DEAR ABBY: Your advice to "Desperate in Skokie" was right on target. She was faced with the dilemma of admitting her true year of birth (1919) to Social Security and to her husband, who thought she was born in 1925. You told her to come clean, starting with the people at Social Security. She - and others who have falsified their year of birth in order to make themselves younger - should remember that honesty is the best policy.
There is little reason for embarrassment or worry about explaining the age discrepancy to Social Security officials; we've heard that story many times. Also, she can rest assured that her husband will NOT find out from us. This is confidential information, protected from disclosure by the Privacy Act. As long as she can establish her true birth date, via birth certificate or other convincing documents, she'll have no problem. But more important, we want her to receive exactly what she is entitled to - no more, no less. - LAWRENCE KEILLOR, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, CHICAGODEAR MR. KEILLOR: Thanks for a letter that will undoubtedly "put a few years on" a number of people who have taken a few years off to make themselves younger.
DEAR ABBY: You were prematurely apologetic to "California Schoolteacher," who picked on your statement, "All men do not cheat on their wives," saying that what you MEANT to say was that not all men cheat on their wives, but what you DID say was: There aren't any men who cheat on their wives.
Abby, that was an unfair accusation. You said what you MEANT to say, but you also allowed ambiguity. Examples of ambiguous sentences:
They are cooking apples.
I dislike his painting.
The fish is ready to eat.
She decided on the boat.
They invited many old men and women.
All the above sentences can be interpreted in more than one way, depending on the intonation and context.
Students, teachers or writers cannot avoid ambiguity unless they understand its nature. Few readers devote much attention to this issue. - UNAMBIGUOUS AT UCLA.
P.S. You may print this - maybe?
DEAR UNAMBIGUOUS: I did print it. Obviously.
DEAR ABBY: I was very much annoyed to see "Wife of a Slob" compare her husband to a pig. Several days later, you published a letter from "Mother of a Slob." In your answer, you told her to give her son an ultimatum - that he could no longer live "like a pig" under her roof.
Abby, if her son lived like a pig, she'd have no problem. She'd have a son she could be proud of. Pigs are very clean. They do not smell. They do all their "business" in one location. Sure, their table manners aren't all that great, but it's difficult to eat with only a snout - and no hands.
Pigs wallow in the mud to cool off. They can't pant like dogs; they don't have an "air conditioning system" as humans do.
Pigs are very intelligent - smarter and more loyal than some dogs.
If you want to cite an example of a creature that's really filthy, try the sparrow or pigeon. Now they are truly dirty! - LISANNE IN CHICAGO
DEAR LISANNE: Sorry, I didn't mean to vilify the pig, but that old analogy "dirty as a pig" came to mind. Somehow, "dirty as a sparrow" - or even pigeon - doesn't paint as vivid a picture.
C) 1988 Universal Press Syndicate