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Abby: Casual remark cuts deeper than friend intended

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: My wife, “Tina,” was very hurt by a friend recently. Her friend “Sally” called her “cheap” during a conversation (“she’s cheap like you”). Sally didn’t intend it to be hurtful, just an illustration — but my wife is very upset about it.

We use coupons to grocery shop or dine out; we also watch our thermostats, recycle, etc. On the other hand, we sent our children to university without loans, our mortgage is paid off, we have traveled extensively and our net worth is above a million dollars with no debt. How do I make Tina realize Sally’s comment should not upset her so?

Thrifty in Texas

Dear Thrifty: What happened was unfortunate because the problem may be that Sally simply chose the wrong word. What she probably meant was that your wife is frugal. The difference between “frugal” and “cheap” is that being frugal is a VIRTUE. Because Sally hurt your wife’s feelings, Tina needs to tell her how it made her feel so Sally can apologize to her before it causes a permanent rift.

Dear Abby: How do you politely refuse to hug or shake someone’s hand because of a medical issue that lowers your resistance to infection?

I had a stem cell transplant 18 months ago because of a recurrence of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I’m now on a drug that keeps my white blood count low. If I get a fever, I could end up in the hospital. I have been in remission for over a year and look healthy.

I don’t really care to get into a long conversation about my experience, but I don’t want to put myself at risk. How should I handle this without appearing rude?

Holding Back

in Pennsylvania

Dear Holding: Not extending a hand should send the message. But, if pressed, say, “I can’t do that because I have a medical condition that prevents close contact.”

Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.