DEAR ABBY: I am a foreign exchange student studying in the U.S. Other exchange students and I have been debating two questions.

The first: Is it OK to buy a movie ticket and watch two or three movies? Some say “yes” because theaters tolerate it in the hope that customers will buy snacks and drinks in the process. Others say it goes against the honor system.

The second is: Is it wrong to return merchandise you never intended to buy in the first place? Example: to buy a novel and return it after reading it. My friends say bookstores expect a certain number of returns and build it into the cost of the books. As long as the book is kept in good condition, it’s OK. Other friends stress, however, that this, again, is taking advantage of the honor system.

What is your opinion? – CURIOUS STUDENT IN HOUSTON

Both of the examples you have given are forms of cheating and theft. I cannot think of a single country where this kind of behavior is sanctioned. If enough customers behaved that way, it could put the business owner out of business.

And one more thing – you and your fellow exchange students represent your countries, and what you do while you’re here reflects not only on yourselves personally, but also the country that sent you.

DEAR ABBY: I have two grandchildren. My first is a girl named “Skylar,” and my second is a boy, “Dante.” I raised two sons as a single mother and always had a house full of boys.

Since Skylar was born, she has become my world. I take her everywhere with me, but my nerves just can’t handle Dante. I am being criticized for treating my grandchildren differently and accused of being prejudiced. It may be true. But Skylar is very sweet, while Dante – whom I do love – is “all boy” and hard to handle.

Are my feelings due to the fact that Skylar is my first grandchild, or because she’s the first girl in my life? Or am I just burned out on boys? I turn down dates to spend time with her. I’d rather spend the rest of my life with my granddaughter than any man on Earth.

Do other grandparents feel this way, or am I obsessed? – SKYLAR’S NANA IN FLORIDA

They may feel similarly, but if they are intelligent, mature and caring, they conceal it better than you do.

Whether you choose to spend time with your grandchildren or an eligible man is your choice. But to make it obvious that you favor one child over the other is cruel, and the less-loved little one will recognize it, be hurt and resent it.

DEAR ABBY: I have developed a weird habit. I’ll remember something that happened in the past, think of what I should have said and then burst out loud with a remark. Other times I’ll chuckle or say something like, “Oh, no!”

Sometimes my husband hears me and asks if something is wrong. How can I explain this without seeming like I’m totally losing it? Or am I? I’m only 50, and I’m afraid I’m turning into a dotty old lady. – CRAZY? LADY IN CALIFORNIA

What you’re doing isn’t that unusual, so try to be less hard on yourself. You’re not crazy, and you’re no dottier than the rest of us. Explain to your husband that when you do this, it is an attempt to “repair” the past.

P.S. If you train yourself to stay in the moment rather than dwelling on things in the past, you will find yourself talking to yourself less often.

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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