DEAR ABBY: My 14-year-old son, "Nils," recently joined a sport he really enjoys. His stepdad and I are at every practice, helping the coaches and coaching my son along.
Nils recently commented to me that he would like it if his father could come and see him practice. I took it upon myself, as I usually do, to call my ex, "John," and suggest he make an appearance because it would make our son happy.
My husband, who has been a wonderful stepdad to Nils for 13 years now, told me I should leave it alone. He said if John was a "real" father, he would just show up without being asked.
When things like this happen, should I leave it alone, or should I ask John to be involved more than he tries to be? I tell my ex about all of our son's activities and sometimes he just doesn't show. -- TRYING TO BE A GOOD MOM
DEAR TRYING: Not knowing your former husband, I can't guess his reason for not coming to your son's practices, particularly if he said he was going to attend. John may be irresponsible, or he may have unforeseen scheduling conflicts. By telling him about your son's activities and letting him know his presence is wanted, you have done your job as a conscientious mother. At 14, Nils is old enough to also call his father and invite him. The rest is up to your ex.
DEAR ABBY: In reference to the letter from the man who was constantly setting off "gaydar" alarms in females (March 10), I would like to share my experience.
I dated and then married a man who incorrectly set off my "gaydar." It had nothing to do with his mannerisms, his speech or appearance. It was his extreme personal insecurity regarding dating and making friends. In addition, "Mr. Not-Gay" could neither read nor write, which caused even more emotional insecurity.
After we had been married 10 years he became physically disabled and we had to move. No one in our new city took him for gay, even without me and without a wedding ring on him. He divorced me at 62 because the 30-something home-care aides looked better, but that's another story. -- MARCIA IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR MARCIA: I hope you will write again and tell us the rest of the story, as I'm sure I'm not the only person who would be interested in reading it. I agree that individuals who are uncomfortable with themselves sometimes emit vibes that make others uncomfortable because I have experienced it. But this subject does highlight the absurdity of gay stereotypes. Because a man is slight, soft-spoken and a meticulous dresser does not mean he is gay, any more than it means a man who is fat, sloppy and loud is straight.
DEAR ABBY: I have been seeing "Duane" for two months. He's kind, good-looking, successful, smart and fun. He's also apparently quite proud of his astonishingly hairy chest because he always wears his shirts unbuttoned nearly to his navel. When we're in public, you can see people react. Sometimes they point and whisper.
I gently raised the issue, but he didn't seem to think it was a big deal. I like him, but I'm embarrassed sometimes. Any thoughts? -- BLUSHING IN SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR BLUSHING: Yes. Your friend is suffering from overexposure. When strangers point and whisper, what they're saying is usually no compliment. Because Duane's decolletage embarrasses you, give him a choice: Button up or mow the "lawn."
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.
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.)