Dear Amy:

I signed on to on the Internet and found a posting from a close childhood friend, "Wendy." She and I went to school together from first through eighth grades. Then she moved and we lost touch.

I thought the world of Wendy, but in eighth grade she had me help her clean out her basement, move furniture and decorate for a party she was giving. After it was all finished, she told me I wasn't invited to the party because I wouldn't fit in with that crowd. Cruel kid stuff, right?

Anyway, Wendy and I started an e-mail correspondence, and she was gushing about how happy she was to hear from me. We were in touch once or twice a week. She made comments about how I look "so young and thin" and that she was "jealous."

We talked constantly about getting together, and she suggested that I should come to her house. She gave me a date two months in the future. I was so excited about the prospect of us finally meeting up again and booked an inexpensive flight.

Then I got an e-mail from her that said, "Something's come up over that weekend, so we're not going to be able to have our reunion after all. Maybe we can get together after the holidays."

I was crushed, but then I started to think that something was wrong, so after three days, I sent her a carefully worded e-mail stating that I was hoping that everything was okay.

That was 11 days ago. No further word from Wendy.

My daughter tells me to accept what she said at face value and that we'll get together at a later time. What is your take on this?

Should I call her, e-mail her or just let this die? The devil on my shoulder is telling me that Wendy has played "gotcha" with me twice now!

Stumped, Angry and Dumped

Listen to the devil on your shoulder. Don't listen to him when he tells you to take up smoking or join the circus, but listen to him now.

Wendy gotcha again. Don't give her another opportunity.

Dear Amy:

I am a 53-year-old widower, just remarried and feeling a little smug. It took me a while but I finally figured out how to handle women. Actually, women are easy. Pushovers. All I do is tell my wife several times a day that I love her, that she is a beautiful woman and that she is sexy, needed and wanted.

I stroke her and give her flowers occasionally. When she asks me for something, I do it cheerfully as soon as I possibly can.

All I get out of this is a wife who loves me, thinks I'm the greatest guy in the world, and constantly looks for ways to please me. She makes me happy to be alive.

Maybe you can pass this along to the guys who don't know how to handle women.

Happy in Love

You make it sound so easy! Men -- and women -- listen up.

Dear Amy:

Recently, a parent asked for advice about gifts for children's birthday parties.

As a parent of school-age children, I would like to add my own thoughts. Gift-giving should never be competitive. A small, relatively inexpensive item is sufficient to convey the import of gift-giving to children.

Getting even a handful of toys at a party is fine for a 5- to 10-year-old. Too much actually diminishes the value of the gift and the gift-giving and receiving experience. A token acknowledgment of the occasion is the goal, not a material-based reboot of the child's self-worth.

Old-Fashioned Dad

I am with you 100 percent. My theory on insanely materialistic teenagers is that this behavior starts with birthday party gift overload when they're young.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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