DEAR ABBY: I accepted a request from my brother to watch his cats while he was across the country for a few months. During that time, one of them matured and started marking his territory all over my house. The dilemma was quickly taken care of with a trip to the vet, after permission from my brother.
My brother now insists that because I accepted responsibility for the cats "in every way" in his absence that I shouldn't expect reimbursement for the professional carpet cleaner I rented or the vet bill I paid for neutering the cat.
Am I out of line to expect to be paid back? We have agreed to abide by your response. -- CHRISTINA IN MARYLAND
DEAR CHRISTINA: Tell your brother to start writing the check now. If he'd had to board his cats while he was out of town, it would have cost him a lot more. You were kind to help him out, and he should be ashamed of himself for trying to stiff you. HISSS.
DEAR ABBY: My sister-in-law is in a barbershop quartet. While I appreciate the artistic effort of what she does, listening to it bores me and I don't enjoy it. I feel like I must go to her recitals because she makes a point of inviting my husband and me.
I have an ethical dilemma. Should I be honest with her and say I don't enjoy sitting through two to three hours of a capella songs? Or should I be true to MYSELF and admit I'd rather stay home and catch up on my reading? What would you do, Abby? -- EARACHE IN IDAHO
DEAR EARACHE: I'd try to be tactful. Instead of saying you would rather stay home and catch up on your reading, say instead that you have "different taste in music" than she does, or that you have other plans. If this would make you feel guilty, consider putting in an appearance every once in a while.
DEAR ABBY: My second wife died last year after 39 years of marriage. She had a beautiful, unique sense of humor. Three weeks after her funeral, I was walking our dog on the day that would have been our anniversary. As I bent down to pick up the poop, I spotted a quarter on the ground. It was so tarnished with age I couldn't make out the date. But I remembered your "pennies from heaven" letters, so I picked it up.
I hurried home to clean it to see if it was from the year we were married. I was amazed when I discovered it WAS from the year I was married -- but to my first wife. Like I said, my late wife had a unique sense of humor ... SMILING IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR SMILING: I'm sorry for your loss. Two things occur to me. The first is that the quarter was your reward for being a responsible dog owner. The second is that your late wife may have been trying to "remind" you that you had a love before her, and you may find another one in the future.
Dear Abby is written by ABIGAIL VAN BUREN, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com 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 your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $14 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)