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Posted on Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Walls are poor conductors for casual conversations

By Dear Abby


What do you think about people who attempt to converse with you from another room? My boyfriend does it fairly often. He may be on the computer while I'm reading or watching TV, and he'll yell out a question or tell me something. Most of the time I answer him, but then he'll continue the conversation -- all from the other room.

I find it rude, and to be quite honest, disrespectful. I also think it makes no sense because with the TV on it's difficult to hear him. If I want to speak to someone in another room, I get off my "keester" and go directly to him or her. That's common sense. My former roommate used to do the same thing. Do you think this is a "guy thing"? -- CAN'T HEAR IN NEW YORK


Nope. It's just lazy. And it continues because you allow it. Tell your boyfriend that if he has something he wants to say to you, he should come and say it. Point out that you give him that respect. And if he "forgets," stay put and don't answer from the other room.


I have a friend with whom I exchange birthday and Christmas gifts. I make a great deal of effort to find things I know she would like, and I have been quite successful. My friend, however, buys me things I suspect she would like for herself.

Example: I'm always hot while she's always chilly. She bought me heavy pajamas and a warm robe for Christmas. I don't like spicy food -- she does. She gave me two large containers of seasoning containing chili pepper. I love to read fiction while she prefers nonfiction. For my birthday I received a book about history.

This kind of exchange has been going on for years, and I don't remember receiving one gift I could really use. What can I say to her? -- PEEVED IN PITTSBURGH


To say something would be rude. I do have a suggestion, however. On the next gift-giving occasion, give your friend some things you would like. Example: A pretty fan to accessorize a summer dress, a jar of your favorite jam, a novel or two you would enjoy reading -- and then you can agree on a gift exchange. Problem solved.


I have a 2-year-old son, "Seth." His father, "Ray," and I went our separate ways during my pregnancy. He came to see Seth a few times when he was a couple of months old and promised he'd continue, but he didn't follow through. Ray has married since then, and hasn't called to ask about his son. I don't call him either.

He didn't show up for court and the DNA test, so the judge ordered him to pay child support by default, which he has been doing. I don't believe in forcing a man to be a father, and I would never make my son visit him. It is obvious Ray has no interest in his child. I contacted the grandparents and they are just as cold. What do I tell Seth when he asks about his father? -- SOLE PARENT IN ALABAMA


Tell him the truth. Explain that when he was born, Ray wasn't ready to accept the responsibilities that go along with being a dad -- and that as time has passed, Ray has been unwilling to step forward. As sad as that may be, it would be worse to give your son false information or false hope that his biological father will ever be willing to give him more than the court ordered him to.

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.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $12 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)