DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, “Seth,” and I are in our mid-20s and have been dating for seven years. We have a solid relationship, but I need your thoughts on something: He insists on cleaning up after everyone right under their noses.

We were recently invited to watch a basketball game at a friend’s home. Appetizers were provided over the course of several hours. People kept losing their cups and plates because Seth “thought they were done” and threw the items away.

Abby, he was doing this in a house he had never visited before with people he had never met! He also does it with family instead of sitting and relaxing after the meal and enjoying the conversation. When we eat at a restaurant, Seth will pile up our plates and silverware as soon as he thinks I’m done “to make it easier for the server to clean up.”

Clearing the table was not a chore my boyfriend was assigned as a child, nor is he overly concerned with neatness in other areas of his life. He’s not shy around people, so he isn’t keeping busy to avoid conversation.

He says he is being polite. I say he could volunteer to help tidy up at the end of a party, but he shouldn’t touch other people’s eating utensils in the middle of an event. What do you think? – DATING MR. CLEAN IN NEW JERSEY

It appears you are dating a frustrated busboy. I don’t know where your boyfriend got the idea that picking up other people’s dinnerware without first asking if they are finished is polite – because it isn’t. In fact, it’s rude.

I am also not as convinced as you are that your boyfriend is comfortable making conversation because he appears to be fixated on making “busy work” on social occasions – which could be an indication that he feels socially awkward.

DEAR ABBY: I am a hardworking CPA, recovering from another busy tax season. Along with my colleagues, I become a little crazed during that frantic time of year. May I share some tips with your readers so next year their appointments will go more smoothly?

1. Feel free to answer your cell phone during our appointment. I have nothing else to do, so please don’t be concerned that you’re taking up extra time.

2. Do bring your small children along. Yes, they may be bored, but I love entertaining them instead of giving you my full attention.

3. By all means drop by without an appointment to ask a question. So what if I’m talking to another client! I don’t mind dropping what I’m doing to talk to you because, again, I’m not busy.

4. There is no need to expect to pay for our services when you pick up your tax return. After all, it’s not like buying a gallon of milk. And be assured I don’t mind putting your return ahead of all the others because you need your refund to go to the Caribbean. Of course you are more important than the conscientious clients who got their information here ahead of you.

5. The remaining 95 percent of my clients are a joy to work with, so don’t forget what put you in that 5 percent. – RECUPERATING IN ALABAMA

DEAR RECUPERATING: Your frustration is understandable, particularly since tax season has just ended, and I love your dry sense of humor. But any CPA who posted your “tips” would probably wind up working for tips.

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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