DEAR READERS: I've stepped away from my column for a few days. While I'm gone, I hope you enjoy these "Best Of" columns, culled from 11 years of "Ask Amy" advice. I'm sure you wonder, as I do, what became of the people who wrote to me for advice, a decade ago.
I would love to find out, so if you recognize yourself in this space, please get in touch and let me know how things worked out for you.
DEAR AMY: I'm afraid that my husband has a drinking problem. In the 18 years I've known him, he has always been able to hold his alcohol, but I'm beginning to fear that he is an alcoholic. He drinks every single day. After work, he stops by a bar with friends or visits his father for "a couple of beers." Those are followed by a couple more at home. On weekends, I'm the designated driver, as he plans on drinking to excess. We were recently at a party where one of the guests commented on the amount of beer that he was able to consume. It is not unusual for him to drink six to 12 beers in a sitting. On our yearly vacations, he drinks nonstop -- morning, noon and night. He has never been abusive or mean to me. He is not uncoordinated and sloppy when he drinks. Usually after a weekend binge, he goes right to bed and sleeps it off. He is hardworking, holds a steady job and brings home a regular paycheck. When I've tried to talk to him about this, he says that he just has a high tolerance and can handle his alcohol. Amy, I want to have children soon, but my husband is afraid that they will cramp his style and he won't be able to party anymore. At almost 40 years old, shouldn't he be over the partying aspect of his life? Is it possible to be an alcoholic and be a nice guy with a steady job?
DEAR WORRIED: Of course it's possible to be an alcoholic and be a nice guy with a steady job.
Alcoholism is a serious and chronic disease, not a character flaw. (Character counts when a person chooses to get help.) Though alcohol can turn some people into monsters, other people are just whittled away, little by little, until the calendar pages flip by and they realize they forgot (or chose not) to have children because they were too busy partying. (And, while I'm at it, can we find some way other than "partying" to describe drinking to excess?) Of course your husband has a drinking problem. He's sleeping off his drunk on the weekends and designating you as his driver so that he can drink to excess.
A person has a "drinking problem" if his drinking causes problems for himself or others.
You can learn more about alcoholism by checking out the Alcoholics Anonymous Website: aa.org. You would benefit from attending Al-anon meetings to understand your limitations: al-anon.org. (November 2005)
DEAR AMY: I am a thirtysomething bachelor facing two out-of-town weddings without a date. The only people I'll know at either event are the bride and groom. Attending both weddings will require air travel and hotel rooms, and both are likely to be very full weekends. In short, without a date, these could be deadly. Would it be horrible if I declined?
DEAR SINGLED: One correction: Without a date, these weddings could be a blast. However, if it's a blast you aren't up to having, by all means send your regrets along with your best wishes. (May 2005)
DEAR AMY: I was under the impression that when you coordinate and make plans for the night, dine at a hip restaurant and have drinks and make out at a hip bar, that constitutes a date. And when you do that serially with one person who coincidentally is not seeing anyone else, it's called "dating." She thinks we're "hanging out."
DEAR ANONYMOUS: It's all semantics, my dear. Stop picking at this and enjoy yourself. (June 2005)