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Ask Amy

Ask Amy column

Dear readers: I’m stepping away from the “Ask Amy” column for a week. Please enjoy these hand-picked “best of” columns in my absence.

Q. I have a very attractive wife. In my opinion, she is much better looking without makeup; however, whenever we get dressed up and go to “nicer” places, she likes to fix herself up. The more makeup she uses, the more it detracts from her appearance. I didn’t have the heart to tell her, but she looked like she was ready for the morgue the other evening when we met another couple at an upscale restaurant. She looked jaundiced.

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I have thought about discussing this sensitive issue with her friends as I think they would agree with me, but I am struggling with the delivery of the message. As a man, I know we’re sorely lacking in communication skills. Your take? Bruce

A. Other men might have trouble communicating, but you seem fine to me. Let’s start by not talking to her friends, OK? That’s got disaster written all over it.

I took your letter across the street to my department store makeup counter, and the ladies there suggest that a gift certificate for your wife would give her an opportunity to “freshen up” her style. The bad color might just be because of poor lighting in her bathroom, and a good makeup person can identify that and other issues.

May I add that your feeling that your wife is perfect as she is, is reason enough to scrape off the greasepaint. Have you told her this? That statement, accompanied by one tube of perfectly pink lipstick from you, might take care of the whole matter.

Q. I belong to a social group of women who quilt together. One of the group who professed to be our friend has spread untrue stories about two of us, and these untruths have gotten back to us.

This has been going on for more than a year. Should we confront her or continue to ignore what she is doing? Elaine

A. You might be tempted to quilt your response to this rumor-mongering directly into your most recent creation: “(Insert name here) is something that rhymes with stitch!”

Instead, do your best to clear the air at your next meeting by speaking to her directly. Just say something on the order of “We’re so worried that you seem to have a misunderstanding about us, Martha; what’s going on?”

Stand quietly and wait for her to answer.

Q. I continue to be impressed with your warmhearted, insightful answers in the paper each day, so I thought I’d write to you and pose a question I’ve been wondering about for years.

I am allergic to nuts, and every once in a while someone will give me a gift of food that has peanuts or other nuts in it. If I thank the giver and say nothing about my allergies, I feel I am encouraging him or her to give me similar items in the future. I do not wish to be rude, though. What is the best way to handle this situation?

Amy from Elgin

A. I guess you could demonstrate your problem by having your tongue swell up to three times its size and asking the gift-givers for a lift to the emergency room. But maybe you should just say something on the order of: “Thank you so much! I’m going to pass this on to my kids because I can see it has nuts in it and I’m allergic, but it certainly looks delicious.”

When the givers say they’re sorry they didn’t realize, you can tell them that you’re grateful all the same .

Amy Dickinson can be reached at askamy@tribune.com.

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