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Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. My daughter is 20. She met a young man a few summers ago. Things have become “serious” (her words), and they are celebrating their one-year anniversary. He lives in Tennessee (11 hours away by car), and she attends college near our home.

He visited her during spring break last year, and we met him briefly during that time. He is her age and in college.

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He now expects her to visit him for a few days after Christmas. I’m told she will stay in his sister’s room at his parent’s house (He has an apartment near campus). I’m sure he and his family are nice people, but we don’t know them.

She wants to travel alone since she feels she is an adult. She says he is a gentleman. My wife and I are very uncomfortable with this. We persuaded her not to drive. She is willing to pay to travel by bus or plane.

I don’t feel good about her demands and the pressure her boyfriend is exerting on her. We thought about driving her down and renting a motel room for a few days, but that isn’t practical.

I keep thinking about all the things that can go wrong such as her being ill or hurt, them breaking up, potential abuse, problems with transit predators, etc. If we don’t let her go, I think she’ll end up going anyway. I trust her, but not him.

What do you recommend?

A. Your girl is not traveling to Balochistan. She’s going to Tennessee. All of the things you are worried about are all hazards that await any of us the minute we leave the house.

If your daughter can afford to pay for this trip and if the two of them have been responsive to you about where she will stay, etc., then you should share your concerns and reservations but otherwise embrace this trip.

She should provide her boyfriend’s and his folks’ phone numbers so you can call to thank them for their hospitality; this will be an opportunity for you to get to know one another.

Give her all of your parental warnings about bus station transit predators and unprotected boyfriend sex, and ask her to take your calls and to check in with you each day.

Q. You asked for feedback from readers about how to deal with someone else’s odor issue.

When I was in eighth grade, an anonymous note was left on my desk. It read, “Wash your face, take a bath, and use deodorant.” Several students started laughing, so I knew this was meant to humiliate me. It still brings tears to my eyes to think about it, decades later.

I wish one of my friends, or the teacher, had taken me aside and quietly but kindly told me the truth.

When I was in my early 20s, some co-workers were giggling over something. They were planning to leave a can of deodorant on a new co-worker’s desk with an unsigned note, “Try using it.” I was horrified.

Telling someone about a body odor problem is a delicate thing. It should not be anonymous. Take the tack of, “This is hard for me to say, and hard to hear, but if it were me, I’d want to know.” Then get to the point quickly, and be ready to accept whatever the reaction is. If you take it upon yourself to deliver the message, the other person deserves to respond to it.

Do it at a time when the recipient of the news can easily leave and have some private time to get over the embarrassment.

A. Thank you. Your experience made you very compassionate.

Send questions via e-mail to or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.
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