Dear Abby
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Man's Long Fingernails Are Touchy Subject for Girlfriend

DEAR ABBY: I am a 65-year-old widow and recently started dating a 66-year-old man. I really like him and enjoy his company. However, one thing about him drives me up a wall. He has long fingernails on both hands. He is neat and tidy and otherwise well groomed. I am quite sure he is not a coke user (which some have suggested could be the reason).

He has told me his hobby is guitar playing, but for that I'd think he would only need a few long nails. I feel I don't know him well enough to ask why he keeps them so long or tell him how much this creeps me out. How would you suggest I bring this up to him? -- DIANNE IN WISCONSIN

DEAR DIANNE: The gentleman's hobby may be guitar playing, but in order for him to form the chords he strums, his nails on one hand would have to be short. I can't think of a nice way to tell someone his nails "creep you out." However, I don't think it would be out of line to ask why he wears his nails as long as he does, and let him explain it to you.


DEAR ABBY: Ever since my bratty stepsister came into the picture, I feel like I get less attention than her. Just because her parents are not together doesn't mean she's so much more special than me that it's OK for her to be mean to me without getting in trouble.

When I yell at her and tell her to stop, she hisses at me like a cat and throws a fit and says she wants to go home. I'm not a psychologist, but I don't think this is normal. What do you think I should do? -- STEPSISTER IN MICHIGAN

DEAR STEPSISTER: For a moment, put yourself in her shoes. Her parents' marriage broke apart, and one of them left and has made a new life with a new family. It's possible that she's afraid you have "replaced her" in that parent's affections. That's a pretty painful thought, and she may blame you even though it is not your fault.

Talk privately to your parents about this. Ask them if they can reassure her so she won't take her hurt feelings out on you. And one more thing: Stop yelling! Yelling only escalates the situation; it doesn't solve anything.


DEAR ABBY: Millions of dollars (and tons of food) are wasted when restaurants serve poor quality food or it hasn't been properly prepared. What is the protocol if you are unhappy with your order? Should you leave it sitting and hope they will ask for a comment? Say nothing and take it home as expensive dog food? Speak up and hope for improvement for the next person? Pay, but don't return again? Now you've wasted your money, they've thrown away the uneaten food, and you're still hungry. Is there a solution for this problem? -- JOYCE IN THE SOUTH

DEAR JOYCE: If you are unhappy with how the food you ordered tastes, call the server over, explain what you think is wrong with it and send it back. A smart restaurant manager will replace it. If it's not the policy at that restaurant, do not return.


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.


To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

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