Dear Abby: The risque card for 18th birthday wasn’t well received

The card horrified the teen, who identifies as “they,” and now the giver is banned from contact with the family.

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DEAR ABBY: I recently attended a party that was being given to celebrate the 18th birthday of my friends’ son. I thought it would be cheeky and fun to buy him a risque card from an adult boutique, thinking everyone would get a good laugh, and we’d have something to roast the young man with.

When he opened the card, he had this look of horror on his face, ran out of the room all teary-eyed and went directly to his bedroom. His mother picked up the card and immediately asked me to leave. I was really embarrassed but unsure about the reason.

I gave them a week or so to cool off. I called back only to be informed by the mother that I had violated her son’s sanctity of sexual orientation because he identifies as a “they” and “prefers androgynous boys to women.” She went on to explain that as a result of my “indiscriminate sexism,” I’m no longer allowed around the family.

I feel I should’ve been informed of the child’s orientation being such an important aspect of his ... or rather, “their” identity, and tried to explain it was an honest mistake and would never happen again. My friend said the damage was done, and they can’t forgive that kind of arrogance and blatant disrespect for “their” gender identity and sexual orientation.

Was I insensitive for not asking first, or should the parents have taken the initiative to inform me so I wouldn’t make such an egregious error in what I assumed was a well-rounded friendship? — WANTING TO SCREAM IN EUGENE

DEAR WANTING: I think one lesson to be learned here is that some people are not comfortable with sexual humor. Another is that it is a mistake to assume that everyone is straight or cisgender.

I’m sorry that the young person was embarrassed. Your apology should have been directed at them, not their mother. But since the mother has now decreed you persona non grata, you will have to accept it. It’s unfortunate. The family overreacted. What could have been handled as a simple teachable moment was blown out of proportion.

DEAR ABBY: I am about to blow my top! I am a married father of two in the military who works 12 hours daily to support my family. My wife and I are college grads and have been married five years. For those years we have maintained residence in Hawaii. My wife doesn’t work and tries to run a day care that is mildly successful.

Our home is always dirty because, as she puts it, she is not a housemaid. She doesn’t cook often either. Many times I come home so tired I can’t see, and the house is a mess. This has caused arguments.

My thinking is, if she’s not going to take care of the house, she should get a job and help with the finances. The money she gets from the day care doesn’t go toward the household. She considers it her spending money.

I am ready to bounce and find greener pastures. I have tried talking to her, but she ignores my complaints and plays the victim. We have already tried counseling. It doesn’t work because she goes back to her normal self afterward. Help! — PEEVED IN THE PACIFIC

DEAR PEEVED: Marriage is supposed to be a partnership and, from what you have written, your wife is unwilling to contribute to it. I can’t change her and neither can you. Because counseling hasn’t resolved your obvious lack of compatibility, it’s time to consult a lawyer.

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.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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