Dear Abby: Widow ready to date again hesitates to take first step

My husband of 26 years passed away unexpectedly at age 46.

Dear Abby: My husband of 26 years passed away unexpectedly at age 46. This was 2 1/2 years ago. I have not yet started dating; however, I finally feel like I’d like to.

I have an old friend from high school whom I have never dated, but I would like to explore the possibility. He lives in another town and we occasionally message on Facebook.

I need to pick up some papers from a former doctor of mine in that town, and I would like to see my friend. Should I ask him to meet me for coffee? Is that what “buddies” do? Or should I ask him to meet me for a beer? Would that let him know I want to sort of have a date? What do I say?

Shy Starter

Dear Shy: Approach it this way: Call or message him that you plan to be in town to collect some documents, and ask if he’d “like to get together and catch up.” That can hardly be considered aggressive. If he’s interested, he can then ask you if you’d like to meet for coffee or a beer — or even go all out and share a meal together.

Dear Abby: I recently went grocery shopping with my friend “April.” She decided she wanted some ice cream, so she grabbed a box of ice cream bars. She then proceeded to open the box right there in the aisle and eat one of them while we continued to shop.

When we got to the checkout, she paid for the ice cream. I didn’t say anything at the time because I didn’t want to start an argument, but I feel that what she did was not OK. What are your thoughts on this?


In the First

Dear Unsure: As long as your friend paid for the ice cream, I see nothing wrong with what she did. What I WOULD find upsetting is if she had eaten something, discarded the wrapper and “forgot” to inform the checker, because that would be theft.

Dear Abby: My husband and I are going on a seven-night cruise. There will be a formal and a semi-formal night on the ship. I really want to go, but my husband says it’s his vacation, too, and he doesn’t want to dress up.

Would it be OK for me to go without him? If not, what can he wear that is not a suit and tie but will be acceptable? Just so you know, he said if he has to go, it will be in a tux T-shirt and his Disney top hat.

Getting Away

In Ohio

Dear Getting Away: You and your husband are not joined at the hip. If he prefers not to attend certain events during the cruise, that should be his privilege. However, it’s your vacation, too, and you should have the option to observe the dress code and enjoy those evenings if you wish. If a coat and tie are required on the cruise you chose, you both might be happier if you select a more casual ship next time because some are less formal than others.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.