Dear Abby: Woman in modest housing discourages dropping by

Dear Abby: I lost my longtime job but have remained in contact with a few former co-workers, meeting for an occasional lunch or dinner. One woman in particular has been pushing to meet at my place. Abby, I’m not proud of where I live now, and I don’t want to have to explain this to her.

So far, I have side-stepped by saying that I prefer to get out of the house, but I’m worried that one day she will announce that she’s “in my neighborhood” and ask to drop by. I’m really uncomfortable with that, but I don’t know an appropriate response that will keep our relationship cordial, because I do value the times we see each other. Any suggestions? – Downscale In Delaware

Dear Downscale: There are various excuses you can use if she wants to drop by. Your place “might not be presentable now,” or you might “not feel up for company,” or you are “in the middle of a project you need to finish,” or you will be “leaving shortly and don’t have time” that day. If you rotate the deflections as needed, your friend may eventually get the idea without your having to say it directly.

Dear Abby: My wife and I were sitting in a restaurant one night. A woman, her boyfriend and two children were at the table next to us. The boyfriend was loudly verbally abusing the children (5 to 8 years old) for not eating “the food he had paid for.” It was truly ABUSE -- his language was awful -- and it lasted for 20 to 30 minutes. I wasn’t concerned about it ruining our night out, but rather what this guy must be like in private with those kids and that woman. Should I have called the police? Would it have made it worse? – NIGHT OUT IN FLORIDA

DEAR NIGHT OUT: Yes, if you had intervened, it probably would have made matters worse. Unfortunately, the police can’t arrest someone for verbal abuse. However, since the man was making a scene, the manager of the restaurant should have stepped in because he was disturbing the other diners.

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.