DEAR ABBY: Some friends of ours entertain often, and ask certain guests to bring dishes for as many as 15 to 18 people. This has evolved to the point that I am often left a message telling me to come up with a specific dish. Because I am a good cook, the dishes they request can be quite elaborate.
Last week, two of the eight couples invited were asked to bring a dish for dinner. As I was unwrapping mine, the hostess told me to mix it together with the other one, which had been bought at the supermarket! She seemed put out with me when I replied that I had spent many hours preparing my dish and would rather not combine them.
Abby, four years of this is enough for me. In the future when I'm invited, I'll accept and say that I'll contribute some wine. Period.
Please don't advise that we refuse invitations from this family -- they are my husband's oldest friends, and our husbands do business together. By the way, this couple is very wealthy. They could afford to cater all of these gatherings. -- NOT THE HIRED HELP
DEAR NOT THE HIRED HELP: Take wine and offer no apologies. If it was good enough for the Last Supper, it should be good enough for your friends.
DEAR ABBY: My girlfriend, "Connie," and I have been together for 13 months. I have been divorced a year and a half. Connie's divorce became final six months ago, but she and her husband were separated for more than a year.
Connie's daughter, "Libby," is being married later this year. She's a wonderful girl, and I wish she were my daughter. I wish her the best. My problem is, I will not be attending the rehearsal dinner, the wedding or the reception. Connie says that if I were to show up, her ex would make a scene and ruin the day for Libby. He hasn't gotten on with his life, and Connie wants Libby's day to be special.
I understand that, but I have mixed emotions. I love Libby very much and would never do anything to hurt her, but I truly want to be a part of Connie's and Libby's lives.
It's going to be hard for me to sit home while everyone else is enjoying the celebration. Please give me your view. -- LEFT OUT IN LITTLE ROCK
DEAR LEFT OUT: The last thing you should do is sit home and brood. Make plans with friends for those two days and keep yourself occupied. You are neither "Cinderfella" nor an outcast, and I'm sure Connie feels as bad as you that you'll be absent from the festivities.
Connie is sacrificing her personal preference to ensure that her daughter's wedding goes as smoothly as possible. She knows what kind of a scene her ex-husband is capable of. Please support her and do not take this personally.
DEAR ABBY: Please settle a long-standing family dispute. Is the spider that climbed up the waterspout itsy-bitsy or eensy-weensy? -- WEBBED IN COLUMBIA, MD.
DEAR WEBBED: If the dispute is long-standing, then it is not eensy-weensy. However, the spider that climbed up the waterspout was itsy-bitsy, at least that's the way I learned it.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write 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 $7 (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.)