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Dear Abby 1/27
Merry prankster comes across as menacing to his friends
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DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are in our early 30s and we spend a lot of time with three other couples. A few months ago, we went on a picnic at a local park to play ball and have lunch. One man (I'll call him Bill) thought it was funny to pour what was left of a soft drink on one of the wives' head. She and her husband had to leave. It was obvious she couldn't stay with sticky hair and clothing. Bill called them "party-poopers."
    Three weeks ago, Bill yanked the cloth off a table that had been set with another of the wives' good dishes. Broken china lay everywhere. That wife was also a "party-pooper" because she didn't think it was funny.
    Last weekend there was a pool party. I didn't want to go because I'm not comfortable with the water. My husband promised he'd stay right with me, which he did. However, Bill swam under the water, grabbed both my ankles and yanked me under. I was terrified. I told Bill I never wanted to see him again, and I meant it.
    Now his wife, "Nicki," is upset because she found out I had a dinner at my home and didn't invite them. I told her she could come, but I would no longer let her husband near me. I think he needs professional help.
    Nicki and I work in the same building, and I see her almost every day. We eat in the building cafeteria, and she's spreading the word that I have caused trouble with their group of friends. She's saying I made a play for her husband and he rejected me, and I'm angry about it. I have not said anything to defend myself. I don't feel the need. But my husband says I should tell the real reason. What do you think? -- THE VICTIM, NOT THE PERP
    DEAR VICTIM: I agree with your husband. You have an obligation to protect your reputation, and you should by all means tell the truth -- the whole truth. Bill appears to be a real handful; whatever his problem is, I'll bet this isn't the first time this has happened to that couple. You are wise to avoid them. They both appear to be troubled.
    DEAR ABBY: I am in my mid-50s and in a relationship with "Josh," who is 40. We have been seeing each other for three years. We care about each other, but we're both insecure.
    Josh looks through my cell phone every chance he gets, even if it's in my purse. This bothers me because I have male friends, but he erased their phone numbers and forbade them to call me. Occasionally, I ask to see his cell phone. Sometimes he'll agree, other times he refuses.
    A text message I sent to a friend caused Josh to question my loyalty. In retaliation, I went through some things at his house and questioned his. I have begged him to stop going through my cell phone, but it falls on deaf ears. I feel like I'm walking on eggshells. What should I do? -- TREADING LIGHTLY IN DETROIT
    DEAR TREADING LIGHTLY: See if Josh cares enough about you to go with you for relationship counseling. You and he appear to feed off each other's insecurity, and that's not healthy for either of you. Don't you realize that you cannot -- nor can he -- compel fidelity? The decision to forgo romantic involvements with others must come from within.
    Rummaging through personal papers and cell phone histories accomplishes nothing and only heightens both your anxieties. You could live in a convent and Josh would still suspect you of cheating, because on some level he doesn't feel he's man enough to satisfy you. And it appears you have the same sickness.
    On the one hand, you could dump him and end the frustration. On the other hand, because you and Josh have starred in this soap opera for so long, it's possible you are meant for each other.
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