OK to go ahead and take a small slice

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DEAR ABBY: I have been a teacher for many years, and several times a year I encounter a dilemma I hope you can finally solve for me. When staff members get together for a potluck meal, is it bad manners to eat whatever dish you brought? When we have these meals, I always feel like I should eat my co-workers’ contributions and leave mine for others to enjoy.

My fiancee — who loves to cook — enjoys preparing things for me to contribute. She thinks I’m silly for not partaking of whatever she makes for me to bring, especially if it’s my favorite dessert. We read your column every day, so we decided to ask you what’s the right way to handle this common social dilemma. — TO PIE OR NOT TO PIE

DEAR TO PIE OR NOT TO PIE: The considerate thing would be to take a small slice of the dessert so that the other attendees can enjoy it, too, then wait until you’re sure that everyone who wants a sample has finished before going back to polish it off or lick the tin.

DEAR ABBY: I am a young stay-at-home mom who loves to get out and meet people. I have a tendency to make friends with direct sales representatives. But once I have hosted a party or bought some of their merchandise to support them, I become a customer and the friendship ceases to exist. Is there a polite way to tell them I would rather not buy the product or host a party without losing their friendship? — FRIENDLY IN MONTANA

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DEAR FRIENDLY: You have been confusing friendship with business. People who cozy up to others to get them to buy a product or host a party are salespeople, not friends. And no, there isn’t a ”polite” way to tell someone like the folks you have described they haven’t made the sale and maintain a ”friendship” that never was one in the first place. You might have better luck finding friends if you reached out to other young mothers for companionship.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been happily married for more than 15 years. His former wife has never gotten over him. She has sent him many emails and text messages. He never responds. Her most recent ploy was to sign up with an assortment of vendors to receive mail at our home. We also get phone calls from solicitors asking for her.

Although we live in the same city, this has never been her home. It goes without saying that she needs to get over it and move on. I’m tempted to put ”Forward to (her address)” on the mail, but I don’t want to egg her on. To me, it’s harassment, and possibly stalking. What do you think? — HAD IT WITH HER

DEAR HAD IT: Your husband’s former wife appears to have emotional problems, and I agree that what she’s doing is a form of harassment. You are certainly within your rights to redirect any mail that’s addressed to her to her home. Contact the post office to see what can be done. And if solicitors call, either give them her correct phone number or consider having your number changed to one that’s unlisted.

TO MY READERS: I’m wishing a very happy Easter to all! — Love, ABBY

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.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order ”How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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