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DEAR ABBY

Overbearing boyfriend ruins family get-togethers

DEAR ABBY: We get our children and grandchildren together twice a year. Our oldest daughter is divorced and, unfortunately, has a significant other the rest of our family cannot stand. He’s an arrogant, competitive know-it-all.

We have been around him only twice — the last two times the family got together. The second time was a disaster for the rest of us. Should we tell her we don’t want to invite him this year, and how do we say it? Or should we not tell her? — TENTATIVE IN FLORIDA

DEAR TENTATIVE: Talk to your daughter about this. When you do, have handy a list of the ways he offended your family members at the gathering. Her significant other may be so self-centered he doesn’t realize he’s being obnoxious.

Ask her to ask him to dial back his need to compete, impress, cover for his own insecurity — whatever drives him. Then give him one more chance. If that fails, do not invite him again, and tell her why. You can always see your daughter separately, I assume, and so can her siblings.

DEAR ABBY: I had a relationship with a wonderful woman for almost six years. During the course of our relationship, I purchased a rather expensive precious stone — exactly what she wanted — with the intent of giving it to her as a promise ring. (Neither of us are fans of the institution of marriage.) We have since gone our separate ways, but we still communicate.

Because it was purchased for her, I am tempted to give her the stone. At the same time, I have entertained the notion of keeping it and giving it to my future life partner, should I meet someone I care for that deeply. Your guidance would be greatly appreciated. — ROMANCING THE STONE

DEAR ROMANCING: Promise rings symbolize the promise of a proposal of marriage. In the case of your former girlfriend, it didn’t pan out. Because the two of you still communicate, why not mention to her that you have the stone and ask if she would like to have it. If she says no, you can always offer it to someone else, although I can’t promise the lady will be eager to receive a souvenir of a failed relationship.

DEAR ABBY: A friend of mine has a 70-pound dog that behaves badly. When I visit her, it sprints out of the front door, barking, and jumps on my car. It has left 3 1/2-inch-long deep scratches on two of my vehicles. She yells at it, and eventually the dog stops, but not before jumping on me and leaving me muddied and snagged.

This friend is due to have a baby, and I am sure she will be inviting me over to meet the baby soon. How can I avoid further damage to my car and clothing without damaging my friendship? — ASSAULTED IN AUSTIN

DEAR ASSAULTED: The obvious answer is to find the courage to tell your friend you are willing to visit only if she confines her dog so it won’t cause further damage to you and your property. And while you are at it, mention that you are concerned about her baby’s safety. Her dog’s lack of discipline poses a distinct danger to her defenseless and vulnerable little one.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Pulitzer Prize-winning political commentator George Will is 80. Actor Richard Jenkins (“Step Brothers”) is 74. Singer Jackie Jackson (The Jacksons) is 70. Singer-actress Pia Zadora is 69. R&B singer Oleta Adams is 68. Country singer Randy Travis is 62. Actress Mary McDonough is 60. Comedian Ana Gasteyer is 54. Actor Will Arnett is 51. Contemporary Christian singer Chris Tomlin is 49. TV personality and fashion designer Kimora Lee Simmons is 46. Sports reporter Erin Andrews is 43. Singer Lance Bass (‘N Sync) is 42. Actress Ruth Negga is 40.

TODAY'S HOROSCOPE

You have to look out for your interests instead of worrying about what others think or do. Put your energy where it counts. Personal improvement will boost your confidence and encourage better overall results this year.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20) — Do and spend only what’s necessary. Live within your means, and don’t promise the impossible. Put your energy where it counts, and be innovative when handling administrative or work-related matters.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20) — Take care of your responsibilities to avoid backlash. A steady pace forward will override anyone’s attempt to make you look bad. Keep everything in perspective; if you exaggerate, someone will question your validity.

CANCER (June 21-July 22) — Show everyone how original you are by presenting your ideas with pizzazz. A little extra oomph will set you apart from any competition you encounter. You can make a difference.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) — Too much of anything will lead to a loss. Get your priorities straight, and don’t feel the need to buy love, friendship or support. Trust in your ability to get things done and forge ahead.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) — Take a proactive approach to get things done. Talk is cheap if you don’t follow through. Be direct, make your move and reach your target with the least amount of dialogue.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 23) — Do something you enjoy, but don’t be excessive. It’s essential to keep the peace and live up to your promises. Discipline and hard work will bring you the highest returns.

SCORPIO (Oct. 24-Nov. 22) — Extravagance will lead to stress, overreaction and problems with people affected by your decisions. Clear up financial, emotional or health issues to eliminate stress.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 23-Dec. 21) — You’ll get a glimpse of the big picture if you take a step back, reorganize and adjust your plans accordingly. Trust in yourself, not in someone trying to manipulate you.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) — Push for what you want and believe in, and you will transform the way you live and the direction you take. It’s time to eliminate what no longer works for you. Positive changes can be made!

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You’ll get ahead if you think matters through and use your discipline and innovative ideas to reach your goal. Don’t be afraid to branch out or take a chance.

PISCES (Feb. 20-March 20) — Your charm will be hard to resist, but if you try to take advantage of someone, you will eventually pay the price. Do what’s best and fair for everyone involved in your plans.

ARIES (March 21-April 19) — Take advantage of any opportunity to talk to someone who is doing something you want to pursue. Information you receive could put you in touch with someone who can help you get ahead.

NEWS OF THE WEIRD

By Chuck Sheppard

Recurring Themes: Laura Rose Carroll, 50, and her daughter, Emily Rose Grover, 17, were arrested in Pensacola, Florida, on March 16 after an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found the duo had allegedly stuffed the ballot box with votes for Emily for homecoming queen last fall. Suspicions were raised when the Escambia County School District reported illegal accessing of hundreds of its students’ digital accounts. Authorities said Carroll, an assistant elementary school principal, had access to the district student information system, and investigators traced unauthorized entries into the system to Carroll’s cellphone and computers, where nearly 250 votes were cast. Fox News reported that investigators also said students reported being told by Grover about her mother’s activity. Each of them was charged with offenses against computers and other cybercrimes, along with conspiracy.

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