DEAR ABBY: I have worked in the construction trade for many years. It’s common practice to shake someone’s hand when you are introduced, or when you see that person again. Now, after years of working in the field, I’m working in the office, taking care of business for the men.

Abby, when they come into the office or I see them gathered outside, they insist on shaking hands. The problem I have with this is I catch more colds than I have ever had in my life. Also, some of these guys have some of today’s diseases such as herpes, AIDS, hepatitis C, and some other things I have never heard of. I wash my hands many times a day. I use sanitary wipes many times a day. You get the picture.

Is there some polite way of excusing oneself from shaking hands without offending the other person? Any suggestions will be appreciated to help me with this problem. – CONCERNED IN THE WEST

DEAR CONCERNED: Rather than risk offending clients or co-workers, you should discuss this subject with your doctor. The common cold can be prevented by not touching your eyes, nose or mouth after contact with someone – or some object – that has been contaminated by someone with a cold. (The other diseases you mentioned are spread through intimate contact, and this does NOT include hand-shaking.)

DEAR ABBY: I am planning my October wedding and enjoying playing the role of bride-to-be. My in-laws are awesome, and I’m glad I’m marrying into a wonderful family.

I chose my ivory wedding gown shortly after I was engaged last fall, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Recently, however, my fiance’s mother was shopping for her dress and selected an ivory-colored gown. Not only am I upset, I feel insulted. My fiance thinks I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but don’t you agree that the bride should be the only person to wear a gown in her color? Am I blowing this out of proportion? Should I tell her how I feel? The tags are still on her dress, and I think I’m entitled to be the only woman wearing ivory that day. Please advise me. – GLORIA IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR GLORIA: By all means speak up, and when you do, point out to the lady that if she wears the ivory-colored gown it will look like a double wedding. If she’s as “awesome” as you say, she’ll recognize that it could cause embarrassment and select a gown in another color that coordinates with yours.

DEAR ABBY: The responses from your readers discussing whether to tell Alzheimer’s patients about the death of a loved one reminded me about what happened with my mother.

Mom, who is in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s, once told me, in great confidence, that she thought my father (who had died 10 years before) was having an affair because his shoes were not in the closet. Also, some “other woman’s clothes” were in there. (We had added a few new items to Mom’s wardrobe, and she didn’t recognize them.)

I very hesitantly began to remind my mother how sick Dad had been, how many times we’d had to take him to the hospital, and finally worked around to saying that he had died 10 years ago. My mother’s response: “Well, THAT’S a relief!” – RICHARD IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR RICHARD: I can see her logic. She’s not the only woman who would rather her husband were dead than cheating.

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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