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DEAR ABBY: My former husband and I have been divorced for more than two years. We had our wedding reception in a club with live music, and we would go there every Saturday night to listen to the music.

We were divorced shortly after our marriage because he had frequent violent outbursts. After our divorce, he called and asked if we could have a date night.

When I went out with him, it was great. We listened to the musicians, and no one knew we were divorced.

My ex had serious surgery, which I helped him through, but because of a subsequent violent episode from him, I have now severed all ties with him.

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I’d like to go back and listen to the musicians, but I don’t know what to say when they ask me where he is. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


DEAR MUSIC LOVER: When you are asked, all you need to say is, “‘John’ and I are no longer a couple, so you won’t be seeing him with me anymore. I may have split with my husband, but I haven’t fallen out of love with your music.” It isn’t necessary to share any details beyond that.

DEAR ABBY: My husband gets very upset when our 4-year-old sons don’t share his enthusiasm over something that excites him. He wants them (and me) to jump up and down or cheer when he’s excited about something.

The problem is, he tends to share his news when we’re getting ready for bed or just plain tired. I feel guilty for not acquiescing, but at the same time, I don’t want to fake it.

Any suggestions for a compromise, please?


DEAR AT A LOSS: Explain to your husband that you are sorry he’s upset at the lack of enthusiasm he’s receiving when he’s excited about something, but his timing is off.

If he expects you and the children to be his cheering section, it would be helpful if he timed his announcements so they don’t conflict with bedtime, when everyone’s energy level is low.

DEAR ABBY: My grandparents have been very generous. They provided for me in ways my parents could not when I was a child.

They allowed me to take music lessons and vacations, let me travel with them and paid for my higher education. They also started an investment fund for me that has grown nicely.

Now I’m married (I’m 37, my husband is 42). We are financially stable and obtaining financial counseling, and we have decided to place those funds in a different form of investment. The rub is that Grandma objects to any changes to these gifts and puts pressure on us.

How do I thank her for her generosity and let her know we are handling our finances now?


DEAR CUTTING: Start by telling your grandmother again how grateful you are for everything she has provided these many years. Explain to her what your investment plans are for the money that has accumulated, and your reasons for wanting to change.

If she has concerns, hear them out and suggest she discuss them with the financial adviser you plan to employ, which might put her worries to rest.

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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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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Advice | Miss Manners: How do I answer their question without killing the conversation?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: As I am a woman over 60 with graying hair, people constantly ask if I have grandchildren. I don’t, nor do I have children.

I realize these people are just trying to make conversation, but when I answer in the negative, the conversation stops dead and makes for an awkward silence.

I’ve tried changing the subject or talking about my pets, but the uncomfortableness usually remains and prevents further discourse.

How else can I answer this question?

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GENTLE READER: Are you under the impression that people who ask that question are eager to talk about your presumed grandchildren?

Not likely. As you say, they hope to start a conversation. Miss Manners assures you that they will happily embark on one if your reply is, “No, do you?”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: We received a wedding invitation with an RSVP card directing us to a website with info on gifts.

When we went to the site to research what gifts were desired, the only gift listed was cash. There were also boxes to check off in $50 increments.

I thought this was tacky. Am I a dinosaur that should be fossilized?

We never even receive acknowledgments or thank-yous for gifts given to these relatives. Thank you for educating me on the new etiquette.

GENTLE READER: What do you mean, “the new etiquette”? You know perfectly well that it will never be proper for solvent people to beg.

Miss Manners would think that their not even expressing gratitude is another reason to direct your charitable funds to the needy, rather than the greedy.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it still proper to address a 2-year-old boy as Little Master So-and-so?

GENTLE READER: No, we have retired that custom. Miss Manners need hardly explain why.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I acquired, I don’t remember how, a spoon with teeth at the front. I don’t see how it could be useful as anything but a grapefruit spoon, but it is twice as wide as any grapefruit spoon I have ever seen, and it is spade-shaped.

I have found no use for it except spading the window-boxes containing my wife’s herbs.

Is this a very poorly designed grapefruit spoon, or can Miss Manners tell me that it was properly made for some other purpose?

GENTLE READER: What you have is a runcible spoon, lucky you. It is used to eat mince and slices of quince.

Or so Edward Lear tells us, in his immortal poem “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat.” And he ought to know, because he made up the word. He also acknowledged that a duck might use it to spear spotted frogs.

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You, however, are entitled to use yours as a spade. Miss Manners also suggests that it serves well as a terrapin fork or a dessert fork for something with both gooey and dry elements.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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