DEAR ABBY: I am a 13-year-old girl. One of my best friends, “Emmy,” has been doing something I think is very dangerous. She has been dating online with people she has never met. She told me she recently had gotten engaged. Abby, she’s only 14!

Emmy doesn’t have a ring because this supposed “fiance” lives in Michigan, whereas we live in Tennessee. I have tried to tell her she will get hurt, but she won’t listen. She has actually gone to meet some of these people. But her parents and I go with her to make sure it isn’t some pervert in his 50s.

I really don’t know what to do that won’t make her mad at me or cause me to lose a friend. Please help. – WORRIED IN COTTONTOWN, TENN.

DEAR WORRIED: It appears you not only have more brains than your 14-year-old friend, but also more than her parents. Why they would tolerate, much less encourage, their daughter’s online romantic liaisons boggles the mind.

If you want to be her friend, you have my blessing; she certainly needs one. However, please do not accompany her to any more of those meetings. The next person might not be a pervert in his 50s, but a couple of perverts in their 20s or 30s, and you could be putting yourself in danger.

DEAR ABBY: I was widowed two years ago, and I recently attended the wedding of my granddaughter. At the reception, the usual protocol took place – including the bride tossing her bouquet over her shoulder.

When the announcement was made, I got up from the table to join the other single women, and my daughter-in- law (not the mother of the bride) motioned to me to come to her table. She was frowning and shaking her head “no.”

I went over, and she told me in a scolding tone that it was “inappropriate” for me to join the younger women because I was actually considered a widow and not “single.” She also told me that catching the bouquet was intended for people who had never been married, not people like me.

Abby, I am 65, young at heart, and attractive enough that people tell me I appear to be in my early 50s. I lead an active life, and date and square dance two or three times a week. I didn’t join the others, but retreated back to my table.

What is your take on this? Was she right that I wasn’t eligible? I certainly feel as though I’m single. And I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet. – TEXAS WIDOW

DEAR WIDOW: You had as much right as any of the other spouseless females to join the bouquet toss if you wished. Putting the best possible face on it, your daughter-in-law may have been concerned that you’d be injured by the younger, ostensibly more agile, women vying for the flowers. However, if she were really concerned about what was appropriate behavior, she would have realized that by preventing you from fully enjoying the celebration, she was committing a far worse breach of etiquette than anything you might have done.

DEAR ABBY: My birthday is Sept. 11. I was wondering if you have any advice on how to respond to clerks who often remark in a negative way whenever they see my birth date on my driver’s license. It can be very depressing for me, and I dread having to show it for fear of a hurtful remark. – BELINDA IN LAWTON, OKLA.

DEAR BELINDA: Say, “I’d rather dwell on the positive,” and then change the subject.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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