Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: A Parent in Need

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I met what seems to be the man of my dreams over the internet. We talk on the phone daily, sometimes for hours, e-mail and text message, and use webcams to see each other often.

"Grant" lives nearly 1,000 miles away. He showers me with all the attention he can from afar. He recently purchased a round-trip ticket for me to fly out and stay with him for several days. I agreed, flattered and excited that this wonderful, attractive man would go to such lengths to see me. Everything seems great, but here's the catch: I've known him only for one month.

I am trying to put things into perspective, telling myself that if he were in my hometown, I would have seen his place already. My nagging fear is that I will fly to him and he will not be what he presents himself to be. I'm not afraid for my life or anything, and I trust him, but I still have fears that something will go wrong.

I've talked to friends and family about it, and while they suggest it's premature for such a meeting, they remind me that I'm an adult and can make my own decisions.

The more I think about it, the more I feel like changing my internet identity and my phone number, and forgetting the whole thing. But Grant could be what I've been searching for my entire life, and he could be sincere in his intentions. I could be passing up a magnificent opportunity, something that may never come my way again.

I'm not sure what to do, Annie, and I need your advice. -- Confuzzled

Dear Confuzzled: If Grant can return or exchange the ticket, have him do so. Then, if he wants to see you, he can buy a ticket to your city, where you can control events. If you choose to visit him anyway, stay at a hotel at your own expense. Do NOT, under any circumstances, stay at his place. Arrange to meet him in public, at least initially, and make sure your family and friends have his name, phone number and e-mail, and arrange to check in with someone each evening. You also might do a quick Google check on him. And now, we hope everything turns out great.

Dear Annie: A couple of weeks ago, the vet told me my dog was very sick and had to be put down. I didn't want to tell my 5-year-old son that the dog had died, so instead, I said the dog is staying with his friends for a few weeks. My son happily replied, "That's OK, Daddy. I bet Gonzo is having lots of fun, and I can't wait to see him." That just broke my heart.


My son has no idea that Gonzo is dead. Should I just get a replacement dog? -- A Parent in Need

Dear Parent: Sorry, Dad, you're going to have to tell your son the truth. Start by saying that Gonzo became very sick and was suffering, then work your way up to the doctor helping Gonzo die peacefully. Please consider having a memorial service of some kind, so your son can say a proper goodbye. Let him know that when he feels ready, he can come with you to look for another animal companion.

Dear Annie: Tell your readers a whistle is not just for camping use. For years, I have carried one around my neck and have blown it innumerable times at motorists who neglect to recognize me as a bicyclist on the road. It also served as an excellent locating device when I became separated from my wife and children in Venice, Italy, last year. -- J.E.

Dear J.E.: An excellent idea, and you can play referee in a pinch.

Dear Readers: Tomorrow is Halloween. If your children are going trick-or-treating, please dress them in flame-retardant costumes that they won't trip over, and instead of masks that will obscure their vision, try makeup. Be careful, and have fun.


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at




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