Dear Annie: I realize that this is a difficult issue on which to offer advice, but I suspect it might have widespread interest.
I have found that many friends with whom I have coffee in the morning talk in an exuberant way, and in the process, spew pieces of bagels, croissants and more across the table, often into my face or food. This is also a frequent, if not inevitable, occurrence at cocktail parties, in which hors d'oeuvres are passed around to people who may not have the clearest awareness of what is going on.
I have resolved not to be a participant in this "wood chipper" game by chewing slowly and carefully and not speaking while I'm chewing. But I wonder how you would advise staying out of the fray of unwelcome food particles while not insulting well-meaning people. — No Wood Chipper
Dear NWC: Nobody likes a salivary shower, but if you find yourself irritated with most of your friends over this, the problem might be on your side of the table. I suggest you plan your socializing around activities that don't involve eating — going for a walk, taking a hike, volunteering together — as much as possible, and keep a wide berth the rest of the time.
Dear Annie: I am 77 years old and have known for most of my life that I'm not beautiful. I have a sharp chin and nose and have actually had a few warts removed. I realized when I was a child that I was not cute — a fact that was reinforced through my teen and young adult years. In my late teens, I was thrilled to marry a handsome "bad boy" type. You can imagine how that turned out!
I persevered and developed a successful career, plenty of friends and a church family. I gained a level of self-confidence. Then I married the most kind, gentle, caring man. We raised a family, and I felt we had a very successful marriage. He encouraged me in many endeavors such as returning to school and finding a more suitable career.
One problem is that my husband is so kind that he would never criticize anything about me, especially my appearance.
And now, since the pandemic, I've been stuck at home, with no weekly visit to the beauty salon and no makeup or fashionable clothes. These past few months have made me painfully aware that I'm "ugly"!
Recently, a neighbor came to call (admittedly, not a very smart person) and related how when she first met me, I looked just like a friend of hers who she said looked "just like a witch" as she got older.
That was all it took! I now doubt why my husband married someone who looks like me. Does everyone I meet immediately also think I resemble a witch? I feel all of my qualities as an empathetic, successful person are of no avail. — Witchy Woman
Dear WW: I know it's been said so many times that the words practically have no meaning, but it still bears repeating: Real beauty is on the inside. A loving heart means infinitely more than a pretty face. And when you exude warmth and empathy, there's no way anyone would mistake you for a witch. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others: Start each morning and end each night by looking in the mirror and saying, "I love you."
"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]