Dear Annie: For the past 14 years, my family has not spoken to me. Worse, they have spread lies and brought lawsuits, none of which they have won. The gossip has been hurtful and damaging to my small immediate family. No one, of course, has ever asked to hear the truth. Life is short, and every time we extend an olive branch, it is thrown back at us with more vindictiveness.
Could you please find and print the essay titled "My Name Is Gossip"? Maybe someone will read it and understand, if not for my sake, for others. -- Pennsylvania
Dear Pennsylvania: How sad. We can only hope your family will see the column and open their hearts.
My Name is Gossip (author unknown)
My name is Gossip. I have no respect for justice. I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives. I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age. The more I am quoted the more I am believed. My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face. To track me down is impossible. The harder you try the more elusive I become. I am nobody's friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same. I topple governments and wreck marriages. I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartaches and indigestion. I make innocent people cry in their pillows.
Even my name hisses. I am called Gossip.
I make headlines and headaches.
Before you repeat a story, ask yourself:
Is it true?
Is it harmless?
Is it necessary?
If it isn't, don't repeat it.
Dear Annie: Now that the holidays and Valentine's Day are over, there are doubtless thousands of single people who feel as I do. To me, these holidays are just another day to get through in any way possible.
I am a 69-year-old unmarried male. I have never been in circulation or introduced to anyone and am ignored at social gatherings. I find every excuse to avoid them. Right now I don't know whether there is anyone out there for me. One woman asked me whether I could support her in the manner to which she was accustomed, meaning a new car every year, a home priced over $200,000, deluxe appliances, new furniture and credit cards with a $100,000 limit. I told her goodbye and best of luck.
I wonder whether she'll ever have any luck finding a guy who can do this for her. I wonder how many other singles feel this way. -- S.D.
Dear S.D.: When someone tells us they have never been able to meet the right person, we have to consider everything, including your appearance, your personality, your expectations and the type of women you gravitate toward. If you have friends or family who will be brutally honest with you, ask them to critique the way you come across to women. Try to listen with an open mind and understand that they may see things you don't.
Then consider doing some volunteer work, auditing college classes, joining a church or community choir or theater group or a travel tour. These things provide opportunities to meet others, do interesting things and become a more engaging companion.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.