DEAR ABBY: My problem is unusual, but I’m hoping if you address it in your column it will help. I’m a married man, confident in who I am, who wears skirts for comfort. I feel skirts are more comfortable than pants, which I find tight, restrictive and uncomfortable. I wear skirts around the house, when I’m out running errands and when I attend church. My clergyman has raised no objection to it.

After much research, my wife and I have concluded that the only thing against men wearing skirts is social pressure, and then only in certain countries – America being one of them.

Pants are a relatively new style of clothing. For thousands of years of recorded history, men and women both wore skirts. Then women fought for and won the right to wear pants, shorts, whatever they wanted – which is great. I believe men should have the same option. My wife supports me in this.

Our problem is some family members who disagree have talked behind our backs, started rumors and turned people against us with false information. How can I make them understand that they are entitled to their belief, but that they shouldn’t gossip and create problems for us because I am not doing anything wrong? – JOE IN PENNSYLVANIA

Gossip is the province of small-minded people, and it is sad that your relatives have used the fact that you have chosen to be different as an opportunity to spread malicious falsehoods.

As long as you have the fortitude and shapely enough legs to wear skirts, then you have my blessing. Some men’s clothing designers have been trying for years to revive skirts as part of men’s wardrobes. Because fashion trends not only change but often revolve, who’s to say you’re not on the leading edge of what’s to come?

DEAR ABBY: A friend of mine bought me a bathrobe. I had told her a while ago that my favorite one had become old, ragged and faded. I also mentioned that I’d had a hard time finding one to replace it that was lightweight enough because most are too warm.

When I opened her gift, I realized that the one she had bought for me was too heavy. I went to exchange it for one in a thinner fabric, but found nothing I liked, so I selected some kitchen utensils because I enjoy cooking and have cooked for her many times.

The next time I saw her, I thanked her and explained what I had done. Now she’s upset with me. She says I have hurt her feelings, and she’s holding it against me. Was I rude by exchanging her gift, and if so, how can I make it better? Her friendship is important to me. – TONY IN ALTOONA

Apologize to her again, and tell her you’re sorry her feelings were hurt. Then ask her what she would have preferred – to have her gift hanging unused in your closet because it wasn’t comfortable, or exchanged for something you could really use. As emotionally vested as she may have been in the bathrobe she selected, if she has a practical bone in her body, she should see it your way.

DEAR READERS: From the bottom of my heart, I wish all of you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2009. And please, if you’re driving tonight, don’t drink; and if you’re drinking tonight, don’t drive. Stay safe, everyone! – Love, ABBY

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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