Dear Ann: I would like to give a different view of those "copycat" friends. I think they could be mentally ill and even dangerous.
My copycat friend followed me from job to job. She tried to get close to every friend I ever had. If I got my hair cut, she did, too. She bought the same car and rented an apartment in the same complex. My friends thought it was sweet that she wanted to be just like me. I thought it was sick. When she showed up at every party I attended and every club I frequented, I realized that she was actually stalking me.
I decided to move a thousand miles away a drastic decision, but a very good one. I did not give my forwarding address to anyone. I was fortunate to be able to relocate and lose all contact with this woman. It was not a compliment to have her copy me, Ann, it was frightening. She made my life hell. Happy to Be Rid of Her
Dear Happy: It has been said that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," but being stalked and copied can indeed be frightening. I'm glad you were able to pack up and get away from that woman. She sounds mentally ill, poor thing.
Dear Ann: I wrote this the day after visiting my grandfather, Cecil. I hope you will share it with your readers. Beth Randle, Memphis, Tenn.
Dear Beth: Here's your letter, a truly loving tribute, just in time for Grandparents Day, which is tomorrow. My readers who are fortunate enough to have grandparents will enjoy it as much as I did:
When I was 5, my grandfather was the strongest man in the world. He would bounce me on his knee and ward off the monsters under my bed.
When I was 7, my grandfather was the strongest man in the world. He would push me on the tree swing higher and higher, until I'd squeal with delight. He taught me how to play dominos, and at the same time taught me how to add.
When I was 9, my grandfather was the strongest man in the world. He scooped out the ice cream that was frozen so hard I could never manage it myself.
When I was 11, my grandfather was the strongest man in the world. That is, until the day I noticed how his arm shook when he scooped out the ice cream, how slowly he walked to the swing, and how he couldn't push me to the treetops any longer.
When I was 13, my grandfather was the strongest man in the world. My grandmother, already stricken with osteoporosis, was dying of Parkinson's disease. The strength of his love for her shone through in his dedication to nursing her. He was there for Grandma until the very end.
Now I am 18. My grandfather is in bed most of the time, but he is still the strongest man in the world in my eyes. He taught me that, in the end, the strength of your body doesn't matter nearly as much as what is in your heart. He taught me that the strength of your love is the greatest strength of all.
Dear Ann: A few years ago, when I was young and foolish, I went with some friends to a tattoo parlor and had some "artwork" done on my ankle and neck. I like the tattoos, but the one on my neck is interfering with my professional life. I've been told I can have it removed, but it means more needles, and frankly, I like showing off the tattoo when I'm on vacation, and I want to keep it. Any advice? Sorry Now in New England
Dear Sorry: Although I don't usually do endorsements, I once recommended Covermark for unsightly bruises and birthmarks. I thought my readers should know such a product was available. Covermark has a "Tattoo Cover Kit," which will do the trick for you. It is available at most drugstores and cosmetic counters.