DEAR ABBY: I was at my brother-in-law’s house with my husband and our 4-year-old daughter. We were playing our weekly video game, and when my brother-in-law won a round, he shouted a racial epithet. I asked him not to use it in front of my little girl because if she repeats it at school, she could be suspended, and we don’t use that kind of language in our family. Now he claims I “disrespected him” and I should apologize to him because it was his house and he can say what he wants. He doesn’t have children of his own. Who is right here? Is it OK to say whatever you want because it’s your house, or is it better to use some censorship when there are children around? — WONDERING IN WYOMING
DEAR WONDERING: You did the right thing. Your brother-in-law should watch his mouth when your daughter is present. Because he’s unwilling to do that, limit her exposure to him. And if she hears him do it again, make sure to explain to her that the expression is one you do not want her to ever repeat.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 24-year-old waitress who needs advice on how to handle older men when they continually flirt, touch and even ask for hugs while I’m serving them dinner. I work in an upscale dinner house. I feel sorry for their embarrassed wives and girlfriends who witness this disgusting behavior. Waitresses have to put up with this kind of thing for tips. Is there anything I can do to prevent it and still receive a reasonable tip for good service? — SICK AND TIRED IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR SICK AND TIRED: Yes. Keep your sense of humor. Smile a lot, laugh when appropriate and stand out of reach. Most of these men are harmless. They are trying to be friendly. Those who you find overtly offensive, you should turn over to another server. If the requests for hugs continue, talk to your manager for guidance in handling them.
DEAR ABBY: My fiancee’s son is gay and recently married. He is 30 and his spouse is 24. They don’t have much money, so I hosted their wedding reception in my backyard. In addition to all the work involved — getting the food and drinks, preparing the food, preparing the yard and cleaning up — I wound up with $700 charged on my credit card. I have been out of work for the last three months and can’t afford this.
I know tradition is that the father of the bride pays for the reception and the father of the groom pays for the drinks. In a gay wedding, is the new tradition that Mom’s boyfriend pays while both dads don’t spend a cent? Both of them work. I’m considering sending them each a polite bill for $300. What do you suggest? — MODERN MAN IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR MODERN MAN: I suggest that you and your fiancee take care of the bill, and ask the grooms to pitch in what they can afford. I don’t think it would be fair or appropriate to expect the new in-laws to pay for anything that wasn’t clearly agreed upon before the wedding reception took place.
TO MY JEWISH READERS: Sundown starts Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. This is the beginning of our time of solemn introspection. “Leshana tova tikatevu” — may each of us be inscribed in the Book of Life and enjoy another good year.
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.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)