Halloween brings feelings of dread

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DEAR ABBY: I am a retired widow, crippled with rheumatoid arthritis. Every October, I start dreading Halloween, which I consider to be a legal form of extortion.

Living on Social Security, I really don’t want to waste money for candy. Also, it is difficult for me to get up and down every five minutes to hand out candy. Too many of the “children” are 16- to 19-year-old males.

I have tried keeping the lights off and “hiding” in my bedroom, but I wake the next morning to find toilet paper in my trees and shrubbery. Once, my front door had been sprayed “Stingy Old Witch.” The police said they couldn’t act because I didn’t see who did it. Of course, even if I had seen them, they probably would have been in a costume. Do you have any suggestions? — GROUCHY GRANDMA IN AUSTIN, TEXAS

DEAR GRANDMA: Yes. Because what you’ve done hasn’t worked, buy a large bag of inexpensive candy — they are often for sale at this time of year — and when the “extortionists” knock on your door, pay up. Because your physical condition makes it difficult for you to get up and down, enlist the help of a relative or neighbor to help you dole it out, or leave the bowl outside by your door with a note saying: “Take ONE.”

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DEAR ABBY: I have been HIV-positive for more than 20 years and I am in good health. I never told anyone in my family about it.

I have now returned to my hometown after being away for 40-plus years. I want to tell my father and brothers that I’m HIV-positive, but I don’t want to alarm them or have them start meddling in my life. I feel like I’m lying by not telling them. What should I do? — I’VE GOT A SECRET

DEAR GOT A SECRET: Maintaining one’s privacy is not lying. Because your intuition tells you that if you disclose your HIV status to your family they will be “alarmed or start meddling,” don’t do it. You’re in good health, your HIV is being well managed and the only person who has to know is your sex partner.

DEAR ABBY: If I name my son after myself, he will be called “Jr.” or “II.” But what if my wife named her daughter after herself? I have never heard of it happening, but I just wondered. Would she be called “Jr.” or “the II,” too? — HARRY IN ATHENS, GA.

DEAR HARRY: According to Emily Post, the answer is yes. Junior, Senior, II and III are suffixes used by men, but can also be used by women.

DEAR ABBY: My 9-year-old niece asked her mother what kind of makeup would cover her freckles — her beautiful freckles that God put on her face, a part of her. It made me want to cry.

She has also been begging her mother to let her dye her brunette hair blond (like a little girl at school does). How can we convince her that she’s perfect as she is? — AUNTIE IN THE SOUTH

DEAR AUNTIE: Start by telling her you think she is beautiful just the way she is, and that some people think freckles are angels’ kisses and she should be proud of them because not everyone is lucky enough to have them.

As to coloring her hair, say that if she still wants to do it when she’s older, her mother will consider it. But once a person starts, it has to be maintained or it looks fake — as she will notice when her friend’s roots start to show. In time she’ll realize you are right.

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 $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.)

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