DEAR ABBY: The letter from ''In Limbo in Washington'' prompted me to write. I, too, was widowed suddenly several years ago. Because of my strong church upbringing, I mistakenly believed that a church would be a safe place to meet stable, good ''Christian'' men.
Wrong! The men I met in church were as fallible as those I met anywhere else.
I encountered men who were just like those I would have met in any singles club or bar every day except Sunday, and ''barracudas'' trolling for victims. The majority of them were either retired or unemployed, and looking for a ''sugar mama'' to support them or supplement their income. If they were still unmarried in their 40s, there was usually a very good reason for it.
One of my friends from church had been engaged to a fellow from the group who pestered her for sex prior to their marriage. When she finally gave in, he treated her with such disrespect and disgust that she ended the relationship -- considering it a valuable lesson learned.
I briefly dated a fellow who, after my constant questioning about his marital status, finally admitted he was only ''separated'' and was looking for a lady to ''help him make up his mind'' as to whether he wanted to divorce his wife or not!
Then there was the desperate jewelry designer with the ego problem who had more earrings and piercings in his ears than I did; the gay man trying to find a woman to marry to convince his elderly parents he wasn't gay; and finally, the fellow who thought he was the reincarnation of a 15th-century pope. They were all loyal churchgoers. I also met men who thought I would be vulnerable and easy-pickings because I was a young widow. They found out differently.
So, where did I finally meet my handsome, sweet husband? We met at a local dance bar when I was so disgusted I was ready to join a convent even though I am not Catholic.
Please, Abby, warn single women not to automatically assume that all churchgoers are honest, upstanding citizens. They are human, just like the rest of us. Also, tell ''Limbo'' to dump that charming -- but still married -- S.O.B. because the minute she's out of the picture, he'll find another victim. Men like that don't change. -- NO NAME, NO CITY, NO CHURCH
DEAR NO, NO, NO: Your experience proves the truth of something I've said before that bears repeating. A church is not a museum for saints -- it's a hospital for sinners. Because a man is seated in the pew next to you at 10 o'clock on Sunday morning doesn't guarantee that he's 100 percent virtuous. It simply means he's usually more sober than one you'll meet in a bar at 10 o'clock on Saturday night.
DEAR ABBY: I read the item you printed saying that if the three wise men had been women, they would have asked for directions, arrived on time, cleaned the stable, helped deliver the baby, made a casserole and brought practical gifts.
What B.S.! They would have first gone to the beauty salon, had a wash, set and manicure, then home to pick out a proper outfit. Then they would have changed the outfit five times, called everybody they knew to yak about the trip, and arrived late. VERY late. -- STAN GERSHBEIN, FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.
DEAR STAN: Spoken like a true male chauvinist. However, you may have been topped by Paul Harvey. He said what would REALLY have happened was that halfway to the oasis, the camel would have broken down because no one remembered to check his water level.
DEAR ABBY: Usually I do not interject my opinion to total strangers. However, as my wife and I were sitting at a table in a mall, there were two women at the next table. One of them had with her a screaming infant in a buggy. Finally, the mother lifted the baby into her arms and began bouncing it around. The baby cried even more, so the infant was put back in the buggy with a disgusted thrust as the baby continued to scream.
I spoke up, saying, ''The baby may be thirsty.'' The mother found a bottle full of water and stuck it into the baby's mouth. The baby not only stopped crying, but attacked the water as if its life was dependent upon it.
I have heard women say about crying babies, ''Don't worry -- the baby is just exercising her lungs.'' Abby, a baby's cry is a signal that something is wrong.
When a woman first becomes pregnant, a nurse in her doctor's office should instruct her about care for a crying baby. When the baby cries: Is she thirsty? Is he hungry? Is the baby wet and in need of changing? Is she too hot? Too cold? Are the bed clothes wrapped so tightly around the baby or his arms or legs that they are shutting off the circulation? (Lift the baby completely out of the crib and look things over.) The baby might also have an extremity caught in the buggy parts.
Finally, if it is none of the above, the baby might be sick. Learn how to take the infant's temperature. If the temperature is above 100 degrees F, take the baby immediately to the emergency room unless his or her doctor is willing and able to see the infant immediately. -- RETIRED DOCTOR IN SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.
DEAR DOCTOR: Since babies don't come with directions included, that's excellent advice, for which I thank you.
DEAR ABBY: Everyone, children and adults, who gets lost or is in danger should know Morse code for SOS. It's easy. Just learn this: . . . - - - . . .
You can yell it, tap it out, blow it on your car horn, blow it on a whistle, write it (in very large print) into sand, or lay large rocks on a beach spelling the SOS. The Morse code by voice is: ''DIT DIT DIT-DAH DAH DAH-DIT DIT DIT.'' Many people know this SOS signal -- Scouts, airmen, ham radio operators, boaters, etc. If you think you're in trouble, and know you're within hearing distance, yell, ''MAYDAY!''
I learned Morse code in flight school and never forgot the SOS call. Please print this, Abby. I want no one -- ever -- to be in need of an SOS and not know how to send it. -- FEMALE PILOT
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