Dear Annie: I am a healthy, active, 68-year-old divorced man, still employed and productive. About a year ago, I met "Caroline," a pleasant, generous, compatible woman, and have since enjoyed her company on a regular basis. We spent Christmas together in Europe. It was lovely.
Unfortunately, there is one problem that drives me crazy: Caroline is a compulsive talker. It doesn't matter if we're in a movie theater, we're watching a TV show or I'm trying to read the newspaper. She just starts yakking in my ear. I try to ignore it, but she goes right on. She doesn't get the hint that I'm not interested in chatting at that precise moment.
How do I tell her nicely to shut up for a while? -- Patient But Tired
Dear Patient: Might Caroline have a hearing problem? Is she insecure and believes she has to fill all the silences between you? The next time she does this, you should gently hold her hand and say, "Caroline, it would be nice for us to watch this show together. Can we talk when it's over?" If she persists, you might ask her to see her doctor to have her hearing checked. Later, when you have some peaceful time together, tell her how much you enjoy just spending quiet time in her company and how nice it is that the silence is comfortable. This will help reinforce the behavior you want. But make sure to pay attention to her when you are, in fact, having a conversation. Some people chatter endlessly because they feel that their words are being ignored.
Dear Annie: You published that silly cost of the 12 days of Christmas and once again, eight maids a milking were being paid $58 -- minimum wage for the past three years.
This is so wrong! I milked cows on a dairy farm for 15 years, and let me tell you, it is a skilled occupation. I went to milking school. And it pays more than minimum wage. I was paid $12 when the federal minimum wage was $5.60. And what about the cost of those cows? Why isn't that included? A dairy cow costs at least $1,500, so eight of them -- one for each maid -- would be $12,000. However, if the gift-giver bought the cows, he would have to hire at least one milkmaid full time. This should be corrected. -- Anne in Pennsylvania
Dear Anne: We truly enjoyed your letter. We rarely hear from someone who worked as a milkmaid. And of course, how much the milkmaids receive each day would depend on how many hours they worked. Also, nothing in the song indicates that the gift-giver included cows. Only the maids-a-milking. Since the song was first published in 1780, we assume the recipient already had cows.
The figures we printed came from the PNC Bank (originally the Provident National Bank in Philadelphia), which calculates maids-a-milking as unskilled labor, and thus they are paid minimum wage. We will be happy to pass along your claim that they are skilled labor and therefore entitled to more money.
We're still chuckling. Thank you so much for writing. You made our day.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.