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Dear Amy: I am a single woman in my mid-50s. I never married or had children and like it this way.

I enjoy people, but am a classic introvert who recuperates her energy by being alone. I enjoy going to museums and restaurants on my own.

Recently, I went to a nearby restaurant by myself and sat at the bar to have a drink and maybe eat something. I wasn't there for long when a man sat beside me and struck up a conversation. I really didn't want to talk to him, but I stayed polite, and after an hour or so, I said goodnight and left.

This week I again went to this restaurant by myself. This time I decided to sit at a table, hoping not to be approached by strangers. For the first time in my life, a man came up to my small, two-person table, pulled out the opposite chair and sat down to join me without even asking or introducing himself.

The waiter arrived with my food just as this man had taken up an uninvited place at my table. I asked the server to box up the food to go because I didn't want to eat with this stranger sitting at my table. I was super annoyed.

How would you suggest handling men who approach a woman who is not interested?

Amy says: If you want to drink or dine alone and not engage in lengthy conversation, you have the right to do that.

If you are at the bar and someone (man or woman) sits down next to you and wants to engage in conversation, you can say, "I'm going to eat here, so let me give you some extra room" and move to a different seat. Make eye contact with the bartender to let them know you're moving.

No one should ever sit at your two-top without being invited. Ever. If this happens again and you don't feel comfortable confronting the person who encroached upon you, you should immediately engage your server and/or the restaurant host and ask them to handle it.

Keep kids safe

Dear Amy: I believe that my brother is addicted to pot. I know that pot is legal, and I use it recreationally. But he is high All. The. Time. He is incredibly unreliable and just an overall stoner.

I have young children, and they (and I) love him. But I am reluctant to let him take the kids places by himself. Am I wrong?

Amy says: Your most basic job as a parent is to try your hardest to ensure your children's safety.

The way you describe your brother, he doesn't sound able to be responsible for these young children, so I agree with you that you should not send them out into the world with someone who is so obviously impaired.

A taxing problem

Dear Amy: Your reply to the woman who had her taxes prepared by her boyfriend's dad fell short of your usually good responses.

Yes, the dad is a CPA who did the work at no cost to her, but she still is entitled to professional service, which she didn't get. She ended up owing additional tax, plus penalties and interest.

Any ethical CPA should pay any penalties and interest resulting from their error. The client should be responsible for the additional tax only. (I'm a retired IRS agent, by the way.)

Amy says: Thank you very much for offering your expertise. My concern was that the woman had not done even the most basic due diligence regarding her taxes and shouldn't have signed returns prepared by an incompetent CPA.

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