DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I looked like a bear -- big, tall and fat -- when I was young and people teased me for it. I moved to Toronto to go to university, played college football and developed a muscled body (if I do say so myself). I recently moved back to Winnipeg and went to a bar with an old friend when this bully from high school spotted us. He looked drunk. "Well, if it isn't the beast," he said, and stuck his hand out.
"Sorry, I don't think I know you," I said, and turned around to my friend.
The guy said, "You do so know me!" and suggested I do something anatomically impossible. I know I was being juvenile, but I was so mad I felt like putting his head through a wall. How should I have handled that better? -- Not a Beast, Never Was, Winnipeg
Dear Not a Beast: This old bully's aim was to put you down. Accepting his extended hand while he insulted you again would have felt like betraying yourself. You did a good job of putting him in his place, without saying or doing too much.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: This is in response to the lady writing about the new baby jealousy issue. When the older child first comes to the hospital, the idea of a gift "coming from the new baby" isn't necessary. My mother warned everyone to be playful with me first, and let me show them my brother. I believe this made me realize that each one of us served different roles in the family and that my "place" wasn't taken. Instead, I was the big sister, and I understood that the younger child had different needs, such as nursing. Sibling jealousy is extremely preventable. -- Wish You Well, New Moms, Winnipeg
Dear Wish You Well: I still think the first writer's idea about a gift "from the baby" at the hospital for the supplanted prince or princess, is a solid one. Of course it's good to make a plan with friends and relatives to pay first attention to the older child, but in their excitement, they often forget and plunge into the fray, trying to hold that little bundle in their arms.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My wife is a dunce. I didn't think so when I first met her; I just thought she was a lot of fun. She was full of energy, ready to try different sports, games and activities, and she was very warm and sexual. I married her within six months -- what a fun life we were going to have! I didn't care about her lack of education.
As it turns out, the stupidest move of my life was marrying this woman and getting her pregnant twice in two years. Now I have a family and we can't do any of the daring things we used to do together. Now I see who she really is. She has never finished a book, but finished high school by stealing all the exams. She sharpened her wits by shoplifting. She spends all day watching soaps on TV.
I want to leave and I want custody of our children, but that's not going to happen because she's a warm and loving mother, although a stupid one, and no judge will give them to me. How long should I stay to give these kids a chance? -- Big Mistake, St. Vital
Dear Mistake: Stay close in their lives forever. When you break up with their mother, get a place within a few blocks with a bedroom for them and be an attentive and supportive father, financially and every other way. Don't tell the kids their mother is stupid, or criticize her to their faces. Learn to be a good cook for when they come over to stay. See them more than once a week, and don't agree to every-second-weekend visitation. That isn't enough for a father to have much influence, other than being "entertainment dad." You need to help them with homework, listen to their experiences at school and visit the teachers without being asked.
How long should you stay married? At least until the youngest one is in pre-school half days. Endless daycare as tots is not the way to give your children the best start.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Six months ago, I met a man online after being happily single for two years. I was curious, but never planned to make anything "real life," so when this guy told me his first name -- the same as my ex-husband's -- I shrugged it off. We hit it off chatting online, had heaps in common and then met in person.
We've now been dating casually for six months and I've been feeling more and more like I'm being dishonest for not bringing up the name issue. Should I just blurt it out or keep waiting for it to come up in conversation? -- Dauphin Divorcée, Manitoba
Dear D.D.: If your new guy is at all computer-savvy, he already knows your ex's first name. If you bring it up, then it sounds like it's an issue for you and all of a sudden you have created a problem where there wasn't one before. Just let it go. But, consider this: maybe you should start calling him a name like "darling" in bed, so you're not calling out that same first name at the critical moment.
Please email questions or comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or mail letters to Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6