class but simply tell her you are busy. Don't talk about the class, because she may want to join it too. Do extra work on some days so you become unavailable to eat together. Be proactive and get to know other members of your team. Just because they aren't single doesn't mean you have nothing in common. Spend time cultivating bonds with your boss and other co-workers. You can tell her that you want to get to know the whole team so that when she sees you doing it, your behavior won't come as a surprise.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am getting so tired of politics. My husband keeps some news channel on at every waking moment, and I have had it. I don't want to hear the crazy stuff coming from the White House or from the range of pundits that my husband is obsessed with watching. I have had enough. It isn't that I don't feel love or responsibility for my country. But I don't see anything changing, just people yelling at each other. We have two kids, and I don't want them to think that our country is made up of arguments with people getting nothing done. How can I limit the onslaught of news and protect my family? -- Turn it Off, Dallas
DEAR TURN IT OFF: Talk to your husband about the importance of creating safe space at home -- meaning safe from the woes of the world, both political and violent. Ask him to agree to turn off the TV during particular hours and in specific common rooms so the children's exposure is limited.
On key occasions, talk to your children about current events so they are aware of the political landscape. Help them form their own opinions about particular political topics appropriate to their ages. Help your children understand the mechanics of the political process as well. They can have a voice, if they choose, but your home doesn't have to be ground zero for every pundit to state his or her case.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel so bad. Somehow moths got into my family's winter clothes when they were stored away. We have just pulled out our sweaters and almost all of them have moth holes in them. I feel terrible that my children have to wear sweaters with holes, but I cannot afford to replace them. I am afraid my children are going to be ridiculed from wearing holey sweaters, but I don't know what to do. How can I suggest that they spin this situation so it doesn't seem so bad? -- Full of Holes, Boston
DEAR FULL OF HOLES: Sadly, many families are opening their winter clothes along with you to discover that moths have invaded. The first thing you should do is invest in mothballs. Even though some damage has already been done, you need to exterminate the moths that are in your home to prevent further damage in the coming days and weeks.
For the damaged clothing, you may be able to sew some of the holes. Invest in colored thread and carefully sew or darn -- if you know how to do that -- as many of the holes as possible. Some clothing may fare better with patches. Get creative.
To prevent moths from taking over your valuables in the future, be sure to keep all of your clothing clean, especially wool and cashmere items. Handwash immediately after you soil such clothing items, and keep them stored in airtight containers.
DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my best friends just confided in me that she and her husband are getting divorced. I am shocked. They seemed to be a solid couple. They have been married for years, and their youngest child has just left for college. I've heard about the empty nest syndrome, where couples sometimes break up when the kids are gone. I didn't think this would happen to them. I'm not quite sure what to do. We are friends with both the husband and the wife. How do I support my friend and deal with the grief I am feeling over what's to come? -- In the Middle, Fairfax, Virginia
DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: When couples break up, the divorce affects many more than the two of them or even their nuclear family. Usually it is difficult for people to stay close to both the husband and wife, simply due to logistics. You can try to maintain both relationships and watch to see how things unfold. You certainly can remain kind and discreet to both of them. It is best for you not to discuss the details of their relationship with anyone, even when you have "juicy" details. Keep that information confidential. It will help you to remain neutral as you also avoid fueling the fire of gossip that is bound to emerge in the coming months.
In terms of how you are feeling, be honest with yourself and with them. Admit that you are deeply saddened about their breakup. You can even encourage them to get counseling before they make it final. You may need counseling yourself depending on how you manage emotionally in the coming months. Getting professional support is better than relying on friends.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a single mom and have been taking care of my son ever since he was a baby. His father hasn't been in the picture much. Now that my son is growing up, he is asking about his father and requesting that he get to spend time with him. He wants to have his dad in his life. I am very worried about encouraging this, as my ex has been unreliable in the past. I would hate for my son to get his heart set on being with his dad only to get his feelings hurt. How can I manage this situation? -- Needing Daddy, Detroit
DEAR NEEDING DADDY: Start by having a conversation with your son's father. Be kind and hopeful in your tone. Tell him his son has been asking to spend more time with him, that he needs to know his father. Without trying to guilt this man into building a relationship with his son, be practical and point out that it would be great for them to get to know each other -- on terms that your ex can manage. If he agrees, ask him to schedule times when he is sure he can commit to spending time with his son.
For your son, manage expectations by saying his father will try to be more available to him and that the two of them should take it slowly. Note that this is new for everyone, so it could be bumpy at first.
For you, intervene if the dad is a no-show. You have to manage the development of this relationship.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was driving a group of teenagers to a baseball game when one of them opened the window and threw a banana peel out of the car. I was shocked. This child is close to my son and normally well-mannered. I pulled over, stopped the car and told him to get out with me and collect the banana peel to put it in the trash. He couldn't believe I did that, but he got out and picked it up.
Later my son told me how embarrassed he was that I picked on his friend like that. He said his friends won't want to hang out with him if his mother embarrasses them like that. I was so angry I didn't say anything to my son. How can I address this so my son understands how egregious his friend's behavior was? -- Crossing the Line, Atlanta
DEAR CROSSING THE LINE: Point out to your son that littering is illegal and immoral. It is our job to take care of our planet, not pollute it. That goes for your son at all times and his friends when they are in your company. Acknowledge that you did not intend to humiliate this young man. You did need to uphold your values, which meant the friend had to pick up his litter. Add that your son should reinforce good environmental habits with his friends.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm part of a group that takes an annual trip to a wonderful location. I have been traveling with them for about 15 years, and it's lots of fun. This year is different for me. I have been diagnosed with a serious health condition, and my doctors do not want me to travel. I am so upset because I look forward to spending time with my friends every year. Plus, I don't really want to talk about my medical problems. Should I go and risk what may happen? After all, life is short. If I decide not to go, how do I tell my friends without getting too detailed about my situation? -- Torn, Silver Spring, Maryland
DEAR TORN: You should follow your doctor's orders as far as travel goes. Throwing caution to the wind when traveling with a group of friends who would be unaware of your health condition would be selfish and potentially catastrophic, not just for you, but for them if they have to care for you should you fall ill while you are traveling.
What do you tell them? As much as you would love to join them, you are dealing with a health matter that requires you to stay at home this time. You don't have to say more. When asked, say you would rather not talk about it at this time.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106
BONNE TERRE -- Rick Pence, 57, of Bonne Terre passed away November 11, 2017, at his residence surrounded by his loving family. He was born on November 22, 1959, in St. Louis to Albert “Abby” E. and Carol Lee (Miller) Kohut. He was a member of the New Life Assembly of God Church. Rick was very active in his church where he went on several mission trips. He was an avid Green Bay Packers fan and loved being outdoors. He was preceded in death by his father, Albert “Abby” Kohut and a sister, Dawn Pence.
Rick is survived by his wife, Brenda Kay (Martin) Pence; mother, Carol Lee (Miller) Kohut; children, Sherie, Charissa, Joshua and Justin Pence; step-daughter, Amy Simmons; nine grandchildren, Quinton, Brendan, Layla, Keeghan, Jayden, Joshua Jr., Keyari, Gabriella and Bryson; siblings, Sheryl Rosenmiller and husband Steve, Shane Kohut, Shannon SanSouncie and husband Kirby, Randy Pence and wife Cindy, Kim Smith and husband Warren, Tina Hoover and husband Wayne, Russell Pence and wife Dena; a host of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends are all left to mourn his passing.
Visitation will be Monday, November 13, 2017, from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the C.Z. Boyer & Son Funeral Home in Bonne Terre. Service will be Tuesday, November 14, 2017, at 11 a.m. at C.Z. Boyer & Son Chapel in Bonne Terre with Pastor Kevin Kappler officiating. Burial to follow at Bonne Terre Cemetery. Memorials may be directed to the family in care of C.Z. Boyer & Son Funeral Home in Bonne Terre. View obituary and share condolences online at www.czboyer.com.
DESLOGE -- Joshua Harvell, 31, of Farmington, passed away November 12, 2017. He was born December 10, 1985, in St. Louis, to Kevin Smith and Angie Harvell. He loved his children very much and enjoyed fishing with his little brother and spending time with his sisters.
He was preceded in death by his maternal grandfather, Norman Harvell, Sr.
Joshua is survived by his wife, DeLiana (Butler) Harvell; mother, Angie Harvell; father, Kevin Smith; children, Dreighdan Harvell, Madison Harvell, Dash Harvell, and Davin Vance; grandmothers, Linda Harvell, and Delores Smith; siblings, Tye ,Holden and Wyatt Lambing, Brittany Brand, Kiera and Joclynne Lambing, Chip Brand, and Ali Smith; aunt, Kelly Harvilla; uncle, Norman Harvell, Jr.; nieces, Jokia, Akyah, and Raeleigh; nephews, Teagen and Tiago; fiancé, Courtney Noble.
Visitation will be held at C.Z. Boyer and Son Funeral Home in Desloge, Wednesday, November 15, 2017, from 5 p.m. until service time at 7 p.m. Reverend Alvin O’Neal will be officiating. Memorials may be directed to the family, in care of C.Z. Boyer and Son Funeral Home. View tribute and share your memories and condolences at czboyer.com.
PARK HILLS -- Donna Gray, of Park Hills, passed away Nov. 12, 2017. Arrangements are pending at Horton-Wampler Funeral Home in Park Hills.