My neighbors are always borrowing something—a few stamps here, a bottle of window cleaner there. I'm doling out things left and right. I don't want to be greedy, but, on the other hand, I'm not the corner grocery, either! What do you think?
—Can't Say No In Novi
You may own the rest of this town, Mr. Edward Stone, but you do not own me. I was born on Lancaster land, and I will die on Lancaster land, my head held high with pride all the days in between. This patch of soil may not seem like much to you, but my granddaddy came to Greene County to give his family a better life here in these hills, and I am not about to let his memory be tarnished by the greedy likes of you. I'm not putting the name my mama and my daddy, God rest their souls, gave me on any contract that's touched those cold hands of yours. You have tried to ruin me, Mr. Stone, but you have failed, so go on home now, and take your papers with you.
I've finally decided to get in gear and lose that spare tire, but the other guys at work are making it impossible. They know I'm on a diet, but they offer me fatty chips and donuts all day long. I'm only human! Should I try harder to resist, or should I tell them they need to quit tempting me?
—Hungry In Hartford
When you see me walking down the street in this faded old dress and these worn-out shoes, you can just go ahead and laugh, Mrs. Macalester; I'd much rather have your scorn than your sympathy. You're too wrapped up in your high-society friends' luncheons and your husband's mansion to notice, but I have something you will never have: my pride. This world hasn't yet been strong enough to knock down Margaret C. Lancaster—at least not for long. From the time the sun rises in the morning to the moment it sets at night, I know I've made my own way in this world. And all you've done, Mrs. Macalester, is fight like hell—yes, you heard me say the word—to knock everyone else down, because that's the only way you can feel good about your own self. Now, step out of my way, Mrs. Macalester, and take your pity with you.
Every time I arrange a night out with my old college gal pal, she brings along her hubby. He's a great guy, but instead of catching up on girl talk, I feel like I'm intruding on a date! How do I tell my friend I want to see her, but I'm not up for the package deal?
—Third Wheel In Weirton
Mr. Knox Phillips, you may think I've been waiting for some man to come along and take me away from my troubles, but I'm not. What will become of me, a woman all alone, fighting to make her way in this big old world? I rightly don't know. But I do know—and you should, too—that I intend to keep the promise I made to Mr. Walter Shackleford so many years ago. I don't care if I have to wait another seven years for him to come back or, for that matter, another seven after that. Take one last good look at my face, because if you ever venture to set foot inside my house again, the hard words I am speaking now will sound sweet as honey compared to the things I will say to you then, sir. I have no more time for such useless conferences, so please go now, Mr. Phillips, and take your flowers with you.
Maggie Lancaster is a syndicated advice columnist whose column, Ask A Woman Who May Be Poor, But She Has Her Pride, And No One Will Ever Take That Away From Her, appears in 250 newspapers nationwide.