DEAR ABBY: My mother was murdered by a serial killer about 16 years ago. Whenever the subject of parents comes up at work, I don’t know what to tell people when they ask about my mom.

I am 26. Once in a while, they will ask me about what happened to her, but when I open my mouth to say something, I get nervous and start blushing. This might be because I know people get uncomfortable when you talk about stuff like this. I also feel weird telling them that my mother was a prostitute, and that’s how she was murdered. Sometimes I say she was in an “accident” – but that’s a lie.

Can you give me any advice on the proper way to discuss this in the office without it being weird for me or the other person? – MOTHERLESS DAUGHTER IN WASHINGTON

DEAR MOTHERLESS DAUGHTER: The fact that you become “nervous” when trying to discuss what happened to your mother means – to me – that you are still traumatized by the circumstances of her death. (Frankly, that’s understandable.) When someone asks about your mother, it’s not necessary to give chapter and verse, unless you want to. Tell the person your mother passed away many years ago, which is the truth. If you are pressed for details, say that the topic is painful and change the subject. You are under no social obligation to bare your soul to anyone.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 24-year-old male with a problem. I work at a small business with six employees and 12 contracted associates. My problem concerns one of the female associates, “Stella.”

Over the past year, Stella has made sexual advances toward me. She asks me to come over and watch movies while her husband is away; she asks for hugs while I’m busy with customers, and shows me her new undergarments. When I told Stella I was uncomfortable with the situation she placed me in, she became upset and accused me of being rude, unprofessional and sexually discriminatory.

I have brought this to the attention of my employer. He says he had a talk with her and that it will stop, but it hasn’t. I love my job and don’t like being treated this way, yet I feel my only option is to leave. Can you please help? – UNCOMFORTABLE IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR UNCOMFORTABLE: Leaving is NOT your only option. Document the times, dates and examples of the sexual harassment. Give copies to your boss and explain that the conduct has continued. According to my employment law expert, Nancy Bertrando, if the boss doesn’t deal with this, you should file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. (It is listed in your phone book under Government Agencies.)

DEAR ABBY: I am being married in May. I want to wear my wedding gown to the airport and on the plane. Is this common? Is it proper? Please let me know. – BRIDE-TO-BE, TERRE HAUTE, IND.

DEAR BRIDE-TO-BE: There is no “law” against it, but I would recommend against wearing your bridal gown to the airport because the idea is impractical. Airport floors are dirty and could soil the gown. A trip up or down an escalator could tear the hem. The compulsory security screening could also create a problem, and so would the seating on the aircraft.

It would be much better to do what brides traditionally do: After the reception, change into comfortable traveling clothes and leave your wedding gown at home.

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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