Example: [Collected via e-mail, March 2008]
A couple of women moved in across the hall from me. One is a middle-aged gym teacher and the other is a social worker in her mid-twenties. These two women go everywhere together and I've never seen a man go into or leave their apartment. Do you think they could be Lebanese?
What can I do about all the Sex, Nudity, Fowl Language and Violence On My VCR?
I have a man I can't trust. He cheats so much, I'm not even sure the baby I'm carrying is his.
I am a twenty-three year old liberated woman who has been on the pill for two years. It's getting expensive and I think my boyfriend should share half the cost, but I don't know him well enough to discuss money with him.
I've suspected that my husband has been fooling around, and when confronted with the evidence, he denied everything - and said it would never happen again.
Our son writes that he is taking Judo. Why would a boy who was raised in a good Christian home turn against his own?
I joined the Navy to see the world. I've seen it. Now how do I get out?
My forty year old son has been paying a psychiatrist $50.00 an hour every week for two and a half years. He must be crazy.
I was married to Bill for three months, and I didn't know he drank until one night he came home sober.
My mother is mean and short tempered - I think she is going through mental pause.
You told some woman whose husband had lost all interest in sex to send him to a doctor. Well, my husband lost all interest in sex - and he is a doctor. Now what do I do?
Remember these people can vote...
Origins: The above-quoted
With only one exception ("What can I do about all the Sex, Nudity, Fowl Language and Violence On My VCR?"), each of the compilation's clueless queries can be found in The Best of Dear Abby, a 1981 offering of memorable letters from her readers.
(We note the fact that the appearance of these letters in Abby's compilation only validates that she actually received them; it doesn't rule out the possibility that some of them may have been written by correspondents who were deliberately trying to appear clueless.)
Other versions of the e-mail include these additional entries, all also drawn from that same book:
DEAR GERTIE: I don't know. What's he getting?
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend is going to be twenty years old next month. I'd like to give him something nice for his birthday. What do you think he'd like?
DEAR CAROL: Never mind what he'd like. Give him a tie.
DEAR ABBY: Are birth control pills deductible?
DEAR KAY: Only if they don't work.
DEAR ABBY: Our son was married in January. Five months later his wife had a ten-pound baby girl. They said the baby was premature. Tell me, can a baby this big be that early?
DEAR WONDERING: The baby was on time, the wedding was late.
DEAR ABBY: Do you think about dying much?
DEAR CURIOUS: No, it's the last thing I want to do.
DEAR ABBY: Is it possible for a man to be in love with two women at the same time?
DEAR JAKE: Yes, and also hazardous.
DEAR ABBY: I know boys will be boys, but my 'boy' is seventy-three and he's still chasing women. Any suggestions?
DEAR ANNIE: Don't worry. My dog has been chasing cars for years, but if he ever caught one, he wouldn't know what to do with it.
DEAR ABBY: I have always wanted to have my family history traced, but I can't afford to spend a lot of money to do it. Any suggestions?
SAM IN CAL.
DEAR SAM: Yes. Run for public office.
DEAR ABBY: What inspires you most to write?
DEAR TED: The Bureau of Internal Revenue.
DEAR ABBY: When you are being introduced, is it all right to say, "I've heard a lot about you"?
DEAR RITA: It depends on what you've heard.
DEAR ABBY: I am forty-four years old and I would like to meet a man my age with no bad habits.
DEAR ROSE: So would I.
DEAR ABBY: What's the difference between a wife and a mistress?
DEAR BESS: Night and Day.
Last updated: 9 April 2008
Van Buren, Abigail. The Best of Dear Abby. New York: Andrews and McMeel, 1981 (pp. 135, 150, 151, 153, 171, 173, 174, 175, 177, 180, 197, 198).