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Thu, Dec. 05

Dear Annie: Forced to chose between beard and a wedding

Dear Annie: My niece, “Becky,” is getting married next month, and according to my younger brother “John,” I can’t attend the wedding because I have a beard.

Personally, I think I look like Hemingway. I am a food writer and photo journalist. My barber always says, “Don’t shave! You look good with your beard.”

My family has about 40 members, and if I started shaving off my beard for each one, I would never wear a beard again. I am also known for my beard and have a travel and food blog named after it.

My niece invited me by formal invitation, and I replied affirmatively. So, do I shave the beard and feast with my big Italian family? Or do I not shave and spend the day home alone as in the past? —Graybeard

Dear Graybeard: It sounds as if you’re the gray sheep of the family. So be it. You don’t need to shear your wool for anyone. Your niece invited you — all of you, including your beard — and you said yes. Go to the wedding. Eat and dance, and look out for clippers.

Dear Annie: This is in response to “Perception vs. Truth,” the woman who wrote about her husband’s flying into a jealous rage because she danced with another man.

I am afraid that when you wrote “everyone makes mistakes,” the woman may have taken that to imply that she was the one who’d made a mistake. Please clarify that. (As a victim of controlling behavior, she is probably conditioned by the controller to see problems as being her fault.)

What experienced domestic violence professionals say about rages like the one she described is this: These rages are always about control. Even when jealousy is communicated in a more reasonable manner, it is about control. It’s an easy and effective way to control someone without accepting any responsibility at all for being controlling. It puts all the responsibility on the victim to behave in the way the controller defines as OK.

She accepted that responsibility when she vowed, “Of course, I will no longer dance with anyone else.” From the viewpoint of the abuser, that means “mission accomplished.” Control in place. To accept that responsibility (never dancing with anyone else) acknowledges that the problem here is her dancing with someone else, as opposed to being that her husband is using unfair methods to control her. It sets up a precedent. Rages work to control her behavior.

I believe she should try to continue dancing with others, assuming she’s in an environment where casual exchanging of partners is the norm. — Domestic Violence Advocate

Dear Domestic Violence Advocate: The line about how everyone makes mistakes was unclear, and I appreciate your bringing that to my attention. That was meant to be about her husband, as the letter writer was not at all in the wrong. Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of victims and survivors of domestic violence. I’d like to take this opportunity to publish the number for The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to

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