Dear Abby: To stop my friend’s nosy questions, I answered with a lie

After dodging the truth to protect the anonymity of a friend in AA, sober person cautions against prying.

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DEAR ABBY: I went to lunch with “Anita,” who proceeded to question me about how I know my friend “Gail.” It seems like an innocent question, but Gail and I met in Alcoholics Anonymous. I didn’t tell Anita we met in AA because it would’ve destroyed Gail’s anonymity, so I said we met through mutual friends.

I didn’t mind one question, but Anita kept probing about “mutual friends.” I wound up fibbing and saying, “folks at my church.” It managed to change the direction of the conversation, but I wish people wouldn’t pry like that. This also happens when I’m at a party and someone asks me why I’m not drinking. It’s easy to respond to one question with a general answer, but a lot of times I encounter folks who keep pushing.

I would like to encourage your readers to be sensitive to these kinds of situations and to allow people their privacy. Thanks, Abby. — ANONYMOUS AND SOBER IN THE SOUTH

DEAR ANONYMOUS: So would I, and you’re welcome. There is no shortage of nosy questions that people ask these days, as anyone who has read this column is aware. However, to many people, membership in AA is a badge of honor. When “pushed” to answer why they are not drinking alcohol they are upfront about the fact they are in AA.

Of course, one does not have to have a drinking problem to avoid alcohol. Some people refrain because they don’t feel well when they drink; others do it because they are taking antibiotics or want to live a healthier lifestyle. The bottom line is, you do not have to answer every question that’s asked of you.

DEAR ABBY: When my husband of 19 years died suddenly 15 months ago (we had no children), my financial situation changed considerably. I have had trouble paying bills, and my water was turned off this morning. When I told my siblings and their families, their answers ranged from “I can’t help you,” to “Gee, that sucks!” to “Come have meatloaf for dinner.”

My niece, who is financially well-off, commented that it sucked. I told them all that I HAVE NO WATER. I do have a five-day-a-week job. I just don’t have a lot of money because of so many things that have happened. I’ll have the money in a week or so, but I can’t live without water for that long.

Is it wrong to want them to offer to help me? Am I expecting too much? If the situation were reversed, I would offer help immediately. — IN A TOUGH SPOT IN KENTUCKY

DEAR TOUGH SPOT: Please accept my deepest sympathy for the loss of your husband. No, it’s not wrong to want your relatives to offer to help you out with a bridge loan until the money you’re expecting arrives. However, because they didn’t offer, ASK them for one, and be willing to sign a note if they wish. Then cross your fingers that one of them agrees. If none of them do, approach your employer and ask for an advance on your salary, or contact the water company and ask if you can strike a deal. I wish you luck.

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.

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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