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Dear Abby 2/23

Dinner guests bearing gift put hostess in a pickle

DEAR ABBY: Late last summer, we invited another couple — good friends — over for an informal dinner. When they walked in, they handed me a basket of fresh-picked vegetables from their garden.
    Abby, I had a complete meal prepared. I love fresh vegetables and don't mind adding them to a meal. However, because the dinner was already on the table, I had to put everything on hold and find a way to keep everything warm while I prepared what they had brought.
    I take pride in preparing a good meal and worried that it might not taste the same after having sat for 15 or 20 minutes. I feel they should have let me know in advance so I could have had water boiling when they arrived.
    At the time, my husband told me not to say anything because it's the thought that counts, but it's still bothering me. How do you think I should handle this in the future? That wasn't the first time they have come to dinner with a "surprise" contribution, and it won't be the last. -- READY TO SERVE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
    DEAR READY TO SERVE: Just because someone brings a gift of food or wine when he or she comes to dinner, the host is under no obligation to serve it. What you should have done was put their veggies in the fridge to enjoy at another meal and not stressed yourself out.
    DEAR ABBY: I know my question may not seem earth-shaking in comparison with many of the questions that appear in your column. However, my best friend and I were wondering if you could settle an argument. Should a short person wear ankle-length skirts? -- FIVE-FOOT-TWO IN ILLINOIS
    DEAR FIVE-FOOT-TWO: According to fashion designer Bradley Bayou, author of the new book "The Science of Sexy: Dress to Fit Your Unique Figure With the Style System that Works for Every Shape and Size" (Gotham Books), "Wearing an ankle-length skirt would work for you — as long as your outfit is monochromatic. In other words, do not cut your body in half by wearing a top that's a different color than the skirt."
    I'm sure that anyone who watches QVC has seen or heard about the talented Mr. Bayou. He has dressed (and undressed!) such Hollywood celebs as Halle Barry, Salma Hayek, Beyonce, Queen Latifah, and all the "Desperate Housewives."
    Imagine being lucky enough to have someone like Bradley Bayou standing next to you in a clothing store dressing room, sharing his secrets for dressing to look your very best. Well, open his book, and you'll get a taste of the star treatment.

    DEAR ABBY: We have two beautiful little boys. The older boy is 3, the younger one an infant. People always comment on how much they look alike — as if they could be twins three years apart.
    The problem is, my husband and I (close family, too) do not think they look anything alike, so we don't know how to respond. If we disagree, people go so far as to argue with us. But to agree seems silly when they really do not look alike. What is the polite way to disagree without an argument? -- PROUD MOTHER OF TWO DIFFERENT BOYS
    DEAR PROUD MOTHER: Say something noncommittal — such as, "Yes, there is a strong family resemblance." (But only if they look like they could be related.) To disagree, regardless of how politely you do it, will only generate more conversation on a subject you would prefer to avoid.

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