DEAR ABBY: “Dwayne,” my boyfriend of eight years, insists on smoking in his bedroom. In our last apartment he’d fall asleep with a lit cigarette and ended up burning holes in our couch, numerous blankets and pillows as well as the carpet. When we moved, Dwayne assured me he had stopped, but a month ago I noticed his blanket and mattress have burn holes and so does the carpet by his bed.
We live together with our 6-year-old son and, needless to say, I’m scared to death Dwayne will burn this place down. I have talked to him about it numerous times. All he does is yell and say it won’t happen because cigarettes are “safer now.”
I have discussed this with our landlord to no avail. I thought about calling social services, but I don’t want to get him in trouble. I could really use some good advice. — SCARED FOR MY LIFE IN MILWAUKEE
DEAR SCARED: Because Dwayne is unwilling to be more responsible, it’s time to consider your son’s safety and your own. Your boyfriend is not only addicted to tobacco, he is also misguided. If cigarettes were “safer now” there wouldn’t be burn holes in his bedding and the area surrounding where he sleeps. If moving isn’t feasible, at least make sure there are working smoke detectors in your apartment and an extra one outside Dwayne’s bedroom door.
Frankly, it would be healthier for you and the boy if Dwayne didn’t smoke at all in your apartment because the Environmental Protection Agency has classified secondhand smoke as a Group A carcinogen. To verify this, and get further information, contact the American Cancer Society (800-227- 2345) or the American Heart Association (800-242-8721).
DEAR ABBY: My husband died 13 years ago. Since then I have pretty much lost everything, except the grief. Recently it occurred to me that I have some photographs his siblings and nieces might like copies of.
I don’t want them to know where I live — in a battered old trailer — because I’m ashamed. They are all well-to-do and never seemed to like me. No one has spoken to me since my husband’s death.
I don’t want it to seem like I’m expecting anything in return because I’m not, nor do I want to see them socially. I know I don’t fit in with them. I’d just like to do something nice since we all loved him. From experience I think they’ll find some way to misinterpret or misunderstand the gesture. I’ll be hurt and, added to the depression and grief, I don’t think I could handle it. What do you advise? — MISSING MY MAN IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR MISSING YOUR MAN: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your husband. You have given me four valid reasons not to reach out to your husband’s family, the most important of which is that if you get another round of rejection from them it will crush you. That’s why I advise against it.
Because they haven’t spoken to you or included you in 13 years, on top of the fact you never felt accepted in the first place (your words) — the healthy thing for you to do is to keep your distance. However, because in all this time you have been unable to finish your grieving process, I urge you to consider grief counseling.
DEAR ABBY: We recently celebrated the milestone birthday of a dear friend with a party. In honor of the occasion we presented her with a very nice bracelet with various fabricated gemstones set in a nice silver setting. As she was identifying the names of the stones, I blurted out that they “weren’t real” because I didn’t want her thinking we were trying to pass them off as the real thing.
Now I’m afraid I might have cheapened our gift — although believe me, her bracelet was not cheap. I feel like an idiot. Should I try to fix this mess or just let it be? — FOOT IN MOUTH IN THE SOUTHWEST
DEAR FOOT IN MOUTH: I think enough has already been said. Whether the stones in the bracelet were natural or man-made, the thought behind the gift was genuine.
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.
To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.