DEAR AMY: Our daughter is 45 years old. She has never been married or lived with a man. She has a conservative demeanor. One month ago, she met a divorced man her age. He has two adolescent daughters. They seem in an unreasonable haste to get married.
Our concerns are many. He is a laborer, and she is a gifted classical musician and has done well in her life. She owns her house free and clear. We worry about her having to bring up two girls of a broken home (the parents share custody).
We also worry about the difference in social standing between them (although we do respect any hardworking person). We advise her to look for a more compatible mate, but she will not listen.
What is your advice on this situation? What would be a reasonable time span for getting to know each other before deciding you want to get married?
— Worried Parents
DEAR WORRIED: At 45 years old, your daughter is old enough to make up her own mind about the life she wants to live — and with whom she wants to live it. Love has no timetable, and sometimes the longer you wait to find love, the faster and more certainly it sweeps you up.
"Broken homes" are not always broken in the way you seem to think, and I give your daughter credit for being willing to take on the challenges of marriage and motherhood.
There is no real way to prepare for these challenges, other than to know your partner well. In this regard, your daughter probably needs more time, but when love hits, it can feel like a sure and instant "Yes!" A line from the great Nora Ephron about instant love resonates here: "At that moment, I knew. I knew the way you know about a good melon."
Your judgments about your daughter's situation are harsh; you would be wise to keep them to yourselves and instead spend your energy supporting her emotionally and hoping for her success.
DEAR AMY: As a nonsmoking female, I have been "blessed" with an extraordinary sense of smell. While this may come in handy (for sniffing out gas leaks and such), it puts me at quite a disadvantage at the gym.
I understand that all gyms have members that reek of body odor, but what I don't understand is people who don't launder their workout clothes between workouts. When people sweat heavily in clothes that they've already sweated heavily in, the odor is unbearable. There is such an offender at my gym.
How does one go about dealing with this? Should I say something to him? I don't want to be rude, but his odor ruins my workout. My gym is one of those unattended, 24-hour types, so there is no one to complain to.
DEAR RACHEL: A response that is quick, frank and nonodorous is called for, e.g.: "Hey pal, you want to give your workout clothes a spin in the washer tonight?"
I don't know if you are capable of this level of honesty (I probably would not be). If not, I suggest you practice avoidance and hope that someone else who is bolder does the deed. I'll happily run nonstinky suggestions from other readers.
DEAR AMY: A recent letter in your column relayed concern about a grandmother who sent two birthday gifts to the same grandchild. As an active 89-year-old with an unreliable memory, I keep a birthday book, which includes the dates for all of my grandchildren, their spouses and my many great-grandchildren.
I sent my 18-year-old great-grandson a card and money via his mother, then three weeks later worried that I had forgotten him, so I got his new address and sent him another card and some money. Here's my message to him: Please enjoy the extra cash; I know you need it in college — just don't spread the word around the family that grandma is losing it!
DEAR GRACE: With many family members spread over generations, it is very easy to lose track. This doesn't mean you are "losing it" — just that you are doubling-up on the love!
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.