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Dear Abby 2/9

Parents deny probable cause of son's obsessive behavior

DEAR ABBY: My nephew, "Vincent," is 16 and has had problems with obsessive handwashing for years. I have enough professional experience to strongly suspect that he suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
    My brother and his wife refuse to believe their child has a problem and will not take him to get help. My nephew's hands are chafed and raw, and his parents reprimand him for this behavior when he really needs professional help.
    His mother is the biggest problem. She nixes all issues that suggest a problem, and my brother will not stand up to her. What can I do? -- WORRIED AUNT IN FLORIDA
    DEAR WORRIED AUNT: Your sister-in-law may not want her son "labeled," but ignoring the problem will not resolve it. And reprimanding the young man for something he can't help is cruel.
    Your nephew is old enough to discuss the problem with intelligently. Start out by asking him if he thinks he has a problem, and whether he would like to get help for it. After all, at his age he must be self-conscious about his chafed skin.
    If he's agreeable, suggest he talk to someone at school about it — preferably the student health officer or a trusted teacher. If that's not possible, and there is a free clinic in your area, offer to take him there.

    DEAR ABBY: I am engaged to a man I love deeply. I met "Eric" when I was 14 and he was 42. When I turned 18, we got together. I have never been happier, except for one thing. He has had other sexual relationships in the past, while I haven't.
    Once we became engaged, he offered to let me go out and have a one-night stand. He said he suggested it because he loves me, and he wants me to have a shot at the experience I am missing out on.
    Abby, I love Eric and only want to be with him! His suggesting it has made me wonder if he's looking for a way out by getting me to find someone new. Any suggestions on how to handle this? -- INEXPERIENCED AND LOVING IT IN SEATTLE
    DEAR INEXPERIENCED AND LOVING IT: You may be young, but you are perceptive. Men who love women usually want an exclusive relationship. Unless you are contemplating an "open" marriage to this man, my advice is to dump him. You and he have very different values.
    DEAR ABBY: I don't have a question, but perhaps you'd like to give your readers a smile.
    My late Aunt Isabel's wit was legendary in our family. We come from a small town in Connecticut where many roads are so narrow that if a car should stall, the car behind it would be unable to pass.
    This is what happened to my aunt one day. While she was trying to restart the engine, the driver in the car behind her began blowing his horn repeatedly. Aunt Isabel set the parking brake, got out of her car and walked over to the driver's window. When he rolled it down, she smiled warmly and said, "I can't seem to get my car started. Would you be kind enough to start it for me? And I'll stay here and blow your horn for you." -- JOE P., MIAMI
    DEAR JOE P.: Thank you for the smile, but when I read what your Aunt Isabel did, my smile turned wistful. Gone are the days. Someone who tried that today would risk a physical altercation or worse.

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