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Dear Ann Landers: I am a 44-year-old woman and recently began a relationship with a man who is the same age. You will probably find this hard to believe, Ann, but I have never been intimate with a man in my entire life. I am not afraid of sex, I simply have not had the opportunity. Please understand that I am a perfectly normal woman, but my upbringing was rather rigid, and I was always respectful of the "boundaries."

My question is, should I tell my gentleman friend that I am still a virgin before we get to that crucial point, or should I just allow things to take their natural course and let him find out for himself?

-- A Lady in Waiting Who Has Never Been There or Done That
Dear Lady: If and when you are ready to become intimate with this gentleman, by all means, tell him that this is a "first" for you. Keep in mind, however, that you are well within the child-bearing age. I hope you will discuss this with your gynecologist and get some briefing. You need educating, my dear.

Can you top this?

Dear Ann Landers: I met my husband in 1973, married him in 1976 and divorced him in 1993. That's three years of courtship and 17 years of marriage. His parents gave us a choice for a wedding gift -- a set of sterling silver or a vacuum cleaner. Being a practical woman, I decided on the vacuum.

Well, before our divorce was final, his mother called and said she wanted the vacuum back. I was speechless, and so was my husband. Remember, we had been married for 17 years. We honored her request and delivered the vacuum immediately. She must have read your advice about returning wedding gifts at some time or other during her 70-odd years, but she didn't realize you were referring to weddings that were called off or annulled.

That's not the end of it, Ann. My mother-in-law called back the next day and said, "You know, I don't really need the vacuum. How about giving me your breadmaker instead? You probably never use it anyway." (Actually, I used it quite often.) My jaw dropped to the floor. All I could say was, "Fine, dear. John will bring it to you the next time he visits." And he did.

Can anyone top that one, Ann?

-- No Name, No Initials, No City, No Foolin'
Dear No Name: I've always maintained that a sense of humor can get a person through a lot of muck and mire in life. Thanks for proving me right.

A walk down the aisle

Dear Ann Landers: I am engaged and getting married in the spring. I have not seen my biological father since I was 6 years old, and he will not be coming to the wedding. My stepfather raised me, but he and Mom are having trouble and will probably get a divorce right after my wedding. Lately, my stepfather has not been very nice to either one of us.

Must I have my stepfather walk me down the aisle?

-- Memphis, Tenn., Bride
Dear Bride: Perhaps an uncle, a cousin or a close family friend would like the honor of walking you down the aisle. Discuss this with your mother, and decide together. Don't fret. It's going to be just fine.

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