Dear Annie: I play in a ladies senior softball league. One of the women who plays in the league has really awful underarm odor. It is difficult to stand anywhere near her without gagging from the smell.
She is a lovely person and a good ball player, but standing inside the dugout with her or even next to her outside the dugout is distracting, to say the least. She's single and sometimes complains about not being able to keep a boyfriend. I wonder if this is part of the problem, and she is just unaware of it.
I have known people with a body odor problem that cannot be remedied before, but this isn't the same smell. This is the underarm smell that happens when one sweats — something like spoiled vegetable soup.
Do you have a suggestion for how to let her know without hurting her feelings or embarrassing her? I don't want to damage our relationship, but I think that if she knew and did something about it, she may do better with prospective partners. — Batwoman
Dear Batwoman: The ingredients you need in order to make this a productive conversation are kindness, directness and clarity. You are correct that she probably does not know that she smells, and you are being a good and brave friend for having that conversation with her.
Make sure you do so in private and try to keep your tone very light. Try not make a big deal of it so as to save her embarrassment. You could even suggest a brand of deodorant that you like and have had success with. Best of luck. I applaud your courage in having an awkward conversation with your friend that could change her life for the better.
Dear Annie: This year, my sister and her husband wouldn't give any specifics when asked what they wanted for their birthdays. They are minimalist and aren't really into physical things.
When I asked about gift cards or cash, they didn't give a definitive answer. What do you do when this happens? I don't want to be rude and just give a card or nothing at all. — Confused
Dear Confused: If your sister and bother-in-law are not into things, then give them the gift of an experience, such as tickets to a sporting event, a nice dinner or play. Ideally, it should be something they can do together. It's the thought that counts more than trying to give someone the perfect thing.
Dear Annie: The letter from "Old Whatshisname" about using the same fake name at restaurants and coffee shops brought a smile to my face. Because we have a difficult last night to spell and pronounce, my late husband and I always gave the name "Olsen" when waiting to be called for a table at a restaurant.
One evening, our name was called, we were seated and eating dinner when another couple stopped at our table and said, "We are the Olsens! Do you spell it 'en' or 'on'?" I think the look of puzzlement on our faces told the tale! — Busted
Dear Busted: What a cute story! Sounds like the Olsens found out about your family secret.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]