Dear Ann: I recently met a nice guy or so I thought. He is 42 years old, has never married, and works as a pharmacist. We have been dating for two months. In that time, he has made several derogatory remarks about various ethnic groups. He has insulted my biracial nephews and my Latina sister-in-law, and has made some nasty comments about my gay friends.
I have no intention of continuing this relationship, but I'm not sure whether or not I should bother to explain why. Should I be upfront and tell him I am offended by his bigotry? Or should I just stop accepting his phone calls, and let him think I've lost interest? I do not understand how someone who is so well-educated could be so ignorant. Simi Valley, Calif.
Dear Simi Valley: Education is no guarantee against bigotry. Some highly educated people are racists. Almost always, it's what they have learned at home.
By all means, tell the pharmacist precisely why you don't wish to continue the relationship. He needs to hear from you that his intolerance is despicable and has made a friendship impossible. It just might get him to rethink some of his concepts. Let's hope so.
Dear Ann: My mother has Alzheimer's disease and is currently in an assisted-living facility. The entire family supported my father's decision to place her in the home when he could no longer care for her properly. Because my father lives in Florida and the rest of us live up north, we decided Mom should be placed in a home near her children and grandchildren. This way, she would have more visitors, and we could keep a closer eye on her. Dad comes twice a year to see Mom and visit the rest of the family.
Recently, Dad informed us that he has a lady friend. We realize how lonely he has been, and we try not to judge his need for companionship. However, Dad told us that when he comes to town for his next two-week visit, he plans to bring his new lady friend. How am I supposed to explain this to my children? They are teenagers.
Dad is 79. We want him to be happy in his remaining years. However, he is still a married man, and is being disloyal to Mom. Should I insist that he leave his lady friend in Florida? I don't want to risk having Dad refuse to visit us because of this. Your input will be greatly appreciated. Audrey in Minnesota.
Dear Audrey: Explain to Dad, as diplomatically as possible, that the teenage grandchildren would not understand his having a lady friend while their grandmother is still living. You might also discuss this with his lady friend so she will understand the situation and not feel hurt about not being asked to join him when he visits the family up north. If she is an A-Number-One, First-Class person, she will send him on his way with her blessings.
Dear Ann: Can you tell me the proper way to address a widow? Is it "Mrs." with her first name, or "Mrs." with the deceased husband's first name? I'd appreciate your help with this. Confused Widow in California
Dear California: It is correct for a woman to continue to use her deceased husband's first name. The proper designation for a widow is "Mrs. John Smith." If the woman is divorced, she uses her own first name, "Mrs. Mary Smith."
Gem of the Day (From Church Bulletin Bloopers, sent in by L.K. of Park Forest, Ill.): Barbara C. remains in the hospital and needs blood donors. She is also having trouble sleeping, and has requested tapes of Pastor Jack's sermons.