Dear Annie: My boyfriend and I have a roommate, "Joe," a jobless veteran. Joe lies in bed all day, getting up once or twice to use the restroom and maybe eat or drink something. The problem is, Joe doesn't bathe. In the three months he has lived here, he has not stepped in the shower more than three or four times. Not only do I find this repulsive, but he has quite a horrible body odor, and it is beginning to permeate the whole house.
We've told Joe he is more than welcome to use our towels, soap, shampoo, etc., anything to get him to bathe. His response is that he doesn't need to shower since he is home all the time and doesn't need to impress anyone.
I cannot stand the smell anymore. Is there any way to make Joe understand how disgusting this is without hurting his feelings? Please help. I can't take it any longer. — Beth in Indiana
Dear Beth: You are being too polite. Be direct. Tell Joe his hygiene needs improvement and his body odor is noticeable. He may not need to impress anyone, but he shouldn't be repelling the people he lives with. Explain that he must shower at least twice a week if he wishes to use the common areas of the house, such as the kitchen or living room. P.S.: Has Joe been to his local VA for medical care? He sounds depressed. If he has not seen a professional, please suggest it to him.
Dear Annie: Ladies, please don't force your husband to go shopping with you. He doesn't think it's fun to shop for your clothes. Unless a husband has better taste than you do, there's seldom a valid reason to do this. He's just miserable and in the way. But, if you insist on bringing him, here are some hints:
Don't bother asking whether he prefers the chartreuse or the lime green. To him, both colors look the same.
Don't ask, "Does this make me look fat?" You can't win.
Don't ask him which of three shoe styles he likes best on you. He doesn't care, and can't tell you how they feel on your feet.
Don't ask him what he likes and then second-guess him. If you didn't want his opinion, why did you ask for it?
Don't, I beg you, bring him into the fitting room. That is not fair to the other women.
I assure you, your husband is bored and doesn't want to be there, and we don't need him there. Leave him at home. The rest of us won't miss him. — Torrance, Calif.
Dear Torrance: Aside from women who need transportation or physical assistance, we cannot think of a good reason to bring a man shopping for women's clothing unless he specifically asks to be there. Many women think it's a "bonding experience," but for some guys, it's a form of torture. Women, imagine a three-hour trip to the hardware store to check out hammers.
Dear Annie: I hope you don't mind one more suggestion for "Monda in Mobile," who is still grieving the loss of her husband.
The activities she describes that she keeps busy with — computer, reading and sewing — are all solitary activities. She will lift her spirits more if she involves herself with other people. Taking a sewing class or craft class, joining a book club or reading to patients in the hospital or kids at the library will allow her more interaction with others, while still doing what she enjoys.
People are social animals and are wired to be around their own kind. A study I read a couple of years ago showed that the human brain releases endorphin-like chemicals when engaged in face-to-face interaction with other people. These are the same chemicals that prevent depression. Easy to see the connection, right? — Sue in Orlando, Fla.
Dear Sue: Makes sense to us. We appreciate your excellent suggestions.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.