Dear Abby: I am a middle-aged man who started to lose my hair when I was in high school. I wasn't exactly happy about it, but I knew there was nothing I could do, so I just accepted it. I am now 34, and bald - I mean Kojak bald!

I am no longer sensitive about my baldness, but I continue to be amazed at the number of people who joke about it. Some have suggested that I get a hairpiece. (A few years ago I considered it, but I wasn't sure I could take the comments it would provoke, so I never did.)Abby, you would not believe some of the questions people have asked me. For example, can you imagine a person asking an obese person:

- "How long have you been obese?"

- "Does it bother you when people make jokes about obesity?"

- "Weren't you terribly upset when you first noticed you were getting obese?"

- "Is anyone else in your family obese?"

- "Does obesity come from your mother's side or your father's?"

- "Do you worry that your children may be obese, too?"

Abby, few people are so rude as to ask such questions, but if you substitute "bald" for "obese," you will have a sample of what bald people have to put up with.

Baldness, I can tolerate. Rudeness, I cannot!

- Bald in Texas

Dear Bald: You're mistaken - obese people are also targets for rude questions.

Apropos baldness, I am reminded of a comment made by Eric Hoffer, the San Francisco longshoreman, political and social philosopher who in 1961 wrote "The True Believer": "We do not mind having our hair ruffled, but we will not tolerate any familiarity with the toupee that covers our baldness."

Dear Abby: I am 37 years old. My mother is 54. I am the oldest of four daughters. Mom has been physically abused by my father ever since I can remember. He hits her, throws things at her, calls her terrible names and accuses her of sleeping with every man who sets foot on our property - from the mailman to the garbage man. He listens in on her telephone conversations, opens her mail and drives by her place of employment to make sure she's there.

Abby, we have begged Mom to leave this crazy man. We fear that one day she may die at the hands of this lunatic.

Mom works at a job that pays decent wages, and there is only one sister living at home. She's in college.

I believe in God. I've prayed and so have my sisters. We want to see our mother safe and happy. Please advise.

- Terrified

Dear Terrified: Your mother should not put her life at risk by continuing to live with this sick, abusive man. She should either get him out of the house or go to a battered woman's shelter as soon as possible. Assist your mother in finding a shelter and a counselor who can help her face reality.

Your father should be examined psychiatrically and encouraged to enroll in a program for men who commit violence against their wives.

Dear Abby: As for the woman who objected to inquiries about her silicone-enlarged breasts, why should she object to the inquiries? She had them enlarged so they'd be more noticeable, didn't she?

Rather than put-downs and evasions, a better answer would be, "Yes, I've had them enhanced. Don't they look great!"

By the way, I'm a male who's almost 70.

- Still Looking

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