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Dear Abby: I’m 15 and my brother is 19. He still lives at home and recently acquired a water cooler – the kind you see in doctors’ offices. He has it sitting in the dining room and, frankly, I hate it! It’s unsightly and unnecessary. My parents allow it to stay there. They have never cared much about how their house looks. I do most of the cleaning. Is there any way I can convince them to remove the water cooler? It’s not the kind you see in home magazines.

– Wants A Normal House

Dear Wants A Normal House: Ideally, a water cooler would be placed in a kitchen. However, if there isn’t room for it in your parents’ kitchen, and meals are shared in the dining room, that’s the logical place for it. I can’t see why the water cooler would embarrass you.

Most people’s homes don’t resemble the layouts you see in magazines. They are an “ideal” folks aim for until reality compels them to organize their living space in a way that conforms to their needs and budgets, rather than desires.

Nail-biting boyfriend

Dear Abby: I have been dating my boyfriend for three years. We get along well, but he has the most annoying habit of gnawing his fingernails. It is constant, and he hardly has any left. I find it repulsive and embarrassing when we’re out in public. I have asked him repeatedly to stop. He says he has done it all his life and I should stop nagging. I know most people have habits, and this is more of an addiction. What can I say to make him stop?

Biting Off Too Much in S. Carolina

Dear Biting: Nail-biting is typically related to stress and anxiety. There are ways to stop, and he should talk about it with his doctor. Beyond suggesting that he make an appointment, nothing you can say will “make” your boyfriend change his behavior. Because you find the habit repulsive and embarrassing, the question it’s time to ask yourself is whether it’s a deal-breaker, and no one can answer that but you.