DEAR ABBY: I am a partially disabled person in my 70s. Because of arthritis in my spine and hip, I’m able to stand for only a few minutes and walk only 20 to 30 feet. When I know I am going to be someplace that requires more walking or standing, I use my wheelchair. My question is: How do I reply to strangers who ask me, “Why are you in a wheelchair?” One lady said, “Oh, is it your knees?” I feel the questions are rude, and I shouldn’t have to explain my medical status to people I don’t know. I try to mumble something about not being able to stand for long periods, like waiting in line. But I’d really like to respond with a funnier, more flippant reply if I could think of one. Any suggestions? —TRAVELING BY WHEELCHAIR
DEAR TRAVELING: Try one of these “flippant” possibilities: “It’s nothing I usually discuss in public, but it’s contagious!” Or, “I broke my tailbone dancing at the Bolshoi.” Or, “Just lazy, I guess.”
However, joking about a medical condition isn’t funny. So perhaps you should reconsider and just be honest.
DEAR ABBY: I recently was invited to a surprise 50th-birthday party for my twin sister. Her husband had a family dinner that included all my siblings. When my brother-in-law invited me, he said my sister didn’t want a big party, but he wanted to celebrate our birthdays with this special dinner.
I was delighted to attend, but I must admit I was a little hurt when the celebration turned out to be strictly for my sister. My name wasn’t on the cake, and only she blew out the candles and opened gifts. (I did receive two cards.) I know the party was given for her, and I was a gracious guest, but as her twin, I felt awkward and ignored. Am I being overly sensitive, or were they just rude? — TROUBLED TWIN
DEAR TROUBLED TWIN: Oh, my. I don’t think your brother-in-law was being rude. But in light of the fact that you and your sister were womb mates, you were treated with incredible insensitivity.
DEAR ABBY: I’m in a sticky situation. My husband, “Chester,” can’t stand to eat meals with my dad. It’s never bothered me, but Dad sometimes “smacks” or talks with food in his mouth. It drives Chester crazy. We visit them every week and meals are always involved. What do I do? Should my husband just get used to it? We decided to ask you for advice before we do anything else. —IN A PICKLE IN TEXAS
DEAR IN A PICKLE: Have your mother talk to Dad and “suggest” that their son-in-law is used to more formal table etiquette, so would Dad please make an effort to not chew with his mouth open when the two of you are visiting. I can’t promise it will do the trick, but it may make your father more conscious about what he’s doing.
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 http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $14 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)