Missed connection at the lunch counter

Dear Annie: I’m a senior citizen. My companion of 16 years passed away a few years ago. I’ve had a few dating lunches since then, but nothing serious.

Several weeks ago, while looking over the hot dishes at a local health store, I heard a voice behind me saying, “I can’t eat some of the choices because they are a little too spicy.” I turned around and said, “I didn’t know there were other people with those issues.”

He grasped my hand, shook it and we chatted a bit. When I saw him again at the cash register, he said, “Maybe we’ll see each other at lunch sometime.” I said, “I hope so. It’s been a pleasure.”

I wish I had taken more notice of his features. Thereafter, I looked for him at the store, but then my sister was hospitalized, and I was always running around, too busy to spend too much time there. I’m fairly certain he tried to get my attention a couple of times — at least I think it was the same man — but I was too flustered and preoccupied to pay attention.

I am so sad now, because his handshake was that of a gentleman, and it stole my heart. I hope he reads your column and tries again.

— Annie Fan in Vermont

Dear Vermont: While we are not running a matchmaking service, we can see that you are distraught at having missed an opportunity. But also, if you weren’t interested enough to pay more attention to this gentleman the first time, it is possible that you are over-romanticizing the encounter in hindsight. So, recognizing that you may be disappointed, we recommend you spend a little more time at the health store, since you know he frequents the place. If you should see him (or someone you believe to be him), you will have to take the initiative and say hello. He may have assumed your brush-off was intentional. Good luck.


Dear Annie: I work as a breakfast attendant in a hotel that has a free breakfast buffet. I was hoping you could help people with buffet etiquette. I have seen many people, children as well as adults, reach into the cases and touch each donut or squeeze each bagel, etc., looking for the “freshest” one. They are all equally “the freshest.” Also, they will pick up several apples and then take one.

Please tell people to use the tongs if they are available or at least take the items they touch.

— South Dakota Hotel Worker

Dear Hotel Worker: Consider it done. We hope your buffet has visible signs posted telling people to use the tongs. Also, please be sure a hotel staffer pays attention to the tongs and other serving pieces. They often go missing.


Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Soon-To-Be Ex-Husband,” whose breadwinner wife doesn’t appreciate him because he is a stay-at-home dad. I suspect his wife has her own side of this story.

I earn more than my husband. He has a job, yet contributes negligible amounts to our finances. I pay for nearly everything, and he has been the recipient of a great lifestyle. I paid all childcare expenses. When I approached him about a financial plan for my maternity leave, he said, “That’s your problem. You’re the one who wanted kids.” He did not take any time off when our kids were born.

When I get home from work, there are dishes in the sink and laundry to do. He is in front of the TV, and the kids are in front of their video screens. But because he takes the garbage out when I ask and prepares meals twice a week, he believes I don’t appreciate him.

Now that we are getting divorced, he taunts me that he is entitled to half of everything, including my pension. I pray every day for courage and the capacity to forgive.

— Canada


Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

— Creators Syndicate Inc.

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