What on earth has become of college education when professors and teachers write that they use Dear Abby for English courses? I am horrified that an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher uses your column to teach foreign students our customs. WHAT customs? Unresolved anger? Sibling rivalry? Mistrust of spouses? Broken homes? Drunk driving? Homosexuality? Sexual abuse? Internet pornography? It is insanity that this is what foreign students use to gauge American culture.
Abby, what about the monogamous marriage that has endured hardships? The couple still devoutly loyal and faithful to each other? Kids who still have the same mother and father and are contributing to society? What about the people who give 100 percent of themselves for community involvement with no thought to themselves? You have even said yourself that some people accuse you of making up the letters because they are so bizarre. Some are R-rated at best. And this is what teachers use to teach English? God forbid!
No wonder people in other countries think Americans are idiots. If they get all their information from Dear Abby, they may not be too far off the mark. You may print my name.
Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
Ouch! I cannot agree with you that the people who write to me are idiots. The problems they write about are human relations problems -- and not necessarily unique to the United States. Furthermore, they make interesting reading -- and that, I think, is what motivates the teachers to use my column. By the time people reach adulthood, "See Spot Run" and "The Adventures of Dick and Jane" no longer hold their interest. Face it, my column has it all -- drama, human interest, comedy, sex, drugs -- and solid information that many people relate to.
I am 16 and dream of becoming a voice for a Disney animated film. This is not some silly phase, Abby. I really want to do this. The only problem is, I have no clue how to get the attention of Disney. I have had little theatrical experience, and my school's drama program isn't the best. I have a good singing voice but have had no lessons.
I need your advice on what to do here. I have sent letters to Disney, but no response has ever come. Any suggestions you might offer would be great. Thanks.
Disney Dreamer in Concord, Calif.
You're welcome. I checked with my friend, Tress MacNeille, who does voice-overs for "The Simpsons" and is the classic voice of Daisy Duck and Chip 'n Dale. She asked me to tell you that "longevity in a show business career can be measured by the amount of time spent preparing for it."
Do not attempt to do this straight out of high school. Study drama and speech in college and work to sharpen your improvisational skills. Take every acting class you can. Be a reader and an observer, so you can pick up nuances of language in the mold of Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. And most important of all, remember this is not a part-time effort. Keep your eye on your goal. Good luck.
I am a Hindu woman living in the Bible Belt. Many of my friends and acquaintances are Christian, and they are all wonderful -- except for one thing. Some try in small, subtle ways to convert me to their faith.
With Christmas approaching, I know what's coming -- boxes of baked goodies with little brochures and pamphlets tucked inside all about Jesus and the Christian faith. I wish you would remind people that all of us in this diverse nation should respect the faiths of others. To try to convert someone to your faith implies that you consider your religious beliefs superior, and that is just plain wrong.
I know these gestures are well meant, but I wouldn't dream of sending Hindu brochures with my holiday goodies. Abby, what is a tactful, but firm, way of dealing with this?
Happy Hindu in the Bible Belt
Much as you would like, you are not going to change people who feel it's part of their religious commitment to "save" you. Ignore the brochures and enjoy the goodies -- unless you have lost your appetite. If that's the case, donate the treats to a homeless shelter or take them to the office.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.
(c)2002, Universal Press Syndicate