DEAR ABBY: It’s traditional in my family to celebrate birthdays with other family members. This may seem trivial, but I have an issue with the cake. Ever since I was a child, my mom has made a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for my birthday. The problem is, I don’t like chocolate!

I have told this to Mom since I was a kid, but my comments seem to have been forgotten by the time the next birthday rolls around. Now that I’m older, I’m wondering if it’s better to be gracious about it and just let it go. I never eat any of it and haven’t in more than a decade, but nobody seems to notice.

I find it somewhat annoying to be served a birthday cake I don’t even like. I try to put in perspective that it’s a gift and I should be gracious for receiving it – but it gets old. Any suggestions? – VANILLA FELLA, COLUMBIA, MO.

You appear to be the odd man out in a family of chocoholics. Next year, tell your mother not to “bother” baking because YOU’RE bringing the cake.

DEAR ABBY: I’m a 16-year-old guy who has hit a road bump in life. My parents divorced when I was 12 and are still fighting. I get involved in their fights because I feel I have to, but it stresses me out.

I live full-time with Mom because Dad and I fight too much. Mom and I are also at odds nonstop. She has had several different boyfriends since the divorce. Three of them have moved into our house.

Mom and I have different opinions about her present boyfriend, who she calls her “fiance.” He’s the biggest reason we fight. Mom has told me her kids come first and if I really don’t like him she’ll ask him to leave, but I don’t want her to do it if she’s truly happy with him.

What should I do? Mom deserves to be happy, but I don’t think this man is best for her. Please help. – COLORADO TEEN

Something is wrong when a person’s front door becomes a revolving door, and whether this “engagement” will last is debatable. Your mother appears to be desperate for a companion, and someone who has put her happiness above common sense or responsibility to her children. You should never have been placed in the position of feeling you “have” to be involved in your parents’ dysfunctional relationship – and the fact that you are stressed is understandable.

If there is counseling available through your school, I am urging you to talk to a teacher, counselor or the principal and ask for some. It is important for your future that you keep your grades up without the kinds of distractions you’re experiencing. Believe me, you have my sympathy.

DEAR ABBY: What is the proper thing to do when one sits on a squeaky seat and the seat makes a noise like someone has passed gas? My first instinct is not to call attention to it. Then again, as they say, “Silence implies guilt.” My second impulse is to make light of it, but I’m afraid in certain formal situations it would paint me as immature. Your advice? – IT WASN’T ME IN WILMINGTON, DEL.

DEAR WASN’T ME: In formal situations, everyone should pretend it never happened and the conversation should proceed as it normally would. However, in casual company it is acceptable to say, “That was the seat, not the seat that is on it.”

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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