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DEAR ABBY: My 70th birthday is approaching, and I would like to give myself a party. I am
a widow with no children, but I have many friends and a large family, and I would like to
spend my birthday with them.

I am planning a dinner party in the private dining room of a restaurant. At my age, I have
everything I want. Some of my guests will be younger people who need their money for
other things, and I don't want anyone buying gifts for me.

Is it proper to give oneself a birthday party? How do I tell my guests not to bring gifts?
Please answer soon. I want to start on my invitations. -- PARTY GIVER

DEAR PARTY: Of course you can give yourself a birthday party -- it's a wonderful idea. I'm
sure it will be memorable, not only for you, but also for those with whom you choose to
share it. On your invitation, add, "Your presence will be a cherished gift, and I respectfully
request no other." Have a happy birthday.

DEAR ABBY: I have lived in this neighborhood for 12 years. Recently I received a wedding
invitation from a neighbor's daughter, hand-delivered on a Thursday evening for a church
wedding two days later -- yes, on Saturday!

The wedding invitations, according to the mother of the bride, had been sent a month
earlier. She told us she had meant to deliver our invitation at that time, but it slipped her

Abby, I had seen the bride-to-be and her mother several times in the last month, and
neither of them mentioned a word about the wedding.

Of course, my husband and I did not go to the wedding; neither did we send a gift. We felt
that we were invited at the last minute because they wanted another gift. Do you think we
were wrong? -- NEIGHBORS

DEAR NEIGHBORS: Probably not. Your neighbors could have had several last-minute
"regrets" (refusals) and needed to fill the vacancies.

I presume the wedding dinner was a catered affair, and unless the cancellations were
received a week in advance, they had to pay for the dinners.

DEAR ABBY: "Fed Up in California" wrote to complain about guests who turned down dinner
invitations to her home when invited. I'm surprised that you totally missed the obvious --
there must be a reason why people are reluctant to go to her house for a meal. C'mon,
We have some good friends who are wonderful people. They are great guests and can keep
you entertained for hours. But eat at their house? Never!

The place is a pigsty. They have three dogs and a cat who are covered with fleas. They
scratch constantly, and lie around all over the furniture. These people kill flies with a rolled-
up newspaper and leave the little corpses lying wherever they fall -- on countertops, tables,
furniture, etc.

The bathroom has no door, and before you sit down to eat you have to clean the peanut
butter and jelly smears off the chair seats.

They keep inviting us over for dinner, and we keep dodging them because just the thought
of eating there makes us queasy.

So, maybe "Fed Up" should step back and take a good look at herself and her home. She
may be in for a rude awakening. -- BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

DEAR BEEN THERE: You say that these friends are "wonderful people." I believe you, but if
you truly value their friendship, don't keep them in the dark about why you consistently
decline their dinner invitations.

Tell them the truth, with love and candor. It would be one of the best gifts they ever



DEAR ABBY: I would be celebrating my 35th wedding anniversary in June, but my husband,
Arnold, left me last year.

He retired and wanted an RV so we could travel.

He made up all sorts of lies and sold our home, pretending we would be on the road most of
the time. He stuck me in a condo, and pulled money out of our savings and investments.
Then he announced he wanted a separation "for a few months."

Just after Labor Day, he took off in the RV with another woman. I had gone to school with
"Sheila" 30 years ago, and she always had a terrible reputation. This was not her first trip
with male companions. I found out about her after they had gone -- but Arnold was
unaware that I knew about Sheila.

They toured the Northwest, and he made sure that I got mail from every state. It made me
physically ill.

People shunned me, even though the shame was his. Those few who stood by me were
extremely supportive, but no one can bear your pain for you -- you must bear it alone.

To top it off, Arnold returned four months later with long hair and a handlebar mustache.
(Sheila likes long hair and mustaches.) Abby, he had been a teacher who would reprimand
students whose hair touched their collars!

I wish you would write something in your column about male menopause. The American
family seems to be on the decline -- and a lot of it seems to be attributed to male

DEAR BETRAYED: You have my sympathy. But your husband may be suffering less from a
hormonal imbalance than a character deficiency. And I say it not because he left you, but
because of the underhanded way he did it.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter's boyfriend is making me crazy. He comes to my house and acts
like he lives here.

He opens the refrigerator and helps himself to whatever he wants. He drinks one soft drink
after another and doesn't care if he is taking the last one.

I don't want to be an old grouch, but I'm tired of going to the kitchen expecting to find the
tuna salad or lasagna I made and finding nothing but a dirty dish. Yesterday, I bought two
dozen cookies and a gallon of ice cream. This evening, I opened the freezer and they were

My daughter won't say anything to him about his nervy behavior. She reads your column
every day. Maybe if she sees this, it will sink in. -- INDIANA MOM

DEAR MOM: Don't count on it. And don't feel guilty about g yourself. Tell your daughter that
polite guests do not clean out their hostess's refrigerator on a daily basis, and if she doesn't
tell her boyfriend how you feel -- you will.

You could compromise by leaving something for the boyfriend in an agreed-upon location.
That way you won't have to worry about being eaten out of house and home in your


DEAR ABBY: I'm writing about your response to "Unshakable in Milwaukee," the woman who
asked how to avoid handshakes, which caused her great pain in her arthritic hands. You
suggested, "... very quickly say, 'No handshake, please. I have arthritis.'"

Abby, she may not want to announce to someone she's just meeting that she has arthritis.
Also, many people won't hear her quickly enough, as handshakes are automatic.

My suggestion would be to take a cue from Sen. Robert Dole, who carries a felt-tipped pen
in the hand of his paralyzed right arm: Always carry something in your right hand. And
when someone tries to shake your hand, offer your left hand -- but horizontally, with your
palm facing the floor.

This works well for a man I know at church. People automatically clasp his left fingertips
from below with their already extended right hands, rather than squeezing his knuckles
together from top to bottom.

I hope this helps "Unshakable" and others. And please don't use my name, because I don't
want it publicized that I'm getting arthritis either! -- GETTING ARTHRITIS AT 38 IN TEXAS

DEAR GETTING: Thanks for the suggestions. I'm printing your letter for everyone who
needs to palm off an unwanted handshake.
DEAR ABBY: I am 23 and a bride-to-be. "Charles Smith" and I are being married soon.
Charles wants his parents' names on the wedding invitations as well as the names of my
parents. He says it's to show respect.

Abby, my parents are paying for the entire wedding. It will be traditional and quite formal.
The Smiths not only did not give us an engagement gift, they're not giving us a wedding
gift. My parents feel that since the Smiths failed to honor my fiance and me, they don't
deserve to have their names on the invitation.

Charles' parents are mad because we decided against having an engagement party. They
feel "tradition" dictates that we have one. None of Charles' family has given us gifts. They
said, "If we give you a gift, we should get a meal!" Shouldn't people send gifts because they
are happy for the couple, not because they are going to get a meal? All of my family sent

This has been very upsetting. Tradition states that the bride's parents announce the "giving"
of their daughter in marriage; therefore, traditionally only the parents of the bride are listed
on the wedding invitation. This is causing a huge problem. Please help. -- STUCK BETWEEN

DEAR STUCK: According to Emily Post's "Complete Book of Wedding Etiquette," the bride's
family usually pays for the wedding and reception. They are the hosts, and the invitations
are issued in their names. If, however, the groom's family shares in the wedding expenses,
their names should also appear on the invitations. Since your fiance's parents are not co-
hosting the wedding, their names don't belong on the invitations.

Names on wedding invitations have nothing to do with respect -- they simply indicate who is
hosting the celebration. Your future in-laws are not the first to find this tradition confusing.

For your sake, I hope this settles the issue, and eases pre-wedding tensions.



DEAR ABBY: It has been said that you don't really know people until you've lived with them,
but that's like putting the cart before the horse.

The process of dating is for the purpose of getting to know a person. It is a time for sharing
likes and dislikes, beliefs, habits and faults, as well as good characteristics.

Each situation, whether a dinner date, movie date, sporting event, picnic, church service, a
game of cards, a day at the beach or amusement park, cooking together, presents a
different "atmosphere."

The longer the relationship endures, the more opportunities to detect characteristics of
honesty (or dishonesty), jealousy, possessiveness, tenderness, cruelty, etc.
All of this can be done without a sexual relationship.

When and if both parties arrive at the conclusion that this is a lasting love -- not lust or
infatuation -- then a marriage commitment can be made.

I do not want someone's rejected lover after they have lived together -- and then
discovered it was no good. -- WE'RE WAITING IN FLORIDA

DEAR WAITING: Congratulations. Obviously, the more exposure, the better the opportunity
to observe the potential mate. I am reminded of the old saying, "If you want to know how a
man will treat his wife, take careful notice of how he treats his mother and his sister." And
the same can be said about women and how they treat the men in their lives.

DEAR ABBY: This is in response to the person who received an invitation to a wedding, and
later learned that the bridal couple had sent out two sets of invitations -- one for a church
ceremony followed by a dinner, the other for a dance with cake, punch and a cash bar. You
agreed with the writer in assuming that the newlyweds wanted as many gifts as possible.
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I disagree. I am being married next year, and I come from a very religious family. They'd
be upset attending an affair where alcohol is served.

However, my fiance and his family enjoy alcohol, and they would be very disappointed if
alcohol was NOT served. Most of our friends also drink alcohol, so I can understand why a
couple might have two receptions.

Here's my solution: I will have two receptions, and I'll leave it to my guests to decide which
one they want to attend -- and if I end up with a lot of gifts, all the better for me! --

DEAR ABBY: After seeing the items in your column about names that fit occupations, I took
a quick glance through the directory of the Veterinary Medical Association. I found
veterinarians with these last names: Batz, Beaver, Bird, Catt, Hogg, Lamb and Wolf, to
name a few.

As for my own last name, I just tell people it's a good thing I don't work with pigs. -- LYNDA

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter
Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)


DEAR ABBY: I am a bachelor in my early 30s. I don't share an apartment with a female
because of my high moral standards, and I am not yet ready for marriage.

When I used to share an apartment with another bachelor, people assumed that we were

I now have a very nice place of my own. However, if I have bachelor friends over, I am still
perceived as being gay. And if I entertain a female friend, people say I am bisexual. (I just
can't seem to win!)

Why is it that a single man cannot have friends over for a simple card game or to watch TV
without people thinking there's something sexual going on?

I am straight, and I am sick of all this ugly talk. What can I do to stop this vicious gossip? --

DEAR JOE: Unless you can be certain who is behind these allegations, and prove that their
ugly accusations have "damaged" you -- there is nothing you can do other than to ignore it.
Those who know you already know the truth. And anyone who would base an opinion on
unfounded rumors is not someone you would want as a friend.

Your letter brings to mind a poem that I published several years ago. It first appeared as a
full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal. (Personally, I think it's worth framing.) Read on:


My name is Gossip. I have no respect for justice.

I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives.

I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.

The more I am quoted, the more I am believed.

My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no
name and no face.

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To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become.

I am nobody's friend.
Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.

I topple governments and wreck marriages.

I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartaches and indigestion.

I make innocent people cry in their pillows.

Even my name hisses. I am called Gossip. I make headlines and headaches.

Before you repeat a story, ask yourself:

Is it true? Is it harmless? Is it necessary?

If it isn't, don't repeat it.

DEAR ABBY: I heard about a great idea that I would like to pass on to your readers. I hope
you think it's worth publishing.

When planning a baby shower, the hostess should consider inviting someone trained in first
aid and CPR to come and teach the expectant mother and the guests how to perform infant
CPR, first aid and lifesaving procedures for choking emergencies.

The American Red Cross has several small posters concerning CPR and choking emergencies
that can be framed as gift items and presented to the mother-to-be as helpful reminders.
They might turn out to be the most valuable gifts she receives. -- HELPFUL IN AUBURN,

DEAR HELPFUL: Thank you for an excellent idea, which could easily be the most valuable
gift of all.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person,
order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or
money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447,
Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY: When my sister's daughter, "Doreen," was married, everyone in the family
attended her shower and large formal wedding, and gave gifts.

Now, less than two years later, she is marrying again. This will be the young man's first
marriage, and his mother wants to throw a shower and invite everyone. Doreen wants to
wear another long white gown and veil, which all her goofy young friends tell her is perfectly

Is any of this proper? How many times is one expected to attend a wedding, a shower, and
buy gifts for the same girl?

Just sign me ... CURIOUS AND FURIOUS

DEAR CURIOUS: My wedding experts tell me that many women who marry for the second
time now wear traditional white wedding gowns. Veils and trains are not appropriate,
however, nor is a shower for a second-time bride, although other kinds of parties may be

A wedding gift is intended to symbolize your blessing of the union, so if you bless it, buy

DEAR ABBY: This concerns the expression, "I could care less." One dictionary cites it as
substandard, and I agree, but it is still correct. One can justify it in two ways:

First, it can be regarded as a figure of speech called "verbal irony," in which you say the
opposite of what you mean. For example, many people will say "Great!" when they really
mean, "How awful!" Or, "That was a fine thing to do," when they really mean it was a bad
thing to do.

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A second possibility is another figure of speech called "ellipsis," in which you leave
something out. In effect, you are saying, "I could care less, but it wouldn't be easy."

Of course, figures of speech are dangerous. Someone might take you literally.

Abby, your suggestion to substitute "I don't give a hoot" is bad advice. It would not be
suitable in formal speech or writing, whereas "I couldn't care less" is always proper. (If you
were kidding, remember what I just said about figures of speech.) -- LEONARD

DEAR ABBY: Six years ago, my husband of 22 years announced that he wanted a divorce
and was moving out.

Our 18-year-old son and I were crushed. I was in shock and didn't know what to do. Being a
Christian, I began to pray and asked my friends to pray for my husband.

Two months later, my doorbell rang, and there stood my husband wanting to talk! We both
sat down and cried like babies. He asked me to forgive him for the hurt he had caused me -
- he had realized the grass was not greener on the other side of the fence.
I was able to forgive him, and we started our marriage all over again without going through
the finality of divorce.

My advice to "Dying Inside in Missouri" and others going through the same situation is: If
you still love him, don't give up. Pray instead. It really works. -- BEEN THERE IN

DEAR BEEN THERE: The lesson to be learned here is: Never underestimate the power of

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size,
self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear
Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is



DEAR READERS: Some time ago, I asked readers to send me names of people whose
occupations (or professions) suited their names. Did I get a bushel and a peck! Read on:

DEAR ABBY: In high school, our librarian was named Miss Story and my band teacher was
Ray Musicker. There is a dentist on Long Island named Scaler, and a pediatrician named
Needles. But our favorite was a podiatrist in a Detroit suburb named Dr. Smelsey. -- CHUCK

DEAR ABBY: I love telling people that the doctors who delivered my sons were Dr. Miracle
and Dr. Blessing. -- LOUISE SKYLER, PORTLAND, ORE.

DEAR ABBY: I am a Realtor and my name is Sandi Lott. I know another Realtor in Palos
Verdes, Calif., named Dusty Rhodes. Also, I used a dentist named Dr. Socket, and my ob-
gyn was Dr. Peeke. -- S.L., KIMBALL, NEB.

DEAR ABBY: Re people's names fitting their occupations: Three members of my church are
named Angel, Harp and Saint. -- NORMA WINDSOR, DAYTONA BEACH, FLA.

DEAR ABBY: Sir Russell Brain and Sir Henry Head were two prominent neurologists in Great
Britain in the 1930s. -- DR. EUGENE KAPLAN, COLUMBIA, S.C.

DEAR ABBY: My dentist in San Francisco is named Les Plack. -- BETH KUPER, OAKLAND,

DEAR ABBY: In Valdosta, Ga., 12 years ago, I bought a car from someone named Swindle
and insured it with the Bill Crook Insurance Agency. (Like "Smuckers," I figured with names
like those, they HAD to be good!) -- VIRGINIA T. LOVE, WINONA, MINN.

DEAR ABBY: When my father was a patient in the hospital in Palm Springs, Calif., his
dietitian was Miss Hunger. I give you my word. -- JUDGE HENRY LOBIE, SAN FRANCISCO
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DEAR ABBY: Add these to your collection: Joe Yawn, manager of a sleep disorder clinic in
Jonesboro, Ark.; a Texas psychiatrist named Paul Looney; a fire inspector in Everett, Wash.,
named Warren Burns; Ralph Watts, a power official in Des Moines, Iowa; L.R. Speedy, of
the State Highway Patrol, Canfield, Ohio; and Joe Pigeon, a Key West, Fla., bird dealer.
There is also a chiropractor named Bonebreak, a minister named Lord, a dentist named
Brush and an undertaker named Dye. -- ED MESERVE, STOUGHTON, MASS.

DEAR ABBY: There is a reputable banker in my hometown named Don Crook, and Paul
Kradel is a popular obstetrician. P.S. I own a travel agency! -- SUZANNE B. TRIPP, FORT

DEAR ABBY: Among the people I have known in my lifetime are a bank teller named Mr.
Outlaw, a minister named Reverend Paradise, a rabbi named Angel, a hairdresser named
Mrs. Brunetti -- and let us not forget the coordinator of the People for Perot Campaign in
1992, Orson Swindle. -- DAVID L. GARNER, DIX HILLS, N.Y.

DEAR ABBY: My all-time favorite is Joe Boozer, of Hereford, Texas, who operates -- you
guessed it -- a liquor store. -- BOB BARFIELD, AMARILLO, TEXAS

DEAR ABBY: I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. My parents befriended a man who
owned and operated a chicken farm. His name was Ed Cluck -- and he even looked a little
like a chicken. I am a veterinarian. -- J. KATZ CANEPA, BROOKLYN, N.Y.

DEAR ABBY: Sgt. Dick Tracy works for the Police Department in Manchester, N.H. He is also
involved in the D.A.R.E. program. If you print this, please don't use my name. --

Readers: More tomorrow!

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter
Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. Postage is included.)



DEAR READERS: Yesterday I shared some of the many letters I received when readers sent
me names of people whose occupations (or professions) suited their names. I regret that I
cannot print more, but here are some I couldn't resist:

DEAR ABBY: A little more than two years ago, I broke my leg while visiting friends out of
town. While awaiting surgery, I heard an orthopedic surgeon being paged. His name was
Dr. Cutteroff! Needless to say, I was relieved to hear that my surgeon was going to be Dr.

DEAR ABBY: I have two to add: Judge William Wayne Justice is a federal district court judge
in Texas, and Judge John Minor Wisdom is a federal judge on the 5th Circuit Court of

DEAR ABBY: I'll bet you can't top this one: a gynecologist named Dr. Fealy! -- JONI IN

DEAR ABBY: My husband works for UPS and his name is Downs. -- SUE DOWNS,

DEAR ABBY: I'm not sure if you can print this, but there's a urologist in Newport, Ky.,

DEAR ABBY: Your request for names that correlate to occupations prompted me to recall a
book by John Train, "Remarkable Names of Real People" (Clarkson N. Potter). It offers (with
formal documentation) the following candidates:

A. Moron (commissioner of education, Virgin Islands)

Cardinal Sin (archbishop of Manila, Philippines)
D. Schumuk (U.S.S.R. political activist, a real loser who spent most of his life in jail)
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Lawless and Lynch (attorneys, Jamaica, N.Y.)

Plummer and Leek (plumbers, Norfolk, England)
Mr. Vice -- who was arrested 820 times and convicted 421 times. -- J.H. STOCKER, NEW
DEAR ABBY: How about Dr. Robert Thorne, Ph.D., who was director emeritus of the Santa
Ana (Calif.) Botanic Gardens? -- ELLEN E. HUGHES, WHITTIER, CALIF.

DEAR ABBY: Captain Kopp has been an officer in the Louisville police department for many
years, and Sgt. Ketchum is a military police officer attached to the MP unit at Fort Knox, Ky.

DEAR ABBY: There was much joking in Hammond, Ind., about the name of a local physician
-- Dr. Murray Stasick. -- KENNETH LAURION, DULUTH, MINN.

DEAR ABBY: Here are my favorites -- all famous people: Gary Player, the professional
golfer; Sally Ride, the astronaut; and Larry Speakes, former presidential press secretary. --

DEAR ABBY: My husband, Danny Nail, is a general contractor specializing in roofing and new
home construction, and my daughter, Amy Nail, is a manicurist. -- BETTY NAIL, RED OAK,

DEAR ABBY: I formerly lived in South Bend, Ind., and was always amused by Dr. James
Toothaker's advertisement. He was a local orthodontist! -- MRS. JOHN W. LAWLER,

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size,
self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear
Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is



DEAR ABBY: Your response to "Grieving Widow" (whose husband's doctor refused to honor
the terms of her husband's living will) was incomplete.

In states where living wills and advance directives are authorized, state law also provides a
legal mechanism for the enforcement. It is not a doctor's province to decide whether or not
to honor a patient's advance directive. It is the province of our courts.

An attorney specializing in elder law would have immediately advised the hospital's legal
staff of the consequences of refusing to honor the patient's advance directive. If the hospital
persisted in attempts to force treatment, the attorney could have obtained a court order
directing the doctor to withhold medical treatment.

Elder law referrals are available through the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, 655
N. Alvernon Way, Suite 108, Tucson, Ariz. 85711. -- JASON L. WEISBERG, ATTORNEY-AT-
DEAR MR. WEISBERG: It is deplorable that a patient's wishes should have to be enforced
with intimidation. I have received a passel of mail inspired by "Grieving Widow's" letter. All
stressed the following: Put your wishes in writing. Consult an attorney to find out which kind
of advance directive for health care is recognized in your state. Let your family know your
wishes and where they can locate the original document should it become necessary. And
finally, discuss the subject with your physician when you give him or her a copy of the

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DEAR ABBY: My faith in human kindness was recently restored, and I hope you will let
others know that there are still some Good Samaritans in the world.

Last month, while traveling alone with my three small children -- a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old
who can barely walk, and a 4-month-old in a pack on my back -- I heard that our layover in
Memphis was being extended to almost four hours. I almost panicked! Although the kids
had been good on the plane, they were getting very restless in the terminal.

As I struggled with the kids and my carry-on baggage, a man approached. I thought he was
going to ask me to keep the kids quiet, but instead, he told me his name was Brian -- that
he had been seated behind us and had the same connecting flight. He explained that he had
nothing to do for the next four hours, while I appeared to have my hands full. He got us a
snack, and then fed the baby. He held her while she slept, and then he entertained the
other two. He stayed with us the entire 3 1/2 hours, then helped us on the plane.

When we landed in St. Petersburg, he waited to see if we needed help getting off the plane.

I ran into him again, with his wife and kids, in the baggage claim area. My husband thanked
him, and I told his wife what a lifesaver he had been. But I forgot to get his last name or
address. I hope he sees this and writes to you and identifies himself.-- GRATEFUL MOTHER,

DEAR GRATEFUL: Your letter was a genuine upper. I, too, hope your Good Samaritan sees
this and writes to me.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person,
order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or
money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447,
Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR READERS: On April 5, I published a letter from a 34-year-old bald-headed man who
expressed amazement at the rude questions he encountered from strangers about his hair
loss. His letter generated a flood of mail -- with a thing or two to say to the man who signed
himself "Bald in Texas." Read on for a sample:

DEAR ABBY: In regard to "Bald in Texas," who says he has come to grips with his baldness:

I, too, started losing my hair in high school. By the time I was 24, I was shaving my head
because the hair was so thin it looked like tinsel on a Christmas tree. With a bald father and
two bald grandfathers, I had ample warning what to expect. Besides, it's an interesting way
to meet new people. When a sweet young thing gives me a kiss on the scalp and says, "I
think bald men are sexy," it makes me feel great. -- BALD BOB CRAIG IN DALLAS

DEAR ABBY: I have been bald since I was 18. I am now 88 and, of course, I'm still bald --
but comments I hear do not upset me.

I used to work on whaling boats when I was in my late 20s. I doubt if 90 percent of my
shipmates knew my correct name, for everyone called me "Baldy" -- including the officers.
When we were in port for supplies, we would go our separate ways, but often some of the
crew would spot me and yell out, "Hey, Baldy!" to get my attention. Many onlookers
laughed about it, but it didn't bother me -- I'd just grin about it.

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My first wife wanted me to get a hairpiece, but I told her, "Love me, love my bald head."

By the way, no one calls me Baldy now. I guess it's because at my age, it's no longer
unusual. And I pay only $2 for a haircut because all I need is a neck trim. -- LEROY

DEAR ABBY: Concerning the problem of baldness: I am bald -- Kojak bald. There is not one
hair on the top of my head. In fact, I have been mistaken for Kojak many times.

Once when my wife and I were in a shopping mall in Lakeland, Fla., a group of young
people approached me. One young man stepped forward and said, "We are on a treasure
hunt and need to bring in a bald-headed man with a 'happy face' painted on the top of his

Being a good-natured person, I said, "Go ahead." Soon, a crowd of people gathered around
as the young artist painted the top of my head. People were taking pictures, laughing and
having a good time. So was I. I'll never forget the fun we had.

The moral of the story is: Relax and enjoy life. Your attitude about yourself can either
destroy you or make your life a joy.

You may use my name. -- JOE LEONARD, LAKELAND, FLA.

DEAR ABBY: This concerns bald-headed men who lose their cool over rude jokes about
baldness. I am not bald, but a snappy comeback would be, "I've heard that every time a
man makes love, he loses a hair out of his head."

I am a photographer who specializes in wedding portraits, and I tell my customers this

when they are posing for their sittings. It always gets a laugh and relaxes them while I
discreetly turn off the overhead light, so as not to cause a reflection from their bald heads. -

DEAR ABBY: The best retort concerning baldness came from writer-humorist Abe Burrows
("Guys and Dolls").

On being introduced to a woman, he politely removed his hat. With shock, she said, "Why,
you haven't any hair!" To which Burrows replied, "I don't have a mustache either ... it's a

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely
Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for
$3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill.
61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY: Several months ago, you published a letter from a woman in Illinois whose
mother has been victimized by fraudulent telemarketers because she can't resist those
sweepstakes "prizes" that come in the mail.

Abby, the law enforcement community can and should do more than offer sympathy.

First, complaints concerning telemarketing scams should be filed with the National Fraud
Information Center. Call (800) 876-7060 during normal business hours Monday through
Friday (Eastern time). Or contact your state's attorney general.

Last year, a nationwide effort was made to crack down on telemarketing fraud. Law
enforcement officials now share access to a national computer database that contains
information about ongoing investigations, active cases and consumer complaints.

In addition, the National Association of Attorneys General, the Federal Trade Commission
and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) have launched a consumer
education campaign to combat telemarketing fraud.

A free brochure, "Telephone Scams and Older Consumers," is available by writing to:
Federal Trade Commission, Sixth and Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580 --
DEAR MR. BURRIS: Thank you for the helpful information. I hope my readers will place the
toll-free number near their telephones and report all suspicious calls.

DEAR ABBY: The recent letter from "Unshakable in Milwaukee" reflects a common concern
of people who have arthritis. In your answer, you offered a good strategy when confronted
by a potentially painful handshake. Here are three additional options:
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When people offer their hand, enclose their hand with BOTH of yours. This offers a warm
response and gives you control over the intensity of the handshake.
Place only one or two inches of the end of your fingers into the other person's palm. This
alerts them to be careful and keeps large knuckles out of their grip.
A smile and a friendly nod before a hand is offered may avoid a handshake.

Thank you for pointing out that many men as well as women have arthritis. In fact, nearly
40 million Americans of all ages have some form of the disease, according to statistics
released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those interested in learning more about how to reduce joint stress from arthritis can receive
a free "Basic Facts" brochure by contacting their local chapter of the Arthritis Foundation, or

DEAR MS. BRADY: Thank you for the additional suggestions, which should benefit many
readers. And thanks for sending the "Basic Facts" brochure, which I found most informative.
I had been unaware that the word "arthritis" refers to more than 100 different diseases that
can affect the joints and other parts of the body.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested --

poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money
order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris,
Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)


DEAR ABBY: I'm responding to the letter from "Anonymous, U.S.A.," the depressed 14-
year-old girl.

I have been depressed most of my life. When I was her age, I suffered from feelings of
overwhelming sadness, worthlessness and loneliness. Unfortunately, depression was not
recognized as a disease when I was young, so I didn't get proper treatment.

I retreated into drugs -- mostly marijuana. It seemed to help me feel better. I realize now
that it didn't really help, and it wasn't long before I lost interest in academic and career
goals. The most important thing to me was getting high so I could feel "good."

I married a man who told me constantly that I was worthless (I already believed that
anyway), and it was seven years before I summoned enough courage to get a divorce. Then
my mother died, and I fell even deeper into depression.

Luckily, I realized that I couldn't be a good mother to my children without help, and I
sought counseling.

Two years ago, my doctor and counselor diagnosed my problem as clinical depression and
prescribed medication. It changed my life. My feelings of worthlessness have been replaced
with confidence, I don't cry at the drop of a hat, and I'm finally growing up.

I urge anyone who suffers from persistent sadness or worthlessness to seek help
immediately. Relief is available! -- BEEN THERE IN CONCORD

DEAR BEEN THERE: Thank you for sharing your story, which will, I'm sure, inspire many to
seek help in coping with depression. For years I have preached to my readers about
counseling. Treatment is available for emotional illness; no one should suffer needlessly.
Therapy and medication have changed many lives for the better.

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DEAR ABBY: The letter in your column from "Angry Neighbor," about the kids who broke a
garage window while playing baseball, reminded me of the time years ago when our small
boys played baseball in our back yard. One of the children smashed the ball through a
picture window belonging to the neighborhood grouch, who refused to return it until the
window was paid for.

Even by pooling all their allowances, there was no way these kids could come up with that
kind of money. So they decided to have a bake sale. The mothers baked, the fathers set up
tables and stands, the boys sold, and the delighted neighbors bought.
Needless to say, they made more than enough money. They paid for the window, retrieved
the baseball and went off to play ball in the field -- where they should have been playing in
the first place. -- ONE OF THE MOTHERS

DEAR MOTHER: What a wonderful solution. Whoever conceived the idea for a neighborhood
bake sale was batting 1,000.

DEAR READERS: Some valuable advice from Letitia Baldrige in her latest book, "A Complete
Guide to the New Manners for the '90s":

"Don't put your gift in a box from a fancy store like Tiffany's, hoping the recipient will think
it came from there. (The recipient may try to exchange it and discover the deception.)"

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or
money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447,
Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY: I saw a letter in your column recently about former spouses attending their
ex's funerals, but it didn't address the problem that my best friend, "Carrie," is facing.

Carrie's ex-husband has about six months to live. He has cancer. He has informed his
children that he does not want to see their mother at all during his illness, and he absolutely
does not want her to attend his funeral. They have grown children and several
grandchildren who are all on good terms with their mother. Through all of the fighting (and
it has been bitter), they have never taken sides, which is a miracle considering how deep
the ill feelings are between this couple.

My question: Is it possible to keep someone from attending a funeral? If so, how is this
done? Must they hire "bouncers" to be stationed at the door to prevent unwanted people
from entering?

This is a small town, so please don't use my name or location. -- SIDES WITH CARRIE

DEAR SIDES WITH CARRIE: How far a family will go to prevent an unwanted person from
attending depends upon the individuals. It is obvious, however, that if people show up at a
funeral knowing they are not welcome, they can expect to be turned away at the door.

DEAR ABBY: Twice in the last year, co-workers whom I barely know patted my tummy and
asked me if I was pregnant. Abby, I am 42 years old and have three teen-agers. I'm 5 foot
6 inches tall and weigh 126, so it's not a weight problem. Childbearing has stretched my
abdominal muscles; consequently, my stomach is not as flat as it used to be. But I'm
outraged that anyone would have the gall to ask me if I'm pregnant. Even if I were, it's a
rude question.
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I was tempted to reply, "I won't comment on your saddlebags, wide hips or flat chest if you
will leave my tummy alone," but I was so taken aback at the time that I was speechless.

If this happens again, what can I say to put them in their place? -- NOTHING IN THE OVEN

DEAR NOTHING IN THE OVEN: An emphatic "No" would be an appropriate reply, or, "If you
will forgive me for not answering, I will forgive you for asking."

DEAR ABBY: I have been commissioned by my sisters, friends and neighbors to write to

We are all women in our 60s and 70s. Most of us are widows with grown children. We are
retired and enjoy reading romance novels. But lately, the print is so small, it strains our
eyes to read these books.

Abby, why do they do this, and how can we get the message to the publishers? --

DEAR ERNESTINE: The cost of paper is higher now than it has ever been; consequently,
many publishers cut costs by printing more on each page.

Most stationery stores carry "magnifiers" in a variety of sizes, some large enough to
accommodate a full page. They are very effective. (I use one.)

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter
Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR READERS: Of all the columns I have written, there is one that stands out as my
"best," according to my readers. It has been clipped, saved and requested for a rerun year
after year. Here it is:

DEAR ABBY: Enclosed is a column you wrote many years ago. I kept it because it had a very
special significance in my life. I am signing my name and address so you will know I am
sincere, but for obvious reasons, please do not use it. -- ANONYMOUS
DEAR ABBY: I hope you will use my letter on Mother's Day as a tribute to all those brave,
unselfish mothers who gave up their babies.

I am a new mother whose heart is overflowing with gratitude to a 15-year-old girl I have
never seen. I understand that she is a beautiful, intelligent person who became pregnant
accidentally and decided on her own that her baby should have a better life than she was
able to provide, so she put the baby up for adoption.

As soon as our son is able to understand, I will tell him about his birth mother and what a
courageous person she is.

In the meantime, I pray daily for her well-being and good fortune. -- BLESSED

DEAR BLESSED: Thank you for an appropriate letter for Mother's Day. I agree that giving up
a child for its own good is the ultimate in unselfishness. God bless those mothers who did.

DEAR ABBY: My mother just finished reciting the same speech she recites every year just
before Mother's Day. It begins, "Now please don't throw your money away on a gift for me.
I don't need anything."
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Abby, I know my mother doesn't need anything, but I enjoy giving her presents, and it
takes the pleasure out of it for me when she takes this attitude. I wish you'd tell mothers
that children of all ages enjoy giving gifts on Mother's Day, so please accept them
graciously. -- SOMEBODY'S DAUGHTER

DEAR DAUGHTER: Don't blame your mother. Her attitude is typical of most mothers. They
don't want their children to deny themselves anything in order to buy a gift.

I know. When I was a child, I recall vividly my own beloved mother (now gone 37 years)
saying, "Please don't buy me any presents. I have everything I need." So instead of buying
a gift, I gave her something money couldn't buy. I wrote a poem or a letter telling her how
much I appreciated her. Years later, I realized how much they must have meant to her,
because after she died, I found them tucked away among her souvenirs -- all neatly bound
together with a rubber band. She had saved every one of them!

DEAR ABBY: What is the significance of wearing a single carnation for Mother's Day? --

DEAR CHILD: A red carnation is worn to signify that one's mother is living. A white
carnation signifies that one's mother is deceased.

There should also be an identifying flower worn by those mothers who chose motherhood by
rearing a foster child or stepchild.
And a special place in heaven awaits those mothers who choose a physically or mentally
challenged child, knowing that he or she has not only special needs, but also requires a
superabundance of love, understanding and patience.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents
is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen
Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY: I am a woman in my early 40s and have been married for 12 years. My
husband is a good man, an excellent provider and a wonderful father to our three children.
Ours would be a perfect marriage, except for the fact that I have absolutely no desire for

This is not a problem that surfaced after our marriage. I was married before (briefly), and it
was the same story. At the beginning of a sexual encounter, I experience a shivery feeling
for about eight or nine seconds -- then the feeling quickly passes. I don't know whether that
would qualify as an orgasm or not because I'm not sure I've ever had one.

My husband is a very patient, understanding man and has never complained. I have
consulted two psychiatrists. The last one referred me to a sex therapist, but I didn't go. I
even tried hypnosis, but it didn't work for me.

Abby, to be perfectly frank, my lack of interest in sex is putting a strain on my marriage. I

don't miss sex, but my husband does. If you or your experts can come up with a solution, I
would be eternally grateful. -- SEXLESS IN MAINE

DEAR SEXLESS: No one can come up with a solution to your problem unless you are willing
to cooperate and see it through. There can be many reasons for a lack of interest in sex. To
rule out the physical, discuss this with your physician and ask for a complete physical
examination. If everything checks out, then it's possible that the psychiatrist who
recommended a sex therapist is on the right track. Please heed that advice.

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DEAR ABBY: Whenever I have a holiday dinner for family, my mother-in-law causes a
There are usually from eight to 15 people seated at my dining room table. Everyone knows
that my husband always sits at the head of the table, and I sit at his right. This seat is
convenient for me because I get up frequently.

When called to sit down to dinner, my mother-in-law asks me where she should sit, and I
tell her to sit "anywhere," but I sit here because I need to be close to the kitchen.

I am the last one to sit down, of course, and more than once I have found that my mother-
in-law has parked herself in my chair.

I don't want to be rude by asking her to move, and I don't want to have any arguments,
especially during a holiday dinner, so I take another seat and wind up at the far end of the

Abby, what do you suggest I do next time? She is a very jealous, stubborn, self-centered
person. -- DAUGHTER-IN-LAW

DEAR DAUGHTER-IN-LAW: Use place cards at your next family dinner. It will not only give
your party an elegant touch, you will also eliminate the seating problem with your mother-
in-law. Since she obviously wants to sit next to her son (your husband), seat her to his left.

DEAR ABBY: You once published your definition of maturity. I thought it was great. Will you
kindly run it again? -- GRANDMA KATIE, MONTGOMERY, ALA.


Maturity is:

The ability to stick with a job until it's finished.

The ability to do a job without being supervised.
The ability to carry money without spending it.
And the ability to bear an injustice without wanting to get even.

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or
money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447,
Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY: I am a 68-year-old widow with grown children, all of whom have homes,
careers (or businesses) and active interests.

I am not wealthy, but I am financially independent and don't need to ask family members to
come over to repair things or take me places. What is driving me crazy is their lack of
respect for my privacy. I have asked them several times to please phone me before
dropping in. There are days when I don't feel like getting dressed and prefer to read, watch
TV or loaf all day. Or perhaps I am entertaining my "significant other" who lives across

When my family telephones me and I say I'm going out -- or don't feel like having company
-- they come anyway! This irritates me, especially when my bed isn't made, there are dirty
dishes in my sink, and my hair is in rollers.

Is it asking too much to insist on a telephone call? This popping-in business not only
infuriates me, it drives my blood pressure up.

Now that this is off my chest, I feel better already. Thank you, Abby. -- TOO MUCH

DEAR TOO MUCH: There's a lot to be said for getting something off one's chest, but I have
another suggestion: When you desire privacy for any reason, pull down your shades, lock
the doors and don't answer your doorbell.

DEAR ABBY: I have never written to you before, but I had to write immediately when I read
your answer to "Mourning in Fresno," whose 25-year-old son had died. She wondered what
to say when people asked her how many children she had, and you suggested she count
only the living one.
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If "Mourning" had lost her only child, would your answer have been the same?

For her to say, "I have no children" would not only deny her son's life, it would also deny
what she had been for half of her life -- a mother to that child.

A bereaved parent would feel guilty and disloyal failing to count the child who has died.
"Mourning" would probably feel better if she replied, "I raised two sons." Then she could add
a few remarks about her living son, steering the conversation in that direction. Eventually,
she will feel more comfortable talking about the son who has died.

In the two years since our daughter's death, the wonderful people at Compassionate Friends
have helped us to face this question and many others.

I hope "Mourning" can find a chapter of this support group in her area. -- SANDEE

DEAR SANDEE McALPINE: Please accept my condolences on the loss of your daughter. I
received many letters from parents who share your view. Thank you for mentioning
Compassionate Friends. They provide an invaluable service, and can be contacted by writing
to P.O. Box 3696, Oak Brook, Ill. 60522-3696.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested --

poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money
order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris,
Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY: You missed it in your answer to the woman who complained about the chronic
lateness of her mother and younger sister.

People who are always late don't merely need to know how one feels about their lateness;
they need help. A friend of ours who was always late was urged to get psychiatric help --
which she did -- and she became a completely different person. Not only did she change her
ways, she became a very happy and outgoing individual.

Sometimes the chronically late need to obtain help, and they should be strenuously urged to

DEAR MR. BURNS: You make an interesting point, and one worth considering. That letter
must have touched a nerve, because it stimulated a ton of mail. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: In reference to "Had It in Cincinnati," whose mother was always late: Start the
events without waiting for the late ones! I've done it. Or, tell them to come an hour and a
half before you want them to show up. That also works.

But do NOT depend on them. And don't let them spoil your day. Only you are responsible
for your own happiness. -- AURELIE HOWARD, BROOKINGS, ORE.

DEAR ABBY: My reply to "Had It in Cincinnati" would have been to tell her mother and sister
that a 6 p.m. celebration was actually an hour or so earlier. I have tried it, Abby, and it

DEAR ABBY: Over the years, when the stress was getting too much and I was late to every
social event, my solution for my grown family was as follows:

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I asked them not to tell me the actual time of the event, but to name a time somewhat
earlier. I would still be late, but not as late as I would have been if they had told me the
correct time.

Perhaps this will help the hosts to stay within their comfort zones -- and the stressed-out
victims will be able to relax a bit, too. -- DOROTHY CALENDER, SEATTLE

DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law was the reverse. She would come an hour earlier than she
was expected. Consequently, we started telling her to come to our home one hour later
than we wanted her for dinner. That way we had time to get the table prepared and
ourselves dressed. It worked -- and my mother-in-law and I remained good friends. -- MRS.

DEAR ABBY: I had the same problem with my best friend. She would not just be one hour
late; she would be three or four hours late. At first I got worried. Then I got angry. Now, if I
want her here at 5 p.m., I tell her to show up at 2 o'clock sharp. It works like a charm.
She's "on time" now -- and I don't freak out! -- RELAXED IN TEMPE, ARIZ.

DEAR ABBY: I, too, had finally had it with my in-laws who were always late. I laid down a
firm rule: Dinner is at 6 p.m. Those present eat; those who are tardy will have to fend for
themselves. If we are eating dessert when they finally arrive, they have to scrounge around
the kitchen and do the best they can, because I do not get up to wait on them any longer.

Surprisingly, they began to arrive on time! "Had It" needs to be firm. If guests can be rude
enough to be habitually late, you can be aggressive enough to go on with your plans. --

P.S. I told my doctor, barring some emergency, I wait 20 minutes. After that, his fee
diminishes by my hourly salary. I rarely have to wait, and the doctor said it forced him to do
a better scheduling job.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person,
order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or
money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447,
Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY: I have been a faithful reader of your column for many years. I felt I must write
to you concerning your response to the 15-year-old girl signed "Sorry." She was in her
seventh month of pregnancy, the baby's father was seeing another girl, and she said the
only person who had treated her "halfway decent" was the nice lady at Planned Parenthood.

While the girl's story certainly serves as a sad example of the moral state of our society, I
find it hard to understand why you did not take her at her word when she stated her
purpose in writing was to "convince other young girls to say no to sex until they get
married." She did not ask you for advice, and it seems obvious to me that, considering the
fact that the Planned Parenthood Federation is the largest provider of abortions in the world,
the "nice lady" who befriended her there has already taken care of her little problem. This
is, of course, a tragedy since an innocent infant has been murdered. But your endorsement
of this organization is also tragic.

I hope to God I am mistaken -- that she is still pregnant. However, if this is the case, your
suggestion about her contacting a "state agency" about child support is laughable. Don't
you realize that, considering her story, her chances of collecting child support from her
boyfriend are literally nonexistent?

Please, think before offering a minor in dire straits such silly advice. If, by some miracle,
you publish this letter, I should be proud to have my name attached to it. -- THOMAS M.



DEAR ABBY: I just read the letter in your column signed "Faithful Reader," asking if her
husband should attend the funeral of his former wife.

Four weeks ago today, I lost my husband. He, too, had a former wife. He and "Chris" had
been married for 12 years and had four children together. Their divorce had been very
bitter, but fortunately, in the last year, they had come to terms with each other.

I invited Chris to attend the funeral, as it seemed to me that she, too, needed to say
goodbye. I felt quite at ease including her in the family circle with all the children -- his,
mine and ours.
I agree with you, Abby, when you said the wishes of the immediate family should be

Please let "Faithful Reader" know that whatever the decision is, she should support her
husband when the time comes, as he will go through the grieving process.

My prayers are with them. You may use my name. -- MARY KINSTLER, PORTSMOUTH, VA.

DEAR MARY: What a gracious, understanding woman you are. Because my column is a
trouble dump, I rarely hear from anyone who has survived divorce with no bitter aftertaste.

How much better for the divorced couple -- and the children -- when they put the bitterness
behind them and behave civilly toward each other. Anger and bitterness eat away at those
who harbor these feelings, as well as those who are near and dear to them.

DEAR ABBY: This is the first Dear Abby letter I have ever written, so please answer.
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We have lived in Northern California for three years, but my husband just got a new job
that forces us to move to Southern California.

Our 17-year-old daughter refuses to move with us because she doesn't want to leave her
friends and her school. I know it's hard for kids to move in their senior year, but she will be
leaving for college in a year anyway.

I don't know if we should try to find a family for her to stay with during her senior year, or
insist that she move with us. Please advise. -- DESPERATE IN DANVILLE

DEAR DESPERATE IN DANVILLE: Your daughter is still a minor, and she must abide by your
decision, but she is old enough to participate in making that decision. Much depends upon
her level of maturity and whether there is a responsible family to whom you could entrust
her. If she has a level head, you could allow her to spend her senior year with her
classmates in the town she has grown to love.

DEAR ABBY: A quick note to add to the letter signed "Tired of Waiting" (in the outer offices
of dentists and doctors):

How about the medical professionals whose patients are kept waiting anywhere from an
hour to forever? They have a framed notice on their walls saying: "Appointments must be
canceled 24 hours in advance, or patient will be billed for the visit."

Abby, how are patients supposed to know 24 hours in advance that they will have an
emergency? -- ELTHREE IN NASHUA, N.H.

DEAR ELTHREE: Good question. However, not all cancellations are due to emergencies.
Some folks just have a change of plans, or an irresistible invitation. Readers?
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal
With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money
order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount
Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY: I recently sent a birthday card and a check to one of my husband's nephews.
("Brandon" is a senior in college.) I have the responsibility of remembering birthdays with
cards and gifts. I don't mind because I love our nieces and nephews, no matter whose side
of the family they are on.

Yesterday my husband received a thank-you note for the card and gift. Brandon had
addressed the envelope to "John Smith and Company," and his note began, "Dear Uncle
John and Company." Abby, I would have thought it was a joke, but we don't even own a
business, and for some reason, he has always acted like I don't exist. It's not as if I'm a
new wife -- we have been married since shortly after Brandon's birth.

I'm hurt by his nephew's rude behavior. What can I say to get him to acknowledge my

DEAR SIZZLING: Since Brandon is your husband's nephew, your husband should set him
straight. Brandon's obvious lack of respect should have been addressed long ago, but better
late than never.

DEAR ABBY: Years ago, I made your recipe for sweet potato pie. It was so delicious, the
filling sometimes didn't make it into the pie shell. My family loved it -- and it was gone
before I could do anything about it. It was a classic, Abby, and I'm sorry to tell you that it
has been somehow lost.

Would you by any chance have on file somewhere that same recipe? And would you
consider printing it again? -- BETH A. CLUFF, GAINESVILLE, FLA.

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DEAR BETH: I certainly would. It is a favorite with my family as well -- so much so that I
included it in my cookbooklet, "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Read on:


1 1/2 cups pureed cooked yams or sweet potatoes

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick), melted

1/4 cup evaporated skim milk

3 eggs

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 teaspoon lemon extract

1 (9-inch) unbaked deep-dish pie shell (or regular 9-inch pie shell)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In food processor bowl, combine all ingredients except pie shell. Process until well-blended.
Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until knife inserted in center
comes out clean and pie is golden-brown.

Serves 6 to 8.

P.S. Some prepared pie crusts are shallower than others. If there is filling left over, it can
be baked in tart shells or custard cups along with the pie.

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size,
self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear
Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is



DEAR ABBY: Summer, the dreaded season when my family loses its privacy, is approaching.
We have always been generous with the swimming pool behind our house. However, in
years past, neighbors and friends have taken advantage of our generosity.

One of our neighbors has extended a one-time invitation to swim to a permanent welcome.
She dumps her five children off at sunrise, seven days a week, spring to fall. Yet our three
nieces and nephew, who visit occasionally, have never been invited to play at their home. In
fact, they treat our nieces and nephew as unwelcome pests if they even go into their yard.

We often answer the door to find friends with a carload of strangers wanting to use our
pool. Not only must we serve as lifeguard for children from 4 to 13 while their parents relax
at home in front of the television, we become food servers to uninvited people who use our
towels and track water all over the house. The intrusions destroy any chance we have to
relax. We have tried setting limits, to no avail.

How do we let these people know that they will no longer be welcome unless invited --
without making enemies? -- PRISONERS IN OUR HOME

DEAR PRISONERS: Use the Abby adage: If people take advantage of you once, shame on
them; if they take advantage of you twice, shame on you.

To stop the onslaught of unwelcome guests, you must get assertive. When you find
uninvited people at your door, say, "Sorry, today is not a good day. I'll call you at a better

Several years ago, one of my clever readers solved the problem by flying a welcome flag in
front of her home when guests were invited to swim. Pass the word to your family,
neighbors and friends about the welcome signal and give it a try. Good luck.

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P.S. A word of warning: You are liable should someone be injured in or near your pool, so
be sure your homeowners insurance is current.

DEAR ABBY: A friend told me recently that she had seen my husband leaving a lingerie shop
in a local mall. She hinted that perhaps he had a girlfriend on the side.

When I told her that my husband enjoys buying intimate apparel for me, and I enjoy
modeling it for him, I could tell by her reaction that she didn't believe me.

We have been married for 24 years, and now, at age 47, I've acquired some sagging and
wrinkles, but I still have a fairly good figure. I am proud of the fact that my husband buys
me sexy lingerie.

Abby, do you think it's wrong for a man to buy intimate apparel for his wife? And is it wrong
for her to model it for him in private? -- WAUKEGAN WIFE

DEAR WAUKEGAN: The answer to both questions is a resounding No! The only thing wrong
here is a "friend" who would try to plant the seeds of suspicion in your mind.

DEAR ABBY: Recently you dealt with the problem of cigar and cigarette smoking. I am
enclosing an item from your column that I clipped about six or even years ago. I carry it
with me because cigar smoke makes me sick, too. -- KANSAS CITY KITTY

DEAR K.C. KITTY: Thanks for sending it. Since cigar smoking has had a recent resurgence in
popularity, I'm reprinting it for anyone who might need it:

DEAR ABBY: I surely do sympathize with people whose friends' smoking makes them sick.
I had the same problem with my dad. He would always smoke cigars in the car. One time
when I was about 7, he was smoking a cigar in the car, and I said, "Dad, your cigar is
making me sick."

He replied, "No, it's not."

Then I said, "Yes, it is."

He repeated, "No, it's not."

Then I threw up in the car.

He hasn't smoked cigars in the car since. -- MIKE IN CULVER CITY

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size,
self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear
Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is



DEAR ABBY: I am currently separated from my husband. We have a 2-year-old daughter --
I'll call her "Sherry." We agreed that Sherry should stay a week at his house, and then a
week at mine. (I live with my mom.) This is working OK for now, but I can't see it working
until Sherry is 18.

Here is my dilemma: If I continue to share custody of Sherry, I will always struggle. I have
an average job with no college degree, and I really want to pursue schooling and have a
career. Also, I have a difficult time emotionally when I have Sherry because she's spoiled
rotten and acts like a brat. It stresses me out to be with her. Her father wants full custody,
and I'm ashamed to admit that I do not.

People tell me I will regret giving her up, but they don't know how hard it is to go to college
and care for a child.

Abby, I am very confused about what to do. I feel like a bad mother for not fighting tooth
and nail for full custody like most mothers would.

My husband says it would be no problem for him to have Sherry full time. He can afford to
hire a nanny. Should I let him have her? Please respond as soon as possible. -- FEELING

DEAR FEELING GUILTY: Don't feel guilty. I admire your honesty. Feeling as you do, you
would be doing all of you a favor to give your husband full custody of Sherry.
DEAR ABBY: Please don't think I'm weird for asking this question, but where do jet planes
flush their commodes? With so many daily flights and thousands of passengers, this must
be a big problem for the airlines.
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If the commodes are flushed in flight, which states do they dump on?

No, I am not from Flushing, N.Y. I am ... LA NOY (TAD) GUNN, BALMORHEA, TEXAS

DEAR TAD: I asked Jon Austin, director of media relations with Northwest Airlines.

After he stopped laughing, he explained: "There is a holding tank in the bottom of the plane
for human waste. When the plane lands, a hose is attached to the tank to drain the contents
into a truck with a septic tank. The truck then disposes of the waste, as regular municipal
waste, in accordance with the city's regulations."

DEAR ABBY: Your column is a joy -- and educational as well. However, when you explained
democracy in your "isms" column, you should have said:

In a democracy, everyone has two cows. A vote is taken, the losers cry "discrimination," the
lawyers sue (on a contingency basis), and then the government takes at least 39 percent.

Please God, help us work together and find a way to keep the "crazies" from blowing up
what's left.

Thanks for your inspiration, Abby. -- JACK STEVENSON, LAKE DALLAS, TEXAS

DEAR JACK: I, as well as the overwhelming majority of the citizens of this democracy, join
you in that prayer.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person,
order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or
money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447,
Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY: Help! My husband is a computer junkie, and it's ruining our marriage.
Sometimes he spends as much as 10 hours a day on the computer.

He neglects me, the children and everything else because of his addiction. We bought a
fixer-upper house a couple of years ago and he was very gung-ho about making
improvements, but that lasted only a couple of months; then he was back in front of his
computer. He's barely moved since.

He has gone from being a handsome, outgoing, affectionate husband to an overweight,

uncaring, temperamental roommate.

We have had countless fights about the time he spends playing computer games. He
becomes defensive and says it's nobody's business how he spends his time. I thought he
would eventually tire of his computer, but it's been three years and he's worse, not better.
All of our family, friends, acquaintances, and even his co-workers have commented on his
obsession. He takes his computer to work every day.

I don't believe in divorce, but I'm almost ready to get one. I need a husband and our
children need their father. He is a good man, but I'm exhausted from trying to compete with
his computer.

Abby, there are support groups for spouses of alcoholics and drug addicts. Is there a
support group for wives like me? -- A COMPUTER WIDOW

DEAR COMPUTER WIDOW: It's OK to have an absorbing hobby, but if it replaces the family,
the electronic beast must be tamed.

Insist that your husband see a marriage counselor with you. A counselor can help him face
the "demon," and guide you both in reaching a workable compromise. If he refuses to go,
go without him.

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DEAR ABBY: I have noticed at the beach more men are shaving their legs.

They don't appear to be bodybuilders. Is this a new trend -- like men wearing earrings? I
haven't seen anything printed about it, and I haven't had the guts to ask a stranger.

I never liked the feel of hairy legs in bed, but I never had the nerve to ask a guy to shave
his legs. -- CURIOUS FEMALE

DEAR CURIOUS: Since healthy growth of body hair on a male suggests masculinity and
virility, a man who shaves his legs must do it for a good reason.

I am told that men who compete in certain kinds of athletics -- such as bicycle racing --
shave their legs to prevent "wind drag," and also to avoid getting their hair caught in the
chain. Some athletes (football players and boxers) shave their legs because they must wear
tape or athletic equipment.

DEAR ABBY: I am 11 years old. My grandmother sent me one of your articles. It was the
one about an adopted woman living in Phoenix.
I am adopted too, and would like to thank my birth parents for giving me up. It really
showed bravery and love on their part. I feel very honored by their decision.

When I ask my mom, dad and brother questions about my birth parents, they answer all my
questions honestly to the best of their ability.

One day I would like to meet my birth parents, but for now I would just like to say, "Thank

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or
money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447,
Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

Dear Abby
is written by
Abigail Van Buren,
also known as
Jeanne Phillips,
and was founded
by her mother,
Pauline Phillips.
It is the most
popular and widely
syndicated column
in the world --
known for its
common sense
and youthful

Previous Date | Most Recent Dear Abby | Next Date



DEAR ABBY: I must respond to the letter from the woman who wrote you saying she was
angry because the paramedics refused to stop trying to revive her husband, who ultimately
died from his heart attack. (She had called 911 when she discovered him.)

I am an emergency medical technician and CPR instructor, and I can sympathize with her
feelings. But she should know that once a call is made to 911, the responding team of
emergency medical technicians and/or paramedics is legally bound to follow a certain set of
procedures called "protocol." This protocol dictates that cardiopulmonary resuscitation
(CPR), once started, cannot be terminated unless one of the following occurs:

1. A physician authorizes the cessation of CPR.

2. A valid form stating that the patient is not to be resuscitated is presented. It is called a
DNR ("Do Not Resuscitate") order.

3. The response team is too exhausted to continue and without means to transport the
patient to the hospital.

4. The patient recovers.

This is set forth in both emergency medical technician training manuals and the American
Heart Association Instructor's Handbook. If this protocol is not followed, all responders can
be held liable for "abandonment" (having begun and then having stopped treatment).

In a home emergency situation, a living will is not enough. My advice to those in similar
situations is to obtain a legally valid "Do Not Resuscitate" order from their physician. This
form must be presented to the 911 response team if the family of the patient does not wish
the team to carry out its professional duties and obligations. -- PROTOCOL-BOUND,

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DEAR ABBY: Another wedding question: My brother-in-law is getting married in six weeks.
On the response card I wrote, "Three guests will attend: my husband, myself and our 9-
month-old daughter."

My brother-in-law called my husband and in a roundabout way told us that he didn't want to
offend anyone, but children were not allowed.

Well, that started a big family feud, and now my mother-in-law refuses to attend the
wedding. Abby, I regard our daughter as part of the family -- not just another child.

I understand my brother-in-law's desire to avoid offending friends by making his niece an

exception, but isn't blood thicker than water? -- OFFENDED IN FLORIDA

DEAR OFFENDED: Yes, blood is thicker than water, but I hope none must be shed in order
to prove the point.

The bridal couple has the right to exclude children -- especially one who is 9 months old and
could become restless, cry and disrupt the ceremony.

DEAR ABBY: Who said, "If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much
time with them, and half as much money"? -- CURIOUS
DEAR CURIOUS: I did, about 25 years ago -- and it's still true.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely
Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for
$3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill.
61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY: I just read a report on a sex survey, and it says that the average man has six
partners in a lifetime, and the average woman has two. Well, I am well below the average.

What do you think about these sex surveys, Abby? The one I saw said it was a "blind"
survey -- meaning that the person who filled out the questionnaire did not have to give his
(or her) right name as a matter of privacy.

I was part of one of those sex surveys years ago, and I lied like a rug. No way was I as
virile as I made myself out to be. I wonder how many others have responded to a sex
survey -- and how honest they were?

I hope your readers write in and tell you the truth about the way they answered the
questions about their sex lives. -- LONGTIME IOWA READER

DEAR READER: People who are dishonest when responding to a survey do the project a
grave disservice.

I cannot document my suspicions, but I would guess that when it comes to questions about
one's sex life, at least as many people lie as tell the truth.

DEAR ABBY: In a recent reply to "Appalled in Mobile, Ala.," you stated that waiters are
sending a message, "You folks have been here long enough ... please hurry up." I'm
appalled by your response.

I'd like to clarify the fact that clearing the table is simply making room on the table for the
next course, or just for the guests to have more room to feel comfortable and talk. In fact,
most guests push their plates aside and ask for their server to take the plate away.

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If guests have a problem with a server clearing their plate, all they need to say is, "I'm not
quite finished yet."
For the millions of servers out there whose tips are their only source of income, your
message only hurts them. -- ANGRY IN ARLINGTON, TEXAS

DEAR ANGRY: I was severely chastised for my answer. I'd ask for 50 lashes with a braised
leek -- but I'm afraid I'd have to eat it. Read on for another letter from an irate server:

DEAR ABBY: Having been a food server in fine dining and hotel establishments for many
years, I must respond to your comment about waitresses who remove finished plates while
others are still eating. If we waited for every last person to clean his plate -- especially at
banquets -- the entire dinner would be held up; then we would really look incompetent.

We are not sending a message to "hurry up" when we remove the dirty dishes from the
table. We are working at servicing the table and will serve people when they are ready. I
would rather be accused of clearing dirty plates too soon than of standing around doing

Many diners consider it poor service if we do not remove the dirty dishes as soon as
possible. And as for the person who wrote to say that was an annoyance, he or she was
probably looking for a reason not to tip. Clearing plates is a big part of waiting on
customers, and an attentive waiter does so with courtesy and discretion.

Sometimes in this business, we are darned if we do and darned if we don't. -- BEND, ORE.

DEAR BEND: Thanks for giving me a glimpse of the situation from a server's point of view. I
shared your letter with Bernard Erpicum, proprietor of Eclipse, a top-rated restaurant in Los
Angeles. He summed it up this way: "In Europe, where patrons linger over their meals and
socialize, the server waits until everyone at the table is finished before removing the plates.
However, in the United States, patrons expect to have the plates removed as soon as they
are finished eating."

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size,
self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear
Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is



DEAR ABBY: Regarding the letter from "St. Paul Wife," whose husband's scratchy beard was
her biggest complaint:

I would be glad to change places with her. My husband's newfound habit has definitely put a
strain on our marriage. He chews tobacco.
As "St. Paul Wife" stated, "If my husband had had a beard when I first met him, I would not
have even considered dating him ..." Well, if my husband had been chewing tobacco when I
met him, I would not have even spoken to him.

He is a good provider and a good husband and father --which far outweighs his one nasty
habit -- but I have seriously considered divorce because he is no longer sexually attractive
to me.

Beards, I have no problem with, but chewing tobacco is out of the question! -- MIXED

DEAR MIXED EMOTIONS: Please inform your husband that chewing tobacco is as dangerous
a health risk as smoking tobacco.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Cancer
Society, chewing tobacco has been known to cause cancer of the gum, mouth, tongue, jaw,
pharynx, larynx and esophagus. And it may also play a role in cardiovascular disease and

DEAR ABBY: I have been umpiring both men's and women's softball leagues for 20 years,
and I have had my share of verbal abuse, but last Saturday I was KO'd by an irate female

After a close call at home plate, I called the runner safe. The first basewoman ran up to the
plate and began calling me every name in the book. I told her to get out of my face. When
she wouldn't let up, I told her she was ejected from the game.

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I suddenly found myself lying on the ground. My jaw was numb. A crowd had gathered, and
some were daring me to get up and fight! I wasn't fully aware that the woman had hit me
until I got back on my feet and saw her standing over me with her dukes up, ready to hit
me again. I instinctively raised my hands as if to say "enough" -- when she hit me again
and broke my nose! Realizing she might seriously injure me if this continued, I said, "I've
had enough!"

Incredibly, people -- including my best friend -- began ridiculing me and calling me a wimp.
In my office a few days later, my secretary asked, "Have you tried the battered men's

Abby, I am 42 years old, stand 5 foot 8 inches tall and weigh 150 pounds. The female who
attacked me stands 6 foot 3 and weighs about 180. She played four years of college
basketball on a scholarship. How can I be expected to defend myself against someone 30
pounds heavier, a head taller and 20 years younger -- male or female?

I am sick of being ridiculed. Will you please tell my wife and friends that I am not a wimp? -
DEAR RETIRED UMP, HIS WIFE AND FRIENDS: In a civilized society, men are taught from
childhood that men should not hit women. You proved you were a gentleman, not a wimp.

However, you broke the (unwritten) cardinal rule: Never remove your mask during an

P.S. As for the Amazon who hit you, she should be traded to the Giants.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested --

poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money
order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris,
Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY: I am dating a man who is very money-minded. Whenever he gives me a gift,
he not only tells me how much he paid for it, he shows me the sales slip.

When he takes me out, he never fails to tell me how much the evening cost him. When I
wear something new, he asks, "How much did that set you back?"

There is much I admire about this man. He owns a very successful business, and he is not
poor. But his focus on money makes me uncomfortable.

He has asked me to marry him, and my father says he would make a good husband. My
mother, however, says, "A man who is that money-minded has got to be tight with a

I'm 22 and he's 32. What do you think? -- UNCERTAIN

DEAR UNCERTAIN: Perhaps by telling you how much he's spending on you, he is trying to
show you how much you mean to him. However, a trait that makes you "uncomfortable"
before marriage can make you miserable afterward. Since you have doubts, don't rush into
anything -- wait until you are absolutely certain.

DEAR ABBY: I was recently the victim of a scam operated by a female prison inmate. We
exchanged letters for nearly a year.

Claiming that she needed money for "court costs," she asked me to cash some postal
money orders.

I was a bit suspicious, but the money orders had official-looking embossed lettering, and I
had specifically asked the bank officials to inspect them for authenticity.
After several months of silence from the inmate, I was notified by the postal inspector that
the amount on the money orders had been fraudulently increased.

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I documented everything, notified the FBI, the parole board and the Justice Department. No
prosecution was forthcoming because the inmate was already doing hard time. However,
I'm paying for her crime, because the bank that vouched for the authenticity of the money
orders debited my account.

Abby, please inform your readers of this scheme. -- BADLY STUNG IN LONG BEACH

DEAR STUNG: Thanks for the warning. Readers who correspond with prison inmates would
be wise to avoid financial dealings.

DEAR ABBY: Is it possible for a man and his wife who both have brown eyes and black hair
to have a blue-eyed baby with blond hair? I must know, because we did. Thanks. --

DEAR WONDERING: In the 19th century, the genetic research of an Austrian monk and
botanist named Gregor Mendel resulted in the discovery of "dominant genes" and "recessive

Conclusion: A child can inherit a recessive gene from an ancestor and have eye, hair, skin
color and other features that are different from either of its parents.

This scientific law of the inheritance of physical characteristics is called Mendel's law. To
learn more about it, visit your public library and ask for books about Mendel's law of genetic
inheritance and recessive genes.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal
With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money
order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount
Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY: Your column about the warning signs of an abuser was very interesting, but is
an abuser always a male?

My daughter-in-law fits many of those abuser signs -- and more! -- F.H. IN FLORIDA
DEAR F.H.: The abuser is NOT always a male. The number of men who have been battered
by women would shock most people. This crime is underreported because most men are too
embarrassed to admit that they have been battered by a woman. Read on for an interesting
letter published in my column in 1989:

DEAR ABBY: I am getting tired of reading all the letters about "battered women." Yes, I
know it must be a terrible experience for a woman, but nobody ever mentions the battered
men. It's even worse for them because they are so embarrassed and ashamed, they never
tell anybody.

I know. I was raised never to hit a woman -- even in self-defense. Many times my ex-wife
would throw things at me, and come at me with her fingernails, drawing blood from the
scratches she would inflict on my face and neck. She even broke my arm and ribs when she
threw a heavy chair at me. I always made up some kind of lie when I had to go to the
emergency room of the hospital after she beat me up.

I stayed in this terrible marriage as long as I could for the sake of our child. When I finally
couldn't take it any longer, I divorced her. She fought the divorce, but I was firm and made
the break.

She retaliated by filing charges against me, stating that I had sexually abused our child! I
had to endure some humiliating questioning, and it cost me nearly $10,000 in legal fees to
prove my innocence. It's a long and very ugly story, but my ex-wife was finally found to be
clinically psychotic and paranoid, with multiple personality disorders. Meanwhile, the
accusations were devastating.

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I'll be surprised if you print this because you usually favor women. But every word I have
written is true. -- NO NAME OR LOCATION, PLEASE

DEAR NO NAME: Surprise! From the mail I received, your case is not unusual. Thanks for

DEAR ABBY: The inspiring letter from Janet Bode about wearing a hat instead of a wig after
chemotherapy treatments prompted me to write.

We lost our father, and you lost a big fan, last March after his gallant five-year battle with
cancer. One thing that kept Daddy going so long was his sense of humor. Like Ms. Bode, he
did not allow the disease to run his life. The medical community can work wonders, but a
positive attitude and strong faith can add years of life.

I remember, as a child, our parents reading "Dear Abby" to us during breakfast, and I also
remember that laughter often followed. Families don't gather around the table like they
used to. I believe many social ills could be cured by families doing things together.

Thank you for the years of joy, encouragement, wisdom and memories that your brought to
our family. I'd be willing to bet that "Dear Abby" is read daily in heaven! -- BILL HARRISON,
DEAR BILL: Please accept my condolences on the loss of our beloved father.

I appreciate your sharing the childhood memories of your parents reading my column to you
and your siblings around the breakfast table. Thank you -- your letter made my day!

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested --

poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money
order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris,
Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY: I was born in Brussels, Belgium, in 1939. The war came, and my father died at
the hands of the Germans.

In 1944, when the Americans, British and Canadians liberated Belgium, I was 5 years old.
The date, Sept. 3, is forever engraved in my memory.

We had GIs at our house constantly -- the excitement they created is hard to describe. The
American soldiers had that contagious joy of living. They were more than generous, and
they were enthusiastic about everything. I remember being driven to school in their jeeps,
and being showered with chocolates, gum and candy. I recall my grandmother saying, "It's
like having a house full of adorable, well-behaved sons!" She cried each time they left and a
new group came.

I was so impressed by those extraordinary men that I decided I would become an American
when I grew up. Not a fireman, not a streetcar conductor, not an engineer -- no, I would
become an American!

It took me 35 years, but at age 40, I became a U.S. citizen. My daughters married
wonderful American men, and my career as an artist is devoted to the history of the U.S.
Army in World War II.

I thought that only you, Abby, could convey my admiration and gratitude to those young
men by publishing this letter. In my memory, they will forever be those generous Americans
who gave us back our liberty in 1944. -- JEAN-LUC BEGHIN, LOS ANGELES

DEAR JEAN-LUC: Thank you for your touching letter filled with poignant memories.

I am printing it not only for the veterans who will read it today, but also to honor all
veterans from every conflict where American blood has been shed.

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DEAR ABBY: I am a 24-year-old single mother and college student, and with each passing
year, I feel a deeper appreciation for soldiers who have given their lives to preserve
democracy and freedom.

For years I thought of Memorial Day as a day off from school and work, and a time for
barbecues and pool parties. Although I still enjoy the long weekend, I cannot help but think
about all of those who never had the chance to "celebrate" because they paid the ultimate
price during wartime. I also think of those who served their tour of duty and returned home
-- their lives changed forever.

I know that there are many like myself who have never fought in battle, but they take the
time to remember all those silent heroes who did.

Maybe someday, everyone will pay homage to our veterans instead of just going from sale
to sale or party to party.

To all soldiers and their families, past and present, dead and alive: I am indebted to you. --

DEAR MICHELLE: Thank you for a beautiful letter. It is a potent reminder of what Memorial
Day is all about. Bless you.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person,
order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or
money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447,
Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY: In response to "Elizabeth N. of Tampa," who wrote about a rottweiler attacking
her dog, I would like to share my horrifying story about two of those dogs.

I was walking my standard poodle on a public sidewalk when two unrestrained rottweilers
attacked her. It was only through sheer willpower that I was able to hold back the dog
tearing at her throat. Meanwhile, the other rottweiler attacked her hindquarters. Then a few
minutes later while I was trying to get help, one of the dogs came back and locked his jaws
around my forearm! I spent six hours in the emergency room having my arm cleansed and
treated. Now I have permanent scars on my arm.

A few years ago, England campaigned to ban rottweilers, and my veterinarian will no longer
treat these dogs without a muzzle. He believes they should all be sterilized because their
propensity for turning against people is well-known.
The rottweiler that attacked Elizabeth N.'s dog should have been quarantined, through a
public health agency, for rabies evaluation, and an animal control officer should have been
notified. The victim should file a lawsuit for physical and psychological injury and seek
monetary compensation.

Some states have a one-bite law due to the increased number of dog attacks, and
irresponsible owners are held liable.

I have scheduled a hearing with the county, hoping to persuade the authorities to order that
the dogs which attacked me and my pet be put to sleep. If they are allowed to live, their
next victims may be older people or children who cannot protect themselves. -- LYNN T.,

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DEAR LYNN: I'm with you all the way! Please write again and let me know the results of
your hearing.

DEAR ABBY: I must disagree with your response to the lady in Tampa whose boxer was
attacked by a rottweiler. I own one and find it most distressing that this breed is preferred
by people infatuated with its reputation as a "killer" dog. They deliberately mistreat these
good-natured puppies and teach them to be aggressive and vicious.

People who do this to animals should be stopped. One way to do it is by calling the police or
the local animal control agency when an attack occurs. Even if no action is taken against the
owner, at least the dog goes on record as a vicious animal.

You are correct, Abby, that the dog owner should pay the vet bill. But do you suppose
there's any chance of that happening with no intervention from the authorities? The woman
in Tampa doesn't have to prove the dog was released deliberately; the fact that it was loose
and it attacked is sufficient. Depending on local laws, the owner may be in violation of a
leash law and may have to produce documentation of current vaccinations and a license.
Most important, the attack becomes a matter of record.
Even if "Tampa" cannot recover her vet bill, please advise her to pursue the matter to the
end. There's a potentially dangerous animal in the hands of an immature, foolish and mean-
spirited man, and the next victim may not be as lucky as Tampa and her boxer. --

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or
money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447,
Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY: As a physician assistant in a pediatric office, I read with interest the letters
concerning long waits in waiting rooms. You correctly pointed out the possibility of
emergencies as contributing to these long waits, but may I suggest some other factors that
frequently are involved?

Johnny is at the office being seen for an earache. He is accompanied by his father and his
sister. After Johnny is examined and treated, Dad casually asks, "Could you look at Susie's
ears, too? She's had a cold for several days."

It may seem to Dad that this will take little or no extra time. But if Susie is really sick, it
means finding her chart, writing another clinical note, weighing her to be sure of the correct
dosage, and writing another prescription.

Then there are the parents who call for an appointment for one child, and call back an hour
later asking to fit in a sibling. Also, there are patients who arrive 10 to 15 minutes late,
thereby setting the entire schedule back.

Abby, I agree that when doctors are running behind, someone should inform the waiting
patients of the situation. However, people need to understand that sometimes their own
actions are partially responsible for the problem. -- MARILYN SCHWARTZ, BREWERTON,

DEAR MS. SCHWARTZ: Thank you for a letter in which many people will recognize
themselves. Most folks don't realize what an imposition it is to ask a doctor to "work in"
another patient.

DEAR ABBY: It was with pleasure that I read your response to "Tired of Waiting." Her
complaint regarding having to wait to be taken care of included mentioning "doctors and
dentists" a number of times.
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I truly hope that writer noted the correctness of "physicians and dentists," as was shown in
your reply, Abby.

It seems that a majority of people are ignorant of the fact that both physicians and dentists
are doctors. One is a medical doctor; the other is a doctor of dental surgery or doctor of
medical dentistry.

They are an M.D., D.D.S. or D.M.D.

Both spend a considerable amount of time in obtaining their professional training -- and
both are doctors. -- JEANETTE WEISS, SOUTH ORANGE, N.J.

DEAR JEANETTE: What a pity you aren't able to hear the thunderous applause from all the
grateful doctors of dental surgery and doctors of medical dentistry throughout the land.

DEAR ABBY: You often have letters asking how to answer people who ask personal
questions that you do not care to answer. I hit on the perfect reply.

A neighbor asked me a very personal question about my daughter's recent divorce.

I blurted out, "Gee ... I really don't know. I never asked my daughter because I figured it
was none of my business!"

My friend's face turned red, and she quickly changed the subject. -- B.W.H.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested --

poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money
order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris,
Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY by Abigail Van Buren


DEAR ABBY: Some years ago, when my son was still a young boy, I read a letter in your
column asking you to reprint some rules for teens before they are allowed to drive the
family car. I had thought about keeping it, but decided then that the day was too far off.
Now my son is two months short of his 16th birthday and eager to get his license.
Would it be possible for you to print those rules again for the benefit of a new generation of
teens? Thank you very much. -- A CANADIAN MOM

DEAR CANADIAN MOM: The "rules" were actually a contract, which was the brainchild of a
pair of "Proud Parents." I'm pleased to run it for you and others for whom it could be useful:

DEAR ABBY: Being the parents of a 16-year-old who has just passed his driver's license
examination, we feel that other parents such as we are apprehensive about their child's
newly found freedom, and perhaps would like to ease some of that anxiety

by drawing up a contract as we did, as a reminder of the seriousness of this new

responsibility. It has worked wonders for us.


I ( ), on this day, do agree to the stipulations stated below rendering me the privilege of
driving my parents' cars. If, at any time, I violate the said agreement, the driving privileges
will be forfeited to the extent and degree of violation.

1. Should I get a traffic violation ticket, I agree to pay for the ticket as well as the
difference in the insurance premium for as long as the premium is in effect.
2. I agree to pay for damages that I incur not covered by insurance.
3. At no time will I ever drink alcoholic beverages and drive at the same time, nor will
there be any liquor or beer in the car at any time.
4. I will never transport more passengers than there are seat belts, and will not drive
the car until all passengers have buckled up.
5. I will keep the car that I drive clean, inside and out, and be aware of its needs for
gas, oil, etc., plus wax the car once a month.

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I have read the above agreement and do sign this in accordance with the rules.


( ) Child

( ) Parent

( ) Parent

Date: ( )

Submitted by ... PROUD PARENTS

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: Here's another one for your "never thought I'd be writing to Dear Abby"

I've been reading your column for ages, but I don't recall having seen this topic addressed.
I have an old Bible that has seen better days. The pages are tearing and beginning to fall
out. I have purchased a new Bible, but I am not sure what to do

with the old one. I don't feel right just throwing it into the garbage.

Is there a proper way to dispose of an old Bible? -- MIKE IN TEXAS

DEAR MIKE: Yes. I consulted the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., and was
told: Protestants can dispose of an old Bible by giving it to someone or throwing it away if
they are comfortable doing so -- the paper and ink are not "holy." However, if the individual
is not comfortable with that, it can be given to a Bible bookstore or Bible Book Society for
refurbishing or disposal.

Father Joe Moniz at St. Joseph's Church in Torrance, Calif., advised that Catholics can either
burn or bury old Bibles.

Persons of other religions should consult their religious authority concerning an accepted
manner of disposing of holy books.

** ** **

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter
Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)




DEAR ABBY: Regarding complaints about construction workers who play their portable
radios while working on homes, which the neighbors found annoying: In Marin County,
Calif., the Planning Department has a standard condition prohibiting work before

8 a.m. and after 6 p.m. on weekdays -- and always on weekends.

Nevertheless, some folks disregard the rules, in which case a formal letter of complaint is
sent to the Building Department.

I recently built a lovely home, and when I hired the contractor, I informed him that my rules
were: no dogs, no radios, no smoking and no blocking the driveway. I was living on the
property at the time and didn't want to be disturbed, nor did I want to disturb my

The contractor was wonderful and abided by all the rules. When the house was finished, I
threw a nice party for all the workmen. -- ANNE S. IN MARIN COUNTY

DEAR ANNE S.: Congratulations on your successful housewarming. Yours was not the only
letter I received in reaction to the letter about the remodeling project that upset the
neighbors. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am the general contractor for the project the neighbors complained about in
the letter you published on July 9. It was the third time the homeowners had hired me to
work on their property, and the complaints from your writers, the couple to the east, came
as no great surprise.

The project was to be finished by June 15, but due to unforeseen problems, completion was
delayed one week. I, personally, would have been thrilled if my workers had started before
7 a.m. or agreed to work seven days a week, as it would have enabled me to meet the
original deadline.

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True, the workers had radios. On most of the occasions when those neighbors came to
complain about them, the volume was so low I could barely hear it -- and I was on the
property. Once, the offending radio turned out to be in the master bath of the house on the
other side of their property.

Abby, Los Angeles has noise ordinances, and this couple called the police at least twice a
week. Each time, they were informed that no bounds were being overstepped. Throughout
the remodeling I frequently encountered, but never received a complaint, from the
neighbors on the west side of the house. Nor did I ever hear a peep from the tenants of the
three-story apartment building to the rear! In fact, I've since been asked to bid on similar
projects by two other homeowners who live on the same block, which gives me confidence
in the lack of intrusion felt by the other neighbors.

I was astounded to see the whole situation in your column. But it answered a long-standing
question that many of us in the high-tech world wonder about: "Can all those letters in Dear

DEAR CHRISTIANNE: There are usually two sides to every story, and in the interest of
fairness, I thought my readers should see yours. Since the police were summoned to the
worksite semiweekly and found nothing out of order, it seems that you were apparently not
only innocent of creating noise pollution, you were well within the limits of the law.
** ** **

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents
is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen




DEAR ABBY: I love animals and I am concerned about our environment. I am also a
responsible business person deeply involved in the balloon industry. I have served on
industry boards and have testified before my state legislators regarding balloons.

I am surprised you printed the letter from "Friend of the Environment." Several years ago
this type of balloon story made the headlines across the nation. It pulled at the heartstrings
of animal lovers. The information was totally inaccurate and the retraction stories did not
make the big headlines; they were buried.

To date, there has been no case of a death of any mammal, fish, reptile or bird that was
directly attributed to the ingestion of a latex balloon fragment. Latex balloons are 100
percent biodegradable. They decompose in the environment at about the

same rate as an oak leaf decomposes. They are not "colored bits of shriveled plastic," but a
product made from natural tree sap.

Research shows that when latex balloons are released, many will rise about five miles and
burst into spaghetti-like pieces that return to Earth dispersed over many miles. We do know
that animals eat these soft slivers of rubber, but the evidence indicates the pieces pass
harmlessly through the animals' digestive systems.

During the 1994 International Beach Cleanup, sponsored by the Center for Marine
Conservation, volunteers scoured 5,200 miles of shoreline and found only 36,047 balloon
fragments as compared to 1,283,718 cigarette butts and 122,306 plastic foam cups.
Overall, balloons accounted for less than 1 percent of all beach litter.

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It is unfortunate that someone as influential as you failed to check the validity of the
information that was sent to you. Please set the record straight. -- TERRI ADISHIAN, VICE
DEAR MS. ADISHIAN: Although I received many letters from irate members of the balloon
industry, I still have reservations about balloon releases. I spoke with Tom Isley, wildlife
manager at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, who explained that
documenting balloon-caused deaths in the wild is difficult because once dead, the animals
are quickly eaten by other animals. He mentioned that there ARE cases of animal deaths
due to balloon ingestion. A biology professor at St. Cloud University in St. Cloud, Minn.,
reported that he had examined a female mallard who had swallowed a deflated balloon.
Most of the balloon had passed into its gizzard, but the knot didn't and the duck couldn't
eat. After drinking a little water, it died.

Another reader, Lisa Hays of St. Louis, also wrote to express concern about balloon
releases. Affixed to her letter was a large fragment of pink balloon -- its red ribbon still
attached -- she had taken from a bird she had seen pecking at it. And while I'm on the
subject of potential hazards, read on for a hair-raiser:

DEAR ABBY: Bravo for printing the letter about balloons. While a friend of mine was driving
on a highway one rainy night, he was horrified to see what appeared to be a human head
loom up in his headlights. He slammed on his brakes and skidded to a

stop beyond where he had seen the figure but felt no impact. Shakily getting out of his car,
he saw a balloon floating a few feet above the roadway.

It's obvious what could have happened had my friend skidded off the road, or been rear-
ended by a car behind him. -- CATHERINE A. HURLBUTT, DENVER

DEAR READERS: So there you have it. I have no objections to balloons provided they are
not released into the environment. How much safer it would be to keep balloons tethered so
that following the event, they could be delivered as gifts to nursing

homes, hospitals and hospices.

** ** **

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or
money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447,
Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)




DEAR ABBY: I am a retired police detective. Recently I saw a letter in your column from a
woman whose husband insisted on sleeping with their bedroom window open.

Your response to her was to recommend that she wear warmer night clothes and
accommodate her spouse by allowing the window to remain open.
The overwhelming majority (and by that I mean in excess of 90 percent!) of home
burglaries, robberies, assaults, rapes and murders are the result of insecure premises
allowing the criminal(s) entry.

I don't know where that woman lives, but it doesn't matter. An open window is an invitation
for a criminal to enter. Open windows, while occupants are sleeping and helpless, are an
invitation to disaster.

This woman's husband is incredibly ignorant, selfish or uncaring. No responsible man would
expose his loved ones to danger in this manner. If the woman can't depend upon her
husband to protect her, and if he doesn't care enough about himself, she should dump him.

DEAR LT. MARTIN: Thank you for reminding my readers that an open window can be an
open invitation to danger.

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: Ms. Autumn R. Vogel of Dallas wrote you that she was "teed off" and
"frightened" enough to return home because while she was jogging, she received some
"uninvited, crude attention" from some men.

Ms. Vogel, I have observed many females jogging in my community, and have also noted
what their jogging attire consists of. It leaves very little to the imagination, and in my
opinion, 99 percent of these females are seeking the attention that these outfits bring.
Therefore, as a man, I will look at them. I can only surmise that your jogging attire is
skintight as well. If you do not want the attention that comes with these skintight outfits --
don't jog in them.

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Ms. Vogel went on to state, "... mothers, please teach your sons that sexual harassment of
any kind is wrong." Ms. Vogel, if you truly believe this, why limit the plea to just sons? Are
you saying it's acceptable for females to sexually harass men? Remember, many of you
"ladies" have demanded total equality. This equality should go both ways! -- ROGER FROM

DEAR ROGER: I'm sure Ms. Vogel would agree that there is nothing wrong with a man's
"looking" -- what frightened her were the whistles, catcalls and comments she received
from a group of strange men whom she perceived as threatening.

Although many women (and men) sometimes dress to attract attention, vulgar comments
are inexcusable under any circumstances.

** ** **
DEAR ABBY: I am very happily married to a wonderful man whom I trust completely. This is
the second marriage for both of us, so we want it to last.

Our problem is not with ex-spouses, but with his ex-girlfriend. Since we have been married,
she drops by while I am at work and cries all her troubles to him. He has tried everything
from telling her he doesn't want her stopping by to not answering the door, but she still
continues to come by.

My question: What can we do to stop this unwelcome company? -- PUZZLED IN TERRE


DEAR PUZZLED: Your husband should continue not answering the door when she drops by,
and should be "too busy to talk" when she calls.

If the woman doesn't stop making a pest of herself, the logical next step would be to have
your attorney write her a letter informing her that she is guilty of harassment -- the legal
term for persistently annoying another person.

** ** **

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size,
self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear
Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is




DEAR READERS: Last Wednesday I devoted my column to the third in a series of responses
I received from readers when I asked them to tell me how they successfully say no to sex.
Today we'll hear from the teen-agers:

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 13-year-old girl, and I, too, am being pressured to have sex. The boy
has been my best friend for as long as I can remember. I know I should wait, but it's hard
to say no. I tell him, "Being a teen-ager is tough enough. I don't want to risk STDs or
getting pregnant." Girls shouldn't have sex until they're ready to commit. It makes life too
complicated. I'm signing my name, but please don't print it. -- WANTS TO WAIT, PUYALLUP,

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: I'm only 13, and I said no before the guy even asked me. I told him, "I'm too
young and I'm not planning on having sex until I'm married." With AIDS out there, that's a
good plan to me, and I encourage other teen-agers to wait. -13-YEAR-OLD IN MILWAUKEE

** ** **
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 16-year-old virgin. I have been asked several times if I would have sex. I
asked each boy, "If I was to get pregnant, how would you deal with it? Would you drop
everything to support the baby?"

A lot of girls I know think they'll lose their guy if they say no. I say, if that's how it is, what
do they think he'll do when he hears they're pregnant or have a disease? My position is:
When I know my baby will be brought up in a loving home with the help of a good father,
that's the day I'll take that leap -- and not before. -- CARRIE FROM KNOXVILLE, TENN.

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** ** **

DEAR ABBY: I'm a teen-aged girl getting ready to enter college, and I've had plenty of
experience saying no. The most important thing to remember when you say no is to really
mean it. Be completely serious, and if you have to, leave the location. You'd be surprised
how many guys understand when you say no.

This is probably what your parents and teachers have already told you. It's all true; it really
works. But only if you speak plainly. At the risk of sounding like a mother: If a guy doesn't
stick around after you say no, he was probably only after

sex in the first place. -- SAYING NO IN HAMPTON, VA.

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: My ex-boyfriend asked me for sex on many occasions, and every time I had
the same answer: "No." How did I do it? By sticking up for myself and what I believe in; by
knowing I didn't have to if I didn't want to; by realizing I was not prepared for such an
intimate relationship; and by asking myself, "Do I really want this?"

Some advice for other teens like me: If you're doing it for him, because he supposedly
wants to show his love for you, don't even think about it. Don't sacrifice yourself for his
satisfaction. It's not worth it.

Now some advice for parents: Please, talk to your daughters about sex. Tell them they don't
need to do it with a guy to prove their love. We need your assurance more than anything.
You may use my name. -- DAISY YOKLEY

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: I'm a rare jewel among today's teen-age girls. I'm a 19-year-old virgin, and
plan to remain one until I'm married.

When my boyfriend and I began dating, I told him up front my views on premarital sex. He
didn't take me seriously at first and tested me, which led to a big fight. He now understands
that I don't believe in sex before marriage and he respects me for it.

My advice: Be honest, open and straightforward about your views in the beginning, so there
will be no misunderstanding. And if he can't accept it -- drop him! -- A PROUD VIRGIN

DEAR READERS: Next Wednesday, I'll devote another entire column to this important
subject. Stay tuned ...

** ** **

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents
is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen
Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)




DEAR ABBY: I have just been through the worst experience in my life. I am a 22-year-old
woman who was robbed in the apartment I share with a friend, who was away for the
weekend. I spent 14 hours bound and gagged. I have tape marks and rope burns on my
legs and shoulders. Yes, I actually opened my door to a stranger thinking it was the
maintenance man from the complex. A couple (man and woman) pushed themselves in and
held me at knifepoint. I am petite and was no match for either.

They wanted money, bank and credit cards, which I willingly gave them. They told me
they'd have to tie me up. (That actually relieved me since I figured they would have no
need to hurt me and, being fairly agile, I could eventually work myself loose.) Well, they
proceeded to bind my hands behind me with duct tape, and bind my legs and feet with
rope. They taped my mouth and wound the remaining yards of duct tape around my entire
body. For good measure, they plopped me face-down on a bed and bound my hands and
feet together so I couldn't even stretch out. That's how I spent the next 14 hours. I did not
attempt to roll off the bed for fear of breaking a limb, and though I struggled from time to
time, I knew it was hopeless.

When my roommate finally returned, I was as tightly bound as ever. She needed scissors
and a knife to get me free -- and it still took 20 minutes.

Abby, I am telling you all this partially to get it out of my system and also to warn your
readers about opening doors to strangers. I am so embarrassed, I haven't even told my
family, but I sure have learned my lesson. Sign me ... HOMEBOUND IN PHILADELPHIA

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DEAR HOMEBOUND: Thank you for writing to describe your nightmarish experience in order
to warn others. Although you didn't mention doing so, I hope you reported this serious
crime to the police, even though you have not informed your family.

You may also need someone with whom you can talk this out. An excellent resource for this
would be a victims' rights or victims' support group. They are as close as your local phone

Readers, I hope you have instructed your children never to open the door to strangers. Now
vow to use that advice yourselves.

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: You printed a letter I wrote to you about a year ago with some advice to a
woman whose husband had suddenly left her. Today I'm responding to the letter from
"Devastated in Renton, Wash."

She should dump him! The bum I was once married to told me on our honeymoon that a
former girlfriend turned him on more than I did. I should have left him on the spot.
(Hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it?) No one should stay in a marriage that isn't mutually
supportive, respectful and loving.

"Devastated" sounds like a nice person, but her husband is hostile toward women, and he
will never change without extensive counseling and in-depth soul searching to find out why
he is so angry.

Abby, please tell her that the prospects for finding love again aren't all that slim. I got
married last year, at the age of 47, to the most wonderful man in the world, and I am not
tall and slender like "Devastated." Sign me ... BETTER THAN EVER IN PIEDMONT
DEAR BETTER THAN EVER: Congratulations on having found such a wonderful man. As the
old song goes, "Love is wonderful ... the second time around."

Best wishes for continued happiness.

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: I couldn't help but respond to "Steamed's" dilemma about her friend bringing a
salad to Bible study and a hosted lunch.

Her answer lies in the very Bible she is studying: Proverbs 15:17: Better a meal of
vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.

It would be a nice gesture for "Steamed" to prepare a lovely salad lunch the next time it's
her turn to hostess. -- ROCHELLE IN SACRAMENTO

** ** **

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested --

poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money
order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris,
Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)




DEAR ABBY: I usually agree with your advice, but you missed the boat when you sided with
the woman who thought it was improper to have a cash bar at a wedding reception.

Serving liquor has become a liability even if you serve it to a guest in your home. If the
guest leaves your home and is arrested or has an accident, is the guest blamed? No, the
person who provided the alcohol is at fault. A nasty lawsuit can result, not to mention
personal injury should an accident occur.

Did the woman feel she was entitled to free liquor because she sent an "appropriate gift"
from one of the "best stores"? Attending the wedding, being part of the celebration and
attending the reception wasn't enough? Does free liquor make the event more meaningful? I
think not.

Unfortunately, people invariably drink more when the drinks are free. Paying for each drink
is a reminder of how many drinks they have had. A cash bar at a wedding reception is
indeed proper. Guests who must have alcoholic beverages can pay for them and bear the
DEAR TIMES HAVE CHANGED: Ouch! I was soundly clobbered for having agreed that a cash
bar at a wedding reception was improper. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: You told a reader that a cash bar at a wedding reception was not proper. You
are out of touch -- it IS proper. The key word is LIABILITY. An open bar may lead to
overindulgence. Overindulgence may lead to automobile or other accidents. If the bar is
free, the liability may be that of the host. If the wedding guests are charged for their drinks,
it not only tends to slow them down, but puts the responsibility on the

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Please do not use my name. My husband is a retired attorney and he refuses to

acknowledge my law degree by osmosis. Sign me ... M. FROM OREGON

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: In the great state of Minnesota where lawsuits are running rampant, a cash bar
is the only way to go.

The hotel or restaurant has the necessary insurance to cover any liabilities. If YOU provide
the liquor, YOU are liable for anyone leaving drunk and killing themselves or others.

Have you ever seen what happens when free liquor is provided? People drink three times as
much as they would if they had to pay for it.

A good idea is to provide alcohol-free champagne and toast the couple; then let the guests
buy their own drinks.

The last wedding reception we went to had a free keg of beer. When the keg was empty,
they played "Taps." Tacky? Yes. Funny? Very. -- JEANNE GRATES, PLYMOUTH, MINN.

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: "Confused in Connecticut" implied that she gave wedding gifts in exchange for
unlimited free drinks.

Abby, I could have been the bride at that wedding, so I hope you will air my side of the

I wanted my reception to be held at some out-of-the-way place that was absolutely "dry" --
not because of my religious beliefs, but because I was horrified to think what could happen
if my family had unlimited free booze. However, my mother insisted on having the reception
at her favorite restaurant.
The manager tried to persuade me to have an open bar plus a champagne fountain, but I
convinced him that it would not be a good idea by relating a few horror stories about my
cousin's wedding. Unfortunately, I couldn't do anything about the main bar upstairs. At least
the distance of the main bar from the reception and the expense of paying for their own
drinks kept the lid on things.

I suppose I could have eloped, but I took the risk because I really wanted a wedding. My
mother had looked forward to planning it, and my future husband and his parents expected
one. I just didn't want my reception to involve a lot of police officers and emergency room

Please don't use my name. Sign me ... WANTED TO RIDE IN A LIMO, NOT A PADDY WAGON

** ** **

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely
Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for

($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447,




DEAR ABBY: I am 68 years old and have been a widow for 10 years. The gentleman I am
dating (I'll call him Jim) is 72 and has been a widower for seven years. We have been dating
for five years.

Recently we attended the 50th anniversary party for some longtime friends of Jim's. After
the dinner, the couple opened their gifts and read the cards aloud to the guests. Imagine
my shock when Jim's card was read. He had signed it "Jim and Margaret" -- Margaret was
his wife's name!

I immediately told him how hurt I was, and he said he saw nothing wrong with signing his
deceased wife's name to the card. He said he and Margaret had been best friends of the
honored couple for over 40 years, and he wanted to keep Margaret's memory alive in their
thoughts through this gift.

I was deeply hurt by Jim's actions, both in signing the card as he did and having no regrets
about doing so.

Abby, do you think I'm wasting precious time in this relationship? -- HURT IN CHERRY HILL,
DEAR HURT: Signing the card "Jim and Margaret" was indeed in poor taste in view of the
fact that you and he have been dating for the last five years. He is living in the past. But
before breaking off your relationship because of a single thoughtless act, ask yourself if you
would be better off WITH him or WITHOUT him.

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: I read your column faithfully and have a couple of suggestions that could be of
great help to your readers.

1. The names of all medications should be written on a card along with the correct
dosage, how many times a day it must be taken and what it is for. The card should
be carried at all times.
2. No one should leave home without a typewritten note with his or her name on it,
stating whom to notify in case of an accident. It should NOT be placed in a purse or
wallet; it should be placed in a pocket, in case the person is unconscious or the
victim of a violent crime. All too often purses, wallets and ID "disappear," and there
is no way to identify the person, or notify relatives or friends what their medical
problems might be. -- EUGENE J. CARADEUC, DALY CITY, CALIF.

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DEAR MR. CARADEUC: It's wise for people to carry a medication card and a note for
identification, but it's also imperative for those with serious medical conditions to wear a
medical tag providing medical information and a telephone number where a

more complete summary of emergency information is available. (Order blanks are usually
available at local pharmacies.)

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been having an ongoing "discussion" during the four
years of our marriage. The disagreement involves who precedes whom when locating a
place to sit upon entering a restaurant when a host/hostess doesn't seat you.

I am 49 years old and have always been preceded by my escort down the church aisle to
locate a seat. He then steps back and lets me enter the pew first. The situation has always
been similarly handled in eating establishments.

My husband believes that the woman always precedes the man in any situation. Who's

DEAR JEANNIE: Your husband. According to Emily Post and Letitia Baldrige, the woman
precedes the man in both situations.
In a restaurant, the lady precedes the man to the table and seats herself, or waits for her
escort to pull her chair out for her.

In church, she sits in the selected pew, then slides over for her mate or escort.

** ** **

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter
Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)


DEAR ABBY: My father died when I was 10. My world spun out of control for a few years
because I had lost my hero -- the man I most admired. Since I wanted to grow up to be like
my dad, I was always looking for someone like him to be my friend. Fortunately, I was
blessed with several who served as mentors and taught me what my dad would have had
he lived.

Today, I am 51, and while I mentor others, I am still very close to two mentors of my own.
May I pass on some advice from one who transformed the quality of my life and my
mother's too:

I have the best mom in the world. She's tough as a water buffalo, opinionated, thinks I
could have been president and still nags me to eat more vegetables.

Three years ago, my mentor suggested I call my mother every day just to hear her voice, to
let her hear mine, to hear about her day -- and tell her that I love her.

I eat one meal a week with Mom, usually dinner, but sometimes lunch or breakfast. This
past week, I didn't get a chance to share a meal with her, and since she was leaving town
Friday morning with an elderly friend, I drove over to see her Thursday night. While there,
she asked me to review her map from AAA, and we spent about 20 minutes looking it over.
Before I left, Mom told me how relieved she was that we had looked over the route and that
I knew where she was going.

The last time I was there, I changed two batteries in her garage door opener, and the time
before, I used the blower to clean out her garage and she served me a delicious pot roast.

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Today I have a priceless relationship with my mom, thanks to the advice of my mentor. I'm
as attentive to her as my father would be if he were alive -- I am indeed my father's son.
Diana Ross was right. You can reach out and touch someone, and in so doing, change their
world -- and yours too. -- A DEVOTED SON, PHOENIX

DEAR DEVOTED SON: Those who spread joy invariably reap a good measure for

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: About the husband who phoned his wife's boss to say she would not be in that
day due to a death in the family: When asked who died, he stammered, and it was obvious
he didn't know. I can beat that.

The New York City Department of Corrections gives its officers three days of paid
"bereavement" time. Since no one checks up, and the policy is so generous, relatives drop
like flies. (Always during the holidays or when beautiful weather is forecast.)

One guy I work with has had the worst luck imaginable. This spring his mother died for the
fourth time in seven years. I'm not kidding. -- C.O. IN STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.

DEAR C.O.: My condolences to the officer who lost his mother -- again. But someone should
warn this guy that by the time her ninth life is over, the personnel department may have
learned to add. The Department of Corrections should be using only the most efficient time-
management techniques, at least for those uniformed men and women on the right side of
the bars.

** ** **

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person,
order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or
money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447,
Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)


DEAR ABBY: I am asking you to please help us alert all Americans about the danger of
children becoming involved with drugs. The best preventative is for parents to take the time
to consistently talk to their children about drugs, alcohol and tobacco from the time they are
old enough to understand. I can think of no better way to get this important message
before the public than your column, and that's why I hope you'll print my letter to parents. -

DEAR GEN. MC CAFFREY: It is a pleasure to help spread the word. Your vital message is one
that all parents should take to heart:

DEAR PARENTS: As your children begin this new school year, take the time to talk to them
about the dangers posed by illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

Some questions and answers to get you started discussing these topics with your children:
-- Why should you avoid illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine
and LSD? Because your central nervous system is still developing. If you use these drugs,
you risk impairing that development and causing permanent brain damage.

Psychoactive drugs affect your brain and impair judgment. Under their influence, you are
more likely to endanger your life or a friend's. You will be less able to protect yourself from
physical or sexual assault.

These drugs are addictive. You are not in control of how they affect you. You could become
dependent on them very quickly. Smoking marijuana is illegal and a possible gateway to
more dangerous drugs. A 12-year-old who smokes marijuana is 79 times as likely to have
an addictive problem later in life as a non-marijuana-using child.

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-- Why should you avoid alcohol (including beer, wine, wine coolers and mixed drinks)?
Because alcohol is the second leading cause of preventable death in our nation, claiming
more than 100,000 lives a year.

Adolescents are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal, alcohol-related crash as adults.

Half of sexual assault and date-rape cases involve alcohol.

Alcohol-related driving accidents, violence and suicide are the three greatest causes of
death among American youth.

Drinking is illegal if you are under 21.

-- Why shouldn't you smoke cigarettes? Because nicotine is the leading cause of preventable
death in our nation, claiming more than 400,000 lives a year.

Each day another 3,000 kids will begin smoking. One-third of them will probably have their
lives shortened as a result.

Children who smoke cigarettes are 5.9 times more likely to use other illegal drugs. A 1994
study by Columbia University's Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse found that 83
percent of those who used cocaine identified smoking cigarettes as a gateway behavior.

It is important to speak CONSISTENTLY to your children about these dangerous drugs

throughout the year, not just at the beginning of the school year. About one in 10 of our
children aged 12 to 17 are now using illegal drugs. They do not understand

the associated risks. You can help your children appreciate what's at stake if they smoke
cigarettes, drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. If you don't, your child is more likely to risk his
or her mental and physical health.
** ** **

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested --

poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money
order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris,
Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)




DEAR ABBY: I am a 66-year-old married man. My wife and I were childhood sweethearts
and have been married for 46 years.

Six years ago, she developed Alzheimer's disease and has been in a nursing home for the
last year.

Even though she does not recognize me or our children, I have gone to visit her every day,
until six months ago when I reduced it to twice a week because she had no idea who I was,
which I found very depressing. The nursing staff and my children noticed my depression and
encouraged me to "break away." As I reduced my visits, I wound up with a guilty
conscience that is difficult to cope with.

My children have encouraged me to seek female companionship, something I had longed

for, but I was concerned about what others would think.

However, for the last four months I have been romantically involved with a 62-year-old
neighbor lady whose husband died nine years ago. We have taken a few trips together. My
children and brothers and sisters enthusiastically approve of our relationship and say they
have noticed a positive change in me.

Abby, my guilt feelings have increased even though I haven't changed my visiting routine to
the nursing home. I would greatly appreciate your comments on my situation. -- TORN IN

DEAR TORN: I can understand your feelings of guilt. Fate has placed you between a rock
and a hard place. You are a married man with an absentee wife.

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A psychiatrist, psychologist, grief counselor or clergyperson could help you absolve those
If there is an Alzheimer's support group in your area, join it. There are thousands of support
groups for caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, and the national office of the Alzheimer's
Association (1-800-272-3900) will be happy to refer you.

Incidentally, on Oct. 5 and 6 in more than 200 communities, the Alzheimer's Association will
hold its 1996 Memory Walk, the only nationwide event for Alzheimer's disease, to raise
funds for caregiver programs.

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: I am 36 years old and my husband is 38. We have been married three years.
This is a second marriage for both of us, and I consider myself the luckiest woman in the

I have never had children but my husband has one -- a 10-year-old son who is living with
his mother in another state.

Abby, I am tired of being asked, "When are you two going to have a family?"

I honestly do not want children and my husband doesn't want children -- in fact he had a
vasectomy shortly after his son was born.

What do you tell people who keep asking, "When are you two going to have a family?" --

DEAR SICK OF IT: Use the "Dear Abby" response when you are asked a question you don't
want to answer:

"If you'll forgive me for not answering, I'll forgive you for asking."

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: My father-in-law is basically a nice person, but after 20 years, he has yet to
recognize me as a person. I am simply "Ken's wife."

I have been a very conscientious daughter-in-law, remembering all the special occasions,
Father's Day, his birthday, etc. But despite my efforts he still treats me like I am invisible.

Each Christmas, he presents my husband with a nice check (in front of me). It is in an
envelope bearing Ken's name. I try to ignore the slight, but each time I feel that I have
been slapped in the face.

Abby, am I being petty? Or do I have a point? -- SENSITIVE CANADIAN

DEAR CANADIAN: You are not being "petty" and you do have a point. Your father-in-law is
incredibly insensitive. Your husband should "educate" him in the social graces. He should
remind his Dad that you have a name.

** ** **
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents
is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen
Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)




DEAR READERS: Over the past three weeks, I have devoted each Wednesday's column
entirely to the intelligent and heartfelt responses I've received since I asked readers to tell
me how they just said "no" to sex. Today's is the last in this series.

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: How should a girl diplomatically say "no"? She can say, "Take me home and
we'll see if it's OK with my parents." Or, "Let's wait until I get my blood test back." Both
suggestions should cool the young man's ardor.

But if the situation has progressed so far that sex is the next step, the girl has already gone
far beyond the point where she should have said no, and there's no longer a way to be
diplomatic or pleasant. I offer some suggestions on what to say then, and the young lady
should speak loud and clear: "Take me home. What's the matter with you? My daddy will
make you a soprano!" "When were you last checked for a sexually transmitted disease?"
"Did you know my father likes to come out here and see who's making out?"

I hope these suggestions prove helpful. Hang in there, Abby. You make the world a better
place. I'm an avid fan, but please don't print my name. I'm ... A (MALE) DENTIST IN

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: Our daughter has given "promise rings" to her three daughters. Each ring was
presented on an evening when one of the boyfriends was present. When each girl accepted
it, she made a promise to her parents, to us (her grandparents) and to God that she would
not have sex before marriage. They never take the ring off.

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Perhaps this is simplistic, but a girl can display her ring and repeat the promise she made,
should the need arise. -- GERI WALTMAN, GRAND MEADOW, MINN.
** ** **

DEAR ABBY: I'm 24 years old. I've been pregnant and have also had an STD. I know
firsthand how difficult it is to say "no." It's not a matter of being rude. It's a fear of not
being liked if you don't have sex, not being aggressive enough to refuse, and wanting
someone to make you feel "loved." Abby, it's scary to say no, especially if you have low
self-esteem. But I've finally learned to do it.

Sometimes I still feel self-conscious -- and scared, too. But that's natural. What's not
natural is being 16 or 17 or 18 and being alone and pregnant or having AIDS.

It's OK to be rude if you have to be, and it's also OK to say "no." If you feel like you can't
say "no, that's when you have to muster up your self-confidence and say, "Who cares if this
person doesn't like me? I like myself and care enough about myself enough to refuse!" --

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: My advice to women and girls who want to avoid unwanted sexual encounters:
Tell them up front that you're not ready for sex. Avoid sexual situations. Stay out of
bedrooms, back seats and dark corners. Use your head and stick with the group. Don't use
alcohol or drugs, or the drug will be making the decision -- not you. Be as rude as you have
to be and don't worry about it! Your long-range plans for yourself are important -- and
they'll be better served if you are tagged "rude" rather than "easy."

Listen to me: I made every mistake in the book, and my children and I paid a terrible price
for it. You young women are our future. You are beautiful. You are important. Your lives are
worthwhile. Take care of your lives and the children you will someday have. Please! --

** ** **

DEAR READERS: Thank you for your eloquent and caring letters. I was touched by how
many of you wrote to share your experiences in the hope that they might help someone
else. I regret that space limitations prevent me from printing them all.

** ** **

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely
Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for
$3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount




DEAR ABBY: I am hoping that you will be able to answer a question that has been bothering
me for years. What is a "gay lifestyle"?
I am a 40-year-old gay male and don't have a clue as to what a gay lifestyle is. My life
partner, David, and I have been together 15 years and have jointly adopted three special-
needs children. We live in the suburbs in a middle-class neighborhood, at the end of a cul-
de-sac. Like most of our gay and lesbian friends, we don't smoke, drink alcohol or go to
bars. Our children go to public school with the rest of the children in the neighborhood.

Once a friend told me what he thought was a gay lifestyle, but by the sound of it, he was
describing a single's lifestyle, gay or straight. Is that what some people mean, that is, a gay
lifestyle is synonymous with a single lifestyle?

If there is such a thing as a gay lifestyle, doesn't that automatically mean that there is a
"heterosexual lifestyle"? And if this is true, what is a heterosexual lifestyle? I have sincerely
been asking people and no one has been able to give me an answer. -- MICHAEL SERKIN-

DEAR MICHAEL: Fair questions. In Eric Marcus' informative book "Is It a Choice?"
(HarperSanFrancisco), he answers this way: "After watching countless news reports and
occasional documentaries over the years about gay people -- gay men, mostly -the most
popular image of gay life that has been seared into the minds of most Americans is the
urban, single nightlife led by some gay men -- and plenty of straight people as well --
during the 1970s.

"As hard as it might be to believe, there is no such thing as a 'gay lifestyle,' just as there is
no such thing as a heterosexual lifestyle. Gay and lesbian people, like heterosexual people,
live in a variety of ways, from poor to middle-class to nouveau riche, from urban to rural."

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** ** **

DEAR ABBY: I am writing in response to the opinion of "Ex-Waitress," who apparently has a
problem when a good server approaches her on a personal level.

When someone (anyone, anywhere), even the "person who has been hired to serve her,"
tells her that her "hair is pretty" or "that's a beautiful blouse," offense should be the last
thing that crosses her mind. Helllooo!!! She has just been given a compliment on her great
taste -- not a conversation, just a compliment; that's it.

I have been a waitress for 12 years and I love my job. It's the most enjoyable work I have
ever done. The money's good, too, thanks to the many customers who don't penalize their
server when they receive a compliment. Should I take offense when a customer likes my
hair? No, I shouldn't.
My tip to "Ex-Waitress": Either stay home and eat, or try a vending machine. Then there will
be no conversation that may offend her. With such an unpleasant attitude, it's no wonder


DEAR HAPPY WAITRESS: Your "tip" to "Ex-Waitress" is probably one of the most valuable
tips she'll ever receive. Let's hope she takes it.

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: I call my sister in another state very often because of an illness in her family.
When things are particularly bad, I call her every night.

These calls are quite expensive for me, and my sister has no consideration about the length
of time she talks. She will gab on and on about her neighbors and incidents that I really
don't care about when it's on my dime. It would be boring to me even if I lived around the
corner from her.

If I remind her that this is long distance and I'm hearing a lot about nothing instead of
what's going on with the sick relative, she gets highly insulted and calls me "cheap."

I care about the ailing family member and will continue to call, but how can I reduce the
expense and aggravation and get my sister to be more considerate? -- PALM SPRINGS

DEAR PALM SPRINGS SISTER: Tell your sister at the beginning of the call that you have
only a couple of minutes to find out how her relative is doing, and that you'll talk longer
another time.

** ** **

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter
Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)




DEAR ABBY: I am writing in response to "No More Noxious Ads," who was allergic to
perfume samples in women's magazines. I, too, am offended by these pullouts; however,
what offends me more is the seemingly unenlightened content in these same publications,
and others, at the checkout stands across the country.

Some of the explicit articles now printed in women's magazines remind me of the trash
published 20 years ago in Playboy. This kind of garbage disguised as "helpful hints" used to
be considered X-rated -- certainly not acceptable in decent company.
Why do these publishers continue to print explicit and shocking attempts to destroy the
moral fiber of our nation? As human beings, we should have loftier goals than learning new
ways to titillate our already fragile social condition, all to the exclusion of making
meaningful leaps forward.

I am not a conservative, religious-right anti-feminist, but I am tired of all the focus on sex
these days. Are your other readers similarly irked? Maybe publishers would listen if your
mail indicated significant numbers of displeased women looking

for a forum. -- D.S. IN KENT, WASH.

DEAR D.S. IN KENT: Publishers of women's magazines that some people find offensive will
not listen to me or my readers. They are operating under the assumption that sex sells.
They do, however, pay attention to numbers, and only when their circulation shows an
impressive decline will they clean up their act.

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** ** **

DEAR ABBY: I am writing to "Oldest Sibling, Too," who was concerned about her first child's
reaction to the attention his new sister was receiving.

I am the mother of two children who are 18 months apart in age. When we were expecting
baby No. 2, I made a point of reminding family members and close friends that our son was
too young to understand a lot of extra attention being given to a new baby. After all,
"Nicole" was not used to the attention that is heaped on small children, but "Andrew" was.
This helped remind them to be more considerate of his feelings while admiring the new

While on shopping trips and outings, people often stopped to comment on the new baby.
Many times Andrew was asked questions about his sister. However, when he was
overlooked, I made the effort for him to be included by encouraging him to reply to simple
questions. For instance, if they asked the name of the baby, I would in turn ask Andrew if
he could tell the nice people his sister's name. I believe this helped keep him from taking a
back seat to the new baby, as well as helping develop his vocabulary.

Andrew is now 5 and Nicole is 3 1/2. They are extremely close and have no problems with
sibling rivalry. Andrew is very protective, and he now tries to include Nicole if someone
leaves her out of a conversation. -- PROUD MOTHER, LOS ANGELES

DEAR PROUD MOTHER: You have every right to be proud. Nipping the inevitable sibling
rivalry in the bud is no easy task. Other mothers should take a page out of your book.
** ** **

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person,
order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or
money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447,
Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included




DEAR ABBY: My husband and I adopted three children when they were infants. They are in
their teens now and have always known they were adopted.

We have told them that if they wanted to know more about their birth mother, we would tell
them. All three have said they had no interest in knowing.

Two years ago, out of the blue, I received a letter stating, "I am your daughter's 'real'
mother and I would like to see her."

Abby, this letter was addressed to us at our home. (We had been assured by the attorney
who handled the adoption that the biological parents would never have this information.) I
feel angry and betrayed.

We have not shared this letter with our daughter but on the day we received it, we asked
her again if she wanted to know more about her background. She laughed and said, "Why
would I need it?"

Should I take her at her word? I have the feeling this may come up again. What would you

DEAR FEELING GUILTY: I would be honest and tell my daughter that I had received a letter
from her birth mother expressing a desire to meet her. If the girl still has no interest in
meeting the woman, I would ask her to write a short letter to that

effect. Forward it to the birth mother and request that she not try to contact your daughter
again while she's still a minor.

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: We recently attended the wedding of a grandson of a very dear friend, and
sent the couple a lovely gift of china and silver. Imagine our surprise when we received the
following thank-you note, which I'm enclosing (I've changed the names):

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"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Jones,

"Thanks so much for the beautiful 5PPS and for 5PCP1S. That was very kind of you. Love,
Sue and George"

My husband thinks we ought to write Sue and George and ask them what "5PPS" and
"5PCP1S" mean, so we can be sure they received the lovely place settings we sent them.

We'd have to ask our friends for the couple's address, and I'd hate to have to tell them
about the note. Is this format acceptable nowadays or are we completely out of step? --

DEAR DUMBFOUNDED: I, too, was dumbfounded, so I called the department store from
which you purchased the gift. "5PPS" and "5PCP1S" are the manufacturer's stock codes for
the silver and china place settings you sent. I'm sure your gift was received, but whether
the carton had been opened and the contents examined at the time the thank-you note was
written is debatable.

Don't embarrass the grandparents by calling the note to their attention. But let's hope the
couple gain some experience in properly expressing their appreciation before it's time to
send them a baby gift.

** ** **

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal
With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money
order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount
Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)




DEAR ABBY: I have taken to heart your suggestions regarding how to help oneself come out
of bereavement; that is, to do volunteer work.

My husband died of cancer last March. He was able to remain at home to the end with the
help of hospice, which was a godsend.

My parents live on the East Coast and I am way out here on the West Coast, but I have
been able to get beyond this with the help of friends and the bereavement support group
connected with the hospital. I focused on giving back to society by volunteering at the
hospital. Since I work five days a week, I can only do this on Saturday or Sunday, so I am
now the receptionist for four hours every Saturday in the intensive care unit.

It has been such a rewarding experience. I have been able to help people simply by being
there. At the end of my shift, I feel as though I have been meditating.

I just wanted to let you know that your suggestion to do volunteer work has helped me. --

DEAR SHIRLEY: It gives me great pleasure to know that you were able to lighten your
burden because of something you read in my column. Bless you.

** ** **

DEAR READERS: Many of you responded to Juanita Baker's suggestion that I ask my
readers to share unselfish acts of kindness they have experienced. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: When my husband suffered a stroke last year, I needed an extension on the
sidewalk next to our home to accommodate his wheelchair. An acquaintance of ours did
cement work, so I asked if he'd take the job.

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He came in the evenings and worked late, so I know his wife had to delay meals. When he
finished, I asked for the bill. He said, "No charge. Maybe you can do a good turn for
someone else."

I just stood there and cried. -- DORIS OAKBERG, SACRAMENTO

DEAR ABBY: When Dr. Larry Vancil suffered a cerebral hemorrhage that put him in a coma
for weeks and out of his practice for five months, many of his good friends in the dental
profession jumped in at a moment's notice and kept his practice going.

These dentists gave up their days off and rearranged their schedules to go to Dr. Vancil's
office to treat his patients. What a tremendous loving act of kindness by many! -- CATHY

DEAR ABBY: Forty years ago, I was a poor student working my way through U.C.-Berkeley.
I didn't have enough money to pay my laboratory fees for the courses I wanted to take.
Myrtle Mayer, a counselor for young adults in a community church, loaned me the money I
needed to stay in school. I kept track of the amount, and when I got a job, I tried to repay
Mrs. Mayer. She said, "I didn't miss it ... pass it on."

That has been my motto ever since. "Passing it on" is the best way to repay a kindness. --
DEAR ABBY: When my husband was discharged from the hospital in Newnan, Ga., after
surgery, I drove to the front door to pick him up. An aide had wheeled him outside to meet

A young man sitting in front of the building called my attention to the flat tire on my car. I
had never changed a tire in my life, and my husband was in no condition to change it.

The young man said, "I'll change it for you." As I chatted with him, I learned that he had
just visited his father, who was terminally ill. In spite of his own problems, he took time to
help a stranger in distress. God bless him! -- CAROL LANDAICHE, PEACHTREE CITY, GA.

DEAR READERS: I plan to share more acts of kindness in the future. Watch this space.

** ** **

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested --

poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money
order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris,
Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)




DEAR ABBY: I am constantly amazed at what irks people. Why are we so intolerant? This
time, I am referring to "William's Widow in Mesa, Ariz.," who was upset that others were not
using her "legal signature" since her husband's death. Why would her

legal name be "William"?

When I married, I took my husband's last name, not his first. I have a first name my
parents gave me and I am proud to have added my husband's surname to my own. That
combination is my "legal name."

I believe that most women of the baby boom generation prefer to be known by their own
names. -- MY OWN PERSON

DEAR PERSON: I received many letters from younger women who disagreed with my
answer that "only divorced women are addressed as 'Mrs.' followed by their first names. A
widow keeps her husband's name until she remarries." Read on:

DEAR ABBY: May I respond to the letter from "William's Widow in Mesa, Ariz."? She wanted
to be known as "Mrs. William Jones," not "Mrs. Mae Jones." I was surprised that you agreed
with her.

I have been married to a wonderful man for 2 1/2 years, and I was happy to change my
maiden name to his. However, my first name is not "Robert," and I do not want to be called
"Mrs. Robert Anybody"!
Isn't it enough for women to give up their last names? Must we surrender our first names as
well? If so, then I'll have to be branded a breacher of etiquette because I insist on being
known, socially and professionally, as "Susan," not "Robert." -- SUSAN IN CHESAPEAKE, VA.

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DEAR SUSAN: Traditionally, a widow retains her husband's name, and that custom is
supported by the etiquette books. However, in view of the protests I received (which appear
to be generational), I hereby revise my answer: A widow should be addressed by the name
she prefers. In this matter, her wishes should prevail.

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: I have a friend who is incredibly self-conscious about her appearance. She is
only 30 years old, petite, beautiful (both inside and out), but Abby, she wears so much
makeup she looks like a hooker.

Friends have hinted that she doesn't need so much makeup. I have also tried to suggest
tactfully that she would look much better if she toned down the cosmetics, but she insists
she "needs" it to hide her wrinkles. Abby, she should not worry about

the wrinkles -- it's her makeup that ages her by at least 10 years.

Because she is my friend, the comments people make about her bother me. Telling her
again is useless, but maybe if she reads this letter in your column she will recognize herself
and take the hint. -- A TRUE FRIEND

DEAR TRUE FRIEND: Don't bet on it.

One of the most thankless of all well-meaning gestures is offering a friend unsolicited
advice. Instead of criticizing her appearance, ask her to join you in a visit to a department
store's cosmetic counter for a makeover to learn the latest makeup "tricks."

If she declines, accept her for the inner qualities that make her special.

** ** **

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or
money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447,
Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY: Why do people assume that happiness comes only with a relationship or
marriage? I am a 24-year-old, happy, successful mother who enjoys the single life. I loved
my son's father very much but things did not work out for us, and he hasn't been around for
three years. I work at least 50 hours a week at my dream job, and enjoy my evening and
weekend time with my 5-year-old son.

However, everywhere I go I hear how I "need" someone, or people ask how I can stand to
sleep alone every night. (I love it!) I have been told by men wanting a relationship that it is
"unnatural" to prefer being single and that my son "needs" a father.

Abby, my son is well-adjusted and has a grandpa and two uncles he spends a lot of time
with. My parents have a wonderful loving marriage after 34 years, and I think that's great,
but it is also unusual in this day and age. I may marry someday, but right now I'm enjoying
the time with my son and an occasional date. Why can't people understand that? -- ALONE

DEAR ALONE: Many people feel they need someone else to make them "complete."
Obviously, you are a strong and fulfilled individual in your own right, and you should not
have to explain or defend your choice to anyone.

DEAR ABBY: I am a clergyman, and over the course of my 32 years in ministry, I have
officiated at hundreds of weddings. I can't tell you the number of times the bride has gotten
tangled up in her wedding gown, or tripped up the aisle or lost her veil. Some of them
appear so awkward, and it's sad to see them floundering around in billows of fabric.

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As the wedding season is upon us, may I suggest that bridal shops give brides some
pointers about the dress they will wear. There must be techniques they can learn for their
important day so they don't end up looking so silly. And is it possible for brides to practice
at home so that they learn how to maneuver the dress? -- REVEREND IN N.J.

DEAR REVEREND: Those are good suggestions. Brides should practice walking in their
gowns and bridal slippers. It will give them confidence and possibly prevent embarrassment
or an injury.
DEAR ABBY: My father died 20 years ago. During his final illness my mother purchased two
side-by-side cemetery plots in the town in which I grew up. My mother still lives there,
although some of us kids have moved out of state.

I am writing because after 20 years, my father still does not have a gravestone. As a
veteran, he got a military marker, but that's not a gravestone, and it's sinking into the
ground. Since Mom is still with us, is the gravestone any of my business? (She has not
remarried.) I have kept my mouth shut for almost two decades now, but I feel this is
disrespectful to my father. Money to buy a gravestone is not a problem for Mom or for us
children. Any suggestions? -- R.I.P'D OFF IN WALLA WALLA, WASH.

DEAR R.I.P.'D: Since your mother is still with you, discuss your feelings with her. It may be
the result of gross procrastination, or a grave oversight.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal
With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money
order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount
Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)



DEAR ABBY: Although the crime rate has been dropping nationwide for the past several
years, our citizens still fear being victimized. Of the crimes that are committed, the majority
could have been avoided if the victim had taken some preventive measures.

Most law enforcement agencies have crime prevention specialists available to their citizens
free of charge. A wide variety of literature and training courses are available to the business
and residential communities. Some of the training and programs offered are: auto theft
prevention, personal safety, fraud prevention, workplace violence prevention, robbery
prevention and survival, Neighborhood Watch, programs for senior citizens, and burglary
prevention -- including on-site security inspections of homes and businesses.

Parents tell their children not to talk to strangers, but most children who are abducted are
taken by someone they know. The Internet can be a very dangerous place for a child. These
and other child safety issues can be addressed by a crime prevention specialist.

Anyone can become the victim of a crime. As a police officer, I assure you that we would
rather educate people in crime prevention techniques than work with them as crime victims.
Abby, I would encourage your readers to contact their local law enforcement agency to find
out what crime prevention services are offered and take advantage of those services. When
it comes to criminal activity, an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure. -- GARRY

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DEAR CHIEF CUOSO-VASQUEZ: Thank you for a thought-provoking letter. I'm sure that
many readers will be pleasantly surprised to know about the crime prevention programs
that are available in their communities simply by asking their local police departments for

DEAR ABBY: This is another letter on the subject of grandparents raising grandchildren.

When I was 55, I took early retirement because our two grandsons, ages 8 and 6, came to
live with us while their grandma worked and their mother went back to school.

For the next several years, they divided their time between their mother and us, sometimes
staying with us for several months. The older boy made it permanent when he was 16, and
stayed until he finished school and went out on his own. Now 20, he still sends me a
present for Father's Day.

My younger grandson, now 18, is living with his mother and stepfather. When he graduated
from advanced infantry training at Fort Benning, Ga., guess who was invited to attend? I
must have been the proudest grandpa there.

Raising teen-agers wasn't easy. There were quarrels and raised voices, but we got over it.
We loved them when they were here and missed them when they were gone. Would I do it
again? Absolutely! I wouldn't change a thing. -- GLENN R. SHARP, PROUD GRANDPA,

DEAR GLENN: What an inspirational story of how love can bind a family together! You are
justifiably proud. My congratulations on a job well done.

NOT CONFIDENTIAL TO MORT PHILLIPS: Happy 60th anniversary, Darling! Every night is
New Year's Eve and every day is Thanksgiving since I married you. Thank you for making
me the luckiest woman alive.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested --

poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money
order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris,
Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)




DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Earl," and I married when I was 23 and he was 26. We had
dated for five years long-distance. We moved to an area where he could get a job -- 15
hours from my home in Connecticut, but only two hours from his home in South Carolina.
Since I am a teacher, I have more flexibility.

During the first year, Earl quit his job to go to college. He also began an affair, which
resulted in his moving out of our apartment and moving in with his girlfriend, who was also
married. Because of state law, we had to be separated a full year before filing for divorce.

The year is just about to end. I have moved to New Jersey and Earl has gone back to his
original job. After six months of not seeing or hearing from him, he called my family to get
my phone number. Now Earl is saying that he has realized his mistakes and is straightening
out his life -- yet he is still living with his girlfriend! He suggested that divorce is "not
needed" and that "possibly" things may work between us.

Abby, I am not a silly schoolgirl thinking her knight has returned, but should I EVER (even if
not now) give Earl the chance to re-establish the relationship that was so strong between us
for 5 1/2 years, as purely friends? My friends doubt whether I could ever trust him as a
friend, but should he be given the chance? -- SOON TO BE A GEN-EX STATISTIC

DEAR SOON TO BE: You have nothing to lose by listening to what your soon-to-be-ex has to
say. But remain skeptical until he leaves his girlfriend. Even if he wants to revive the
marriage, do not agree until the two of you have had many months of marriage counseling.

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DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have been together for two years. We live together. I am
29 and he is 31. I love him and think we have a great relationship.

His mother passed away last summer. The nursing home she was in took all her savings and
she didn't have funeral insurance, so the costs for everything rested on the two of us. While
he has two older sisters and one older brother, two of them didn't even come to the
memorial service or help pay for the funeral costs. We chose to have her cremated.

We had very little money at the time, but a minister friend of mine held a lovely church
memorial service in her honor, and my father held the repast at his home. My divorced
parents made sandwiches and drinks for my boyfriend's family, and one of my boyfriend's
sisters graciously paid for 75 percent of the cremation costs.
A few days after the service, his sister returned home and his mother's ashes were left with
us. None of the children want them, and for the past year my boyfriend has stored them in
our bedroom closet. I am uncomfortable with them being there. I really liked his mother a
lot and have a problem seeing that box of ashes every morning when I get dressed for

How should I broach this with my boyfriend? -- HAUNTED IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR HAUNTED: Since the remains make you uncomfortable, suggest to your boyfriend
that his mother's ashes deserve a more dignified resting place than a box in a bedroom
closet. Then go with him to investigate the cost of placing her ashes in one of the local
cemeteries, and discuss payment plans.

Another option: According to the Funeral and Memorial Societies of America, as of 1998 it's
legal in all 50 states to scatter ashes. Perhaps you can find an appropriate and meaningful
spot for her remains.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person,
order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or
money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity




DEAR ABBY: Last year, my husband and I retired to a small town in which our son lives. He
and his wife have two children, and ever since we moved here, they frequently call to say
that the children want to come over and "visit." The visits last from four to 12 hours, since
they both work.

Abby, it has gotten to the point where we have no freedom anymore. They have made no
provisions for a sitter this summer, so they probably expect us to keep the children
whenever we are at home. How can we let them know that we are available in emergencies,
but every day is getting to be too much? We don't want to hurt their feelings. -- TIRED

DEAR TIRED GRANDMA: If caring for the grandchildren has become a burden, you must be
honest with your children and tell them exactly what you have told me. Finding reliable day
care can be time-consuming, so unless you want the children "visiting" with you all summer,
the time to announce your unavailability is right now.
DEAR ABBY: My mother passed away more than seven years ago, and on her deathbed she
asked me to make sure my little sister was given a beautiful wedding, like the one she and
my father had given me six weeks earlier. Of course I agreed because my sister is my very
best friend and I need to honor my mother's request.

My sister is now engaged, and we are in the process of planning the wedding of her dreams.
She is paying for most of it, and we're having a lot of fun. Everything went smoothly until I
decided to plan and host a bridal shower before I move out of town. (I'll be 12 hours away.)

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Shortly after my mother's death, my father remarried a woman his age who had never been
married before. My brothers and sisters have accepted her into the family and been
pleasant to her, although we do not consider her a "mother figure." We were all grown
professionals at the time of my mother's death. During the past several years, she has been
critical and judgmental about various family dilemmas and has tended to "pout" if she didn't
get her way.

When I mentioned my intention to host a bridal shower to my father's wife, she led me to
believe it was fine with her. She is now upset with me and my sister because SHE wanted to
host the shower. We have tried to tell her that this is not appropriate. As matron of honor,
isn't this one of MY responsibilities?

I have suggested that she host a bridal luncheon the day before the wedding, but she's still
pouting about the shower. My father told me it's causing problems in his marriage. My sister
and I have included her in planning the wedding, choosing the wedding gown and
bridesmaids' dresses, and consulted her on various other decisions. Her childish, selfish
behavior is causing lot of stress.

Abby, my sister and I want to do the right thing. Please advise us. -- STRESSED-OUT

DEAR STRESSED-OUT: Neither you nor your stepmother should be hosting a bridal shower
for your sister. An aunt, cousin or one of her co-workers should do it instead, because it is
considered in poor taste for immediate family members of the bride or groom to host a
shower. Perhaps your stepmother will be pacified if she realizes she's not being excluded.

CONFIDENTIAL TO MY WOMB-MATE: Happy birthday, Sissy!

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's
More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope,




DEAR ABBY: I recently went to visit my widowed, elderly father in Florida. Like many
elderly, his eyesight is not what it once was. He suffers from macular degeneration and has
trouble reading small print. What disturbed me so was the fact that he could no longer go to
restaurants because he couldn't read the menu.

Why don't restaurants print menus in large print? I'm not suggesting that all of their menus
be that way, only to have some on hand for people who would like them.

Abby, my father is not alone -- his friends are not going to restaurants either. They're
embarrassed. I asked him why they don't ask the restaurants to provide large-print menus.
He said they would laugh at him. I felt awful.

Please, Abby, be the voice of the elderly once again. These people have a lot of spendable
cash, and it wouldn't hurt the restaurants to cater to this large group of people. We're all
going to be there one day.

A word to the restaurant association would be appreciated by many. -- MILDRED, A LOVING


DEAR MILDRED: I'm pleased to pass the word along, but a person doesn't have to be
elderly to have trouble reading small print; being over the age of 40 is usually enough.
Large-print menus are an excellent suggestion -- and while I'm at it, a clever restaurateur
should be willing to keep a few pairs of reading glasses on hand as well as a couple of
flashlights in case the ambient lighting isn't enough.

DEAR ABBY: Our 15-year-old daughter is grounded. My husband gave the punishment of
one week off the phone, which I felt was appropriate. After one day of no phone calls, she
asked to get on the Internet to check her e-mail. Her dad said no, because the Internet
requires a phone line so that's considered the phone.

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I told him I did not agree. I feel that if he takes away the Internet that it is considered
another punishment. Rather than argue, we decided to let you decide, and both of us will
abide by your decision for future disciplinary action. -- OAK HILL, W.VA., MOM

DEAR WEST VIRGINIA MOM: I vote with your husband. The purpose of the punishment was
to give your daughter a week of "quiet time" to rethink the actions that led to her being
disciplined in the first place.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to share this information with your readers so they may start this
great act of charity at their places of worship.

At our church, many of the children bring nonperishable food from home and put it into big
baskets on the altar while the collection baskets are passed around. The food is then
distributed to local food banks. The children enjoy doing it, and they learn the meaning of
sharing and helping others in need. -- KIM IN SAVAGE, MINN.

DEAR KIM: That is an idea worth emulating -- and thank you for it. I'm sure that many
churches, in many denominations, will find it worth considering.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents
is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized,




DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 11 years. My husband began working the night shift,
and after about 10 months of his throwing a co-worker and her family and me and my child
together for barbecues, parties, etc., I found a love letter to him.

My husband and I are living in the same house until we can afford to get divorced or
separated. The woman keeps calling here saying ugly things to me and calling me names.
My soon-to-be-ex has told me they had only a one-time fling and they are "just friends"
now. What should I do about the other woman? I want to be left alone, but it will be
another month or so before I can move out.

She is married with children and her husband is willing to work it out with her, but I am
pretty sure he doesn't know she is still calling here, and my husband is still calling her. I
believe their affair is still going on, because once you catch a liar you never know what the
truth is. -- DEBBIE IN MEMPHIS

DEAR DEBBIE: It appears the "other woman" is trying to harass and stampede you. Are you
sure that separation or divorce is what you really want? Perhaps counseling for you and
your husband could help to heal your marriage. It has worked in countless other cases.
Since your husband says they are "just friends," tell him that you want the harassment to
stop or you will ask the woman's husband to stop it. He'll see that she gets the message. If
the calls continue -- keep your word.

DEAR ABBY: I'm responding to the letter from "Proud Mother in Illinois," who wrote that her
daughter asked for, and received, a promise ring. I agree that these rings are a good idea.
They promote conversations about serious topics such as sex, drugs and alcohol.

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Abby, in my high school, men as well as women wear these rings as a symbol of their
morals and beliefs.

What I wish to comment on is your statement that this custom allows parents and
daughters to discuss and reinforce their family values. That comment is a stereotypical
example of something my age group is trying to overcome and terminate. Girls should not
be the only ones expected to abstain from premarital sex; boys should be expected to do
the same. It is still commonly felt that girls are regarded as "sluts" if they participate in
sexual activities, but men are admired because they are "players" or "studs."

If a family has both a son and a daughter, they should instill the same morals in both of
them. If their daughter should save sex for marriage, so should their son.

Abby, your comment took us back to the age of the double standard -- something this
generation is desperately trying to do away with. -- ANONYMOUS IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Guilty as charged. Old habits die hard. Of course I agree there should
be no double standard. I apologize for the slip of the pen and will try hard not to repeat it.


wonderful mother-in-law a person could wish for!

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's
More Favorite Recipes."



DEAR ABBY: My husband was downsized from a large company 16 months ago. He collected
unemployment for six months, then began a business that he runs from our home.

I have been the sole support of our family during this period. Recently he began taking a
class near his former office. His class began in the morning and ended at 2 p.m. When he
returned home one evening, I asked him how his day had gone. He stated that he had gone
to lunch with a lady from his old office. (She happened to call him last week for someone's
phone number and mentioned that "no one ever takes her to lunch.") My husband
generously offered because he was going to be in the area the next week. He never
mentioned it during the week prior to what I call "his date."

His class needed to work through lunch, so he called her to tell her. She offered to wait for
him and have a late lunch when his class was over. He called her on my cell phone before
the end of class to say he'd pick her up. This was at 1:30 p.m. He picked her up at his
former office, and they drove to an expensive restaurant because "he didn't want to run into
any former co-workers from his old company."

As he told me this story, I started to get angry because he had told me the previous day
that we could not go out to eat because money was tight. When he saw I was getting angry,
he jokingly said he had just made up the story to see my reaction. I decided to check it out
by looking for a receipt from the restaurant that he originally stated he had gone to. I found
it in his wallet and saw that his first story had been the correct one.

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Looking back, I now realize that he cleaned his car -- something he never does -- in
preparation for this date, borrowed my cell phone to confirm the date, and was unusually
concerned about his appearance before going to this class that day. He thinks I'm out of line
for being upset that he took this divorced "friend" to lunch. He says I'm jealous.

I feel used and disrespected since he kept the date a secret, picked her up for the lunch and
then lied about it. What do you think? -- ANGRY WIFE

DEAR WIFE: I think your marriage could use a clean-up job. I smell a rat -- and I think it's
your husband.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to share with you our son-in-law's clever and distinctive names for
me and my husband.

He calls us "MIL" (or "Millie") for mother-in-law, and "FIL" for father-in-law. This nicely
solves the multiple "Moms" and "Dads" problem when both families gather for parties.
On another note: His parents were already grandparents with their own special names
before he and our daughter gave birth to a son.

When our grandson was close to 2, and we despaired of ever having a grandparent name,
he began calling me "Mum" -- his version of our daughter's "Mom" name for me.

Perhaps this will be of help to other families having difficulties with the "name game." -- A

DEAR HAPPY 'MIL': You have an innovative son-in-law. His nicknames for you and your
husband are refreshing when one considers what some in-laws are called.

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or




DEAR ABBY: Twenty years ago, when I was a teen-ager, I was inspired by a letter in your
column. A woman had written about a recent tragedy in her life, having lost a parent due to
a terrible accident. The writer appealed to your readers to make amends with family and
friends as soon as possible, for her tragedy was compounded by having quarreled with her
dad and not having "made up" before he died. You recommended that people live their lives
to the fullest every day, and not to take family and friends for granted.

Well, even at 17, I recognized good advice when I saw it. I live each day to the fullest to the
best of my ability and I have not taken my family for granted.

My dad recently passed away -- suddenly, without warning, from a heart attack. He was 62.
The thought that has comforted me in the loss of my father was knowing that he and I had
no "shoulda, coulda, woulda's." I long ago confronted him about things in our relationship
that we needed to work out, and because of that our father/daughter relationship turned
into a friendship. The same is true of my relationship with my mother and brother. During
the last few years, my parents and I had even taken mini-vacations together.

So, while I miss my dad terribly and wish he were still with us, I know we had the best
relationship possible. I have no regrets and I know he didn't either. Thank you for the
advice, Abby. I am grateful. -- ALISON GAULDEN, RENO, NEV.

DEAR ALISON: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your beloved father. I'm touched
that something you read in my column inspired you to make the most of every precious
moment you had with him. Years ago, a reader sent me this wonderful poem that says it
very well:

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If you are ever going to love me,

Love me now, while I can know

The sweet and tender feelings

Which from true affection flow.

Love me now

While I am living.

Do not wait until I'm gone

And then have it chiseled in marble,

Sweet words on ice-cold stone.

If you have tender thoughts of me,

Please tell me now.

If you wait until I'm sleeping,

Never to awaken,

There will be death between us,

And I won't hear you then.

So if you love me, even a little bit,

Let me know it while I'm living

So I can treasure it.

DEAR ABBY: I am invited to a "black-tie" evening wedding this month, so please answer this
ASAP. What exactly is black-tie wear for men and women? Is there a difference between
"formal" and "black tie"? -- NEEDS TO KNOW IN SANDPOINT, IDAHO
DEAR NEEDS TO KNOW: There is no difference between "formal" and "black tie." It means
the men should wear tuxedos, and the women should wear long dresses or dressy cocktail

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely
Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or




DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 12 years and am very unhappy. My husband refuses
counseling because he feels nothing is wrong. I do all the parenting, cooking, most of the
cleaning, etc. He does work, but refuses to leave a "cushy" job for one that's better paying.

I have sacrificed my safety to work at a school that is known for violence, but he doesn't
seem to care other than to say that he will buy me a bulletproof vest. Being back in the
dating world would be more fun than this so-called marriage. We are both 34, and a friend
says I am going through the "itch."

I am very confused. Help! -- K.D.P. IN S.C.

DEAR K.D.P.: Don't scratch your "itch" -- it will only cause further irritation on what is
already a sore spot. The dating world has its share of problems, too. If your husband
refuses to seek counseling, go without him. It may give you some insight into your feelings
and why you have tolerated this kind of marriage for 12 years.

DEAR ABBY: After seeing the letters about the importance of carrying identification, I felt
compelled to relate a story about a friend's daughter who had identification at the time of
an accident.

She was walking home one night and was hit by a drunk driver. She was rushed to the
hospital where, at the time, my husband was working in the emergency room. Her body and
face were so badly mangled that he didn't recognize her. She was rushed to surgery where
the doctors tried unsuccessfully to save her life.



DEAR ABBY: This is for "Pestered Wife in Phoenix," whose 68-year-old husband had a penile
implant and now wants sex four or five times a week, when once a week is all she can

I was a "pestered" wife for many years, until it occurred to me to turn my head around and
temporarily become an insatiable sex kitten. I became the one to make the first move as
soon as the lights went out. If I awoke in the middle of the night, I made a move that
produced the desired effect while he slept -- and made insistent demands against his sleepy

Please assure "Pestered" that it will take only about two weeks before her aging stud starts
feigning sleep before the lights go out. It worked for me. -- ANOTHER WIFE IN PHOENIX

DEAR WIFE: I hope "Pestered" sees your remedy and finds it helpful. (It may require her to
start napping in the afternoon, but she has nothing to lose.) It would be terrific if the couple
could work out a compromise other than sending him to visit the widow next door, which
I'm convinced would be the beginning of the end of her marriage. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: This letter is for "Pestered," who was willing to let her friend have sex with her
husband because he wanted more than she wanted to give, and her friend was a widow in
need. She said she wasn't afraid of losing her husband because her friend wasn't very good-
looking and was a terrible cook.

You advised her that if she allowed her husband and friend to start "cooking in the
bedroom," she might be surprised to find he'd be less preoccupied with what was coming
out of the kitchen. You also reminded her that Benjamin Franklin said, "All cats are gray in
the dark."

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Your advice was right on the money. For a woman who has lived 65 years, "Pestered" is
very naive. I'm finally divorcing my spouse after 25 years of marriage because of his
countless affairs. Beauty was not a priority to him. His only criteria for cheating was a ready
and willing partner. Their talent in the kitchen had nothing to do with it, and he was getting
plenty of sex at home.

Sign me, soon to be ... FREE AT LAST

DEAR FREE AT LAST: It takes courage to end a marriage after 25 years, even if the spouse
is a compulsive cheater or a sex addict, as your husband obviously was. Permit me to offer
you my good wishes; I predict your self-esteem will skyrocket.
DEAR ABBY: I recently met the woman of my dreams. She replied to a personal ad that I
placed on AOL. She's everything I ever wanted in a woman and more. We've been
discussing marriage in the year 2000, and I am probably going to have my dad as my best
man. He's been there for me when I needed him, and he's never really acted like a "dad."

Is it a good idea that I have my father as my best man at my wedding? -- CHAD IN LAKE

DEAR CHAD: I wouldn't call it a "good" idea -- I'd call it a GREAT idea. I'm sure he'll be
thrilled when you ask him because it's high praise indeed.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal
With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus





DEAR ABBY: Yesterday, my family and I laid my father to rest. He was a mere 57 years old,
but fell victim to lung and brain cancer because he was unable to overcome his addiction to
cigarettes. Although not a heavy chain-smoker, he did smoke nearly every day for more
than 40 years. It was not until a quadruple bypass in 1996 that my father quit smoking.

Unfortunately, by then the foundation had been laid for further complications. My father was
diagnosed with lung cancer in 1998 and underwent successful, but complicated, lung
surgery that July. He was steadily improving, even talking of returning to work, when it was
revealed on Feb. 22, 1999, that the cancer had metastasized to his brain and left lung. Dad
lived another 22 days.

I write this letter not from the perspective of a grieving son who will forever miss his father,
but in response to an article I read in USA Today shortly after my father's funeral. The
front-page article highlighted the increase in tobacco usage among college students across
the country, with cigarette smoking at its highest for this age group in the last 20 years.

I address this letter to all those young men and women who will face the same challenge
my father faced in trying to quit. Cigarettes cost him his life. I know the trauma; I've seen
the scars, both physical and emotional, that cigarettes left on my father and on my family. I
spent nearly every day with my dad during the last 22 days of his life. I watched his
strength, balance, mental capacity, mobility and communication skills diminish before my

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I will forever cherish the time I spent with my father throughout my life, and will be forever
indebted to him for all he gave to me. I can only hope that one day I will be the kind of
father that he was. He told me, just 10 days before he was taken into God's hands, that his
only regret was that he started smoking as a teen-ager. He knew it had cost him his life.

I hope you'll print this, Abby, and that I'm able to convince just one person to take the
necessary steps to "kick the habit." I do not wish upon any person the pain and suffering I
saw my father endure and succumb to as a result of the cancer he developed from smoking.

DEAR SEAN: Please accept my condolences for the loss of your father. I'm glad you wrote,
because I'm sure your words of warning will make many people of all ages stop and think
before lighting up. We all know that using tobacco in any form is hazardous to our health. It
causes cancer of the mouth, tongue, throat, lung, pancreas and bladder, as well as heart
disease and emphysema.

My male readers tell me that they started smoking as teen-agers to "prove" they were "a
man." It's ironic that 30 years later they try to quit for the same reason! I hear from women
that they smoke to control their weight. I recently attended the funeral of a lovely young
woman who was a good friend. She lost weight, all right (by smoking) -- but she also lost
her life.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents
is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size,




DEAR ABBY: Your response to "Lucky in Connecticut," whose doctor failed to notify her of
abnormal pap smears (for three years!) was inappropriate. You told her that in these days
of managed care, doctors are seeing many more patients than they used to, and many of
them expect their patients to be more sophisticated and responsible for their health than a
generation ago. You further advised her to take the initiative and call the doctor for test
results instead of waiting for notification.

Abby, it IS the physician's responsibility to notify the patient about an abnormal test result.
I know some MDs who tell their patients to call for results, but I (and most other physicians)
disagree. I tell my patients I'll call them about an ABNORMAL pap. If it's a normal report,
they'll receive a card by mail -- and if they haven't heard anything by three weeks, they're
to call me to find out why. You should not have made "Lucky" feel guilty that she didn't call
for her report. She did not fail in her responsibility as a patient.

Thank you for letting me have my say. Your column is great! -- ANDREW JAMIESON, M.D.,

DEAR DR. JAMIESON: My response to "Lucky" was meant to encourage women to take
responsibility for calling their doctors if they had not received test results in a reasonable
amount of time. I agree that when a doctor performs tests, it is the doctor's responsibility to
inform the patient of the results -- and an irresponsible doctor should be held accountable.
However, in today's chaotic health-care environment, we all need to be more aware of our
personal medical needs and insist on good care. Read on:

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DEAR ABBY: I have a bit of advice I'd like to give to "Lucky in Connecticut." KEEP YOUR
OWN HEALTH FILE. After every visit to the doctor for a complete physical, pap smear,
mammogram, ultrasound, MRI, etc., ask -- no, TELL your doctor that you want a copy of
the results. It is your right! You'll probably have to sign a waiver, that's all. Then compare
your test results from visit to visit. It is amazing what you can learn from your blood panel

Abby, you were right when you said there is an overwhelming ratio of patients to doctors.
Patients must ask questions. That is also their right. Of course, all of us want our doctors to
treat us as though we are their one and only patient. Unfortunately, we must lower the
pedestal we once had them on to a more realistic level. We cannot put all our faith in them -
- we must help them out.

Oh, by the way, patients should make sure the names on the test result forms are THEIRS.
Here's a little incident that happened to me: Last February, I was admitted for major
surgery (a complete hysterectomy). I was next on the list, and a young woman called my
last name. We sat at her desk and she said, "Have you ever been here before for this
surgery?" "No," I replied, "if I had, I wouldn't be here now." She said, "Oh, you'd be
surprised. Some people come back three or four times." I said, "You're kidding!" She said,

We both looked at each other with that quizzical look and I said, "What's the first name on
that form?" The first names were different, of course. The person whose file was in her
hands was going to have FOOT surgery! Could you imagine? My middle name was about to
become "Ooops!"

I have kept my own file now for about 15 years and only wish I had started sooner. I guess
my middle name back then was "Naive." -- INFORMED NOW IN WEST BLOOMFIELD HILLS,
DEAR INFORMED: That's a valuable suggestion, and all that's required is taking the

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DEAR ABBY: Thanks for printing the letter reminding us of the importance of Flag Day and
for urging Americans to fly Old Glory. As I read it, I wondered if your readers knew that by
contacting their senator or congressman, they can get a flag for as little as $7.50 -- the
actual cost of the flag -- plus $4 for shipping. They can even have it flown over the U.S.
Capitol and have that event commemorated with a personalized certificate.

Regardless of where they get their flag, however, I wanted to join with your patriotic
correspondent in urging Americans to take pride in our nation by displaying an American
flag. Yours respectfully, U.S. SEN. PHIL GRAMM, WASHINGTON, D.C.

DEAR SENATOR GRAMM: The fact that people can purchase flags at cost (plus shipping
charges) from their legislators in Washington was news to me. Batten down the hatches --
because I'm sure that offer will interest a lot of people.

DEAR ABBY: This is in response to the bald man from Fort Lauderdale who sweeps his hair
over his bald spot and bugs his wife with the foot-long flag of hair streaming in the breeze
when they go boating.

I have barbered for 49 years and don't claim to be an expert, but have learned a little along
the way. We all have customers with special requests and try to honor them. That head of
hair could and should be cut so that no matter which way it is combed or not combed -- or
windblown -- it would not be a problem.

I produce some haircuts just like that one, because that is what the customer asks for and
he is paying the bill, but don't ask me to autograph the work as an artist who is proud.

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"Baldy" has one good thing going for him. His wife is sick of his denial, and he should take
her advice. His problem is in his head and not ON it. Winding a flag of hair over your head is
like wearing a sign telling the world you are bald. -- WILLARD M. KERK, CHAPPELL, NEB.

DEAR WILLARD: I'm printing your letter because there's no denying that when it comes to
hair, you are an expert. But if I see one more letter about baldness, I'll curl up and dye.
Read on:

DEAR ABBY: In response to your recent column about a husband who attempts to cover his
baldness with a comb-over:

Perhaps we could form a support group for balding men and call it "United Hairlines." --

DEAR ABBY: I've had a best friend for nine years. (I'll call her Christy.) She's always been
there when I needed her, but here's the problem: She flirts with most of the guys I'm
interested in.

Last month I found a guy that I really like. We hang out all the time. I've come to find out
that Christy's also interested in him. She never even told me! I had to find out from
someone else. He also has the same feelings toward her. He and I are still friends, but I
really don't want to have anything to do with Christy anymore. She knew for about a month
that I liked him a lot, but she went after him anyway! What do you think about this best
friend's behavior? -- MELLISA IN THE SUNSHINE STATE

DEAR MELLISA: With friends like Christy, you don't need any enemies! But it may not be
HER fault that he's more attracted to her than he is to you, and one person does not "own"
another person. "All is fair in love and war" -- and this is a combination of both.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal
With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus




DEAR ABBY: I worked for civil rights in the '60s. My 10-year-old daughter grew up in a
racially mixed church, a racially mixed neighborhood and a racially mixed school. She has
studied the history of slavery, Hitler, and other examples of what bigotry can do to a
society, a country and the world. I have taught her from a very young age that bigotry is
wrong, period. At the tender age of 10, she has already lost friends because she will not
tolerate racist remarks. I have patiently tried to explain why racism was tolerated in the
past in various societies.
A few days ago my daughter asked me a question I could not answer. "Mom, why is it OK to
be a racist if you're black?" She went on to cite examples of racist remarks at her school, in
the media, by politicians and on TV.

As I thought about it, she is correct. Today's America does tolerate, and in a few cases,
even encourages blacks to be racist against whites. We wonder why there is violence in our
schools. We despair over the white supremacist movement. We call for closer family support
and guidance. Why do we not cry out against racism wherever it may be found? How can
we move forward as a country, as a world, if we have not learned by our mistakes?

Please, Abby, help me out here! What can I tell her? -- MY KID'S MOM

DEAR MOM: Let's not point the finger only at black Americans. Bigotry is alive and well in
EVERY community because it seems that some people have a need to feel "superior."

Explain to your daughter that racism cannot be wiped out by decree. Its demise must come
from the realization that we have more things in common than we do superficial differences
such as skin color or a foreign-sounding accent.

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DEAR ABBY: "Glad I Tried, Joliet, Ill." wondered if her dying mother heard her say "I love
you" during the last stages of life.

Abby, she should be consoled by something all hospice volunteers learn during their
excellent and professional training: Hearing is the last sense to fade. It is very likely that
her mother heard her last message although her mother was unable to acknowledge it. --

DEAR JOHN: Thank you for your comforting words to "Glad I Tried." Within the last year or
so, I read an account of a woman who was in a coma for many years. She testified that
although she could not communicate, she heard everything that was said to her during
those years.

I believe that a number of studies have revealed that patients hear far more in an
unconscious state than most of us ever suspected they could. That's why physicians
encourage the families of trauma patients to read to them, play music for them and, above
all, to talk to them.
CONFIDENTIAL TO "CAN'T FORGIVE HER IN IDAHO": Perhaps these words will help you
begin to rebuild your friendship. "He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over
which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven." -- Thomas Fuller.

Give it a try -- you'll be glad you did.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents
is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or money order for




DEAR ABBY: I am 19 and work two jobs. One of them is with a small title company. When I
started, I was promised a raise after a few weeks of training. I have not seen that raise. I
am considering asking for it, but I'm shy when it comes to this sort of thing.

Abby, what would be the easiest and most effective way to ask without losing my job? --

DEAR SHY: Compile a list of the reasons you feel you deserve a raise, then ask your boss or
supervisor for an appointment to talk. People who ask for what they deserve are respected,
so do not be shy about asking for the raise you were promised.

The list will enable you to show your boss or supervisor why you think your salary should be
increased. It will open the door for a discussion about your performance, and allow both of
you to evaluate your strengths and any areas in which you need to improve.

Consider this another step on the road to maturity. If you are an asset to the company, you
should be treated like one.

DEAR ABBY: This is in response to a recent letter regarding the need to carry identification
in case of an emergency.

My husband is an avid runner. He never used to carry ID because he said it was

inconvenient. I felt that it was an unsafe practice, and finally came up with a solution he
could live with. Whenever I order ID tags for our dogs, I order one for my husband. I put as
much pertinent information on it as possible, including his name, phone number and an
emergency number at work.

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He jokes that I put "property of" on the tag, too, but he does agree that it's a good idea. He
laces the tag into his shoelaces. It's lightweight, soundless and reflective. He never forgets
it because it's a permanent part of his shoe from the very first run. It's an inexpensive way
to protect him in the event of an injury. Perhaps others might benefit from our idea. --

DEAR KATIE: You have hit upon a clever solution to a common problem, and I congratulate
you on your ingenuity. I'm sure your idea of adapting dog tags will appeal to runners and
walkers who are reluctant to carry any "excess baggage" with them.

DEAR ABBY: I want to divorce my husband but I don't know how to tell him. We have been
arguing too much, and it's affecting my studies in college. I strongly suspect that he's
having an affair and feeling guilty about it because he stays out late. How late? you might
ask. Try 4 o'clock in the morning! Also, our sex life has decreased to only two or three times
a month.

We have been married for three years, and in the first three months of our marriage, he
had an affair with the woman he left for me. Like an idiot, I took him back, thinking I could
trust him. Now I have my doubts. I don't know what to do. Please help me, Abby. --

DEAR UNCOUPLING: Tell your husband exactly what you have told me. Offer him the option
of marriage counseling. If he refuses -- since there are no children to complicate matters --
I suggest you talk to a lawyer.

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's
More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope,




DEAR ABBY: Like so many of those who write to you, I have been involved for quite a while
with a married man who keeps making promises about our future together, but those
promises are never kept.
The difference is, this one is married -- to a corpse. She's been dead for 2 1/2 years, and he
still can't let go and get on with his life.

For almost a year, he promised we'd spend a weekend together; however, by Thursday, he
always had a reason to cancel. When we finally did get together for a weekend, he walked
out and got another motel room where he and the ghost could spend the night together,
while I cried my eyes out alone in the king-size bed in my room. Do you have any idea how
much rejection there is in learning that the man you love would rather sleep with his
memories than with you?

I finally persuaded him to get counseling, but he's still doing the same things: promising we
have a future together, then squelching any plans for physically consummating our
relationship. He insists he doesn't need Viagra, that he's capable of doing it, but then he
comes up with another hokey excuse why he can't make time for a weekend together.

He's really a nice man, Abby. He treats me well and has a delightful sense of humor. He'd
be the perfect companion if he could just accept that his wife is dead, she's not coming
back, and he's not cheating on her if he sleeps with another woman. What should I do? --

DEAR SEXLESS: If you love him, give him a little more time. My experts tell me that he
could be suffering from pathological grief. In most people, the grieving process lasts about
one year -- but if it lasts longer than that it requires professional help.

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I don't know how long this man has been in counseling, but if it has been any length of time
and he still has not progressed in mourning (mourning is the reparative process associated
with grief) -- then he should consult another professional counselor. His inability to be
intimate with you sexually may have nothing to do with sexuality, but rather overwhelming
mourning and overwhelming guilt.

If he's as terrific as you say he is, he's worth waiting for a little longer.

DEAR ABBY: When I was about 21, I was date-raped, and it took me several years to get
myself sorted out. This was my first time, and it is only now that I'm finally at a point where
I can trust a man again and want to have sex.

My problem is, I don't know if I should tell my boyfriend about what happened to me years
ago, and that he will be the first person I have ever really made love with. What do you
think? -- ANONY-MISS
DEAR ANONY-MISS: I think it's very important that you tell him exactly what you have told
me -- and the sooner the better.

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envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby,




DEAR ABBY: I cannot believe I'm writing to you, but this problem has been festering for 13
years and I'm at the end of my rope. It's my sister-in-law, "Ethel." She's a hypochondriac
who feels that she must be the center of attention. Regardless of the situation, she has
always "been there, done that, I know how you feel."

My father has lung cancer and underwent six weeks of exhaustive radiation. My mother and
I are watching him die and have spent many sleepless nights with him. Ethel sounds like a
broken record, repeating that she knows how he feels, knows how we feel, etc. I want to
say to her, "Unless you have watched a father die, or watched a husband die, then you
CANNOT 'understand' what Mother and I are going through!"

Her kids are brats, and I'm not the only one to say so. She leaves them unattended to go to
a job that she does not need. My brother has a terrific job and makes excellent money. I
cannot figure out why he tolerates her. People can't stand to be around her and make fun of
her every chance they get. She's always "sick" because it's her way of getting attention. I'm
sick of biting my tongue and I'm itching to tell her off. Should I? -- ITCHING ON THE EAST

DEAR ITCHING: No! Telling her off would be counterproductive and would create more
problems than you already have. You can't change your sister-in-law. Avoid the poor
woman whenever possible, and in the interest of family unity, tolerate her when you must.

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DEAR ABBY: When I saw the letter from "Eileen" about "Mary Helen," who was criticized
because her efforts to save her brother "Bill" were futile, I had to write. I had a heart attack
from a condition that I, like Bill, thought was the flu. I collapsed at work and was essentially
dead when I hit the floor. Three to five minutes was all that was necessary for my death to
be complete.

Fortunately for me, three of my co-workers knew CPR. After calling 911, they immediately
started to work on me. They kept me alive until the paramedics came to take over. My
doctors have told me that only one person in 10 recovers as I did.

Later, one of my rescuers confessed to me that she had used the wrong cadence in
performing the chest compressions and that she was afraid she would hurt me or break a
rib if she pressed too hard. I replied that she should not have worried. I was grateful for her
efforts because even an injury was better than the alternative!

If Eileen and her friend, Mary Helen, had done nothing, death was a guaranteed result. Bill's
only hope for life was that Mary Helen do something, and she did -- to the best of her
ability. I can guarantee Mary Helen that Bill was grateful for her attempt, as I am thankful
for those who saved me. -- GRATEFUL IN SEATTLE

DEAR GRATEFUL: Heartfelt congratulations on your recovery. I'm sure "Mary Helen" and
"Eileen" will appreciate your having shared your personal experience. It highlights that any
CPR is better than no CPR at all.

CONFIDENTIAL TO "YOUNG WORKING MOTHER": You are not alone in feeling overwhelmed
and without enough time. Malcolm Forbes once said, "Unless you are serving time, there is
never enough of it."

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely
Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or




DEAR ABBY: Periodically you invite your readers to "dump on Abby." My beef might seem
trivial to many, and if that's the case, "Sorry about that!" but I am tired of seeing tourists in
my hometown church dressed in sweatshirts, blue jeans, even shorts! Some might praise
the fact that these ill-dressed folk bother attending church while they're on vacation, but
why do they slight we year-round residents with their ultra-casual mode of dress?

I recall church at East Coast resort areas when some visitors, the famous among them,
dressed casually -- but where most of the congregation were respectfully attired. The issue
has reached the point where I, in nifty outfits, feel almost embarrassed for myself. Heaven
forbid I should abandon my finery to blend in with the tourists!
At one packed August service last year, a woman with a head of cascading hair wore a
halter top, giving the impression to those in pews in back of her that she was topless! Male,
female, huge legs, shapely legs, hairy legs -- shorts are the "norm." Lack of consideration
for year-round parishioners in resort communities is a sin. Please, dear visiting worshippers
-- God loves you all, but give the locals a break. Dress with respect. AMEN! -- AIN'T NO

DEAR AIN'T NO SAINT: I, too, come from a generation where we were taught to dress up
when visiting a house of God. However, in the last few decades, the old "rules" have relaxed
considerably. People come to church to heal their souls and gain inspiration for living, and if
you are focusing on what you and the other worshippers are wearing, I respectfully suggest
that you are focusing on the wrong thing. REPENT!

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DEAR ABBY: My 50th wedding anniversary is coming up in August and my children want to
give us a grand party, but there is a problem: After 50 years of verbal, physical and mental
abuse from my husband, I refuse to be a party to this hypocrisy. My husband, who is a
retired professional man, is highly respected. However, we have not lived as man and wife
for many years. He is an alcoholic, an adulterer, a wife-beater and a churchgoing hypocrite.
He has ruined my life, and as a result, I have no use for him. I stayed with him over the
years for the sake of the children when they were young, my religion (Catholic), and
because of his threats.

We are both in our 70s now and we just tolerate each other. Never once has he shown any
regret for his treatment of me and the children, who love us both but have no respect for
their father. My children are not aware, as far as I know, of his adulterous womanizing over
the years. Celebrating a life of hell is just more than I can take. What now? -- NO NAME, NO

DEAR NO NAME: If your children are not aware of your husband's adulterous behavior, I see
no reason to bring it up now. However, it would be impossible for them to have been
unaware of the physical, verbal and emotional abuse you have suffered. Just tell them that
under the circumstances, 50 years of the kind of marriage you have endured is nothing to
celebrate, and ask them to please abide by your wishes.

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DEAR ABBY: Regarding the "pushy" sister-in-law who took photos of her deceased brother
in his coffin against his widow's wishes: It's not all that unusual.

My weirdo aunt, now deceased, used to take rolls and rolls of film of every dead relative and
put them in scrapbooks that she later showed off to people. She wanted to "capture the
moment" -- the flowers, the corpse, the whole event. I thought it was dreadful. Looking
back, I assume she photographed other family events, but I don't recall seeing any pictures.
She was a sad, negative, pessimistic person, and I swore she'd never photograph my dead
father (her brother). As fate would have it, she's long gone and no one recorded her passing
in pictures -- and Dad is still kicking.

Several years ago, my mother-in-law received photographs of her late husband, who died
unexpectedly of a heart attack. Her friend had secretly gone into the funeral home and
snapped some. Weeks later, the friend offered them to my mother-in-law, saying that when
her own husband died, photos of him in his coffin had been a comfort. My mother-in-law
was grateful and the pictures meant a lot to her.

I guess my point is this: It takes all kinds. -- NO PHOTOS, PLEASE

DEAR NO PHOTOS: I have a stack of letters on my desk a foot high that corroborate that
statement. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I work in a funeral home, and at times pictures are taken, especially for
relatives who are too ill or elderly to attend the services or make a long trip. We have taken
pictures, per the family's request, of infants -- this is usually the only photograph they
would have of a baby they lost.

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The sister-in-law should not have broken her promise, but her statement of how much
better he looked dead than alive could have meant that he had a long illness and suffered,
which can affect the deceased's appearance. The embalmers are artists! They can do
wonders for a deceased who was ravaged by a terrible disease or who was in an accident. --

DEAR T.S.: Thank you for pointing this out. Many of those who wrote to me said they were
greatly comforted to see their loved ones looking as they did before they were stricken,
seemingly peacefully asleep. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: When my sister was married, in the same church as the one in which our
father's funeral had been held, she and her husband had wedding pictures taken next to the
marble name plate behind which our father's ashes now reside. When I first saw the
pictures in the wedding album, I thought they were somewhat tacky. Later, I came to
realize exactly what you advised "One Who Has Lost a Friend." Everyone grieves in his or
her own way, and this was my sister's way to share her special day with our father. --

DEAR CHARLIE: Right! Live and learn. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Regarding the letter from "One Who Has Lost a Friend": Who was the
busybody who told the widow that the deceased's sister had taken the photos she promised
she wouldn't?

If it eased the sister's pain, why not? She no doubt made her promise so as not to upset the
widow. Ever heard of a little white lie? And then, there's also MYOB. -- M.S.C. IN SHERMAN

DEAR M.S.C.: I learn from my readers every day. I now know that photos of the deceased
were very common at the turn of the century, and in some parts of the country the practice
is still thriving. To everyone who wrote -- thank you for educating me.

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DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a man for two years. He's the love of my life. I'm in my late
20s and he's in his late 30s. We get along perfectly. We live together and spend most of our
free time together.

I have been bringing up the topic of marriage lately because I'd love to start a family, but in
order to do so I need a commitment. He says he loves me and that I am his world, but
"marriage" scares him.

The other day I proposed and gave him a diamond ring. He was shocked, to say the least,
and didn't answer me. The only thing he said was that he was afraid of getting hurt again.
Abby, I don't know what to do. I love him, but I have made it clear I won't wait forever. He
knows how I feel. What should I do? My biological clock is ticking. -- LOST IN LOVE

DEAR LOST: Ask him, "Are you more afraid of losing me, or more afraid of being hurt?" Give
him a deadline, and if he's still "uncertain," face it -- he's not for you.

P.S. It's perfectly proper to ask him to please return the ring.
DEAR ABBY: This is in response to "Had It in San Diego," who complained about the unruly
behavior of her nephews. You replied, "Imagine when the 6-year-old must be in a
structured environment such as school."

Well, Abby, I teach first grade and can TELL you what happens. When it's time to open the
reading book, point to the words and follow along, the well-behaved child will do just that
and will soon be reading. The poorly behaved child may look elsewhere, spin his book or
make faces. He will need more direction and will probably be learning-delayed, even though
he may be quite able.

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The well-behaved child will take turns, follow school rules, and interact positively with other
students and adults. The poorly behaved child may hit others, throw tantrums or damage
school property, which will result in many telephone calls home, detention, referrals to the
principal and other negative consequences.

Students who are successful in first grade are usually the successes in fifth grade. They
have developed good school habits.

If I could give parents one piece of advice, it would be: Teach your children what "no"
means. Do not give in! Your child needs self-control, language and effort to achieve success.

DEAR TEACHER: Thank you for a compelling letter. Extremely bright children may act out
because they are bored. And, of course, a child who consistently misbehaves should be
evaluated to rule out attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactive
disorder (ADHD). I hope your letter will serve as an admonition to parents who shrug off
their children's misbehavior as "kids will be kids."

Children need to be prepared before they are thrust into a classroom environment, but they
cannot know what they have not been taught. Among the lessons they should master are
respect for other people, sharing, making good use of spare time, how to channel their
aggressions and how to tolerate a degree of frustration.

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DEAR ABBY: My ex-wife, who continued to be a friend to my mother after our divorce, has,
in my opinion, recently overstepped her bounds. On the day of my mother's funeral, my ex-
wife arrived early at Mom's house and commenced to help herself to several pieces of
personal property! I found out later that all of the personal property was willed to me.

Where does this kind of behavior fit in the realm of manners or etiquette -- or maybe even
criminal activity? My mother had specific items listed in her will to give to certain people. --

DEAR CONFUSED: The kind of behavior your ex-wife displayed does not fit into the realm of
manners or etiquette, but it certainly qualifies in the category of criminal activity. Have your
attorney demand (in writing) that the stolen items be returned immediately, or the police
will be notified and a theft report filed.

DEAR ABBY: A number of years ago my husband's sexual interest stopped. Initially, because
I begged him, he consulted a few doctors and we went to several therapists. Nothing
worked. There are no indications that there is another woman. The only other "woman" he
seems to be interested in is "Mary," as in "Bloody Mary."

I recently met a much younger man (I'll call him Joel), and there is a strong mutual
attraction. He will be working in this country only a couple of months, after which he will
return home to his fiancee. In light of my imposed celibacy, would a tryst with Joel really be
adultery? For many reasons I will never divorce my husband. -- UNTOUCHED TAMALE

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DEAR UNTOUCHED: Yes, a tryst with Joel would really be adultery. A short fling won't
quench your thirst -- it will only stimulate your appetite and create more problems. I'd
advise against it.

DEAR ABBY: I am 26 and have been engaged for two years. The problem is that my fiance
doesn't want to make a life for us. He is 28, and still lives at home with his divorced 51-
year-old mother and her 38-year-old live-in boyfriend.
My fiance has no living expenses and operates his own business. He talks about finding a
place for us, but it's just talk -- he never makes any effort. I have tried everything to
motivate him, but nothing seems to work.

Abby, his living arrangements and his procrastination about finding us a place to live
together don't seem normal. Should I just throw in the towel? -- UPSET IN MISSOURI

DEAR UPSET: Not yet. Since your fiance hasn't moved forward in finding the two of you a
place to live, begin looking on your own. If you find something affordable, take him to see it
so you can sign a lease together. If he starts making excuses -- then it's time to throw in
the towel.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal
With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check




DEAR ABBY: I have been married to "Dan" for 15 years. He was abandoned by his father
when he and his brother were 2 and 3. His father had no contact with him for 30 years, and
he has seen him only at one family reunion and two funerals in the last 15 years. This man
has now asked to visit us, and my husband has agreed to his father's request to get
together while he's in town.

This is all well and good for the two of them, but I have now been informed that my
husband has a social function on the evening his father is expected. Dan told me that until
he arrives, I am expected to entertain his father, but gave me no timetable for how long
that will be.

I have always had very strong opinions about fathers who abandon their children, and my
husband knows this. I don't feel I have an obligation to this man, although my husband
says that as his wife, I do. What's worse is that my family agrees with Dan.

I feel that if my husband wants to get together with his father, fine. If my daughter wants
to see him, fine. But should I be forced to entertain him for who knows how long until my
husband chooses to show up? Am I wrong? -- FURIOUS IN SPANISH PORT, ALA.

DEAR FURIOUS: Yes, you are wrong. Obviously this is important to your husband, so for his
sake, please try to be gracious. Entertain his father as you would a BUSINESS person who is
important to your husband's future. You won't be sorry.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to respond to the series of letters you printed about the man who
suggested his wife visit the nude beaches while they were in Europe. Like the couple in
question, my wife and I experienced the reaction, pain and steps that led to and followed a
mastectomy. She was beautiful before AND after the surgery, but she had a hard time
seeing it. We had visited and enjoyed nude beaches before she was diagnosed.

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Months after the surgery we were invited to a party where use of the pool and hot tub
would be clothing-optional. We went, and after 10 minutes in the hot tub with my wife in
her bathing suit, one of our friends inquired about her surgery and recovery process. By the
end of the evening, my wife was nude, and finally realized that she was loved and accepted
as the wonderful woman she was; that her value was not in having or not having breasts.

When people become more accepting of their bodies, fewer women will believe they must
look like some supermodel or hate their bodies. Then we can accept that who we are is not
how we look, but is how we behave in our relationships with one another.

The wonderful woman who was my wife is no longer living; cancer took her life last
September. She was buried nude, per her request. Sign me ... BONNY'S GUY, PACIFIC

DEAR BONNY'S GUY: There is much wisdom in your message. Please accept my deepest
sympathy for the loss of your beloved wife.

Coping with the emotional issue of self-image can be among the most challenging aspects of
recovery from surgery following breast cancer. I hope your letter will reassure survivors that
their fear a mastectomy will make them unattractive is largely unfounded.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents
is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or money order for




DEAR ABBY: Some months ago I wrote to you describing the nightmarish situation of
women in Afghanistan, stripped of even the most basic human rights by the Taliban militia.
I asked people to join the Feminist Majority's campaign to end this cruel system of gender
Reporters told me the reason the Afghan situation had received so little coverage was that
their editors thought Americans aren't interested in this kind of news. The Taliban assumed
that their treatment of women would be of no consequence to the rest of the world. Even
the Afghan women, who thought the people of America were their last hope, were afraid to
believe we would speak for them.

Well, Abby, someone forgot to tell that to your readers! To date, well over 45,000 of them
have called to join our campaign. And they've made a huge impact.

The State Department tells us that the high volume of mail we have generated is historic.
The campaign has received unprecedented bipartisan support, with both conservatives and
liberals offering backing and action. The president has met with us to express support for
our goals and discuss ways to end gender apartheid. We've also met with United Nations
officials who tell us that our campaign has put the issue of gender apartheid on the world

The Taliban are now claiming they have eased some restrictions, allowing SOME home-
schooling for girls and SOME segregated hospital wards for women. Those changes are
unverified. But, true or not, the fact that the Taliban are making these assertions shows
that they now realize the rest of the world has drawn a line in the sand over their denial of
human rights to women -- a line the Taliban can no longer pretend not to see.

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And, Abby, now the Afghan women themselves know we are speaking out for them and will
continue to speak. Radio Free Europe and Voice of America have carried news of our
campaign into Afghanistan, and letters have been smuggled out to us from women who are
daring to hope again.

I would like to share with your more than 45,000 readers who took up their cause a letter of
thanks from a woman in Kabul: "I wish I could cover you with flowers to show how grateful
I am. I know I cannot do so. From this prison I can only send you a few drops of my tears
as a gift. Let me call you 'the angels of mercy.' Your love is our hope." Though she
courageously signed her letter, I can't reveal her name for fear she would be killed.

I hope your readers will join us in keeping up the momentum they helped our campaign to
build. Our work is beginning to have world impact. -- MAVIS NICHOLSON LENO, CHAIR,

DEAR MAVIS: I'm sure my readers will be as thrilled as I am to know that their efforts are
having such a profound effect. This is our turn on the stage of history, and for the sake of
our children and grandchildren, we must not stand idly by.

Those of you who have been a part of this campaign, and those who are interested in
joining in the effort, can make your voices heard by calling the action line: 1-888-WE-
WOMEN (1-888-939-6636) or visiting the Web site at There are many
ways we can help. By taking action now, we can make a difference.

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's
More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope,




DEAR ABBY: My former friend, "Molly," became engaged and moved away. Before she left,
she said I could have her job. After being interviewed, I got the position.

It has been seven months -- and two pay raises -- and now Molly has returned. She's calling
the boss and other workers in the office. She got kicked out of her boyfriend's house and
needs her job back. She's really turning up the pressure. She won't talk to me because she
knows how upset I am.

My question: Does she deserve to get my job? Or is she being selfish? Am I being selfish? I
love my work and very much want to stay. -- WORRIED IN L.A.

DEAR WORRIED: I don't know what arrangement your boss had with Molly when she left.
But hold a good thought; your boss may be reluctant to replace an employee who has
performed well enough on the job to earn two raises in seven months with someone who
sacrificed her career for "love."

DEAR ABBY: I have enjoyed your column for years. Thanks for the entertainment each day.
You do a great job.

Abby, this is the first time I have written to you, and it's because I disagree with your
answer to "Concerned Friend." The reader was concerned that a friend was unhappy
because he was single. She said he was too shy to discuss his feelings with her. If that's
true, how does she know he's unhappy? I think the reader is projecting her feelings onto
her friend.

As a single person, I want my friends to respect me enough to trust that I know what I want
from my life. She should give her friend some dignity and realize that if he wants a
relationship, he'll pursue one. If he wants his married friends to fix him up, he'll tell them.

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You suggested that the reader subtly invite some single females to their group activities.
Please, Abby, he would know exactly what she's doing. As a "single," I would find it
awkward and embarrassing.

In my circle of friends, some of us are couples and several of us are single. However, my
friends respect me enough to leave to me the connecting up with someone if I want that.

Why must people assume that unmarried people are miserable because of their single
status? Most of my single friends have homes, careers, hobbies and extended families they
enjoy. I know people who try to fix us up are trying to help, but we don't NEED
matchmakers. What we need are friends who love and respect us just as we are. --

DEAR SHARON: I'm sure you speak not only for yourself, but for many singles. However,
there are also many out there who would love their friends to lend a hand in the
matchmaking process. There's nothing wrong with being single if that's what makes you
happy, but for those who long to be half a couple, a little help could be the ticket to a
partner in a "pair" tree.

CONFIDENTIAL TO "FRUSTRATED IN DELAWARE": Don't let one setback stop you; your
community needs you. In the words of Dag Hammarskjold, former secretary-general of the
United Nations: "You have not done enough, you have never done enough so long as it is
still possible that you have something to contribute."

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DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I eloped last January. We arranged for a minister, rented the
tux, got the gown, printed 300 announcements, and told everyone we were going on
"vacation." We planned it for months and told no one. I'm 31 years old and had never been
married. After the ceremony, we mailed the announcements and went about enjoying our

We returned home to a house full of gifts and well wishes. Both sets of parents were very
pleased, and everyone couldn't have been more supportive -- except for two people.
Ironically, they are the twosome who introduced us, my husband's friend "Morris" and his
live-in girlfriend, "Doris."
They are no longer speaking to my husband and me because they are hurt that they were
excluded from our plans. They feel we betrayed them and claim we lied and deceived them.

A few nights before we left for Florida, my husband was out with the "guys." Morris pulled
him aside and flat-out asked him if we were going away to get married. Because our plans
were private and not meant to be shared until after we returned from our trip, my husband
told him "no."

I hate to lose a friendship over something like this. Do you think we were obligated to tell
them our plans? -- WONDERING IN WILMINGTON, DEL.

DEAR WONDERING: No, I do not. Just because Morris and Doris introduced you does not
mean they own you as a couple. You were not obligated to reveal your plans to elope.

DEAR ABBY: I am an 81-year-old male senior citizen and would like to comment on the
letter that mentioned nude beaches. I am very familiar with them and also with nudist

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Nudism must be good for the eyesight because I have never seen a blind nudist. A nudist
camp is where married couples air their differences and, when they disagree, they barely
speak. As a matter of fact, one married couple broke up because they were seeing too much
of each other.

Did you know that nudists peel first and get sunburned afterward?

A lawyer joined a nudist colony, and he hasn't had a suit since. One nudist was picked up as
a suspect, but the police had to let him go because they couldn't pin anything on him.

I visited a nudist colony one time and, as I drove in, I stripped my gears. The only other
time I had anything to do with nudism was when I stayed at a nudist lodge. (I think it was
called the Bareskin Lodge.) There were no clothes closets and all of the rooms had sudden
exposure. It was a short vacation. I was soon asked to leave because my breath came in
short pants. -- ED BENDER, ROCHESTER, PA.

DEAR ED: That's better than being asked to leave for displaying your shortcomings.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works
with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his
brain and his heart is an artist." -- Louis Nizer, American lawyer (1902-1994).

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DEAR ABBY: After one miscarriage and three years of infertility treatments, my husband
and I are expecting twins. While I should be excited about this news, I'm not -- for two

I have a great relationship with my mother, who has agreed to come and help when the
babies are born in September. My husband's sister and family, who live out of town, are
also thinking about coming to visit at that time. While I love my sister-in-law dearly, I don't
know that I will feel up to entertaining her family while trying to adjust to being not only a
new mom but a new mom of twins. My husband has asked that I not alienate his family, but
all I can think about is how tired and stressed I will be trying to adjust to the new lifestyle.

My second dilemma is my mother-in-law. She's a very pessimistic and paranoid woman

whose family has allowed her to control every family situation. She never smiles, can't find
the joy in living, and tries to tell others how they should live their lives. I've asked my
husband why he and his sister allow her to act this way. He says they've tried talking to
her, but all she does is cry.

Abby, my mother-in-law is already providing me with unsolicited advice on how to take care
of myself. I can just imagine what kind of unsolicited child-rearing advice I'll get when the
children are born.

I don't want to alienate my husband's family, but under the circumstances I find it hard not
to. Any advice? -- DREADING SEPTEMBER

DEAR DREADING: Accept the fact that your mother-in-law is trying to show her love and
concern for you, so smile, nod and tune her out. Once the twins arrive, assure her that they
are under the care of an excellent pediatrician -- and you'll mention her suggestions to the
doctor to be sure they don't conflict with the medical advice you are already receiving.

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As for your sister-in-law, tell her sweetly that you would LOVE to see her -- perhaps during
the holidays -- after you have regained your strength and you and the babies have a firmly
established schedule. To do so is not "alienating her" -- it's asserting your right to recover
from the delivery.

DEAR ABBY: I'd like to comment on the letter from the person who wrote that as a hostess
she was taken aback, stunned and hurt when her intended guest asked her what foods she
would be serving at dinner.

As a certified etiquette consultant for 10 years, let me say that it is actually the host's
responsibility, when inviting first-time guests to dinner, to ask when issuing the invitation,
"Is there anything you cannot eat?" The guest can then respond accordingly. It is not
necessary for either one to mention allergies, foods restricted by culture or religions,
dislikes for certain foods, dieting to lose weight, etc.

The hostess can then plan the menu by not using the foods mentioned. This eliminates any
surprises or embarrassment when the guests are already seated at the dining table. --

DEAR MARGIT: Your suggestion makes good sense, and I'm sure will be appreciated by
more prospective hosts and hostesses than we can count.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely
Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or




DEAR ABBY: I'm writing on behalf of the residents in my development. We're middle-class
citizens who take care of our homes. Our lawns are neat and trimmed and our flower beds
are weeded. Our "stuff" is kept in garages, sheds or in our homes.

Last summer a new family moved into our neighborhood. They bought the first house you
see when you enter our main street. Abby, the place is a mess! "Stuff" is all over the place
(piles of junk left out over the winter). To their credit, a shed was started, but it was blown
down after a few days and now the lumber just lies there.

Since their property backs up to the main road, they don't bother driving around the block
to park -- they drive through the yard! The tire ruts are now evident, and it detracts from
our well-kept lawns. We can only imagine what has happened to property values. Any
suggestions would be greatly appreciated. -- DUMPED ON IN DELAWARE
DEAR DUMPED ON: I agree that if their property has become an eyesore, it could affect the
value of other homes in the neighborhood. Inquire at City Hall whether or not there are
codes or ordinances in place that restrict homeowners from leaving junk on their lawns.
Then ask the offenders if they might like some help in cleaning up their yard, and offer to
lend a hand. Perhaps some of the other neighbors would also like to help.

If that doesn't work, you and the rest of the property owners should consider starting a
neighborhood association that will have some clout. And, of course, consult a lawyer who
specializes in real estate law.

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DEAR ABBY: This is in response to "Jewish in Cincinnati," who offered a litany of ways in
which Christians broadcast their religious beliefs.

He or she should move to metropolitan New York where entire malls are closed every
Sunday because of "blue laws," and stores are closed on Saturdays because of strict Jewish
beliefs. I give all of the aforementioned credit for honoring God. However, when "Jewish in
Cincinnati" complains about Christmas music blaring from October to January, let's not
confuse Christianity with consumerism. Half those offending stores and malls may not even
be owned by Christians.

I grew up in an inner-city neighborhood in a small stretch of houses situated between a

synagogue and a Jewish school. Every one of our neighbors had a strong sense of tolerance
and caring. My grandma traded her Italian pastries with our Jewish neighbor for her
delicious cheesecake. We manned the candy store, without thought of repayment, on high
holy days for our Jewish neighbor. On Friday nights, my dad always turned off the lights at
the synagogue.

It seems to me that we were more understanding and tolerant in years past. What are we
really learning from Kosovo, or even Littleton, Colo.? So a comedian or celebrity needs to
tell people he's Jewish. So what? It's his shtick! In the meantime, if you're traveling through
Hashbrouck Heights, N.J., at Christmastime, you'll see my Roman Catholic church decorated
with a nativity scene and a menorah. I think that's what makes America great! - ROMAN

DEAR ROMAN CATHOLIC: I agree, and it harkens back to a gentler time when America
pictured itself more a melting pot and less a patchwork quilt. The world would be a more
hospitable place if attitudes were more inclusive and less exclusive. I'm reminded of the
song lyric, "What the world needs now is love." (End of sermon.)
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DEAR ABBY: I am a middle-aged man in my 40s. I have been married twice. Both marriages
ended in divorce. I have a teen-age daughter from my first marriage.

Abby, I have not dated since my last marriage. It's not that I'm ugly; it's just that I was
hurt very badly. I do not enjoy life, and I cannot seem to find happiness anywhere.

What can I do to live it up a little and find the happiness that I have been looking for? I
don't need someone in my life to be happy, but my life is so routine -- I need a CHANGE.
Any suggestions would be helpful. -- BORED IN ROANOKE, VA.

DEAR BORED: The best antidote for boredom is to do something for someone else. It's the
front-door key to fulfillment!

Explore volunteer opportunities in your city. Look in the telephone directory under the
heading of "Volunteer Services," join a service club, or make inquiries at your library, your
local hospital or seniors' center.

Another suggestion: Take a vacation and visit someplace you have never been. Travel, even
day trips, provides a stimulating change of scene.

Don't forget to tell your friends, neighbors and relatives that you are interested in meeting

Try any or all of the above and you'll be on the road to the happiness you seek.

DEAR ABBY: I'm sending this in response to "Sad Father in Connecticut." Many of us who
have lost a child have felt the sting of insensitive people. The enclosed poem by Rita Moran
was printed in "The Compassionate Friends" newsletter in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Feel free to

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DEAR NANCY: Thank you for sending the poem. Many people feel awkward about
expressing their sympathy to families who have experienced a loss. Rita Moran's poem not
only contains a strong message, it also offers helpful advice for those who don't know what
to say. Read on:

PLEASE, don't ask me if I'm over it yet.

I'll never be over it.

PLEASE, don't tell me she's in a better place.

She isn't here with me.

PLEASE, don't say at least she isn't suffering.

I haven't come to terms with why she had to suffer at all.

PLEASE, don't tell me you know how I feel,

Unless you have lost a child.

PLEASE, don't ask me if I feel better.

Bereavement isn't a condition that clears up.

PLEASE, don't tell me at least you had her for so many years.

What year would you choose for your child to die?

PLEASE, don't tell me God never gives us more than we can bear.

PLEASE, just say you are sorry.

PLEASE, just say you remember my child, if you do.

PLEASE, just let me talk about my child.

PLEASE, mention my child's name.

PLEASE, just let me cry.

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DEAR ABBY: This letter is in response to "Wm. T. Elliott" and his suggestion that "small
children should have a whistle tied around their necks when they go on picnics and

Abby, please accept this important reminder to parents: ANY cord, string, necklace or tie
around a child's neck could KILL if accidentally snagged by a tree, bush, fence, swing, etc.
Parents should really protect little ones by PINNING or CLIPPING on that whistle! -- A

DEAR CONCERNED: I apologize for letting that slip by. You are not the only reader who
hastened to point it out. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I agree that supplying a whistle for small children who are camping is a good
one. However, since tying anything around the neck of a small child is a strangulation
hazard, it would be better to securely attach it to a zipper pull, belt loop or shirt.

When my four children were small, I also laced a small ID tag onto their shoe for family
outings -- zoos, hikes, etc. -- in case the child was too frightened or injured to give vital
information. Nowadays you can have bracelets made up for that purpose. -- MARY ELLEN

DEAR MARY ELLEN: Thank you for the input. A reader in Clackamas, Ore., also suggests
that providing older children with walkie-talkies on camping trips is a good precaution in
case they become separated from the family for any reason. That way the child can be
heard from more than a mile away.

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DEAR ABBY: Thank you for printing the letter from "Wm. T. Elliott" about the importance of
carrying a whistle while camping.

Abby, a safety whistle should be carried not only while camping or in the woods, but at all
times. Boaters carry whistles in case the power goes out and they are stranded. College
students carry whistles for safety on campus. The elderly carry whistles in case they are
attacked or are physically unable to call for help.

The American Whistle Corp., where I work, is the only manufacturer of metal whistles in the
United States. We frequently receive letters from people relating how they have been saved
by blowing their whistle while lost in the woods or while being mugged. Our most recent
survival story came from a man who was having a heart attack and was unable to yell. He
was, however, able to blow his whistle to get attention.
Once again, Abby, your column has been an instrument in saving lives. Thank you. --

DEAR JENNIFER: I am sure many people will find your letter of interest. I am pleased to
"blow the whistle" for safety. I have carried a whistle on my key ring for many years.

DEAR ABBY: My friends of many years and I are planning a special beach trip to celebrate a
friendship that began in the late '50s in elementary school.

We are big fans of yours and would like to know if you have any words about friendship that
you could share with us. It would be an honor and a thrill to hear from you. -- THE YA-YAS

DEAR YA-YAS: Friendship is a gift to be cherished. The way to have a good friend is to BE

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With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money
order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear




DEAR ABBY: I am writing this on behalf of all people who are blind or visually impaired. You
would be doing them a service if you would remind your readers that blind people are not
"strange" or to be feared; they are ordinary people who, for whatever reason, cannot see.

I do volunteer work with the blind and hear the same stories over and over. I've finally
concluded that most sighted people do not understand what blindness is all about. 1.
Blindness is not contagious. My students tell me that people frequently back away from
them when told they are blind.

2. Blind people are not hard of hearing; you don't have to raise your voice when you speak
to them.

3. There are different degrees of visual impairment. Some have lost their peripheral vision,
but can see straight ahead; others have only peripheral vision, while others have cloudy
vision and can see only in bright light. Still others are totally blind.

4. Blind people cannot drive a car, but they can do just about everything else a sighted
person can do, if given the chance.
The public needs to be educated on the white-cane laws. Only those with a visual
impairment are allowed to carry white canes, and motorists are required to stop for anyone
carrying one.

Guide dogs and service dogs, those wonderful creatures who give independence to the blind
and other disabled people, are to be respected. DON'T try to pet one when it is in harness.
They don't bite, but by distracting the dog, the owner may be put in harm's way. If you feel
you must pet one, ask permission first! And parents, for heaven's sake, teach your children
never to pet the dogs. I have seen young children rush up to a guide dog and hug it.

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Thank you, Abby, for spreading the word. -- EILEEN PARLEE, CATHEDRAL CITY, CALIF.

DEAR EILEEN: Thank you for a letter brimming with helpful information. There are many
agencies nationwide that work with people who are blind or have a visual impairment. I
would urge anyone who knows someone who has lost his or her sight to encourage that
person to seek training so he or she can live independently. It can be done, and is being

DEAR ABBY: With reference to the letter about the 57-year-old grandmother raising a 7-
year-old grandchild, let me tell you a wonderful story:

A young mother died giving birth to her third daughter. There was no one in the family to
take the three girls, ages 6, 3 and 6 weeks old, into their homes. The great-grandmother
came forward and took care of all three little girls. She was 83 years old at the time. How
do I know this story is true? The 6-week-old child was my neighbor.
The great-grandmother lived until she was 99. So, Abby, all things are possible with the

DEAR DELORIS: Thank you for an inspirational letter. I have received many letters over the
years from people asking, "Abby, am I too old to ...?" Your letter proves that if the desire
and determination are strong enough, no one is too old.

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DEAR ABBY: I was amused to read about the woman who plucked her "whiskers" at the
table in the restaurant. I know EXACTLY why she does it -- especially if she sits by the
window. It's because the light is probably better than at home!

Obviously she needs a lighted magnifying mirror at home - and she definitely should do her
tweezing there. Tsk, tsk, so unmannerly. -- J.G. IN FRESNO

DEAR J.G.: You are not the only reader who was moved to write about the public plucker.
Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Perhaps you should have consulted an expert in geriatric medicine regarding
the letter about the woman tweezing the hairs on her chin. It could be a textbook symptom
of senile dementia.

My guess is, as our population continues to age and some caring friends or relatives are
willing to take our senior citizens out of the nursing home for a meal in a restaurant to
provide a little variety in their lives, we're probably going to see more of this behavior in
public places. Get over it! Wisely, the man with this woman has given up on the idea that
she's capable of changing her behavior and ignores it. He just makes sure her tweezers are
in her purse before he takes her out! -- BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, CINCINNATI

DEAR BEEN THERE: Oh, if it would only stop at plucking! Read on:

DEAR ABBY: If "Harriett in Hollywood" was astonished when a diner in a restaurant plucked
her chin hairs at the table, hear this:

A few years ago, we were enjoying a lovely luncheon in a nice restaurant in Florence, Ore.
The couple at the next table had just finished their meal. While they waited for the check,
the gentleman whipped out his dentures and swished them in his water goblet, while his
companion watched the waves on the shore. -- BESS IN EUGENE
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DEAR BESS: Now I've heard everything. Obviously he mistook the goblet for something he
could sink his teeth into. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Basically I agree with your answer to "Harriett in Hollywood," that the woman
displayed bald indifference to common table manners. However, her eyesight may be failing
and the window seat at noon offered her the light she needed to complete her tweezing
task. Bad taste, yes. She may also have limited funds, and therefore be unable to have this
task performed for her at her beauty salon. However, I believe we should be a little more
tolerant of our seniors, and more charitable. -- DAILY READER, ALTOONA, PA.

DEAR DAILY READER: I agree -- but how about applying that philosophy of tolerance and
charity not only to seniors but to everyone as well? There would be less depression and
fewer stress disorders if people were slower to criticize.

CONFIDENTIAL TO NERVOUS GROOM: Ogden Nash gave sage advice for wedded bliss that
applies to both the bride and the groom:

"To keep your marriage brimming,

"With love in the loving cup,

"Whenever you're wrong, admit it;

"Whenever you're right, shut up."

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DEAR ABBY: I am writing to request a piece you printed some time ago. It was called
"Please God, I'm Only 17." My nephew, 17, was just killed in a car accident. Would you
please run it again? Thank you, Abby. -- KATHY KNUTTER, INDEPENDENCE, MO.

DEAR KATHY: That piece is one of the most powerful I have ever run in my column, and it's
one of my most frequently requested. Young people confirm that it has made them think
twice about their driving habits and encouraged them to be careful. You are right; it should
run again. Read on:


The day I died was an ordinary school day. How I wish I had taken the bus. But I was too
cool for the bus. I remember how I wheedled the car out of Mom. "Special favor," I pleaded.
"All the kids drive."

When the 2:50 bell rang, I threw all my books in the locker. I was free until 8:40 tomorrow
morning! I ran to the parking lot, excited at the thought of driving a car and being my own
boss. Free!

It doesn't matter how the accident happened. I was goofing off -- going too fast. Taking
crazy chances. But I was enjoying my freedom and having fun. The last thing I remember
was passing an old lady who seemed to be going awfully slow. I heard the deafening crash
and felt a terrible jolt. Glass and steel flew everywhere. My whole body seemed to be
turning inside out. I heard myself scream.

Suddenly I awakened; it was very quiet. A police officer was standing over me. Then I saw
a doctor. My body was mangled. I was saturated with blood. Pieces of jagged glass were
sticking out all over. Strange that I couldn't feel anything.

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Hey, don't pull that sheet over my head! I can't be dead. I'm only 17. I've got a date
tonight. I'm supposed to grow up and have a wonderful life. I haven't lived yet. I can't be

Later I was placed in a drawer. My folks had to identify me. Why did they have to see me
like this? Why did I have to look at Mom's eyes when she faced the most terrible ordeal of
her life? Dad suddenly looked like an old man. He told the man in charge, "Yes, he is my

The funeral was a weird experience. I saw all my relatives and friends walk toward the
casket. They passed by, one by one, and looked at me with the saddest eyes I've ever seen.
Some of my buddies ware crying. A few of the girls touched my hand and sobbed as they
walked away.

Please -- somebody -- wake me up! Get me out of here! I can't bear to see my mom and
dad so broken up. My grandparents are so racked with grief they can hardly walk. My
brothers and sisters are like zombies. They move like robots. In a daze, everybody. No one
can believe this. And I can't believe it, either.

Please don't bury me! I'm not dead! I have a lot of living to do! I want to laugh and run
again. I want to sing and dance. Please don't put me in the ground. I promise if you give
me one more chance, God, I'll be the most careful driver in the whole world. All I want is
one more chance!

Please, God, I'm only 17!

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DEAR ABBY: Like most of your readers, I never thought I'd be writing to you, but I'm at my
wit's end.

I am a 38-year-old married woman. My husband doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, doesn't fool
around, is physically fit, great in bed and not afraid to shower. He works at a full-time job,
as well as a part-time job, and he's an equal partner in the area of child care. So, what's my

This man has never admitted he was wrong about ANYTHING in the 13 years we've been
married! He has never apologized for any thoughtless thing he's done, has never
acknowledged that anything he's ever said has caused me pain or embarrassment, and
refuses to admit that this isn't normal.

When I let him know this really bothers me, he'll joke and say, "Someday, if I'm ever
wrong, I'll apologize." I'll admit that my response is usually a smart-aleck insult, but I think
that after all these years of being married to Mr. Perfect, I'm entitled.

I love this guy, I really do. But I don't think I can bear to spend the rest of my life with a
man who thinks that my feelings are unimportant. I'm not usually one to hold a grudge, but
since he won't apologize about anything, I stay angry at him much longer than I should
about inconsequential things. Short of divorce, what do I do? -- FRUSTRATED

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Your husband is a 9 on a scale of 10 -- and that's a pretty terrific

score. When he says something hurtful or embarrassing, perhaps you should be slower to
make a "smart-aleck" comment, and instead let him see an honest reaction. It would make
it more difficult for him to joke his way out of an apology.

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P.S. Believe it or not, the inability to admit one is wrong is a sign of insecurity.

DEAR ABBY: The poem you printed, "Cocaine," really hit home because I have a daughter
who got hooked on it, and she has destroyed the lives of everyone around her.

Enclosed is a letter from her 11-year-old daughter. I wish you would print it; maybe my
daughter or some other parent will see it and realize how their drug use is affecting the
families they leave behind. -- CAROLYN IN ALABAMA
DEAR CAROLYN: Your grandchild's poignant letter is well worth space in this column. Read

"Hello, my name is Candi. I'm going to tell you what drugs did to my mother. She left me,
my dad and my brother who is only 2 years old. He cries at night for her. Sometimes I cry,
too. My dad is really hurt. Me and my brother will grow up without a mother.

"Well, you heard what drugs will do to people. So, please -- don't do drugs."

DEAR ABBY: Since Sen. Gramm's letter appeared in your column, congressional offices
across America have been bombarded with requests for flags flown over the Capitol. This is
great! It's wonderful to see so many patriotic citizens wishing to display Old Glory.

Thanks, Abby. Once again, you've provided a great service for your readers. -- A CAPITOL

DEAR CAPITOL HILL READER: Thank you for setting the record straight. Readers, your
telephone directory lists the telephone numbers for the local offices of your representatives
and senators in the section titled "U.S. Government."

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DEAR ABBY: I was appalled by the letter written by the retired therapist, "Dr. Howard Bott,"
who said that a victim of domestic abuse who confides in her friends is somehow
responsible for the abuse. His suggestion that somehow the woman named "Sara" was
playing a "game" for dramatic effect was unbelievable.

Women who are abused by spouses and significant others believe that they are powerless to
stop the cycle of abuse. Friends and family need to show the victim that their love is
unconditional, gather information about a "safe plan" from their local victim/witness or
women's shelter, and assist her when she's ready to leave the relationship. They also need
to be patient with the victim.

Ask any member of my family and they'll tell you it takes a long time for the victim to
rebuild that self-esteem and to know she's capable of changing the situation. Our daughter
was in a similar relationship for more than seven years. When she finally found the courage
to leave, it was too late. He stalked and murdered her.
Please tell your readers that they should NEVER, EVER consider domestic abuse to be a
"game." It's not. It has deadly consequences. -- BEEN THERE, SUPERIOR, WIS.

DEAR BEEN THERE: Please accept my sympathy for the tragic loss of your beloved
daughter. In recent years, law enforcement and behavioral therapists have become more
knowledgeable about the cycle of domestic violence -- and all agree that it is not to be
taken lightly. Read on:

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DEAR ABBY: I was shocked and angered at how much blame "Dr. Bott" placed on "Sara,"
the victim of domestic abuse.

I dated a young man for more than five years before we finally married. "Mike" had never
laid a hand on me. Three weeks into our marriage, he started shoving me into walls,
slapping me, dragging me around the house and throwing me down stairs. I believed it was
my fault. "If only I had not made him so mad," "maybe if I had a second job so we had
more money," "if only I had cleaned the house better," etc. I was convinced that I was a
horrible, ugly, stupid human being, and I was too embarrassed to tell family and friends.

The people at work saw through my lies and made me admit what Mike was doing. I cannot
describe the relief I felt. These wonderful people never failed to tell me every day that it
wasn't my fault, that I needed to leave Mike.

One day I had a terrible bruise on my arm. "Jake" walked over to me, took my hand and
told me that of all the people in the world this happens to, it shouldn't be happening to me
because I was smart and beautiful. He talked for 10 minutes about what a wonderful person
I was. I couldn't stop crying. Abby, no one had ever said anything like that to me.
That night, I went home and suddenly saw Mike for who he really was -- a sorry excuse for
a man without a job, who couldn't get his life together, who drank and smoked pot -- and
when he became disillusioned with a world he couldn't control, he took it out on me with
insults and violence. I left him that night.

This September, Jake and I will celebrate four happy years of marriage with our beautiful 3-
year-old son. It took counseling, prayer and love, but I realize that Mike had problems, and
what he did to me was inexcusable.

Today, I am the beautiful, smart, confident woman I had always wanted to be. I thank God
daily for the angels he sent to help me. Blaming the victims of domestic violence only
perpetuates the cycle. Only when we become outraged at the abuser, when we make hitting
your partner and your kids inexcusable, will we have a chance to stop this horrible


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DEAR ABBY: I have been married for four years, and I consider myself a good wife. I take
extra care of my husband when he's sick or in pain. I cook for him and clean the house. I
practically wait on him hand and foot.

But during the last two years, he has changed in ways that make me feel suspicious and
angry. He spends a lot of time with his ex-wife. He buys her roses, chocolates, candy and
jewelry. He's never bought me anything like that at all. He quit being intimate with me two
years ago. That's when he started his five-hour visits with his ex-wife.

I have had this nagging suspicion that something more is going on between him and his ex.
I can't ask him if he's cheating on me. He has a very short fuse. He yells, swears and
threatens me. I lost my sense of being assertive after our first year of marriage.

If he doesn't love me, why won't he tell me? Whatever's going on with him has put a
terrible strain on my heart. Abby, please help! -- CONFUSED IN SACRAMENTO

DEAR CONFUSED: The relationship you are describing between yourself and your husband is
not a marriage; it's indentured servitude. You have been such a good cook, nurse and
housekeeper -- and completely nonassertive since the first year of your marriage -- that he
doesn't want to lose those services.
When a man sees a woman regularly, and buys her candy, flowers and jewelry, it's safe to
assume that something is up. After two years, you have already tolerated more than many
women would. Bite the bullet and ask him what's going on with his ex-wife. If he gets ugly
again, be ready with an ultimatum, and have his bags packed when you do it.

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DEAR ABBY: When I read the letter from "Snoopy Mom," who boasted about how she read
her children's diaries, eavesdropped on their telephone calls and searched their belongings,
I felt truly sorry for her.

My children, now 27 and 24, never gave me a reason to doubt them. Their belongings, in
my opinion, were theirs -- and not for my perusing. Both were very active from early
childhood throughout college. Neither ever abused their curfews.

My son was a three-time college All-American -- the first in the history of his college. My
daughter was president of her college class. Both graduated, and today enjoy successful

I told them early on that they could enjoy life as long as they did it responsibly. The minute
they demonstrated to me that they were not capable of that, their lives would have changed
dramatically. I'm glad I never had to make that change! -- PROUD MOM IN OHIO

DEAR PROUD MOM: As I pointed out to "Snoopy Mom," if parents have a legitimate reason
to question their child's honesty, it's only common sense to check. However, if teens have
proven by their actions that they can be trusted, nosiness is not a legitimate reason to
conduct a search.
Predictably, I received bushels of heartfelt letters from teens who were outraged by
"Snoopy Mom's" letter. Tomorrow, we'll hear what they had to say.

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DEAR READERS: Yesterday I printed a letter from an Ohio mother regarding a previously
published letter from a "Snoopy Mom" who proudly described searching through her teen-
agers' belongings.

Today I'll share a sample of the mail I received from teens. Hang onto your hats! Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am a teen-age male who was infuriated when I read the letter in your column
from "Snoopy Mom." I'm willing to bet that if she caught her kids going through her
personal belongings, she would lecture them until the sun went down. And you know what
she'd be then? A hypocrite! As soon as her teen-agers left the room after telling them that
snooping is wrong and that they should respect privacy, she'd start snooping again.

I hope God is on her side, because she is going to need His help if they catch her! -- JEFF IN

DEAR ABBY: There is a difference between invading your children's privacy and noticing if
they spend their free time building bombs in the garage. Violating their trust by searching
their rooms without justification while they are absent is reprehensible.

A child's diary is a child's diary. In it, a child records innermost feelings and what other kids
share in confidence. I'll bet "Mom" wouldn't appreciate it if her kids went through her most
private things.

I feel sorry for the children of "Snoopy Mom." They have to spend every day with this
callous, irrational, distrusting and insensitive person. She never should have had children if
this is how she treats them.

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I now realize how fortunate I am that my parents are intelligent enough to respect my
privacy and, at the same time, steer me in the right direction. -- RATIONAL 15-YEAR-OLD,

DEAR RATIONAL: Many teens echoed your feelings. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Conspicuously absent from "Snoopy's" letter were comments on the result of
her behavior -- the quality of her relationship with her children. It can't be very good, since
her children are probably aware of her atrocious lack of trust, respect and common
courtesy. I hope knowing every detail of her children's lives now will make up for this
mother's being shut out of their lives when they're older -- JEANA L., AGE 19, IN OHIO

DEAR ABBY: I pity people who feel they must violate their children's trust in order to learn
more about their lives. I hope parents understand that once your children learn you do not
trust them, they in turn will not trust YOU -- and you'll never be able to rebuild what has
been so carelessly destroyed.

Some people may call it "concern," but I call it lack of parenting skills. -- REBECCA (AGE 14)

DEAR ABBY: I realize that parents should know what their children are doing. It's their right
to make sure they're not getting into trouble with underage drinking, drugs, premarital sex,
etc. But everyone is entitled to at least a little bit of privacy. "Snoopy Mom" gave her
children none.

Do her children know she's doing this? Unless she spent a lot of time placing things
EXACTLY where they were before, I'm sure they've figured it out! -- TRUSTED TEEN IN

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DEAR ABBY: I am a plastic surgeon and a very busy one, but I am not too busy to write this
letter asking you to PLEASE implore parents (especially mothers) to NEVER -- and I repeat,
NEVER -- allow their children to stand up in either the front or back of an automobile while
it is in motion.

These last few weeks I have been called upon to make some heartbreaking repairs on some
very beautiful little faces that had been pitifully mutilated from accidents that came about in
just this way. All it takes is one abrupt stop for a youngster's face to meet a windshield,
dashboard or the back of the front seat with such force as to break face bones, knock out
teeth and cause disfiguring injuries.

Today I nearly wept while I worked with an eye surgeon for nearly two hours in a vain effort
to save the eye of a little boy who had been standing in the back of his mother's car when
she slammed on her brakes. (The child's eye was gouged out as he struck the ashtray.) If
you will print this, I'll be most grateful. -- AN M.D. IN L.A.

DEAR L.A.M.D.: It's appalling that a child should be maimed for life because of the
carelessness of his or her parent. I hope your warning will remind parents of the importance
of buckling up their children before putting a key in the ignition.

DEAR ABBY: In response to the person who wrote to suggest that a cellular phone would be
a good safety item for hikers and campers who are lost in the woods -- I beg to differ! A cell
phone is never to be relied upon to help rescuers find you. There are too many areas that
don't have service, or because of the terrain, there isn't any cellular reception.

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One should never go into the wilderness without a buddy, or without telling someone where
you plan to go and approximately when you will return. Of course, a short orienting course
in map and compass skills can also prove to be invaluable.

Children should never be allowed to run ahead down the trail. One never knows what kinds
of predators are hungry and waiting for that meal opportunity to come along. And yes,
wearing a whistle IS standard operating procedure. -- STAYING FOUND IN COLORADO

DEAR STAYING FOUND: You are not the only reader who was kind enough to point out to
me -- the quintessential "city girl" -- that in a wilderness area a cell phone might be useless.

DEAR ABBY: Regarding the woman who asked her husband whether he would save his
mother or her in a boating accident, everyone missed the boat in their answers.

He should have said: "I would be devastated at having to make such a choice! I love you
both so much I would never let either of you ride in a boat unless you were wearing a life

DEAR RICK: You are an angel with water wings, and you're absolutely right! What wouldn't
we give for 20/20 hindsight!

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With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check




DEAR ABBY: I really need your help. The problem is my older sister "Myrtle." She's 60, and
our mother is 80. Myrtle has become so negative she's pushing away the people who love
her. I don't think she means to alienate everyone, but even our mother says, "I can't stand
it anymore!"

I don't think Myrtle realizes she has a choice when it comes to her behavior. She chooses to
expect the worst. When we go out to lunch she expects to be unhappy with the quality of
the food or the service. And she expects to be upset by anything anyone has to say to her.
She never has anything nice to say, but always has a mean remark to make or a negative
observation. Mother doesn't want to confront her, and has resorted to silence when it comes
to dealing with her. She doesn't talk much when Myrtle is around. When I asked her why,
she said, "She doesn't like what I have to say, so I'm not going to say anything." Other
members of our extended family have begun noticing Myrtle's negativity and are becoming
My sister realizes she's a difficult person. More than once she's been heard to say, "I'm just
a nasty person." Inside, I say to myself, "Is that what you WANT?" I know Myrtle would be
very hurt if our mother said she no longer wanted to go out with her. But I think that's what
will happen if her behavior doesn't change. Mom is very upset when she returns after
spending time with Myrtle, and the stress isn't good for her blood pressure. I love them
both, but I don't know how to help. Can you suggest anything? -- CONCERNED IN THE




DEAR ABBY: I am the computer operations manager for a large company. As the year 2000
draws closer, people are becoming more concerned about the Y2K bug. The following is my
response. If you think your readers would find it interesting and/or helpful, please feel free


A number of people have been asking me about how Y2K will affect them. First, I got out
my crystal ball. Then I cobbled together some thoughts on the subject:

99.693 percent of the Y2K HYPE is to get you, the consumer, to buy, buy, buy! (If you
spend enough money, you will be OK, etc.)

I'm sure everyone has seen or heard ads telling us to buy bottled water, long-term storable
food (enough to last six months at the least), water filters, wind-up radios, flashlights that
use LEDs rather than bulbs, guns and ammunition (go NRA!), computer software that will
"fix" any Y2K bugs on their computers (as if it would be the end of civilization if the
computer fails), and anything else some nutcase can think up. Then, once all of us have
mortgaged our homes to buy all this junk, we are urged to take the rest of our money,
stocks, bonds and anything else of value we might have and buy (there's that word again!)
gold because that will be the only currency accepted on Jan. 1, 2000.

Most of these people are the same ones who claim that when you use your ATM or
"rewards" card at the supermarket, the CIA/FBI is tracking your buying habits to produce a
"profile" on you.

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So much for fantasy. Now for a little reality:

Vital utilities or government agencies have been preparing for Y2K for some time now.
Could your power go out? Yes. Will it be out for more than an hour or two. Probably not.
(Has your power ever been out before? Didn't you live through the outage?)

Will you receive a bill from VISA for $43,554,238,490.32? Probably not. If you do, don't pay
it. Call the bank.

Will the bank lose all your checking and savings balances? Probably not. If they do, you
have records, they have records, and it will get fixed.

Remember that most of the services affecting you are someone else's livelihood! These
companies aren't going to vanish. Any major problems will get fixed FAST. Minor problems
will get fixed a little later -- that's why they are called minor problems.

If you will stay calm, don't panic, use your head and don't do something stupid, everyone
will get through Y2K JUST FINE.

DEAR ABBY: I am currently enamored of a lady who is sleeping with her ex-boyfriend, but
she has consistently told me that she could fall in love with me if she just didn't have him as
extra baggage. I have asked her many times why she still carries on with him, but she just
shrugs and says she can't tell me for certain.

I have a tremendous amount of love in my heart for this woman, if she would just give me
the benefit of the doubt. What should my next move be? -- ANXIOUSLY UNSURE IN L.A.

DEAR ANXIOUSLY UNSURE: Your next move should be two giant steps backward. As long as
she's sleeping with her "ex"-boyfriend, she will not replace him with you -- or anyone else.

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DEAR ABBY: I'm writing in response to the letter from "A Mom Who Loves Her Son,
Anywhere, U.S.A." She arranged counseling for her angry son, and she wrote hoping that
publicity will be given to counselors specializing in adolescents. She also mentioned that the
apparent reason for her son's unhappiness and anger was that he "felt intimidated and
threatened by groups of older students at his large suburban high school."

This behavior has a name. It's called BULLYING, and it victimizes millions of schoolchildren
every year. Presumably, if the son had not been bullied, he would not have become so
angry and would not have NEEDED counseling. Surely this is a perfect example of why there
is a need for "prevention" -- the elimination of bullying.

"Mom" wrote in response to the tragedy in Littleton. Immediately after the tragedy, young
people themselves also responded by identifying bullying as a serious problem in our

Students in Hillsboro High School in Nashville, Tenn., created the "I WILL PLEDGE" and
urged fellow students to sign the pledge not to mock or bully others who dress, act, look or
talk differently. At the time, these student observations and efforts were reported in the
media. Now the media no longer look to these young experts for input and advice, but have
reverted to reporting and quoting only adult "experts" who appear not to have heard the
youth. While gun control and violence in the media certainly must be addressed, the adult
policy-makers and administrators do not seem to grasp the urgent importance of dealing
with bullying consistently over the long term in a public and publicized way.

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Only with raised awareness of the widespread and devastating consequences of bullying will
society be able to rid itself of the attitude that teasing and taunting are "just something to
put up with." Only with raised awareness will educators and school personnel realize and
accept that only they can accomplish zero tolerance of the bullying that occurs daily in
classrooms, restrooms, hallways, cafeterias, playgrounds and on school buses. Only with
raised awareness will millions of silently suffering children from elementary school through
high school be spared this humiliation and pain. -- ANOTHER MOM WHO LOVES HER SON,

DEAR MOM: You have expressed it beautifully. Your thinking parallels my own. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am 12 years old. Starting in the fourth grade, no one in my class really cared
for me. A boy named "Tom" and a girl named "Megan" were the exceptions.

After fourth grade, Megan gave in to peer pressure, so Tom and I were the outcasts. At the
end of the year, Tom moved -- so I spent the first half of the sixth grade as the lone

My family and I moved to Iowa about a year ago. I enrolled in school and for the first few
days I was accepted. Then one day I said or did something that offended the other kids and
my old life came back. I am haunted with the name-calling and teasing and feel like I'm
going crazy.

I came home from school crying, and have even mentioned suicide to my mom. The
teachers have helped some, and I've spoken to two counselors. Today I thought of having a
train hit my arm, with the intention of breaking it, to prove my seriousness. Please help me.
DEAR 12-YEAR-OLD: You are not alone with this problem; you have lots of company.
Suicide is not the answer, nor is breaking your arm. You need intensive professional
counseling immediately. Please ask your mother to write to me so I can advise her more
fully. I promise that your situation will improve.

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is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed
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DEAR ABBY: Last March, my best friend, "Emma," and I opened a business together.

We had a falling out three weeks ago and haven't spoken since. She's very stubborn and
can't admit when she's wrong. On a hunch, I called the 24-hour banking service for our
business account. Lo and behold, the balance was zero. A week ago it held more than $200.
I checked further. There have been four ATM transactions in the last two weeks -- all
withdrawals. One was done at a store where business was more than likely done; however,
the others were done at the supermarket.

Abby, we were best friends -- or so I thought. I feel Emma stole the money. She didn't let
me know we owed people who had helped us get started, so of course I have to pay them

I am so angry and hurt I don't know what to do. Our friendship is over. I'm really going to
miss that because Emma was like a sister to me. I don't know what to do from here -- take
her to court, scream at her, tell the world or just let it go. Your thoughts, please. --

DEAR USED: Now that you have vented, call your former business partner and ask her to
account for the money that was supposed to be in the business account. She MAY have had
a legitimate reason for withdrawing the funds.

You did not indicate how much money you feel obligated to pay back to the individuals who
helped the two of you start the business. Since it was a partnership, you should not be on
the hook for more than 50 percent of it. Add to it the money that should have been left in
the joint account. If it's more than you can comfortably afford to lose, by all means take her
to small claims court. If not, consider this an expensive introductory course in business
accounting and safeguarding your investment -- and write her off.

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DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been annoyed by something for some time. We have a few
friends who visit us at least twice a week. They insist upon hugging at every greeting and
goodbye. Whether at my house, in public or elsewhere -- hugs are expected.

Should we just grin and bear the excessive hugging? Or should we avoid the hug and
address the issue with them? -- OVERHUGGED IN LONG BEACH, CALIF.

DEAR OVERHUGGED: Tell your friends, as kindly as possible, that not all people are equally
demonstrative -- and that all the hugging they take for granted makes you uncomfortable.
Assure them of your caring and friendship, and ask them to please understand. If they are
true friends, they will.

DEAR ABBY: When writing thank-you notes, how do you deal with gifts from a group of
people? Do you write an individual thank-you to each person who signed the card, or can
you send a "group" thank-you? -- TRAECY IN CLACKAMAS, ORE.

DEAR TRAECY: Much depends upon how many people make up the "group." For example, if
the group comprises approximately 25 to 30 or more people, one thank-you note would be

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DEAR ABBY: I am a teacher. One of the first things I tell students when we discuss
examinations is, "Answer the question!" Your reply to the question, "Why is it OK to be a
racist if you're black?" had nothing to do with the question. Want to try again? --

DEAR CINCINNATI: All right. Racism is never "OK," regardless of the skin color of the bigot.
Not all people are alike, and it is ignorant to assume that you can prejudge a person
because of skin color. You can't. There are no shortcuts. You have to get to know people
before you can make intelligent judgments about them. To do otherwise is narrow-minded
and shortsighted.

The letter from "My Kid's Mom" generated some thought-provoking responses. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I am now retired, but during my 33 years of teaching American history at four
universities, my primary research field was the history of race relations in the United States.
One of my books, "The Arrogance of Faith: Christianity and Race in America From the
Colonial Era to the Twentieth Century" (Knopf, 1990), was selected for the Cleveland
Foundation's Anisfield-Wolf Award, and the publisher nominated it for a Pulitzer Prize.

Racism is a complex idea and can mean different things to different people. The definition
that has worked best for me is: "A belief in an innate inequality among races, and conduct
in accordance with that belief." Civil rights laws can control conduct but they cannot
legislate belief. Changing beliefs comes only with education, and that takes time.

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"My Kid's Mom" said her daughter wondered why it "... is OK to be racist if you're black."
Well, it's NOT OK. Discrimination by blacks toward whites is no more acceptable than the
reverse, but it might be helpful if more people understood why it exists.

I know of no dark-skinned people who believe they are innately superior to light-skinned
people, at least not those living in Western societies. But for five centuries, Europeans (and
later Americans), driven by religious beliefs and supported by economic and military
superiority, systematically oppressed -- including enslavement and extermination -- the
aboriginal populations of undeveloped cultures. Today, dark-skinned people have the power
to retaliate. As long as white racism exists, they will exercise that power. -- FORREST G.

DEAR FORREST: The subject of bigotry is an emotional one for me, and I thank you for
putting it into a scholarly perspective. I agree with your conclusion. Viewed from a historical
perspective, reverse racism is understandable. But that doesn't make it any the less
unfortunate. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: As a proud African-American man, father and citizen, I wish to respond to the
letter from "My Kid's Mom." There is no racism in the African-American community in the
United States. What you see is the anguish of being black in a white country. What whites
see as racism is, in reality, the pain of being discriminated against on a daily basis because
of our color. It's a defense mechanism in order to be ready for any contingency that arises.

Oppressed people do what they have to do for survival in a hostile and unfriendly,
dangerous country like we have here in America. I teach my kids to be tough and smart, for
a black person is always surrounded by whites with racist attitudes. Never let your guard

DEAR THOMAS: You have laid it on the line, and the message is clear. However, I recall a
wonderful statement attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "We may have come here on
different ships, but we're all in the same boat." Wise words, indeed!
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DEAR ABBY: On a recent trip back East, my father reunited with his childhood sweetheart
and is now seeking a divorce after 32 years of marriage to my mother. Apparently my
father has never gotten over this woman and had pined away for her since the day he
married my mother.

The trouble is, he feels the need to tell everyone (including friends, family, strangers and
my new boyfriend) about his dilemma in complete detail. He goes on and on about how
terrible my mother is, why he needs to leave her and be with this other woman, etc.

How can I approach my father on the subject of appropriateness? I would like to tell him to
put a lid on it, but then he pouts because he feels I'm not "supporting" him. Have you any
suggestions, Abby? He doesn't need to be airing our family laundry in such detail with each
and every person he encounters. -- THROWN FOR A LOOP IN L.A.

DEAR THROWN FOR A LOOP: Tell him exactly what you have told me and don't mince any
words, because you are absolutely right. Also, don't count on muzzling the old dog. He's
trying to justify throwing away his marriage and abandoning the wife he "tolerated" for 32
years. And frankly, he's only making himself look bad.

DEAR ABBY: I have a beautiful, brilliant daughter who has graduated with three degrees
and high honors, but she seems to have no common sense.

She was engaged to her high school boyfriend, whom we all loved, then ditched him to date
his friend. She gave up several excellent jobs, always landing on her feet, dated several
men we all disapproved of, almost married a physical abuser (who, thankfully, dumped her
just before the wedding), traveled all over the U.S.A. and Europe, and returned to another
wonderful job.

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She now lives with a slob, 15 years younger than herself, with no future and no money. He
looks like an unmade bed with long dirty hair. I am mystified about how she can possibly
introduce this person to her co-workers or others, ignoring the embarrassment to all of us.
What is going on here? We had a huge blowup, and she now refuses to speak to me. -- HER

DEAR LOVING MOTHER: Your daughter appears to be experienced, accomplished and

successful at almost everything she has attempted. Apparently she is happy with this man,
so he must be doing something right.

If you are truly a loving mother, be less critical of what you perceive to be his shortcomings
and concentrate on the fact that he makes your daughter happy. Although you are well-
intentioned, this is a choice that only she should make -- and she has made it.

DEAR ABBY: The letter from the woman who was uncomfortable about using her father-in-
law as her OB/GYN prompts this letter. "Uncomfortable" posed a question I often receive at
the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners from practicing physicians.

It would be unprofessional and unethical for the father-in-law of "Uncomfortable" to serve

as her physician, according to the American Medical Association Council on Ethical and
Judicial Affairs.

If her father-in-law treats her, his license could well be subject to disciplinary action by his
state medical board, and if he does so against her will, it SHOULD be. The father-in-law has
only one ethical alternative: Decline to treat "Uncomfortable." -- AARON J.KOZLOSKI, J.D.,

DEAR AARON: If my prior column on the subject did not settle the question, I'm certain that
your letter will put the matter to rest. Thank you for your expert opinion.

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DEAR ABBY: My "Aunt Maude," whom I dearly love, visits me once a month to do some
shopping -- in my pantry. She lives 40 miles away and comes over with a shopping bag she
fills with canned goods as well as paper products.
My husband is furious about it, and remarked that if Aunt Maude was in financial distress,
there would be no problem. However, she owns rental properties and is financially secure.
He calls her a parasite and a vulture for taking advantage of a younger relative with a heart
of gold. He has threatened many times to put a lock on the pantry door to prevent such
thievery, and he finally did, installing a strong lock and keeping the keys.

During her next visit, Aunt Maude, after making some small talk, went to the pantry only to
find it locked and barred to her. In short order, she said she had to visit another relative
and left. Now she refuses to visit me.

Abby, I know what she was doing was wrong, but she did bring me news of the family and I
enjoyed her company. What can I do to repair the damage and make her feel at home,
without her grabbing the goodies from my pantry? My husband told me the minute he hears
she's on the way to visit us, the pantry door will be locked again. Any advice? -- SAD

DEAR SAD NIECE: If coming into the house of relatives and raiding the pantry is considered
acceptable behavior in your family, you should make that clear to your husband. If it's not,
then it's time you opened your own direct line of communication with your relatives so that
you no longer have to "ransom" news of them from your dysfunctional aunt.

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You might send her a gift basket filled with the kinds of goodies she's been stealing from
your pantry, and hope she'll accept your conciliatory gesture -- but I can't guarantee the

DEAR ABBY: We have a question about what to say when we take our adult children and
their spouses out to dinner when we visit them in another state. These people range in age
from 39 to 55 and have been on their own for years.

We don't appreciate it when they order more than one cocktail before dinner, so what could
we say that would be nonconfrontational, but convey to them that we don't want to support
their drinking habit? -- DEVOTED PARENTS, SOMEWHERE

DEAR DEVOTED PARENTS: There is no need to be confrontational. Simply tell your

"children" before dinner that you will pay for only one round of drinks -- and after that, if
they choose to imbibe, they should ask for a separate check.

DEAR ABBY: Can you stand one more comment concerning "unattended" children?
I was co-owner of an antique store. My partners and I decided to put up a sign that read,
"All Unattended Children Will Be Given a Free Kitten."

Abby, the look of panic on the parents' faces was priceless! We had some tiny fabric kittens
that we gave the children who wanted one -- and we got a lot of laughs from it. --

DEAR FAITHFUL READER: I think you came up with a purr-fect solution, and it's certainly
friendlier than the sign other readers reported: "Unattended Children Will Be Sold as

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DEAR ABBY: I have two nephews and one niece, all teen-agers, who have lived with their
father and stepmother for eight years. Their father divorced their mother, who is my sister.

Their stepmother, "Sharon," is trying to make me feel guilty for not sending her daughter
gifts for birthdays and Christmas as I do my own relatives. She has informed me that her
family considers my niece and nephews to be "family," and gives gifts to them on such
occasions -- and she strongly implies that I should too. I resent Sharon pointing this out to
me, especially since she does not encourage my niece and nephews to acknowledge the
gifts they receive from me with even a simple thank-you note or phone call. Although my
gifts are seldom acknowledged, I continue to send them out of a sense of obligation since
they are my blood relatives.

Should I succumb to Sharon's wishes and include her daughter, even though I'm not a
relative and feel ill will toward Sharon? -- CONFUSED WITH THE PROTOCOL, CHICAGO

DEAR CONFUSED: Yes, you should, because to do otherwise is to punish a child who had
nothing to do with the breakup of your sister's marriage. And while you're at it, how about
sending your niece and nephews a box of stationery and a note explaining the importance of
acknowledging gifts? If you get that message across, it will be more valuable to them than
any material possession you could give them.

DEAR ABBY: I am in love with my first cousin. We're both more than 40 years old. We knew
we were attracted to each other 30 years ago, but we didn't say anything to each other at
that time. He went ahead and got married. I remained single. He is now divorced.




DEAR ABBY: My father committed suicide when I was a teen-ager. My family never
discussed his death and considered it a private tragedy.

I now have two pre-teen children. When they asked me about their grandfather, I lied and
told them he died of a heart attack.

Abby, should I tell them the truth when they are older, or should I stick to my story? I want
to do what is best for them. -- TORN IN NEW YORK

DEAR TORN: One day your children will find out the truth, and when they discover you lied
to them, it will diminish their trust in you. They should be told the truth before they hear it
from someone else. Give them only the information they can handle at this age, and expand
upon it when they are older.

Explain that your father had an illness -- depression. Although your family chose to keep it
private when you were a teen-ager, it's all right to talk about it now. You probably SHOULD
talk about it so you can resolve your own grief over your father's death. Because depression
tends to run in families, and your children are genetically vulnerable, they should be made
aware. It is helpful for doctors to know that a family member suffered from the disease, so
please don't keep it a secret any longer.

DEAR ABBY: In response to "Best-Friendless," who wrote about the 61-year-old woman who
got a DUI ticket and now blames the friend: The writer stated that forcibly taking the
woman's car keys from her "wasn't an option."

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YES IT WAS! Twice I have had to take car keys from drunken friends who insisted they
could drive. (If they had, they probably would have killed themselves or someone else.)
Later, they both thanked me.

On another occasion, I tricked a large male friend (who was almost too drunk to stand) by
switching his keys for mine. I simply said, "Hey, you've got the wrong keys," holding out
mine and grabbing his. Abby, he "bought" it -- and when he couldn't get his car to start, he
just slept it off behind the wheel of his car, which was parked in my driveway. Later, upon
reflection, he realized what he'd done and thanked me profusely for "saving a few lives that
night." (It's been more than four years and he hasn't touched a drop of alcohol since.)
The point is: ANYTHING is better than a drunk driver on the streets or highways. Do
whatever it takes -- remember, one intoxicated person is usually no match for two or more
sober ones. You can outwit them -- or you can use force, if necessary. Everyone I've
mentioned in this letter was at least twice my size. I'm female, only 5 foot 2, and weigh less

DEAR BEEN THERE: I admire your gutsiness and ingenuity in switching car keys with your
drunken male friend. However, knowing how unpredictable a person under the influence can
be, I would never recommend using force to dissuade someone from driving, because it
could provoke violence. It's deplorable, but I've seen it happen.

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is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed
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DEAR ABBY: As a man who has been dating for years, I'd like to respond to the "Rules for
Dating" that you printed from "20-Something in L.A." and her girlfriends:

If "20-Something" and her friends think they're getting shabby treatment from men, maybe
it's because they're treating men rather shabbily. Men aren't obligated to treat women like
princesses, buy them dinner or take them to a movie. It's a gift a man chooses to give a
woman, and she shouldn't take it for granted. -- TOM IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR TOM: That column on "dating rules" generated a barrage of responses (some not fit
for a family newspaper) from both men and women of every age group. Today we'll hear
from the male readers. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I agree it's a good idea to call days ahead and plan a date, and then call the
day before to confirm it, but the woman shouldn't cancel at the last minute. Just because a
guy is not an Adonis, Fabio or Donald Trump doesn't mean he's worthless. Once you get to
know him, the ugly frog just might turn out to be Prince Charming after all. -- WISEGUY

DEAR ABBY: Try not to be rude or cold when turning down a date. Remember, a man puts
his self-respect on the line every time he approaches a lady. He's nervous -- just as you
would be if you were approaching an attractive man for the first time. -- 30-YEAR-OLD
DEAR ABBY: These are the '90s. Many women have excellent careers. Often a woman earns
even more than a man does. You can't expect the guy to always be the one to pay. If the
girl has not offered to pay for something in the first three dates, we regard that as a sign
she is just "marking time" until someone she really likes comes along. -- TWO ANONYMOUS




DEAR READERS: Yesterday I printed responses from male readers to the letter from "20-
Something in L.A." listing her contemporary rules for dating. Today we'll sample some of
the feedback I received from women. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I take exception to the dating guidelines offered by "20-Something in L.A." I
see no reason why a gainfully employed adult should expect her date to pick up the tab for
everything. Moreover, a young woman who lets her date pay for everything may well have a
hard time refusing to "repay" her date with sex. Take it from a woman with a few more
years of dating experience. Play fair and play safe. -- CARRYING MY OWN WEIGHT IN

DEAR ABBY: Here are a couple of additions to the dating guidelines for females:

Return his call even if you don't want to go out with him. It is rude and poor manners not
to. If you don't want to go out with him, tell him so. Better to be honest than to get his
hopes up and make him chase you.

If he breaks up with you for someone else, don't automatically blame her. It might be a
blessing in disguise. There are lots of other fish in the sea, and hope the next one will
realize what he has and hang on.

Be careful. Even though you may think you know someone, you might not. Respect yourself
enough to insist he gets "tested" before you have sex. It could save your life. There are
enough surprises in dating; eliminate at least one.

Also, my friends and I have discovered that the time when you are least likely to be looking
for love is when it finds you. -- 20-SOMETHING IN KANSAS

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DEAR ABBY: May I add my own 2 cents? Remember that men can smell desperation. If you
are still reeling from a broken heart, take time off before re-entering the dating pool.
Second, remember that sex does not equal love. Do not mistake one for the other. --

DEAR ABBY: I think the dating guidelines from "20-Something" are tacky and old-fashioned.
I have never depended on a man for money, and it's worked out fine for me. When I date,
we always split the costs. If I'm broke, I'll ask my date for a loan, and I always pay him
back. If he offers to pay, I gently refuse. If he persists, I accept the offer as a gift.

Abby, I do not need anyone to help me with my coat or open doors for me. At 24, I'm old
enough to dress myself and strong enough to open doors. I do, however, agree with the sex
guideline. If a man can't accept the fact that his date isn't interested in having sex, he
should be mature enough to call it quits. -- 24 IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR ABBY: It annoys me that there are women in this world thinking up rules for how to
relate to men. I would like to believe that I can think for myself and so can the man I'm
dating. I'm an individual with individual ideas and desires. Will the men who read her list of
rules conform? I HOPE NOT!

If "20-Something" doesn't want to pay, she should have enough guts to say so up front
instead of making a list of rules and expressing her disappointment in men who don't follow

Abby, it horrifies me to imagine a world in which everyone acts the same and has the same
ideas about how to live. Diversity is essential for human survival. -- 24 IN SAN FRANCISCO

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is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen




DEAR ABBY: Regarding the discussion in your column about taking pictures at funerals: In
1986, my partner died of complications from AIDS. We were lucky that he was able to
remain at home in comfortable surroundings. I am a floral designer and he loved my work,
so I worked all day at my former place of employment to do his flowers.

Many friends sent sympathy tributes and wondered if I would photograph the flowers for
them. I agreed. When I was alone in the funeral parlor, I took photographs of the flowers
and of him lying in the casket. And yes, he did look better that day in the casket than while
he was dying. AIDS is a horrible way to go, so don't condemn anyone for saying that the
deceased looked better on the day of the funeral. In some cases it's true.

Abby, please remind people that the AIDS virus is still out of control. The drugs are not
effective for everyone. This epidemic is still far from over. -- MIKE FROM ST. PETE

DEAR MIKE: You are absolutely right that the AIDS epidemic is still a threat here and
around the world. However, a growing complacency is causing many people to let down
their guard.

According to Dr. Mervyn Silverman, board member and former president of the American
Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR), new treatment combinations are helping many who
have been infected. However, a growing number of people, sadly, do not benefit from the
new drug therapies.

In addition, there are 40,000 new HIV infections in the United States alone each year. The
infection rate is rising among our youth, women, and especially people of color. And AIDS is
increasing among our senior citizens, who represent 10 percent of all cases nationwide!
Unfortunately, many of those over the age of 50 don't think they are at risk for AIDS -- nor
do their physicians -- which results in delayed treatment.




DEAR ABBY: It's been more than 20 years since I sprawled on the grass, discussing
dandelions with my daughter, who was not yet 10. Our headline news was filled with trouble
in some Middle Eastern country.

As we lay together in the grass, my daughter asked, "What happens to dandelion seeds
when they blow away?" I explained that they plant themselves and grow to make new
dandelions. Before I could tell her that's why Daddy doesn't want them in our grass, she
excitedly said, "Wouldn't it be great if we could put LOVE on the seeds and blow them to the
people fighting with each other, so love could grow instead?"

Her innocent, loving thought inspired me to write the following:

"If I could blow my thoughts like dandelions to the wind,

"Thoughts of love, peace and hope I'd send

"To seed hearts and souls the world therein."

Twenty years later our moment shared and my little poem came to mind yet again. I still
have a loving daughter and still have the same dream. Perhaps these loving thoughts of my
little girl will seed and inspire yet other loving thoughts to grow in this complex world we
share. I pray that God will give our love seeds to grow. -- ANN McCLAIN WASHINGTON,

DEAR ANN: The sentiments of your inspirational poem are a heartwarming reminder that we
reap what we sow. Thank you for sharing it.

DEAR ABBY: I have read with interest the letters you have printed from readers about the
difficulties they encountered when trying to settle the family estate after the parents pass

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Before Mom and Dad died, they let it be known they didn't want any arguments or hard
feelings during or after we kids divided up their worldly possessions. As executor of the
estate, I felt responsible but had not yet devised a method for dividing the estate.

The day we six brothers and sisters arrived at the homestead in Oconto, Wis., Mom and Dad
must have been watching over us. During the preliminary discussion, one of my sisters
suggested that we put our names in a bowl for anything we wanted in the house and simply
draw for it with no limitations. The next two days we spent together turned out to be the
most heartwarming, enjoyable experience for all of us. I still remember my sisters
ORDERING me to put my name in the bowl for an antique dish that I wasn't interested in
but they thought my wife might like.

I still have the small aluminum bowl with all our names engraved on it. I also still have the
note my wife gave me as I left our house for Oconto: "Dear Bill, please remember that
there is no material thing on this Earth more important than family." -- BILL HOPPE,

DEAR BILL: Regardless of the material possessions your parents may or may not have left
behind, you come from a wealthy family. And your wife is a jewel.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely
Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for
$3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby,




DEAR ABBY: I just finished reading the letter from "A Teacher Who Cares About the Future."
I was saddened when I read your comment that "extremely bright children may act out
because they are bored."

Our society has reached a sad state when it excuses unacceptable behavior on the premise
that it's OK because of the so-called "brilliance" of the offending child. If a child is truly
brilliant, he or she can learn to set limits, learn constructive things to do with his or her
time, and continue to excel at his or her own rate without disturbing other children.

My children range in age from 15 to 26. All have been considered "extremely bright" by
their teachers. One tested brighter than any child ever tested by our school psychologist
during academically talented testing in our school district. Was she ever bored? Yes, often.
Did she ever long for more challenges? I'm sure she did. Did she ever, ever once act out in
school? Never!

Instead of acting out when she was little, she took extra books and projects to do in her
spare time. A wise principal once told me to put her in dance and music classes -- and
anything else in which she seemed interested. He said she needed to excel in many areas,
or she could become bored in a few. I also volunteered regularly in her classrooms to give
the teacher time to spend with other children on both ends of the academic spectrum.

Abby, limits need to be set and children need to be held to them. I am eternally grateful to
the teachers who challenged each of my children to be the best that they could be. It has
paid off handsomely.

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Parents: Stop blaming the schools and look in the mirror! -- HAPPY MOM IN LAS VEGAS

DEAR HAPPY MOM: While I agree with much of your thinking, the statement that extremely
bright children may act out because they are bored was made to me by an early childhood
learning specialist whom I trust.

It is essential that physical problems be ruled out as a cause of misbehavior. Mature

children have the ability to entertain themselves and to use their time constructively.
Children with learning disabilities or ADHD may not. However, this does not relieve parents
from the responsibility of teaching their children respect for authority and what is -- and is
not -- appropriate behavior. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I applaud the advice from both you and the "Teacher Who Cares." I have been
a schoolteacher and a principal. Children need to be taught respect for adults and authority.
They need to accept the word "no." You would be shocked at how often students (even
those in the primary levels) make disrespectful and rude remarks to teachers. You would
also be surprised how these students -- and their parents -- react to discipline. They do not
approve of it.

Yes, it is hard to say "no" to a child you love dearly. But not saying "no" creates a monster
who ends up damaging him or herself and others. -- ANOTHER EDUCATOR WHO CARES

DEAR EDUCATOR: Failure to teach children limits and appropriate behavior is a form of
neglect that can handicap their educational and social development. Furthermore, children
cannot be expected to know what their parents haven't taught them, and they mirror the
attitudes of the adults after whom they model themselves. The child of parents who feel
that rules do not apply to them will, predictably, be disruptive in the classroom and
disrespectful of the rights of others -- hardly a recipe for success.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person,
order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or
money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity




DEAR ABBY: Regarding the letter you've printed concerning displaying the American flag, I
bet no one can top this:

I live in a new duplex-condo community. Our association bylaws forbid any permanent
structures of any kind on our front lawns. All the condos are exactly alike -- boring -- and
this is meant to preserve uniformity.

An 80-year-old retired Army colonel, a veteran of World War II, who walks with a cane due
to an injury sustained during the war, recently moved into our neighborhood. He and his
seriously ill wife had always flown the flag -- so he promptly installed a flagpole of the
proper size and proudly raised one.

He and his wife would sit in their front yard on summer evenings, and strollers would stop
by to visit them and each other. It was a lovely time.

However, not everyone socialized or appreciated his patriotism. More than half the residents
deemed the flag "tacky" or inappropriate. An association meeting was held at which the
colonel's flag was discussed and voted on by the board. The colonel had prepared a stirring
statement concerning what the flag meant to him, mentioning his war experiences. Would
you believe the board voted 5-to-3 against him? The old guy was defeated!
The story has a semi-happy ending: The colonel agreed that whoever was willing to do it
could come over and remove the flagpole, which had been set in concrete. Abby, no one
had the nerve -- and his flag still flies year-round. He still sits and visits with his friends on
summer evenings; his wife died three months ago. -- P.H. IN GODFREY, ILL.




DEAR ABBY: This letter is long, but I hope you'll find it worth sharing with teachers. One of
the challenges for anyone who works with young people is to help each child have a better
self-worth. Naomi Haines Griffin, a well-known speaker with a background in education and
social work, has many suggestions for accomplishing this. We incorporated one of them into
our kindergarten classes.

Each week, a child was named "Star of the Week." A spiral notebook was sent home with
the student, and the child's family was asked to write special memories or unique
descriptions pertaining to the student. Also that week, every child in the class was asked to
say something good about the "Star of the Week." The comments of the students and family
were then incorporated into a computer poster and were read aloud to the "star" in front of
the entire class.

All the students lit up with pride as their comments were read. The "Star" poster became
almost sacred to the students, and the activity fostered respect and love for one another.

During that week, someone from the child's family visited our classes and shared a hobby or
interest with our students. Paramedics and firemen brought ambulances and fire trucks and
talked to the students about safety; mothers who spoke no English demonstrated making
tortillas; a director from the animal shelter talked about the importance of caring for family
pets and what to do if approached by a strange animal; a father with limited English showed
the children how to make a homemade pinata and explained how birthdays are celebrated
in Mexico. People from all walks of life -- high income to poverty level -- shared their lives
with our classes. The wealth of shared information was unlimited.

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Tragedy struck our kindergarten this year when one of our students, Rudy Ortega, died
after a long battle with leukemia. When we went to the funeral home to view Rudy's body,
we saw Rudy's "Star of the Week" poster displayed by the casket.

Thank you, Naomi Griffin, for showing us the way to help all kids. -- KAREN COOK AND
DEAR KAREN AND SHELLANE: I congratulate you. The lessons your students have absorbed
in your classroom are something they will take with them for the rest of their lives. Your
project also illustrates the many benefits parents can provide by becoming involved in their
children's education.

DEAR ABBY: I'm being married in September, and my mother-in-law-to-be wants to wear a
white beaded gown to our wedding. I am totally against it and explained my view to her.
She still insists on wearing white. I told her it was not proper etiquette, but she says she
has never heard that before. Can you help me convince her? -- BLUSHING BRIDE IN LAS

DEAR BLUSHING: Clip this column and tell your fiance's mother that she's hearing it now.
According to the "Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette, Entirely Rewritten and
Updated" by Nancy Tuckerman and Nancy Dunnan: "The bride's mother with the bride
decides what she will wear at her daughter's wedding and then tells the groom's mother so
she can coordinate her dress. NEITHER MOTHER SHOULD WEAR BLACK OR WHITE." (Italics
are mine.)

I hope your fiance's mother will save her white-beaded dress for another occasion -- or you
won't be the only person blushing at your wedding.

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's
More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope,




DEAR ABBY: You have encouraged adults to volunteer as mentors to young people. I'm
writing to describe a program in our community that may serve as a model for others.

The program is called "Grandfriends." It's a partnership between our local senior center,
which recruits the seniors; a local middle school, which selects the students; and our local
hospital system, which provides funding for after-school activities. In other communities,
the seniors might be recruited through a church, synagogue or other organization.

A counselor at the middle school identifies students who might benefit, then matches each
student with a senior based on interest profiles each has filled out. The seniors and students
are introduced at an after-school get-together. After that, they meet one-on-one after
school once a week or so and do whatever the two of them want to do -- shopping, going
for a snack, going to a game, doing homework, working on a computer or just talking. Once
a month, we hold an after-school get-together at the school, featuring some type of craft
project, often with a community service theme. (Last February, we made valentines to send
to veterans.) We also organize group tours to local points of interest.
The real magic of the program is the one-on-one bond that forms between the students and
seniors. I urge other communities to explore this idea.

Abby, I would be happy to respond to anyone who would like information on starting such a
program in his or her community. -- JANE RADATZ, CO-COORDINATOR, GRANDFRIENDS

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DEAR JANE: Active seniors are an untapped resource, able to offer wisdom, humor, talent
and love to young people who need it. I am sure that variations on the "Grandfriends"
program are available in many cities. However, if there is none, those who are interested in
starting one should send a business-size (No. 10) self-addressed stamped envelope to:
Grandfriends, 18402 W. Bernardo Drive, San Diego, CA 92127.

DEAR ABBY: I am writing in reference to your column on tattoos. I am a scientist, and it

disturbs me that no one seems to be aware of the medical reasons for not getting tattooed.

The dye used contains iron salts. These, when subjected to the high magnetic field on an
MRI, generates heat -- which can burn the flesh. Therefore, when you have a tattoo, you
are eliminating an important medical tool for diagnosing problems.

Abby, please alert young people to an important consideration before getting tattooed. --

DEAR MR. NEWMAN: With pleasure. According to my source, there are vegetable-based
dyes and iron-based dyes used in tattooing. Wise consumers should determine what kind of
material they will be getting. That way they can warn their doctor or MRI technician in
advance, and there will be no surprises or unpleasant reactions in the middle of a

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely
Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for
$3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby,



DEAR ABBY: "Travel Terror" asked if she should agree to her husband buying an RV, in spite
of the fact that he has a lead foot and ignores her when she asks to use a restroom or buy
refreshments. You told her not to go along with it. Abby, you have probably set the wheels
in motion for a divorce.

If they bought an RV, especially if it were a motor home, her bladder problems would be
solved. I don't know of one that doesn't have a bathroom in it. If they bought a fifth wheel
or other kind of towed RV, then stops would have to be made for potty breaks -- but for
gosh sakes, I don't know an RVer who doesn't enjoy making those stops to stretch and take
in the scenery, or to have an enjoyable lunch along the road.

Her worries about his speeding would also more than likely not be a problem in an RV. An
RV, which is three to four times the size of a car, is also three to four times harder to stop
in an emergency. Most RV drivers become very cautious and tend to judge their following
distances much more carefully than if they were driving a car. As for driving until the tank is
empty, my motor home carries 100 gallons of fuel and I cannot drive 600 miles without

I'd say to "Travel Terror," "Go for it, honey. Enjoy vacations like you have never known
before." An RV with a happy couple in it becomes vacation transportation, just as a cruise
ship, airplane, train or bus -- and the feeling of getting away from it all and having fun
overwhelms any other problems. -- JOHN W. STROBEL III, VENTURA, CALIF.

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DEAR JOHN: And an RV with an unhappy couple in it is like putting two wildcats in a hatbox!
From your description of yourself, you appear to be a reasonable person and a considerate
traveling companion -- the polar opposite of "Travel Terror's" husband. I seriously doubt
that buying a larger vehicle would magically turn him into someone who gives a darn about
the feelings of his passenger. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: A friend of mine confided to me how she resolved the problem of convincing
her husband to make rest stops on long car trips. She put a water pill (diuretic) in his coffee
just before they left home. On the way to their destination, without a word, he calmly pulled
into a rest stop -- and from then on, he never again complained about his wife wanting to
stop. -- "K" IN TEXAS

DEAR "K": Now that's a novel idea, but I wouldn't recommend it for everyone. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: You missed the boat with your advice to the lady who was uncertain about
buying a recreational vehicle because of her husband's conduct. Saying "no" only makes the
husband resentful. A better idea would be to rent an RV, agree to the "trip rules" ahead of
time, and write them down to be posted in the RV. Then take a trip or two and see how it
goes. Perhaps he will change and they will have many years of new adventures. -- JUDY
DEAR JUDY: I like the way you think -- you are a born diplomat! I'm not sure the outcome
would be different, but your solution is less confrontational than mine. I'm sorry I didn't
think of it.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person,
order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or
money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity




DEAR ABBY: I would like to warn women, especially young women, about the danger of
giving their car keys -- with their house keys attached -- to anyone.

A good friend's daughter went to a well-known tire company to have a flat repaired while
she waited. Without thinking, she handed her key ring with all her keys on it to the
serviceman and waited. What she didn't know is that most of these places also have
machines that make copies of keys. One of the servicemen copied her apartment key, and
two days later entered her apartment late at night and raped her.

This was a business she frequented, and they had all the information in their computer
about where she lived, her phone number, etc. The man was caught months later and the
police found out that he had done this before. He is now in jail, and my friend's daughter is
trying to go on with her life.

I called my daughter right away and told her this story so she could learn from it, too.

Please, Abby, warn your readers to have their personal keys on another key ring or have a
key ring that separates the car keys from one's personal keys. Perhaps this will save
another woman from tragedy. -- MARILYN IN MARIETTA, GA.

DEAR MARILYN: You may never know how many tragedies you have prevented today. Your
letter is a chilling reminder, and I hope my readers will heed it.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 32-year-old physician who has recently been seeing a wonderful woman
who is caring, funny, and has a beautiful heart. I am very much in love with her.

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The problem? Her table manners. I feel bad for letting such a trivial issue bug me, but my
brothers, sister and I were raised with emphasis on table manners. It was a great source of
pride for my mother and grandmother, so I am having a difficult time ignoring the matter.

We live in a small town where people frequently invite each other to dinner. I confess I am
concerned about what others may think.

Abby, I know this is a petty issue in the grand scheme of things, but I'm having a hard time
ignoring it. Have you any suggestions on how to give her pointers on manners without
embarrassing her? -- LOOKING FOR THE WORDS

DEAR LOOKING: Begin by listing all the qualities you love about her, then explain to her
there is one area in which her parents shortchanged her -- her table manners. After that,
tell her exactly what you have told me and offer to coach her. You'll be doing her a great
favor. Also, there are books available on the subject of etiquette. I highly recommend those
by Letitia Baldrige.

DEAR ABBY: You erred when you told "Needs to Know" that there is no difference between
"black tie" and "formal." For men, at least, there is a difference.

"Black tie" indicates that the men should wear tuxedos. "Formal" means that white tie and
tails are indicated.

We don't see much formal attire in this country anymore, but that's what President Kennedy
wore at his inauguration. -- DAVID CASH, SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR DAVID: More than a few readers pointed out that my answer was incorrect -- that
although black tie and white tie are both "formal," white tie is MORE formal. Thank you for
clarifying this.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents
is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen




DEAR ABBY: I think you came up short in your reply to "Dreading September," the woman
expecting twins. She is concerned about having to deal with both her controlling mother-in-
law and a potential visit from her sister-in-law's family immediately after the children are
born. You advised her to accept her mother-in-law's love, reassure her, and tune her out.
As for her sister-in-law, you said she should have them put off the visit until she has a
firmly established schedule. Good advice -- but it's directed at the wrong person.

As the father of triplets, I know this situation and can tell you that without her husband's
close involvement, she will surely be jeopardizing her relationship with these people.

When my children were born, my parents also wanted to immediately come for a visit. I
loved them, but they had always been "high maintenance" guests, and Mother had an
opinion on everything. It was very difficult telling them they could not come see their
grandchildren until we had established a routine, but it had to be done. Even when they
came, six weeks after the kids were born, I insisted they stay in a motel. They didn't like it
but accepted it because it came from me.

This woman's husband needs to get a spine and put his priorities in order. His wife and
children come first. HE needs to be the one to gently but firmly, and repeatedly if
necessary, tell his mother to back off. He should also tell his sister that they cannot come
for a visit right away. If they hear it from him, they'll be mad, but they'll get over it. If they
hear it from her, they'll hold it against her forever. -- BEEN THERE, DONE THAT IN N.Y.

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DEAR BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: I was surprised by the amount of mail that was generated
-- and several other parents of twins echoed your sentiments. Read on for more comments:

DEAR ABBY: Your advice to "Dreading September" was sound. When I became pregnant
with twins, my husband was elated. In fact, he was so excited he invited a steady stream of
family members to visit anytime. After three days of constant distractions, I was exhausted.
Nights are very long with twins, and I needed every quiet daytime moment to care for
myself, eat and rest.

My OB gave me some wise advice. She said that what my babies needed most was a
healthy mother. And if I didn't focus on recovering from childbirth and adjusting to
parenting twins, I'd wind up in the hospital myself.

The best I could offer was ONE HOUR in which everyone could visit together. Sound
controlling? You bet. But the babies are the first priority -- and they need Mommy! -- LUCKY

DEAR LUCKY: Your twins are lucky to have a mother who has her head on straight. Read

DEAR ABBY: I would like to tell "Dreading" that she's wise to plan ahead for her rest and
well-being after giving birth. One way to defuse self-appointed advice-givers is to mention
that she is interested only in receiving suggestions from mothers of twins!
Organizations such as La Leche League and the Mothers of Twins Clubs are good sources for

DEAR JUDY: Thank you for the reminder. Several readers mentioned twins clubs, and
there's even one for parents of triplets. Those who want to learn more about twins clubs
should write: National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs, P.O. Box 23188,
Albuquerque, N.M. 87192-1188, or visit the Web site:

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal
With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check




DEAR ABBY: It has taken me years to write this letter.

My husband and I were married 35 years when he died suddenly. I adored him. He was my
whole world.

A few years later I was putting my life back together when out of the blue, my "best friend"
told me my husband had had an affair, and she could prove it. All his pallbearers knew
about it. After much looking back, I knew it was true. I was devastated and have been in
therapy for several years.

I would like to thank all of those who knew and kept silent. When a person dies, let all
secrets be buried with him.

I cry as I write this, Abby. I loved him so much. Perhaps my letter will keep someone from
hurting a person who is already hurting. -- WOUNDED IN MIDLAND, TEXAS

DEAR WOUNDED: A person who pours salt on the wound of someone who is already hurting
is not a "friend"; she is a troublemaker. All you had left of your marriage were your
memories, and I have to wonder why someone would want to destroy them. I hope that
your years of therapy have helped you put your feelings of anger and betrayal into
perspective, and to focus on the many wonderful years you had together -- because in the
long run that is all that's important. You have years of life ahead of you, and it would be a
tragedy if you spent them crying over something that no one can change and was better left

DEAR ABBY: The recent letter in your column about jury duty prompts this letter. How do
we ever get a jury of our peers when the selection process weeds out anyone who has read
a newspaper or listened to the news in the last five years? They seem to want only brain-
dead jurors. -- ARLEN B., HERCULES, CALIF.
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DEAR ARLEN: During the last decade or so, the jury selection process has become very
sophisticated -- and counsel for both sides usually have specific criteria in mind as they go
through the process. If I had to name the No. 1 complaint I receive from readers about jury
duty, it's that so little money is paid to jurors that they fear it would cause financial
hardship to their families. Someone has to pay for the groceries while the jurors sit in

DEAR ABBY: I thought you'd be interested to know that the story of the wife and mother in
a sinking boat was used for courses for Western men who would be doing business in the
Far East to show contrasts in the way the two cultures differ.

When presented with the choice of saving the wife or the mother, most men brought up in a
Western culture chose to save their wife. The men brought up in an Eastern culture would
choose to save their mother -- the rationale being that it was possible to have another wife,
but one could never have another mother. -- DIFFERENT STROKES, LAKELAND, FLA.

DEAR DIFFERENT: That's why it's so important for women to know how to paddle their own

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's
More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope,




DEAR ABBY: I have never written to you before, but I'd like to get this off my chest.

Two years ago, I moved 1,200 miles from the East Coast to my hometown in Colorado. I
left all my friends behind, people I had known for at least five years -- and some for as long
as 20 years. I have spent a bundle on cards, stamps and photos in an effort to keep in
touch with those I love and miss. I want them to know "I care about you" and "You're worth
the time and effort for me to stay in touch."

The problem, Abby, is that very few of these people have replied to my letters. I realize that
people are busy, or they may not enjoy writing letters like I do. But even a postcard would
make me happy. My feelings are hurt because of their lack of effort. I've tried telling myself,
"So don't write them anymore," but that is just not me. I've always been the one who keeps
people in contact with others. I like letting people know that they're not forgotten.

Abby, please remind people that spending maybe 10 minutes to write a letter may make a
world of difference, especially to someone who lives far from friends. -- MISSING THEM IN

DEAR MISSING THEM: The art of letter writing has changed with the times. E-mail, faxes,
form letters and quick phone calls are time-savers for busy people. Consider making a game
of it, by sending a short, humorous questionnaire asking your friends specific questions
about their lives and loves. Be sure to include a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Or
better yet, telephone or e-mail instead of writing a letter.

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DEAR ABBY: I hope you can stand another "grandmother story." She's been gone for a few
years, but we still get a laugh over this one:

I was married in 1976. I had a beautiful morning church Mass and afternoon reception.
Gram selected a gorgeous dress for the reception. Because she had no time to change after
Mass, she wore a lovely coat and hat -- hats were worn at that time -- for church.

Pictures were taken outside after Mass; then we were off to the reception. We had planned
to take a four-generation (all female) photo at the reception. When the time came, Gram
was still decked out in her hat and coat. Well, we asked her to remove the winter garb for
the photo -- and she said she couldn't. It seems that while she was dressing, she decided to
give her hair one last heavy coat of hair spray. When she tried to remove her hat, it was
glued to her hair!

Now when I get lonely for Gram, I take out my album and look at that photo -- everyone in
best dresses and my grandmother in her hat and coat. Twenty years later, it still makes me

DEAR STILL: Hats off to you for sharing that smile.

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby,




DEAR ABBY: I am a single mother with two sons, ages 10 and 18, both of whom I love very
much. I am becoming more and more concerned about my 10-year-old, "Trevor." Trevor
has many interests and is highly intelligent for his age. But his interests trouble me.

While most boys pour over baseball cards and speak of little girls, Trevor has taken an
interest in cooking and dance. He doesn't mix well with other boys, is teased constantly and
hates the walk to school. He is effeminate and introspective. I have come to the conclusion
that Trevor is a homosexual -- or rather, will be when he's more developed.

My question to you, Abby, is -- what can I do to make this "coming out" process easier on
my son? I support him in his interests. I even bought him a cookbook for his birthday this
year. Do you think it's too early to speak of sexuality to Trevor? Should I enroll him in
karate? What do you think? -- WORRIED IN WOODLAND HILLS, CALIF.

DEAR WORRIED: You are a caring and supportive parent, but just because at age 10 Trevor
seems slow in developing an interest in girls does not automatically guarantee that he's a
budding homosexual. (He could be a budding Gene Kelly or Wolfgang Puck.)

The most important thing you can do for Trevor is to let him know you love him
unconditionally, regardless of his eventual orientation, and that he can talk openly with you
about anything that's on his mind. By all means talk to him about sexuality, in an age-
appropriate way. The discussion should be one that is ongoing.

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If your son is being harassed at school and on the way to school, discuss it with the
principal. Your son is legally entitled to an education free of harassment.

Counseling might help Trevor repair his self-esteem. The counselor can help him decide the
most effective means of dealing with the abuse he is receiving.

DEAR ABBY: This is in response to "Maggie Rose, Edmonds, Wash.," who had to confront
men at a ball game about their swearing.

About 50 years ago, my older brother was given a "Ten Reasons for Swearing" card. I am
happy to say it broke him of the habit. Whenever I hear a man or woman swear, I just say,
"I couldn't help overhearing you. Welcome to the club," as I hand them a card. It does
work. I have had more than 10,000 of them printed.
If you feel they are worth sharing with your readers, feel free to do so. -- MONTY INSKO,

DEAR MONTY: If your "Ten Reasons for Swearing" makes the offenders take a moment to
cool off, they're certainly worth sharing:


1. It pleases Mother so much.

2. It's a fine mark of manliness.

3. It proves that I have self-control.

4. It indicates how clearly my mind operates.

5. It makes my conversation so pleasing to everybody.

6. It leaves no doubt in anyone's mind as to my good breeding.

7. It impresses people that I have more than an ordinary education.

8. It's an unmistakable sign of culture and refinement.

9. It makes me desirable personally among women and children in respectable society.

10. It's my way of honoring God, who said, "Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy
God in vain."

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal
With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check




DEAR ABBY: I am a 32-year-old divorcee who is soon to be remarried, and already I am

having trouble with the "in-laws." I have never encountered people so rude in all my life.
They refuse to have anything to do with me.

My fiance's parents were cordial and friendly to me until I began dating their son. Then
came the dirty looks and rude behavior. Abby, I have never done anything to offend these
people. Even my fiance agrees that I have done nothing wrong.
His mother said point-blank to me, "You wait until someone steals YOUR son and see how it
feels!" I realize that there might be some sadness that her "baby" has decided to leave the
nest, but for heaven's sake, the baby is 26 years old and has a mind of his own. This is
nature taking its natural course.

It has been a year and a half, and they still will have nothing to do with me. However, they
expect their son to come home and visit, and he does. I am angry that he goes there
knowing full well how they feel about me. What should I do? -- HURT IN ADAMS CENTER,

DEAR HURT: Your fiance's mother is still attached to her son by an emotional umbilical cord,
and the only person who can successfully cut it is your fiance. The situation won't improve
until your fiance makes it clear that he expects his future wife to be treated with courtesy
and respect, or they won't be seeing much of either of you.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to point out something you seem to have missed in your response
to "Itching on the East Coast." She was upset with her sister-in-law, who is a hypochondriac
and always knows how everyone feels. Unfortunately, I truly DO know how "Itching" feels;
my father died last Christmas after an eight-month battle with pancreatic cancer. I, too,
spent many sleepless nights caring for or worrying about him. Other people, including my
husband and children, got on my nerves -- especially those who were trying to make me
feel better.

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Luckily, I had to see my family doctor to get an expired prescription refilled. The short story
is, I broke down in her office. I told her that my father was dying, that I wasn't sleeping
well, and that people were getting on my nerves so much that I wanted to scream at them.
She diagnosed me with reactive depression and prescribed medication to help me through
that difficult time.

If "Itching" has put up with her sister-in-law for 13 years, I'm willing to bet that the sister-
in-law's personality is not the real problem here. Please urge her to see a doctor and
describe what is going on in her life. It's extremely difficult to watch a loved one die under
any circumstances. When you are one of the primary caretakers in such a situation, the
emotional strain can be overwhelming.

Depression can be terribly debilitating, but with the medications available today, it can also
be controlled. Sign me ... REALLY HAVE BEEN THERE IN ILLINOIS

DEAR REALLY: Thank you for sharing your insight. When the writer complained about her
sister-in-law's actions over a period of many years, it did not occur to me that the real
problem might be that the stress of her present situation was coloring her reactions. I agree
with you that a visit to her physician could be in order. Thank you for pointing it out.

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DEAR ABBY: I have a 21-year-old daughter who has three semesters left in college and a
well-paying, part-time co-op job. She still lives at home with us. All that we ask of her is
that she come home at night, take turns with her sisters doing the dishes and one chore a

My husband works 45-plus hours a week at his job and 15-plus hours a week on our small
business. I am disabled and unable to do much around the house. My daughter doesn't
always come home at night, and while she has time to sleep until 2 p.m. on weekends and
time for her boyfriend, she does not make time to do her chores.

I do not want to kick her out and possibly jeopardize her college education, but she's too old
to ground. I'm thinking of having her pay $100 a month for rent (this would be no hardship
for her), as it seems she uses our home like a hotel and disregards our wishes. Your
thoughts, please. -- OUT OF OPTIONS

DEAR OUT OF OPTIONS: I see nothing wrong with the idea. Since your daughter feels she's
old enough to disregard the rules of the house, and giving you $100 a month would not be a
financial hardship, that's what she should do.

DEAR ABBY: Friends of ours -- not too close, not too distant -- have a son who is being
married for the second time. The wedding will be held 3,000 miles from where we live.

I have just found out that we will be receiving an invitation anyway, because we lived there
30 years ago. They know that we would not fly out for the wedding.

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When this man was married the first time, we gave them a nice wedding gift. We also sent
one when he graduated from high school and from college.

Must I send them a gift when the invitation arrives? I think these folks are just out for the
gifts. My husband said he plans to throw the invitation in the trash as soon as he sees it.
Please advise. -- AT A LOSS IN RICHMOND, VA.

DEAR AT A LOSS: Guests who are unable to attend a wedding need not send a gift. When
the invitation arrives, send your regrets and a warm note congratulating the couple and
wishing them every happiness. Period.

DEAR ABBY: I feel that I must respond to the 31-year-old woman whose "live-in" wants to
be married secretly. I know the results of what has ensued in a similar situation.

The man had been married before and had a daughter. Although he had been separated
from his wife for many years, they had never been divorced. The latter "wife" only
discovered this when the man became seriously ill and his daughter was contacted.

You once printed something that I have never forgotten: "O what a tangled web we weave,
when first we practice to deceive." -- A GRATEFUL READER WHOM YOU ONCE HELPED

DEAR GRATEFUL READER: I agree that the proposal of a secret marriage should not only
raise a few eyebrows, but some suspicions as well. And I cannot take credit for that quote.
It came from Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) -- and it's certainly appropriate.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely
Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or




DEAR ABBY: I am absolutely outraged. I am a young woman of 23 who was brought up by

parents who knew my whereabouts every minute of the day until I was married. Now, as
the manager of a suburban fast-food restaurant, I am the supervisor and confidante to a
number of fine teen-agers.

These kids come from well-to-do homes, but their parents are totally irresponsible. My
current pique stems from a robbery 10 days ago. I and two workers, both 17-year-old girls,
were closing up late Friday night when we were confronted by several armed men. The rules
are strict: Don't resist. We didn't. The three of us were taken into the back room, bound
hand and foot with duct tape, gagged and left hog-tied on the floor. When the men left, we
struggled but it was evident that we wouldn't be able to break loose or go for help.
My husband was working night shift and would not miss me -- but surely, I thought, the
girls' parents would come looking for them. As we huddled together, unable to do much
more than mumble through the tape on our mouths, I listened for the sound of cars and the
girls' worried parents. I figured it would be an hour at worst. Abby, THEY NEVER CAME! The
phone never even rang. Workers arriving at 6 a.m. found us still bound and huddling. We
had spent the entire night tied up on the floor, and the girls were apparently not missed.

At this point, I actually feel more anger toward the parents of these girls than for the men
who robbed us. We were not hurt, and I can understand why it was necessary to tie us up.
But what kind of parents are unaware when their teen-aged daughters are gone all night? I

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DEAR BOUND AND BOILING: You have written a letter that is sure to generate comments,
and I don't blame you for being outraged. As long as children live under their parents' roof,
they are the responsibility of the parent. Because children come from well-to-do homes
does not automatically guarantee that they have caring, involved, concerned parents. In
this case, I would say that the parents weren't doing an adequate job -- and that everyone
concerned is fortunate this episode didn't end in a tragedy.

DEAR ABBY: Thank you for your recent acknowledgment of jurors. I, too, have been called
for jury duty, and I griped and grumbled during the process. I will never gripe again.

Last year my father was murdered. The perpetrator was tried in April. The jury did an
incredible job of deliberating for 14 hours after a three-day trial. They are to be commended
for doing one of the hardest things a human being has to do -- to sit in judgment of another

I would like to thank the men and women who are willing to go through such an ordeal. --

DEAR ELIZABETH: I would like to thank them, too. As your traumatic experience illustrates,
it's vital that our juries be composed of dedicated and conscientious citizens who are willing
to make the sacrifice and do their duty.

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money order for



DEAR ABBY: I hope you will publish my letter so do-gooders will stop and think before they
do more harm than good.

I used to love my back yard. It was a bit unkempt, but my husband is gone and I am
elderly. However, the yard was mine. The flowers my husband planted gave me great joy --
until a well-meaning neighbor decided to bring her five teen-agers over one day, when I
was not home, to "neaten up" my yard. She was trying to teach them concern for others.

I like these people. They were so happy about "surprising" me by cleaning up my yard that
I didn't have the heart to tell them that the "weeds" they had pulled up were my lovely
perennials that were about to bloom! And the "overgrown" evergreens were there to block
the view of the neighbor's messy dog run. Now they are trimmed down to almost nothing,
and the view is disgusting!

Abby, my yard is no longer mine, and I have shed many tears over the loss.

Please remind your readers that if they want to help, they should ASK first -- and not just

DEAR HURT: Your point is well taken -- and I'm printing your letter as a warning to well-
intentioned people who may be tempted to make the innocent mistake your neighbor made.
Take comfort in the fact that the evergreens will grow back.

Now dry your tears, call your well-meaning neighbor, and tell her that you have one more
job for her and the kids -- to take you to a plant nursery to select replacements for the
perennials your beloved husband had planted that gave you so much joy each summer. It
will be a learning experience for all of you.

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DEAR ABBY: "Sexless in Seattle" seems totally focused on developing an intimate
relationship with the desirable widower, but never a mention of marriage.

For many, many people, marriage comes first, then intimacy follows naturally. Perhaps this
is the case of morality, not pathological grief. If his first marriage was good, an intimate
relationship would seem to be infidelity, adultery or fornication.

The more fitting solution is the marriage ceremony to put closure to the first marriage and
end the grieving process. -- A.V.G. IN FLORIDA

DEAR A.V.G.: I agree that for many people marriage comes first. However, if morality were
the issue, the man wouldn't have been making and breaking promises to the woman for
nearly a year. Instead, he would have told her plainly -- and proudly -- that he doesn't
condone sex outside of marriage. That's the honorable thing to do, and it would have saved
her a lot of pain.

DEAR ABBY: For years I have plagued my friends, neighbors, acquaintances, etc. concerning
a piece about the "Bigger family." In trying to determine who was bigger, the situation
became quite complicated. The youngest member of the family was a baby, therefore he
was bigger because he was a "Little Bigger."

Uncle Bigger passed away and was buried down by the mill. He was then bigger because he
was "Bigger by a dam site."

I would be thankful if you could find a copy of the piece, Abby. Thanks! -- H.R. MANUEL,
DEAR H.R.: I'm sure my readers will be as intrigued with your piece as I was -- and if it's
familiar to anyone and I receive a copy, I'll forward it to you. Just remember -- bigger isn't
necessarily better.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents
is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed
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DEAR ABBY: I have been with my fiance for two years. We've been engaged for six months.
He refuses to set a wedding date, and his whole attitude toward me and our relationship has
changed. Now he wants to go to bars with his friends without me. In fact, he never wants to
go anywhere with me.

When our relationship first started, we decided we had found each other, and there was no
need to go to bars any longer. Especially now that we're engaged!

Abby, I feel like he doesn't love me anymore, or he's ashamed of me. I don't know if it's
already over and he doesn't know how to escape -- or if I should hold on. I love him more
than anything and want to marry him and grow old with him. But how do I know if he feels
the same? He says he does. What do I do now? -- HEARTBROKEN IN KNOXVILLE

DEAR HEARTBROKEN: It seems your fiance still has some wild oats to sow. In a healthy
relationship, a person's actions and words are the same, but this young man is saying one
thing and doing something else.

Call off the engagement. Since he refuses to set a date, it wasn't much of an engagement
anyway. You deserve a husband who loves you more than anything and wants to marry you
and grow old with you. You haven't found him yet!

DEAR ABBY: I would like to comment on the letter that appeared in your column from the
woman who attended a housewarming and discovered camellias floating in the toilet of the
master bathroom. It was a "subtle" way of discouraging guests from using that toilet. You
said you thought the idea was "all wet."

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Well, I think your answer was all wet! I saw nothing wrong with what the hostess did -- and
you can quote me! -- GERM-PHOBIC IN GEORGIA

DEAR GERM-PHOBIC: You are not the only person who disagreed with my answer. And I
apologize for attempting to be flip. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: You agreed with the letter writer that the hostess should open her entire home
to guests. Well, I strongly disagree. Why tempt guests to look in your personal medicine
cabinet, or check out (or remove) your jewelry? Some people will just make themselves at
home. Don't you remember the letter about the hostess who put marbles in her medicine
cabinet? If her powder room isn't sufficient to accommodate her guests, perhaps she invited
too many guests! -- SUSAN SMITH, ELK GROVE, CALIF.

DEAR SUSAN: I remember, I remember! Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Two years ago, I gave a party with about 18 people in attendance. I was
gracious enough to allow my guests to use my master bath -- and was "rewarded" by
having about $15,000 worth of jewelry stolen from me.

Now when I give parties, the master bathroom is off-limits, and I keep my bedroom door

DEAR BEEN THERE: How depressing! However, thank you for enlightening me to one of the
realities of entertaining as the year 2000 rolls around. May I suggest you screen your guests
more carefully next time?

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal
With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check




DEAR ABBY: I have been with my fiance for two years. We've been engaged for six months.
He refuses to set a wedding date, and his whole attitude toward me and our relationship has
changed. Now he wants to go to bars with his friends without me. In fact, he never wants to
go anywhere with me.

When our relationship first started, we decided we had found each other, and there was no
need to go to bars any longer. Especially now that we're engaged!

Abby, I feel like he doesn't love me anymore, or he's ashamed of me. I don't know if it's
already over and he doesn't know how to escape -- or if I should hold on. I love him more
than anything and want to marry him and grow old with him. But how do I know if he feels
the same? He says he does. What do I do now? -- HEARTBROKEN IN KNOXVILLE

DEAR HEARTBROKEN: It seems your fiance still has some wild oats to sow. In a healthy
relationship, a person's actions and words are the same, but this young man is saying one
thing and doing something else.

Call off the engagement. Since he refuses to set a date, it wasn't much of an engagement
anyway. You deserve a husband who loves you more than anything and wants to marry you
and grow old with you. You haven't found him yet!

DEAR ABBY: I would like to comment on the letter that appeared in your column from the
woman who attended a housewarming and discovered camellias floating in the toilet of the
master bathroom. It was a "subtle" way of discouraging guests from using that toilet. You
said you thought the idea was "all wet."

story continues below


Well, I think your answer was all wet! I saw nothing wrong with what the hostess did -- and
you can quote me! -- GERM-PHOBIC IN GEORGIA

DEAR GERM-PHOBIC: You are not the only person who disagreed with my answer. And I
apologize for attempting to be flip. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: You agreed with the letter writer that the hostess should open her entire home
to guests. Well, I strongly disagree. Why tempt guests to look in your personal medicine
cabinet, or check out (or remove) your jewelry? Some people will just make themselves at
home. Don't you remember the letter about the hostess who put marbles in her medicine
cabinet? If her powder room isn't sufficient to accommodate her guests, perhaps she invited
too many guests! -- SUSAN SMITH, ELK GROVE, CALIF.

DEAR SUSAN: I remember, I remember! Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Two years ago, I gave a party with about 18 people in attendance. I was
gracious enough to allow my guests to use my master bath -- and was "rewarded" by
having about $15,000 worth of jewelry stolen from me.

Now when I give parties, the master bathroom is off-limits, and I keep my bedroom door

DEAR BEEN THERE: How depressing! However, thank you for enlightening me to one of the
realities of entertaining as the year 2000 rolls around. May I suggest you screen your guests
more carefully next time?
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal
With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check




DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Stuart" decried what he felt was the tragic rebirth of bigotry
today, here and elsewhere. Whenever I hear about intolerance, I'm reminded of an old
poem. (I do not know the author.) It made me think. Perhaps it will touch one of your other
readers as well. -- GEORGE R. GOLDIE IV, OXNARD, CALIF.

DEAR GEORGE: The poem is long, but it's well worth space in this column. Read on:


Six humans trapped in happenstance

In dark and bitter cold,

Each one possessed a stick of wood,

Or so the story's told.

Their dying fire in need of logs

The first woman held hers back,

For of the faces around the fire,

She noticed one was black.

The next man looking across the way

Saw not one of his church,

And couldn't bring himself to give

The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes

He gave his coat a hitch,

Why should his log be put to use,

To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought

Of the wealth he had in store,

And how to keep what he had earned,

From the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black man's face bespoke revenge

As the fire passed from sight,

For all he saw in his stick of wood

Was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group

Did naught except for gain,

Giving only to those who gave,

Was how he played the game.

The logs held tight in death's still hands

Was proof of human sin,

They didn't die from the cold without,

They died from the cold within.

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DEAR ABBY: I am a mammographer. I do screening and diagnostic mammograms for a

living. I have a problem that seems to bother me more and more each day. I am asked
several times a day, "Is this all you do, ALL DAY LONG?"

I find this question extremely irritating. I save lives. I have to bite my tongue to prevent
sarcasm. Abby, how would you respond? -- FRUSTRATED AND UNAPPRECIATED
DEAR FRUSTRATED: I would just say "yes." And I'd add with a smile: "Isn't it wonderful that
we have this life-saving technology? Before we had the miracle of mammography, cases of
breast cancer usually went undiagnosed until it was too late."

But don't be angry or sarcastic about a question that is asked out of ignorance.

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DEAR ABBY: I recently watched a country music award given to two men. The first to speak
hogged the mike, gabbed about his sick child at home, thanked everyone in the music
business and then invited his partner to speak. As the other man approached the mike, the
first remembered he hadn't thanked his wife, shouldered his way back in and droned on
about how many years they had been together, yadda-yadda-yadda.

The partner looked sad as the music came up and they went to commercial. I felt angry that
he wasn't acknowledged and didn't get to say a word or two. It happens so often, I wanted
to comment.

At every Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, etc., award ceremony, every double or group award has
one windbag who grabs the mike, tells his kids to go to bed and thanks everyone from his
kindergarten teacher to his mailman while the others wait patiently until the allotted time
runs out. It hurts to see the pained expressions on the faces of the partners whose finest
hour is ruined by a selfish, egotistical microphone hog.

Since we know we can't teach them to be considerate and to share, maybe the awards
committee could make new rules that would stifle the selfish windbags and eliminate those
endlessly long programs. What do you think? -- RUTH W., VIRGINIA BEACH, VA.

DEAR RUTH: Take a bow. You deserve a standing ovation for saying what a great many
members of a captive audience have long been thinking. In the days of vaudeville, a long-
handled hook was used to remove lingering performers from the stage.

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DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter from "Frustrated," who was looking for an alternative to
a religious wedding ceremony, may I suggest secular Humanist clergy?

I am a Humanist minister from the Humanist Society of Friends whose celebrants, ministers,
chaplains, counselors and pastors are all secular Humanists. You can find us throughout the
United States and Canada. For details, your readers can call the American Humanist
Association toll-free number: (800) 743-6646, or e-mail them at

I have performed nonreligious weddings, funerals and naming ceremonies since 1963, when
I first obtained my license from the state of Ohio to solemnize marriages. My state license is
identical to that of any other clergy. -- DR. RICK RICKARDS, CLEVELAND

DEAR DR. RICKARDS: Thank you for pointing this out. After I printed that letter, I was
flooded with letters from readers telling me that Humanist celebrants function the same way
members of traditional clergy do -- with one exception: They are nontheists.

Many people also wrote to remind me that Unitarian Universalist ministers are also willing to
perform ceremonies without reference to God. The telephone number of the Unitarian
Universalist Association is (617) 742-2100. Their Web address is:

To all of you who took the time to write, thank you for the input.

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DEAR ABBY: My family attends a local church, and we have made many friends within this
congregation. However, there is one family in this congregation who wears out the welcome
mat at our home, and I don't know how to handle it without making enemies.

For Memorial Day, we were having a picnic in our back yard with some friends. "Mr.
Uninvited" drove by and, seeing that we had guests, "stopped in" and invited himself for
dinner after asking, "What do you have for me to drink?" When a beer was offered, he
responded, "Oh, this cheap brand -- don't you have anything else?"

It upsets me that he has the nerve to invite himself when it is obvious that we're having
company and he was not invited. I would never do that to him. Then, the insults we hear if
we're serving only hamburgers and hot dogs and not having surf and turf, really put the
icing on the cake. He always comes "empty-handed," which does not improve the situation.

This is a family of four. The father and son are the worst offenders. They are a middle-class
family, like us, so it's not a case of "he won't eat tonight if I don't feed him." In addition,
they have never once invited us to their home.
I have on several occasions made remarks, trying to drop the hint that they are not
welcome to barge into my home on all occasions, but he just doesn't "get it." I don't want to
make an enemy, but I cannot tolerate his rudeness anymore. Any suggestions? -- NEEDS

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DEAR NEEDS HELP: I've often said, "If people take advantage of you once, shame on them
-- if it happens more than once, shame on YOU."

You are being imposed upon, and it will continue until you take a firm stand. The next time
the freeloader drops by when you are entertaining, say: "It's not convenient to have you
visit us now. We'll see you another time."

If it costs you a friendship, you haven't lost much.

DEAR ABBY: I was very disappointed in the advice you gave "Brokenhearted in Lake Forest,
Ill." You advised her to put a rubber band around her wrist and snap it each time she
thought about her ex-boyfriend because the pain inflicted on her wrist would distract her
from the pain in her heart.

Abby, I work with a population of people who use this approach to the pain in their lives.
They cut on themselves to take away their mental pain. It becomes very addictive and they
cannot stop doing it.

A snap of a rubber band to remove the other pain is alarmingly close. It can lead to further
self-abuse or mutilation.

Please offer the woman better advice: to take a long walk, deep breaths, hot baths, or to
count the many things she has to be thankful for! -- BRENDA HENDERSON, CORVALLIS,

DEAR BRENDA: Although the rubber band technique is a very old one for behavior
modification, the letters I have received from you and several people who identified
themselves as "cutters" were eye-openers. While the majority of people are not
masochistic, in the future I'll recommend positive, rather than negative, reinforcement.

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DEAR ABBY: I am a 16-year-old girl with wonderful parents and a great little sister who is
13. My mom just had a third child. My brother's name is "Nathan." He is 6 months old now
and I don't think any baby could be more loved.

Because my mother works part time, I take care of my brother for a few hours each day.

The problem is that when I take him for a walk or to the mall, I am faced with disapproving
looks and rude comments from adults who obviously think he is my baby. I see people
shake their heads when I walk by, and I hear them mutter about irresponsible teen-agers.

I don't know how to respond to people like that, but I do know that adults should stop
seeing something wrong with every situation they encounter. They seem to think my entire
generation is hopeless. This is far from the truth.

Abby, how should I deal with this situation when I next encounter it? -- SWEET 16, SEATTLE

DEAR SWEET 16: I know it's far from the truth, and you shouldn't be put in the position
where you feel you "must respond" to disapproving looks and rude remarks from strangers.
Have a T-shirt made for your little brother bearing the message: "She's My Sister!"

DEAR ABBY: After reading the letters in your column about children's behavior in
restaurants, I had to write.

When my current husband and I began dating, we had three toddlers between us. Two were
his, one was mine. The youngest, his 1-year-old, ran wild. I was ashamed and
embarrassed. The two girls were fine. (His daughter was 3 and mine was 2.) But oh, that
son! He threw temper tantrums, insisted on a particular cup or plate or he wouldn't eat,
stood on chairs and benches, etc. He was spoiled rotten, and I told my husband so. I also
told him it was wrong to allow such behavior. It didn't faze him.

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One day we were in a restaurant, and a stranger came to our table and said, "You two have
three beautiful children. What a shame that your son's behavior is all I'll remember when
we leave."
What an impact that made! My husband began right then and there teaching his son
acceptable behavior.

Three years ago, on an airplane flight, a flight attendant approached my husband and said,
"Your three kids are so polite. They say please and thank you. Half the adults on this flight
could learn from them!" The kids were 12, 13 and 14 at that time. We were, and still are, so
proud. And the son, who is now 15, is a very well-mannered gentleman.

So obviously, children will do what the parent allows. -- STEPMOM IN TAMPA

DEAR STEPMOM: Absolutely! And that's why it's important for parents to set limits for their
children. How else are they going to learn what is acceptable and what is not?

YOUR CHUCKLE FOR THE DAY: A woman came home from work and found a note from her
husband. It said: "Your doctor's office called. Your Pabst beer is normal!" -- ANNE B.

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DEAR ABBY: I have a dear friend I look up to like an older sister. We enjoy visiting with her
and her family, as well as vacationing with them. We sometimes camp out together, too.

The problem: She and her husband discipline our children right in front of us! I refuse to see
our children humiliated, and when I try to defend them, it starts an argument among all of
us. Now our children hesitate to do anything around them for fear of being disciplined.

Abby, my husband and I would never dream of disciplining another's child. We believe that
parents should discipline their own children. How do we resolve this problem without
alienating our friends? We don't want to sacrifice the friendship. -- MOTHER ON THE

DEAR MOTHER: Make it plain to your friends that should your children need discipline, you
and your husband will administer it. If that doesn't solve the problem, then the only
alternative is to curtail your visits with these friends. It's unfortunate, but your children's
welfare must take first priority.
DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Nick," can't understand why our 10-year-old son, "Tony," is
"hard of hearing" when he talks to him. Maybe it's because Nick talks so loud that our son
tunes him out.

I suggested that Nick ask Tony why he doesn't listen to him, but Nick gets mad at me and
insists that he MUST talk loud to get through to Tony.

Abby, our son is not hard of hearing, and I think Tony doesn't follow instructions because of
the way his father talks to him. I also think the one who really isn't "listening" is my

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Any advice? -- TONY'S MOM

DEAR TONY'S MOM: There's a power struggle going on, and your husband thinks he can win
it by shouting. Family counseling could help him gain some insight and communicate more
effectively with Tony. If your husband refuses, I recommend earplugs for you until Tony
leaves for college.

DEAR ABBY: You missed the boat in your response to "Furious in Spanish Port, Ala.," whose
husband expected her to entertain his long-estranged father while he attended a social

You said, "It is important to your husband, so try to be gracious."

Abby, if Dad were so important to "Furious'" hubby, wouldn't you think hubby would decline
the social event and tend to Dad himself? Even an important business-related social event
can be declined or cut short due to a visit from a father one has only seen three times in the
past 45 years. -- ALISON IN PIEDMONT, CALIF.

DEAR ALISON: I was not prepared for the amount of criticism I received for my response to
"Furious," so I will try to explain it. Many couples have emotional "issues" regarding their
parents because of the way they were (or weren't) raised, and if possible it's better to
resolve them while the parents are still living. Her husband asked her to suspend her anger
and judgmental attitude and help him out. As a loving wife and helpmate, if it's possible for
her to do so, I think she should.

I am not saying the long-absent father should be allowed to move in or take liberties. I'm
saying only that she should be as charming as possible and give the man a fair hearing until
her husband arrives.
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DEAR ABBY: As a devoted Muslim reader, I support Mavis Leno's efforts for the women of

The purpose of my letter is to inform your readers that the suppression of women in
Afghanistan or any other Muslim country is falsely attributed to the teachings of Islam. In
fact, the acts of emancipation promoted by the Prophet gave women a place of honor and
respect in seventh-century Arabia. For instance, during the battles that were fought in the
beginning of Islam, women worked in the field, nursing and comforting the wounded. They
were neither sheltered nor shunned.

In my readings of the Holy Koran and Hadith, I have not seen any edict that would justify
the treatment meted out to these hapless women in these so-called Islamic regimes. -- NO

DEAR NO NAME: Since most of my readers are unfamiliar with the teachings of the Koran,
thank you for making it clear that the plight of the Afghan women originated in the hearts of
fanatics, and not in the Koran.

DEAR ABBY: You were right when you said that the doggerel written in response to the
poem honoring mothers-in-law would raise eyebrows -- but not the way you expected it to.

I'm not a mother-in-law objecting to this doggerel as poking fun at all good mother-in-laws
around the world. I am a man. I'm not here to rush to the defense of the decent men who
don't behave in ways the doggerel described. However, my eyebrow arched at the implied
message that his behavior might be suitable grounds for divorce. While the daughter-in-
law's outlook may be tongue-in-cheek, I think you'll like the way this poem states my point
in the same spirit. -- ROBERT FERDINAND JR., FRIDLEY, MINN.

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DEAR ROBERT: You are a talented as well as sensible man. You're right; I do like the way
you make a point. Read on:


(A Mother-in-Law Responds)

You told him "I do," and I once gave you credit

For thinking it through, Dear --

BEFORE you had said it.

You judge him as shiftless and lazy,

So be it!

Yet he lived his life out

Where the whole world could see it!

So how did he fool you?

I'd like to know why

You could give every foible

Of his the blind eye.

Was that any way to go choosing a mate,

With your hormones so raging

You couldn't think straight?

Or was it the lure of his six-digit pay

That convinced you to take him,

And change him someday?

But it hasn't worked out

In the way you had planned.

Now you're hoping to dump him

And see him unmanned.

Yes, you sound quite dramatic

But I won't lose heart!

'Cause the problem is YOURS, Dear --

'Til death do you part!

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DEAR ABBY: Many years ago, when I was a volunteer at a Veterans Hospital, I went into a
room to visit a World War II veteran. His wife and grown children were arguing loudly and
trying to get him involved. He looked at them for a while, and silently turned over. The
visitors didn't notice me or the doctor who came in behind me; they just kept blaming each
other about something. We both walked out and I noticed the doctor shaking his head in

Not long ago when I was recovering from a five-way bypass and a stroke on the operating
table, my roommate's wife and daughter came in to tell him about all the troubles they
were having at home. The poor man had enough troubles of his own. I later mentioned it to
a nurse. She told me that all the hospital patients have the same problem.

Hospitals should have a sign at the entrance that reads: "Leave your troubles at home while
visiting patients." -- ERNEST A. SCHICHLER SR., COLUMBIA, S.C.

DEAR ERNEST: I agree. Subjecting patients who are sick enough to be hospitalized to
additional stress is hardly therapeutic. Tranquility should be the order of the day.

And while I'm at it, visiting hours should be respected because patients need their rest.

DEAR ABBY: I'm so angry I'm seeing red! When my nephew recently married, relatives gave
his future bride and him a shower. We live 1,100 miles away, so I assumed the invitation
we received had been sent as a polite gesture. We can't afford to travel that distance for
either the wedding or the shower.



DEAR ABBY: I have a college friend who visits annually with her family. They've been
coming in November, but we live in a small town and find it difficult to entertain them in the
fall. So last November we suggested that, since there is a campground with a beautiful lake
nearby, they camp here during the summer. They came this July, but were tired of camping
after a two-week vacation, so they asked if they could stay at our home.

There are six people in my family. My husband is a schoolteacher and I am unemployed. My

friend has a family of four. Both she and her husband have good jobs, and their annual
income must be roughly twice what ours is.

They don't offer to help pay for groceries, even though we always run out of milk or bread
while they're here and they often go to the grocery store with us. We have gone out to eat
with them, just so we won't have to buy groceries for them. They always pay for their own
meals, but never offer to treat us.

Last month, my family stayed with my sister for four days. We bought $50 worth of
groceries, treated their family to pizza, bought them a videotape and gave them $15 in
cash. We weren't being generous; we just felt we were being fair.

Would it be wrong, the next time these friends tell us they are coming, to bill them $10 per
day for meals? We've dropped so many hints we're almost rude, but we feel, after 15 years,
it's time they stopped taking advantage of us. We've stopped enjoying their visits and are
afraid, now that they've come in the summer, they'll begin visiting us twice a year. I'd like
to tell them how I feel but have never had the nerve. Am I being petty? -- USED IN THE

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DEAR USED: Petty? You have been tolerant beyond belief to have allowed these freeloaders
to take advantage of you for 15 years. It should be clear to you by now that if you don't put
your foot down, they will continue to take advantage of you.

The next time your college chum calls to arrange a visit, tell her that you'll be charging
them $60 a day, to cover the costs of feeding them, and the additional water, electricity and
telephone charges you have assumed during their past visits.

Something tells me that once you stand up for yourself, your problem -- and your annual
houseguests -- will vanish.

DEAR ABBY: The letters in your column concerning baldness prompt this letter.
Did you know there is a support group called "Bald-Headed Men of America" that instills
pride in being bald? They hold an annual conference every September, and exchange
feelings and experiences through group discussions that further the acceptance of being
bald. It is their conviction that the best "cure" for baldness is to promote a positive mental
attitude -- with humor. -- PAT BECKER, SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.

DEAR PAT: Thank you for the "heads up." A positive mental attitude and a sense of humor
are seductive qualities, regardless of the state of one's hairline.

Those interested in learning more about Bald-Headed Men of America may write: 102 Bald
Drive, Morehead City, N.C. 28557. The telephone number is 1-252-726-1855 and the e-mail
address is:

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envelope, plus check or




DEAR ABBY: I am 25 years old and have been happily married for three years. My husband
is the man of my dreams. We are both hard-working and save most of our earnings to meet
future goals.

My problem is his mother and father mismanage their money terribly. Throughout their
lives, no matter how much money they made, they spent more. During the past 30 years,
when they overspent on phone bills, dinners out, massages, etc., they would ask for money
from her brother.

Recently my father-in-law took early retirement because he is in poor health due to years of
smoking and poor diet. His entire pension was used to pay off their house and accumulated
debts. If they had watched their spending, I believe they would have enough through Social
Security and her paycheck to pay their bills -- yet they are still spending frivolously,
acquiring new debt and asking us for money.

This isn't the first time they have asked and received at inopportune moments when we
really needed the money ourselves -- such as just before our wedding and at Christmas. As
I was writing the most recent check a couple of weeks ago, my mother-in-law laughed and
said, "If you think I know how to spend, you should see my friend 'Mary'!"

I thought to myself, we would all love to spend, spend, spend, but it shouldn't be done
unless one has the means. I want to be a fair person, but now every time I think of my in-
laws I fear they are going to one day wipe us out. How can I prevent it? -- DROWNING IN

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DEAR DROWNING: There has been a role reversal here. Your in-laws are acting like children
and you and your husband have been thrust into the role of reluctant parents. If the two of
you continue bailing them out, they will never quit their frivolous spending.

You and your husband must stand firm on this. Enough is enough. Your in-laws may need
some counseling in prudent financial management. If that is not an option, volumes have
been written on the subject.

Saying no won't be easy, but it's important that you draw the line now!

DEAR ABBY: I am 23 years old, happily married and have two children. My 4 1/2-year-old is
the result of a previous relationship. Her father left me when he found out I was pregnant
and didn't show up until shortly before the delivery date. He wanted me back, so I moved
back in with him. A week before our daughter was born, he dumped me again.

Abby, I am now married to a wonderful man I met within days after my daughter's birth. He
adopted her and is the only father she's ever known.

I know she must be told, but when would be the best age to tell her about her birth father?

DEAR CLUELESS: As soon as your daughter is old enough to understand the difference
between "biological father" and "adoptive father," begin telling her the story. Tell her only
as much as she wants to know and fill in more details later, when she has a need to know
and asks you questions. Be sure to let her know that she is special -- and that her daddy fell
in love with BOTH of you at first sight.
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DEAR ABBY: Eight years ago, the most beautiful woman in the world came into my life. I'll
call her "Mary." We dated for seven months before she started asking for a proposal. I
happily agreed, and in 1993 we were married.

Two years later, she convinced me that we should buy a house. A year after that, she said
she wanted to have cats in our home. I don't care too much for cats, but I gave in to two

Then she started yearning for children. When we married, we both realized that she could
not get pregnant. So she began inquiring into adoption. I wasn't too fond of the idea of
bringing a child into our home when we knew little about its medical or psychiatric history.
Again, to make her happy, I agreed. Now don't get me wrong -- not a day goes by that I
don't look at my son and thank God for him.

Then Mary wanted to help us get ahead financially. We both agreed that she would be the
one to return to college, since we could not afford to lose my income and my study habits
are not great. So we struggled for two years to put her through school.

After a while, Mary started going out with her friends from school for a few hours. Then the
outings turned into all-nighters. Keep in mind, my son and I were at home while she was
out partying with money we couldn't afford. Eventually she confessed to me that she'd had
a fling with a guy she met. I forgave her by telling her that six years was too much time to
throw away over one mistake.

Two months ago, she told me she doesn't want to be married anymore. She moved in with
her mother. We alternate weeks with our son, but he has trouble staying with her. Part of
the reason may be that she yells at him for every little thing he does wrong. He's only 5
years old.

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Two days ago, she informed me that she's moving to Florida for an opportunity to attend
school and have a good job. Mary does not want our son to come with her. In fact, she says
she doesn't want him at all. Sometimes she says she wishes she could take him back to the

Abby, I gave my wife everything she wanted -- a house, an education, a son and plenty
more. Now she's leaving me high and dry to cope with the responsibilities of paying the bills
and being a parent. So much for deadbeat fathers.

Care to offer any advice? -- DESERTED IN NEW ORLEANS

DEAR DESERTED: Only this, and it's offered with my sympathy for the treatment you have
received from this immature and self-centered woman. The house will appreciate in value,
and the emotional and psychic gratification you will receive from raising your son are
priceless. If you can let Mary go without bitterness, you will be the winner in the long run.
And please, consider counseling for both you and your son to help you through the
heartbreak in the aftermath of this desertion.

DEAR ABBY: Is the mother of the bride supposed to ride with the bride in the limo on the
way to the ceremony, or should I drive myself? -- THERESA IN VERNON, CONN.

DEAR THERESA: Ride in the limo with your daughter, dear lady. You deserve a little

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DEAR ABBY: My husband is a well-known surgeon, and we have two beautiful children
together. One morning we awoke and made love.

Then he went off to the hospital and I left to do some errands. When I returned later in the
day I was shocked to find that our house had been burglarized -- the furniture, artwork,
electronic equipment had all been taken.

I called my husband's office to tell him the bad news, and his receptionist told me my
husband was not available and gave me the number of his attorney. When I called the
lawyer, I was told to come to the office to sign some settlement papers -- there was a check
for $20,000 waiting for me that I could have if I agreed to give up custody of the children.
When I called my husband's parents, who are prominent people in this community, they
urged me to take it and leave the state so my husband could have a happy life with a new
wife. Needless to say, I was in shock.
When I tried to hire a lawyer to represent me, I discovered that my credit cards had been
revoked and our bank accounts had been cleaned out.

Abby, I never saw this coming. Do you think I'm right to stay and fight for my children? --

DEAR IN SHOCK AND HEARTBROKEN: You have my respect for deciding to fight for your
children against such odds, and I hope you prevail. Your husband must be a brilliant
surgeon to have amputated a beating heart and left the subject viable enough for a custody

Your unfortunate predicament demonstrates how important it is for a married woman to

have credit and sole access to a sum of money to tide her over in case of the sudden death
of a spouse or, God forbid, desertion. It's one of today's realities.

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DEAR ABBY: "R.I.P'd Off in Walla Walla, Wash." complained that his father's grave has only
a military marker and no gravestone. He also stated that the marker was sinking. He felt
the fact that his father didn't have a gravestone was a sign of disrespect, but was unsure
about approaching his mother about it.

Abby, the bronze marker he referred to was provided by the Department of Veterans
Affairs. Those markers are attractive. When my mother passed away, we purchased a
bronze marker for her that matches those of my father and brother -- both veterans.

If the marker is indeed sinking, he should contact the caretakers of the cemetery. They are
responsible for assuring that the grounds and markers within the cemetery are properly
cared for. When a marker is out of adjustment, it is their job to reset it properly. Sign me ...

DEAR VETERAN: A number of veterans wrote to tell me that the bronze marker provided by
the VA is a type of gravestone, and one which "R.I.P'd Off" should be proud to have adorn
his father's final resting place. Thank you for pointing out that the responsibility for
maintaining the gravesite belongs to the cemetery caretakers, including resetting the
markers when necessary.

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poems and essays, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or




DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Bored in Roanoke, Va.," the twice-divorced man who asked for
your help in changing his life, prompts this letter. Please pass this message on to him:

DEAR BORED: No one "finds" happiness. Happiness is not to be found in another person,
place or thing. Happiness comes from within. The first thing you need to do is change your
thinking about being "middle-aged" in your 40s. I'm 63 and find it hard to think of myself as
"middle-aged" -- much less the senior citizen I really am.

Attitudes are learned. You can learn to think of others instead of thinking of yourself all the
time. No one is going to "make" you happy. You will not find a happy person until you,
yourself, are happy. Like attracts like. Always act interested in others. Find out all you can
about the person you are with. Do good things for others and soon you'll feel good about

Be thankful each day: thankful you live in America, thankful for your health, your family,
your friends, your job, your home and your pet(s). Look around you. Smile. It takes fewer
muscles to smile than it does to frown. Life is wonderful if you THINK it's wonderful, and it
stinks if you think it stinks. Most of your story hasn't been written yet, and the end is up to
you. Make it happen. -- SHIRLEY IN SPRINGFIELD, MO.

DEAR SHIRLEY: With an attitude like yours, I'm sure you're a force to be reckoned with and
the center of a large circle of friends. People love the company of those who make them feel
good about themselves.

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Many readers wanted to reach out and help "Bored in Roanoke." Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Didn't anything ring a bell with you when "Bored in Roanoke" said he didn't
enjoy life and could not find happiness anymore? Those are strong statements. Possibly this
man should seek help from a professional to determine whether or not he's suffering from
depression. Those two statements show that the man clearly has met two of the criteria for
depression. Depression is terribly scary, very dark, and deeper than the deepest. If that's
where he is, he doesn't have to stay there, and he should know it. -- LIZ IN SOLON, IOWA

DEAR LIZ: You are a caring woman. I agree with you that if "Bored's" symptoms persist,
medical help is indicated. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: "Bored" may also want to find a divorce support group in the Roanoke area.
Many people do not realize that people who have been through a divorce need to go
through a grieving process for their lost relationship, and may need help in rebuilding their
self-esteem. Without help and support, many divorced people shut down emotionally to
avoid possible future hurt.

Many communities have divorce support groups, often through a local church. These are
NOT dating groups, but opportunities to connect with others who understand the needs of
divorced people. It is vital that we heal ourselves before getting involved in new
relationships. -- MARTHA IN GRANTS PASS, ORE.

DEAR MARTHA: Thank you for the helpful input. I'm sure it will be of interest to many
people. Support and empathy can do wonders in healing a broken heart.

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Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or




DEAR ABBY: My son is marrying a wonderful lady in a few short weeks. My problem is, he's
insisting that I dance with his father, whom I divorced a few years ago.

My divorce was very hard on me, but afterward I lived my life without fear -- until now. I
am engaged to a wonderful man whom my son appears to like. I am so upset over this
request that I touch or put my arms around my ex-husband that I don't know what to do.
This man put me through pure hell before I left, and my son knows it. When I left I had
nothing. My parents paid for my divorce, apartment and my son's college education.

His father lied, would bring his girlfriend into our home with us there, never paid bills, even
borrowed our son's cell phone, ran up $900 in charges and refused to pay. When an
important event is going on in my son's life, I'm there and always civil to his father. But I
will not let that man touch me ever again.

Please help me. I want to attend the wedding, but I can't stand the idea of my ex touching
me. I'm shaking as I write this. -- SHAKING IN HARRISBURG, PA.

DEAR SHAKING: Stop shaking and speak up! Tell your son and his fiancee that you will not,
under any circumstances, dance with your ex. Your reasons are valid; perhaps your son
needs to be reminded of them.

DEAR ABBY: You stated to "Roman Catholic in New Jersey," who talked about a time in
years past where we in America were more "tolerant and caring" toward our neighbors, that
you remember a gentler time when "America pictured itself more a melting pot and less a
patchwork quilt."
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A gentler time for whom? Certainly not for ethnic minorities, whoever they happened to be
at any time in our history. Whether they be Irish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Hispanic,
African-American, etc., all were and some remain excluded from mainstream America. The
patchwork quilt you mention is a product of that exclusion -- and to think otherwise is
looking at reality through rose-colored glasses.

A glaring example of that exclusion is here in Los Angeles. It is common knowledge that the
fall television schedule has all but eradicated any sense of inclusion, with programming
almost exclusively comprising white actors. Los Angeles is one of the largest multicultural
cities in the world!

I certainly agree with you about how this world would be a more hospitable place if
attitudes were more inclusive, and I recognize the efforts of individuals and organizations
that work toward that goal. But please do not continue to perpetuate the myth about the
so-called "gentler time." -- IRMA R. BARRAGAN, MOORPARK, CALIF.

DEAR IRMA: Perhaps the "good old days" weren't so good for everybody. American history
is a collection of events -- many of which we can point to with pride, some of which are
deplorable. Although we can learn from the mistakes of the past, we cannot change them.
We can change only the future.

Flawed as it may seem to be, the United States of America still stands as the No. 1 land of
opportunity in the world.

P.S. Let's hope the fall television schedule is a temporary aberration.

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DEAR ABBY: My husband and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary next year.
However, we conceived our first child four months before our marriage. We had always told
our families that we were married six months before the actual date. We were both 18
years old and met when we were 15. Neither of us had ever had another partner, and we've
had a good life together.

We raised four children (all married) and have four grandchildren. Nonetheless, we felt
embarrassed and ashamed. We did not want our children to think we were promiscuous,
and we feared that history might repeat itself.

Our children are planning a 40th anniversary party next year and are sending us on a trip
overseas. My husband wants to tell them the truth because he feels guilty lying about the
actual marriage date when they plan this expensive gift.

Abby, do you think we should tell them the truth, or leave it alone? -- NAMELESS, PLEASE

DEAR NAMELESS: I see no reason to bring this up now. I suggest you "leave it alone."

DEAR ABBY: I am writing in reference to a very short letter from "On the Spot," who wanted
to know what to say to nosy people who ask, "Isn't it about time you had kids?" when you
aren't planning on having any. Your answer was on target; however, I think "On the Spot"
was really hinting at a much larger issue -- people assuming that everyone wants a spouse
and/or children.

My husband and I struggled with our decision not to have children for three years before his
vasectomy. During that time, I began to dread the family get-togethers that used to mean
so much. Subtle hints and flat-out blunt questions were present in every holiday visit. This
additional pressure was almost unbearable. Finally, I decided enough is enough -- the next
person to ask will get an honest answer instead of being "tuned out."

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My sister-in-law "Marge" (who has a habit of speaking without thinking) asked, right before
the birth of her second child, when she could send the maternity clothes to my house. I
thought her jaw was going to break the way it fell to the floor when I said, "Never" and
changed the subject.

I've found it's a lot less stressful to speak my mind and make a few waves than to hold in
my comments and feel my blood boil. I would like to remind people to THINK before they
speak. Sometimes silence is much more comfortable than personal questions in an attempt
to "make conversation." -- NOT A TALKER IN NEBRASKA

DEAR NOT A TALKER: I agree with that philosophy. Some people ask questions as a means
of carrying on a conversation and getting the other person talking. However, they should
take care that the questions are tactful and not too personal. Asking people why they don't
have children is definitely out of bounds.

Believe it or not, being a good listener will do more for someone than being a glib talker.

CONFIDENTIAL TO "TRYING TO MAKE IT WORK": "The ideal marriage is not one in which
two people marry to be happy, but to make each other happy." (Roy L. Smith, 1887-1963,
Methodist minister)

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents
is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or money order for




DEAR ABBY: I am the director of a rehabilitation program for the chronically mentally ill.
From time to time, I notice that you print letters that deal with stereotypes and negative
attitudes society often holds toward certain groups. I wonder if you might print a similar
letter on behalf of people who have a mental illness. One of the foremost issues facing this
group is the negative prejudice that society holds against them.

I asked our group of patients to provide suggestions on how to treat a person who has a
mental illness. Some of their ideas:

1. Don't be afraid of us. Despite what you see on TV and in the movies, studies have shown
that the mentally ill population does not have a greater propensity toward violence than
anyone else.

2. Please avoid negative stereotypical words such as "psycho," "nuts," "schizo," "loonies,"
etc. The emotional pain these dehumanizing words inflict upon us hurts worse than our
illness does.

3. Give us a job opportunity. Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill, both of whom
experienced mental illness, held two of the most important jobs in history. Many of us are
intelligent and long for the chance to be productive members of society.

4. Please don't tell us that if we just tried harder we could "snap out of it." This insults our
intelligence and implies that we are lazy. There is nothing fun or positive about having a
mental illness and none of us choose to have it.

5. Be patient when you notice we are having a difficult time. It is OK to ask us if we need
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6. Don't ask if we have taken our medication when we are angry, sad or irritable. These
questions make us feel like we don't have the right to experience normal human emotions
without being viewed as having an "episode."

7. Treat us like you would treat anyone else. We have a need for acceptance, just as you
do. Most of us lead quite normal lives complete with families, children, employment and
financial responsibilities.

Abby, with the help of recent medications and psychotherapy interventions, the treatment
of mental illness has made tremendous strides in the last 10 years. Unfortunately, the
prejudice against this group remains one of the most painful aspects of the disease. -- MIKE

DEAR DR. ASHWORTH: You have written a very important letter. There is a lot of ignorance
and misunderstanding about mental illness. Some mental illnesses can be managed
effectively with therapy and medication. Others can be cured entirely. People coping with
mental illness have enough complicated challenges to overcome without having to deal with
the irrational fears of the supposedly "normal."

Let's face it -- there are few among us who don't have a few "kinks" here or there.

DEAR ABBY: I need help. My neighbor likes to water his lawn using my garden hose and my
water. My husband and I do not wish to have a fight over it since we have to live next door
to him. Aside from installing a sprinkler system, do you have any suggestions on how to
handle this?

When we see him, he pretends that he's watering our flowers -- but he's really watering his

DEAR ANONYMOUS: When you're finished watering your lawn, put the hose away in a
locked shed or garage. Or consider installing a locking device on the handle of the spigot,
making it more difficult for your shameless neighbor to tap into your water supply.

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's
More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope,




DEAR ABBY: Chills went through my body as I read the letter from "Torn in N.Y." asking if
she should tell her children about their father's suicide. I quickly scanned to the bottom to
see who had sent it. I was sure it was from someone I knew.

In 1978, my grandfather, with whom I was very close, committed suicide. I was only 4, and
to ease the pain my parents told me he had "accidentally" killed himself. I never questioned
their word.

One day in second grade, I was riding a bus to school. Another girl asked me if it was my
grandfather who had killed himself. I adamantly denied it, but could think of little else the
entire day.

When I returned home, my mother said we could talk about it when my dad got home from
work. I'll never forget the looks on their faces when I asked if it was true. Yes, it was true,
and it broke my heart. I cried for days, unable to understand why my grandfather would
have killed himself.

I soon came to understand the depression from which he and many others in his family had
suffered. He was not alone in committing suicide. His father, brother and sister had also
taken their own lives. My father also battled with depression.

As I reached adolescence, I, too, became depressed. Talking with my family helped alleviate
the pain I felt. I urge the mother of those preteens to tell the children the truth. The truth
will set them free.

I wish my parents had told me the truth in the beginning. But I am glad I found out when I
was young. I pray daily for my extended family members, who also suffer from depression,
to seek help and talk with their families about it. As my mother says, "A family is only as
sick as its secrets." -- KNOWING IN THE NORTHWEST

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DEAR KNOWING: Thank you for sharing your firsthand experience. One of the problems
with depression is that people often don't realize they have it, and therefore they don't seek
help for it. It is not a "weakness." It can be a very serious health problem.

Depression can affect the entire body. The symptoms can include vague physical
complaints, including a host of sleep and eating disturbances, coupled with loss of
enjoyment in activities formerly pleasurable. It can affect the way people feel about
themselves and the way they perceive everyday events. Persistent sadness, feelings of
worthlessness, hopelessness and anxiety, and withdrawal from friends and activities may be
signs of depression.

A depressive illness is NOT a passing "blue" mood. While it's normal to feel sad or moody
once in a while, if this feeling lasts for more than two weeks, the problem could be

The good news is that between 80 percent and 90 percent of people with depression can be
successfully treated with counseling and/or medication. It is very important to talk with
someone to determine if you have depression and where to seek help.

To learn more about depression, its signs and treatment, call your local mental health
association or the National Mental Health Association: (800) 969-6642.

Children and teens who are experiencing depression should discuss it with their parents or
school nurse.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal
With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check




DEAR ABBY: In a recent letter, a young woman said she didn't need a man to open the door
for her. I just had to respond to that statement. After 14 years of marriage, my husband
and I agreed he would go back to that old-fashioned courtesy of opening the car door for
me. (He has always opened doors for me at buildings.) We thought this would remind us
that we are still "dating" and to treat each other in a special way. I wait, he opens my door,
I smile and thank him, he smiles back and holds my hand as we walk along. At first I
thought this little ritual seemed forced; now it feels natural and we like the results. I think it
has made us more aware and more considerate of each other.

Our daughters, ages 14 and 10, cannot say enough about how stupid they think this
courtesy is. They think I'm the one insisting my husband do this. They can't believe I would
put him through it -- let alone be willing to wait the few extra seconds it takes for him to
walk around the car to open my door. They don't realize they are taking for granted their
parents acting in a loving way toward each other! I feel cherished and connected to my
husband all the time, and these little outward acts of courtesy have a remarkable effect on
our relationship.

Last night at a parents' meeting at school, my husband sweetly held my hand the entire
time. I noticed other parents not doing the same.

We have been at this little experiment in "old-fashioned" manners for more than a year
now, and neither of us would ever go back. I realize that the married generations before me
understood the value of seemingly meaningless outward gestures. Of course, I am strong
enough to open my own doors, but it's not an insult that my husband wants to do it for me.
Small gestures go a long way toward reminding us of our constant courtship. -- STILL

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DEAR STILL DATING: You'll get no argument from me. At the risk of irritating some
feminists, I must say that I've never been offended when a gentleman opened a door for
me, helped me with my chair or stood when I entered a room. I have always regarded it as
a gesture of respect. When a man acknowledges my femininity with an act of chivalry, I
always thank him for it.

DEAR ABBY: My parents were married nearly 40 years when my father passed away. About
a year later, my mother remarried. A year after she remarried, my father's mother passed

At my grandmother's funeral, my uncle referred to my mother as my grandmother's "former

daughter-in-law." The same term was used in the obituary submitted by the family.

My mother was hurt by this characterization, as she feels that she was always a good
daughter-in-law, and always maintained the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship
even after my father passed away. She feels that despite the passing of my father and her
subsequent remarriage, she should have nevertheless been referred to as my
grandmother's daughter-in-law and NOT "former" daughter-in-law. -- THE FORMER

DEAR GRANDCHILD: I'm sure your uncle meant no offense. His reasoning may have been
that regardless of how loving your mother's relationship was with her mother-in-law, her
remarriage made her a "former" daughter-in-law. From his point of view, it seems perfectly

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's
More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope,



DEAR ABBY: I would like to direct my remarks to "Frustrated," the woman whose husband
rated very high on a scale of 10 -- but who would never apologize. I had the same problem.

After 25 years of marriage, I have discovered that he knew very well when he did
something wrong. It made him angry at himself, and to cover up his insecurity, he added
insult to injury.

During the last year of his life, when he knew he could die any minute, he admitted his
inability to apologize and thanked me for recognizing it at the beginning of our marriage.
Instead of a smart-aleck remark, I would give him a loving smile or a little kiss as a sign of
forgiveness, letting him keep his "macho man" dignity.

He took it to his grave six months ago.

"Frustrated," you are young. You can still learn. If your husband is as good as you stated in
your letter, love him and let him believe that you think he is perfect. He knows he's not, but
he doesn't like to admit it, so don't force him. You will be rewarded with a happy life. --

DEAR NORA: Please accept my heartfelt sympathy for the loss of your beloved husband.
With an attitude like yours, I'm sure the union was a happy one. You are a wise woman.

The letter from "Frustrated" motivated other women who share your problem to write. Read

DEAR ABBY: Please tell "Frustrated," whose husband is never wrong, that so many men
suffer from this malady I have concluded it must be genetic.

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Not only is my husband never wrong, my boss is never wrong either!

I used to try to prove them wrong by looking up items in almanacs, dictionaries and the
Encyclopaedia Britannica. But of course, these reference books were also "wrong."

After several years of banging my head against these walls, I decided to simply agree with
anything and everything they said. I just respond, "Yes, whatever you say," in a pleasant
voice and walk away. This aggravates them more than their stubbornness ever aggravated
me, and my blood pressure has never been lower. -- CALM AND SERENE IN DALLAS

DEAR CALM AND SERENE: Your medicine sounds better than a tranquilizer, but it takes a
strong woman to apply it. My hat is off to you. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I, too, am married to a husband who will never admit he is wrong. The
marriage has lasted 50 years. This message is for "Frustrated":

Face reality. This man will never change. That is the way he is, and nothing you can do or
say will cause him to behave any differently. He doesn't really think your feelings are not
important, or he wouldn't work two jobs, keep himself clean for you and help with child

When he's wrong, he may possibly realize it without your telling him. If you do tell him, he'll
definitely know it. So you BOTH know it, even if he refuses to admit it.

Quit being frustrated. When he makes his cute remark, shrug your shoulders, cast your
eyes heavenward, smile and say to yourself, "There he is, being that way again," and then
FORGET it. If he won't or can't change -- then you must, or you will continue to be

DEAR EXPERIENCED: I think you have discovered a vital ingredient for achieving serenity.

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envelope, plus check or




DEAR ABBY: The letter about the ex-wife who removed property from the home of her
former mother-in-law on the day of the woman's funeral prompts this letter. You were right
when you advised that what the woman did qualifies as criminal activity. Entering a dwelling
in order to remove property not your own is a felony called burglary.

I would not merely call my lawyer; I would immediately notify the police before the ex-wife
disposes of the property.
Having knowledge of a crime and failing to report that crime is also a violation in some
jurisdictions. The irony here is that the son of the deceased may be adding to the offense by
failing to notify the police.

Also, the executor of the estate has an additional duty, enforced by the probate court, to
secure and properly dispose of the deceased's assets. Failing to do so is also an offense.

You knew all of this, I'm sure. I am a retired law enforcement officer, but please just sign

DEAR NOT: I was not aware of much of the information in your letter, and I'm sure it will be
of interest to many people.

I received another comment about that letter from an attorney in Louisiana, who informed
me that asking one's lawyer to write a letter demanding the property be returned, and
threatening to call the law if it's not, could be construed as extortion or coercion. So I'm
revising my answer: Waste no time in informing the police about the theft.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have a dilemma over something that occurred at our wedding.
We invited my mother's first cousin (whom I've only met twice) and his wife out of courtesy
to my grandmother. (My mother is deceased.) The cousin called our home five days before
the wedding and INFORMED us that he would be picking up his son from college and
bringing him to the wedding, too, "since he's family and all." He said he'd be doing this
because it would give the three of them time to spend together.

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Given the late notice with which he called, we decided that it was simply too late to add
another guest. I spoke with him the following day, and he agreed with us and said it was
"no problem" to come without his son.

To our surprise, however, while dancing at our reception, my new bride and I noticed the
cousin's wife and son dancing! We don't know when he arrived or if he was there for the
ceremony, cocktail party and/or dinner (however, no dinner was ordered for him and no
place seating reserved). They never came over to speak to us during the evening, and we
decided not to address the issue on our wedding day.

Abby, we spent a year carefully planning our wedding, and as hosts, we felt it was
presumptuous of them to make a decision about our guest list against our explicit request.
Under the circumstances, we do not feel comfortable accepting their wedding gift. We
appreciate the gift, but are too hurt by the disrespect and disregard we feel we were shown
to accept it. Should we send a letter explaining our feelings and return the gift, or is there a
more appropriate course of action? -- IGNORED IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
DEAR IGNORED: Although I don't blame you for being furious, to return their gift would
mean the end of the relationship. Unless you're prepared for that, I wouldn't recommend it.
Remember instead the happiness of the occasion, and don't dwell on the faults of these
distant relatives.

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DEAR ABBY: In reference to the letter from the Los Angeles plastic surgeon regarding facial
disfigurement of children who are allowed to stand in a moving car, may I add my 2 cents'

I am a flight attendant for a major airline, and while the captain does not usually "jam on
the brakes," we DO hit unexpected turbulence. Planes can drop 500 feet in a matter of
seconds. Guess where a small child who's not in a seatbelt goes? To the ceiling!

I write this out of sheer frustration with uneducated -- or perhaps lazy -- parents. The FAA
does not mandate that a child UNDER the age of 2 be in his or her own seat. This is
shameful and absurd. We, the flight crew, are required to ensure that all carry-on luggage is
safely stowed, yet our most precious cargo, these little human beings, can be on an adult's
lap. I applaud parents who pay the extra money and purchase a seat for the child, and
extra kudos when they bring along a car seat. If there is an extra seat available, I ALWAYS
move other passengers so "lap baby" can have his or her own seat, explaining to parents
that it is safer. Guess what? They give me a blank stare and say: "Oh, she won't sit still in
her own seat. She'll cry. I'll just hold her."

Let me offer this graphic thought: Parents, if the plane DOES crash and your baby is on
your lap, the baby becomes a human air bag for you. Your baby will die instantly. I had a
passenger tearfully tell me that this happened to her. She is now crippled, and her only
child (who would be 9 now) was killed.

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I urge all parents and grandparents to write to Congress and insist that every passenger --
even babies -- be in a seat. The FAA's argument that families will not pay for the extra seat
because the cost is prohibitive is unfounded. Most airlines offer a lower rate for children.
The FAA says that people will turn to driving, which will cause more road accidents. This is

I know this letter is long, but please pass along this important message. Believe me, it will
be clipped by thousands of airline crews and shown to passengers. -- A CONCERNED FLIGHT

DEAR CONCERNED: You have issued a chilling warning to the parents of small children, and
I sincerely hope it's one that will be heeded. A plane hitting an air pocket and suddenly
losing altitude is not something we hear about every day. However, I recall that it happened
to Air Force One a year or so ago, and to a commercial flight just this month -- so it's
something that should be taken very seriously. ALL passengers should stay buckled up while
they are in their seats.

DEAR ABBY: I have been involved with a nice gentleman for more than a year now. I'm a
single parent and own my own home.

My problem is that he still lives with his ex-wife and children. He says that because of the
child-support payments he has been unable to get a place of his own. I love him very much
and suggested he move in with me -- but he never responded. This has stressed our

Abby, should I continue to wait for him, or should I cut the ties? He's told me for more than
a year that he's been looking for a place of his own, but his pride won't let him move "just
anywhere." He says, "Be patient -- good things come to those who wait." -- J.Y.V., TAMPA,
DEAR J.Y.V.: Perhaps, but not always. I vote to cut the ties. I strongly suspect that the
"nice gentleman" you are involved with is still married.

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DEAR ABBY: My friend "Natalie" recently called to ask me to be in her wedding. I agreed, of

Abby, Natalie is making a huge mistake. They have nothing in common. He drinks a lot and
smokes. She doesn't. He puts her down about her weight. She loves children. He doesn't. I
could go on and on. She's the nicest person I have ever met, and I think she deserves a lot

I think she feels that he's the only man who will marry her. I want her to open her eyes and
see this jerk for who he really is, and I don't want her hurt any more, but I'm afraid that if I
say anything, it will destroy our friendship.

Abby, Natalie's mother doesn't like her fiance either, but her mother hates Natalie, too. (Her
mother has even threatened her life.)

I don't want to be in this wedding because I know the marriage will not last. What can be
done to stop Natalie from making the biggest mistake of her life? -- WORRIED ABOUT MY

DEAR WORRIED: If Natalie is making serious wedding plans, it's unlikely that she'll listen to
what you have to say. Some people have to learn the hard way, and Natalie may be one of
them. Be there for her on her big day -- and be around later in case you have to pick up the
pieces of her broken heart. That's what friends are for.

DEAR ABBY: Speaking as a visually impaired employee of the LightHouse for the Blind in
San Francisco, I was pleased to read the recent letter from the woman who offered helpful
suggestions for how one should "behave normally around blind people." The gist of her
letter was to treat blind people like everyone else.

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I would like to add a simple guideline: If you meet a blind person and you are nervous,
pretend you are speaking to him or her on the telephone. When you talk to someone by
phone, you don't know if that person is sighted or blind -- green or purple, for that matter -
- unless he or she tells you.

Abby, it is truly refreshing when people like you use mainstream media to dispel rather than
perpetuate misleading stereotypes about blindness. Thank you. -- DAMIAN PICKERING,

DEAR DAMIAN: Thank you for the helpful suggestion. It makes sense to me.

DEAR ABBY: I laughed about the woman who tweezed the hairs on her chin in a restaurant.
However, I broke into hysterical laughter about the man who whipped out his dentures and
swished them in his water goblet, while his companion watched the waves on the shore.

It reminded me of my late, great dad, who had poorly fitting dentures that hurt him when
he ate. He finally became so desperate that he took them out in the middle of a meal, laid
them on the table and told us, "YOU eat with them, if you can!"

Thanks, Abby, for publishing human stories. It's good to laugh when one is all alone. I
appreciate it so much. -- EVELYNE IN HAZEL GREEN, ALA.

DEAR EVELYNE: Your letter reminds me of that old line, "He probably wanted to keep from
biting off more than he could chew."

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person,
order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or
money order for



DEAR ABBY: After I read the letter from the young woman who had been date-raped at 21,
I felt compelled to write. She was wondering if she should tell her boyfriend about it.

When I was 16 and a virgin, I was date-raped. For many years, I didn't know why it had
happened. It took a long time to slowly heal from the incident.

Finally, I met a wonderful man with whom I started to cultivate a relationship -- first on the
telephone, even though we both lived in the same small town. On our first date, I told him
about what had happened to me 10 years earlier. I cried and he held me, letting me know
that he was sorry that it had happened.

That wonderful man and I have been happily married for more than a year. He's my best
friend, and I don't regret telling him. In fact, he helped me to let go of so many bad
memories and to focus on our future. A truly understanding man will be your comfort if you
are truthful. -- NO PRISONER TO THE PAST

DEAR N.P.: Your supportive letter is well worth space in this column. I'm pleased your story
has such a happy ending.

One of the main reasons why the vast majority of rapes are never reported is the feeling of
shame on the part of the victim. Rape is never the victim's fault.

Crisis counseling is enormously helpful for victims of sexual assault, and it's as easy to find
as picking up the telephone and asking information for the number of the local rape hotline.
It can help to heal psychological wounds even years after the assault, and that's why I
recommend it so strongly.

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DEAR ABBY: Your readers have been wonderful in years past to rescue dogs from animal
shelters during October, National Adopt-a-Dog Month, and we at North Shore Animal
League would like to encourage them once again to visit their shelters and take home one
or more of the thousands of homeless dogs and puppies. These animals have years of
unconditional love to give to kind and caring animal lovers.
Abby, people can adopt from shelters any time, but October is dedicated to making it a
better world for man's (and woman's) best friend -- a canine pet. This visit to a shelter
during Adopt-a-Dog Month will not only save a life, but will also bring a lifetime of love and
happiness to both the needy animal orphan and the kind individual who takes a pet home.

Thank you, Abby, for your compassion and love of animals. -- MARGE STEIN, NORTH

DEAR MARGE: Thank you for the timely reminder. For individuals and families interested in
acquiring some canine companionship, I can't think of a more opportune time than National
Adopt-a-Dog Month. Arf arf!

DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 37 years. My wife likes to go out every day, seven
days a week. I like to go out two to three days a week, and would to compromise and try
the "middle" -- about four times a week.

My wife is very energetic and will not meet me in the middle. What do you recommend? --

DEAR BOB: How about this for a compromise: Tell your wife that she's welcome to go out
by herself or with friends a few days a week, and that you will join her for the other three or
four days. That way, she gets seven days out and you get three or four.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal
With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check




DEAR ABBY: My co-workers are so nosy they're driving me crazy. When I go into my boss's
office to talk to him, my co-workers pump me with remarks like, "Oh, you had to talk with
the boss," in an effort to get me to disclose the reason for the conference. When I am at the
copier, these busybodies pop over to the copier to see what I am copying. If they don't get
what they came for, they'll follow me into my office.

If I stay in my office to complete a project by the deadline, they come in and ask things
like, "Are you hiding?" or, "Why are you so quiet today?"

Abby, do you know what it's like to constantly be asked what you are doing? How can I get
my co-workers out of my hair? -- FRUSTRATED IN OKLAHOMA
DEAR FRUSTRATED: Rather than taking it personally and allowing yourself to be put on the
defensive, try to be more tolerant. Coming into your office to see why you are so quiet
could be considered a friendly gesture.

Your co-workers could be motivated by curiosity or nosiness, have too much time on their
hands, or be nursing a guilt complex that makes them fearful of any private conversation
between the boss and a co-worker. You'd be ahead to just laugh it off rather than take it
seriously -- because they probably do it to each other, too.

DEAR ABBY: I am writing in response to your advice for the woman in Sacramento, Calif.,
whose husband of four years spends hours with, and buys gifts for, his former wife. She
stated that she is unhappy, fearful of him, and is nothing more than his housekeeper.

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Please tell this woman about an organization in Sacramento called WEAVE (Women
Escaping A Violent Environment). They will assist her with shelter, care, legal issues and

This woman needs to get out now, and present that worthless, selfish husband of hers a bill
for the years of maid service she has provided him. This is not a normal marriage. She
deserves to be happy with someone who appreciates her. -- BEEN THERE, DONE THAT IN

DEAR B.T.D.T.: I agree this is not a normal marriage and the woman deserves a mate who
will appreciate her. I was not aware there was an organization that would help women who
have been threatened by their spouses -- but who had not yet been battered.
When I spoke to a staff member at WEAVE, she informed me that they do help women who
are suffering from emotional and verbal abuse -- and that all domestic abuse organizations
will help victims of ANY type of abuse. The National Domestic Violence Hotline, (800) 799-
7233, will refer callers to an organization in their local area.

DEAR ABBY: Thank you for pointing out to "My Kid's Mom" that "bigotry is alive and well in
every community because it seems that some people have a need to feel superior."

No man should have a "need to feel superior," Abby. The words of the late Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. come to mind and are worth repeating:

"Every man is somebody because he is a child of God." -- ARTHUR H. PRINCE, Ph.D.,


DEAR DR. PRINCE: And so is every woman. Thanks for a terrific quote.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents
is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed
envelope, plus check or money order for




DEAR ABBY: I read your column faithfully and hope you'll print my letter for public
awareness. Two years ago I met the man who would "sweep me off my feet." When I asked
him what he did for a living, he said, "I am a certified chimney sweep."

Although I always "knew" that people who have fireplaces or wood stoves need to have
their chimneys cleaned, I never realized that chimney sweeps save lives every day!

Many homeowners and landlords are unaware that chimneys -- or ANY heating systems --
need to be inspected every year.

With new heating technology, furnace appliances are more efficient. They put less heat up
the chimney and more into the home, causing condensation that can damage a chimney at
a remarkable rate. This can create blockages, water and structural damage to the home, as
well as carbon monoxide poisoning.

Homeowners can check for many of these things by looking in the bottom of their chimney.
If there is any debris or flaking inside, if they can't see to the top with a flashlight, if there
are water stains or missing bricks, the homeowner should contact a certified chimney sweep
to inspect the venting system. These professionals have the training to properly install,
replace and repair venting systems to meet national codes for safety, and they are qualified
to give the best and safest solutions to homeowners and their families. -- SWEPT OFF MY

DEAR SWEPT: Thank you for wanting to educate others about a danger many of us face
without being aware of it. Homeowners, if you observe any of these warning signs, please
contact a certified sweep and have your venting system inspected before you light your next
fire (renters should contact their landlords). A certified chimney sweep is usually as close as
your telephone directory.

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DEAR ABBY: You printed a letter from a group called "The Ya-Yas," who asked you to
provide some words on friendship. I would like to submit a quote from Stephen E.
Ambrose's book "Comrades" (Simon and Schuster, 1999). In his book, the author describes
friendships between brothers, peers, father and son, combat buddies and others.

This quote is from the chapter on Lewis and Clark: "Friendship is different from all other
relationships. Unlike acquaintanceship, it is based on love. Unlike lovers and married
couples, it is free of jealousy. Unlike children and parents, it knows neither criticism nor
resentment. Friendship has no status in law. Business partnerships are based on a contract.
So is marriage. Parents are bound by the law, as are children. But friendship is freely
entered into, freely given, freely exercised.

"Friends never cheat each other, or take advantage, or lie. Friends do not spy on one
another, yet they have no secrets. Friends glory in each other's successes and are downcast
by the failures. Friends minister to each other, nurse each other. Friends give to each other,
worry about each other, stand always ready to help. Perfect friendship is rarely achieved,
but at its height it is an ecstasy." -- WILLIAM FRITTS, TEMECULA, CALIF.

DEAR WILLIAM: That's a terrific quote, and I'm sure it will be appreciated by more people
than the Ya-Yas. The most precious gift one person can offer another is a hand outstretched
in friendship.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal
With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check




DEAR ABBY: I am the parent of an adult man who has Down syndrome. He has many
opportunities to be part of the community in addition to his job -- parties, weddings, going
to stores, restaurants, movies, church.

The problem? When we are greeting people or leaving an event, complete strangers will
shake hands with everyone else but hug my adult son. They do not hug anyone else.
However, they think it is just fine to hug him because he is "different."

PLEASE, well-meaning folks, we parents and teachers and social workers work very hard so
that our retarded adults can be accepted, productive members of the community. More
important, though, is our real concern for their safety. We teach them to shake hands and
greet others like "normal" people do. To be hugged by strangers is neither safe nor
acceptable social behavior in our society. This behavior further sets our adult children apart
as "they" and "people like that" when acceptance and inclusion is what is needed. It also
confuses what we have been trying to teach.

Give them a job rather than a hug! Is it safe for your children to hug strangers? Do you hug
strangers? It isn't safe for my son either! So please, smile, shake his hand and make him
feel welcome. That will do more for him than a hug that diminishes his chances for safe
independence in the world.

Abby, I believe I speak for many parents of retarded adults, as we have discussed this
problem often. Thank you for getting this message out for all of us. -- CONCERNED MOTHER

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DEAR CONCERNED: You have made your point, and I hope the well-meaning but
patronizing huggers will get the message: It isn't acceptable to hug people you don't know.
Inappropriate hugging sets a bad example. If the retarded adult imitates that behavior and
initiates the hug, it could be misunderstood as sexually motivated.

DEAR ABBY: My ex-wife's brother has cancer and lives in another state. He has asked that I
be a pallbearer at his funeral. My live-in girlfriend says there is no way that I should agree
to do it. She thinks this is a plot that my ex-wife has hatched to be close to me.

Although I divorced my "ex," I still like her family and they like me.

My girlfriend says that since I am divorced, I should have nothing to do with any of my
former in-laws or friends that we both share. I feel that it should be OK for me to talk with
my ex-in-laws every now and then, and to see mutual friends as long as my ex-wife isn't
the main topic of conversation. I think my girlfriend should trust me enough to let me talk
without making accusations.

By the way, Abby, I have never cheated on my ex-wife or my girlfriend, but my girlfriend's
ex-husband did cheat on her. She also played around a little on her ex-husband before they
separated. What do you think? -- ANYONE, ANYWHERE, U.S.A.

DEAR ANYONE, ANYWHERE: I think you should be a pallbearer for your former brother-in-
law, if it is in your heart to do so. I also think you should consider moving your live-in
girlfriend out -- unless, of course, you want a lifetime with this insecure and controlling



DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have discovered a terrific way to maintain a close long-
distance relationship with our grandchildren who live several thousand miles away.

Kyle is 5 and Sarah is 3. Their attention spans are not yet long enough to allow extended
phone conversations between visits, so we came up with the following idea. It works not
only for the grandchildren and for us, it also gives their parents a break.

On the weekends, my husband and I visit our local bookstore and buy two identical "easy-
reader" books. We keep one and send the other to the grandkids. Then, on a designated
night each week, we call just before bedtime and read them their "night-night" story. Both
children are snuggled in bed -- one with the bedroom phone and the other with a cordless
phone. The children can read along with us because they have the same book we have.

After the story, the kids are eager to talk about it and other things.

We know that Kyle and Sarah go to bed at least one night a week secure in the knowledge
that they are loved by their grandparents as well as their parents. An added bonus that
should not be overlooked is that they are developing a love of books as well. -- CONNIE

DEAR CONNIE: You and your husband have come up with a wonderful method of building a
strong relationship with your grandchildren and a clever means of building literacy. I
congratulate you both.

DEAR ABBY: Four years ago I moved to a new town where I knew one person from a
previous job. Over the years, our friendship has grown very close, and she has introduced
me to many other people who have also become my friends.

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A few weeks ago, I dropped by my friend's house on the spur of the moment and walked
into a dinner/card party that included a group of these friends. I was very hurt and upset
that I had not been invited.
My friend is angry with me for being upset and insists that there is no reason to be hurt.
The six people included are all couples. I am single and admit I often feel left out.

Please advise. It's tough being single in a world that revolves around couples. Abby, do you
think I'm being unreasonable or too sensitive? -- JUST ONE IN CORONA DEL MAR, CALIF.

DEAR JUST ONE: Yes, I do think you are being unreasonable. As close as you may feel to
your friend, she is under no obligation to invite you to every gathering she hosts.

Since you often feel left out because you are single, begin exploring activities in your
community for singles. It may also make you less dependent on your friend, which will be
healthier for both of you.

DEAR ABBY: I have always wondered how to address food servers in restaurants. Do you
call them "Sir" or "Miss" or "Waiter"? It is hard to call a food server "Miss" when she's more
than 50 years old and may be married. See what I mean? -- RONALD IN OCEAN SPRINGS,

DEAR RONALD: Yes, I do see what you mean. Politely ask for the server's name, and use it.




DEAR ABBY: I'm 80 years old, living alone and desperately lonely. I have a good wife and
five fine children. My present situation is due to a major mistake I made after retirement.

My wife had a lifelong dream of spending our retirement years in the country, "in touch with
nature." She had been a fair helpmate and perfect mother for 35 years, so I decided to give
in to her dream and let her have her turn at a happy life. I sold our comfortable home
located in an ideal midsized city and gave her a free hand at relocating us.

My wife had a major stroke two years ago, and our remote location, with no medical help
for 25 miles, made matters a lot worse for her, as it took so long to get her to the
emergency room. She is now in a nursing home, and I am alone in our "close to nature"
house that still hasn't sold after two years.

The nursing home care is eating away at my savings. All my children live far away, and I'm
afraid I can't drive much longer. Depression is setting in.

Abby, please advise seniors to locate close to help. Life can take a sudden sharp turn --
mine was destroyed like a flash of lightning. Any advice you can offer would be welcome. --
DEAR CONFUSED: Although your life has taken an unexpected 180-degree turn, you can get
it back on course.

Start by discussing your symptoms of depression with your doctor, because prescription
medications are available that can lessen them. And waste no time in looking into what
services are available for seniors in your area, such as transportation and senior recreation
centers. If nothing is available, consider asking your children if they could visit more
regularly and perhaps help you solve some of these problems.

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Also, ask your Realtor why your home hasn't sold in two years. Have you offered it at
current market value? Is it being actively marketed? If the market is slow, consider renting
it -- that way you may be able to live closer to your children or your wife. Another solution
may be to rent a room in your home to another senior so you are not alone all the time.

Please let me hear from you in six months. I'm rooting for you.

DEAR ABBY: I grew up in a house full of siblings. Our father told us he would not tolerate
smoking, drinking or cursing under his roof, and if we wanted to do any of those things, we
were free to move out.

When I entered the Air Force in 1947, it wasn't long before I was confronted with the old,
"Aw, come on -- have a drink. Don't be a stick-in-the-mud."
I had several good friends who drank, but I had no desire to start. I finally came up with an
answer that worked. I told anyone who asked me to drink or smoke a funny cigarette, "I'll
tell you what I'll do: I won't try to make you stop if you don't try to make me start."

In almost 13 years in the Air Force, it never failed me and I still had lots of friends. I still
don't drink or smoke that funny weed, and I am over 70 years old.

Abby, why can't young people today use the same line to refuse alcohol, tobacco, drugs --
and maybe even sex? They might be surprised how they could influence some of their
friends to stop. I'm proud to say I did. -- BEEN THERE IN TEXAS

DEAR BEEN THERE: They can. After reading your easy-to-memorize one-liner, some of
them probably will. It's short, nonjudgmental and very much to the point.




DEAR ABBY: Your response to "Hurt in Connecticut," who was bothered that family
members didn't attend her choir concert, was a very good one. Family solidarity should be
valued; however, it may be expressed in many ways.

I, too, am a "singing grandmother" who was disappointed when none of my children or

grandchildren attended a particular performance of the chorale in which my husband and I
both sing. May I share the following thought process that helped us soften the

1. Consider the many other ways your sons, daughters and grandchildren demonstrate their
love and respect throughout the year.

2. Remember that they all have their own activities, goals and commitments, their own
social needs and responsibilities.

3. Remember how you felt at their ages. Would you have had time to attend? Would you
have changed or abandoned your previous plans?

4. If you do not wish to accept an invitation to a sports event, glee club performance, etc.,
it's OK to politely decline.

5. Finally, how would you feel if you were not invited to any of those "boring" events?

I am honored when I'm invited to an awards banquet or graduation. (Attendance is limited,

you know.) Singing in the chorale is a personal pleasure, which is enhanced whenever my
family and/or friends are able to attend the performance. When they cannot, it is not a
rejection. In other words, dear "Hurt," count your blessings. I'm sure you'll feel much

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DEAR CALIFORNIA GRANDMA: You're singing my song -- as far as I'm concerned you can
repeat another chorus.

DEAR ABBY: My son is 11 years old. He has no contact with the family of his biological
father. His grandfather (my father) passed away when my son was 2 weeks old. This was a
great loss -- a loving, generous father and grandfather who accepted all his family, blood
ties or not. My son has a grandma (my side) who also loves him dearly.

I have recently remarried and am now expecting a baby. I am sure this new baby will be
expected to call my husband's parents "Grandma" and "Grandpa," although they insist my
11-year-old son call them "Mr. and Mrs. Last-name." My husband was adopted, and I think,
of all people, his parents and family should understand the importance of being accepted
into a family unconditionally. Unfortunately, this is not the case. I am not fond of my
husband's parents, but am trying to get along.

I wonder how my 11-year-old will feel when this new baby calls them "Grandma" and
"Grandpa" while he is not allowed to. I want to do everything possible to make my son feel
good about himself. What should I do about this situation? -- MOM

DEAR MOM: Tell your husband's parents that you want both of your children to use the
same names for them -- and let his parents decide what those names should be.

DEAR ABBY: The letter about the man who wondered how to date his tombstone if he lives
into the year 2000 and your reply to use a little humor, reminded me of a man's headstone
we came across while searching for the gravesite of a friend.
The stone listed the man's name, etc., and then, "Thanks for stopping by." I confess I
almost laughed out loud in that solemn place. -- WISH I HAD KNOWN HIM IN CINCY




DEAR ABBY: In your column of July 5, you responded to a writer struggling with
accommodating her widowed, elderly father who suffers from the eye condition called age-
related macular degeneration (AMD), and therefore has trouble reading small print. On
behalf of the AMD Alliance International, thank you for printing that letter. Just seven years
ago I was diagnosed with AMD, and I now chair the AMD Alliance.

AMD is an eye condition that causes loss of central vision and is the leading cause of legal
blindness to individuals over the age of 50 in the Western world. Approximately 25 million
to 30 million people are affected worldwide by some form of AMD, but awareness and
understanding are still very low. In a recent international survey commissioned by us in May
1999, only 2 percent of adults surveyed think AMD is the leading cause of severe sight loss
among adults 50 and older.

While there is currently no cure for AMD, there are ways for those diagnosed with it to gain
hope and maintain independent lifestyles through treatment and rehabilitation options, low-
vision aids and support services.

Early detection is the key to making the greatest possible impact, so please encourage
regular eye exams.

Abby, thank you for sharing this message of hope for others like me who must now learn to
adjust to a new way of daily living. -- DR. BOB THOMPSON, CHAIRMAN, AMD ALLIANCE

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DEAR DR. THOMPSON: After reading your letter, I'm sure many people will be interested in
learning more about age-related macular degeneration. I first learned about this eye
condition when it affected my trusted secretary of many years, Sylvia Singer.

Readers, the AMD Alliance International is a nonprofit alliance of vision and seniors
organizations. For more information about AMD, early detection and global resources, visit
the Web site at You can also use the toll-free hotline: (877) 263-

DEAR ABBY: Get a load of this pre-wedding announcement. It was delivered via my mailbox
at work. I thought I had seen it all, but this takes the cake. With a former co-worker like
this, I'm happy I didn't win their lottery.

If you print this, please delete all names and addresses. I still work with friends of this

DEAR HAPPY: Your enclosure is a first, and I must admit I have never seen anything quite
like it. Read on:

"Dear Friends of 'Elmer' and 'Gladys': Our wedding will be a small but poignant affair held at
a log home in the woods in beautiful southern Wisconsin. Due to the physical nature of the
wedding area, there will not be enough space for all the friends and relatives we would
dearly love to invite.

"After pondering a number of alternatives, we decided that a lottery would be the most
equitable manner of dealing with the space/disappointment problem. We have, indeed,
already held this lottery with your name included, but alas, it is our sad duty to inform you
that your name does not appear on the winners list. Nevertheless, our good wishes go out
to you, and when our gift from you arrives at the address below, we will thank you in
"With regrets and respect, ELMER SMITH AND GLADYS JONES"

READERS: Care to comment?




DEAR ABBY: I felt compelled to write and offer my advice to "Sweet 16 in Seattle," who is
often mistaken to be her baby brother's teen-age mother.

When I was 16, my mother had my little brother and shortly after, was diagnosed with
breast cancer and had a mastectomy. I happily carried my brother because my mother
physically could not. I heard the "tut-tuts" from people in public, was stared at endlessly in
restaurants and had people refuse to serve me in stores.

My advice to "Sweet 16" is to hold your head high. You have done nothing wrong -- you do
not owe anyone an explanation.

Second, and more important, take a lesson from it: Do not judge people or situations from
what they "seem" to be on the outside. There are always two sides to a story.

And last, don't let it bother you so much. Enjoy your brother as much as I did mine. Seven
years later we still have a special bond that I would not trade for anything -- not even the
approval of an often-too-quick-to-judge public. -- PROUD SISTER IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR PROUD SISTER: That's sage advice. I hope "Sweet 16" reads and heeds it. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I was about 13 during the mid-'50s in San Diego -- pushing my infant twin
nieces around a department store while my 27-year-old sister was upstairs paying a bill. A
woman stopped me and began asking me about the twins. How old? Boys or girls? About
the time she got around to "Are they yours?" my sister emerged from the elevator behind
me and said, "Yes. And I'm their grandmother!"

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I still remember the expression on the woman's face. She never said another word as we
went about our business.

I thought "Sweet 16" might get a laugh out of the story, just as I still do. -- BEEN THERE IN

DEAR BEEN THERE: I'm sure she will relate to it -- as will many others. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am now 21, but I used to baby-sit often. If I took the kids to carnivals,
libraries, etc., I would be subjected to those same stares and whispers. I talked to some of
the parents, and they surprised me with an adorable T-shirt that said, "Best Baby Sitter." It
had the kids' handprints and names on it. Maybe "Sweet 16" could wear one that says, "No.
1 Sister," or have one made for the baby that says, "He's not heavy, he's my brother."

Anything cute would help relieve the situation, although nothing will eliminate all the stares
or change the minds of some people. -- BEEN THERE, TRY THIS, GOLDEN VALLEY, MINN.

DEAR TRY THIS: Good suggestions, and I agree with your conclusion. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: "Sweet 16's" dilemma is not a new one. As a 14-year-old back in 1944, I often
cared for a neighbor's infant. One brisk winter day I bundled both of us up and took her out
in her buggy. A woman I had never seen before stopped us and lectured me about having a
baby when I was so young. When she finally stopped for breath, I managed to tell her I was
the baby sitter, not the mother. She "humphed" several times and left without apologizing.

The only way to handle things like this is with a sense of humor. Maybe the 16-year-old and
her 13-year-old sister could get T-shirts that say, "I am my brother's keeper." -- JOAN IN

DEAR JOAN: That's a terrific idea. And just what the Good Book preaches. After all, in a
sense, we are all our brother's keepers.




DEAR ABBY: Last October, a quarter of a million families took time out of their busy
schedules to plan and practice how they would get out if their homes caught fire. They did
this during The Great Escape, the unified North American fire drill held in communities large
and small in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week.

Planning ahead can make the difference in surviving a fire. The National Fire Protection
Association (NFPA) has been tracking the number of families participating in The Great
Escape and the number of lives saved because of their participation. Today, 40 people are
alive because they knew what to do when fire broke out. The few minutes these families
spent on the Great Escape home fire drill saved their lives.

I wish every family who experienced a home fire was fortunate. Sadly, every year more
than 4,000 people die in fires in the United States, and eight out of 10 die in the home --
the place most feel safest. Home fire deaths are overwhelmingly preventable. The keys to
survival are early warning, and planning and practice for how to escape.

Abby, please remind your readers that a successful home fire escape plan must include
working smoke detectors on every level of the home, knowing two ways out from each
room, having a meeting place outside where the family will gather, and practicing the plan
at least twice a year. Your readers can join in the fun on Wednesday, Oct. 6, when
communities across the United States and Canada participate in The Great Escape unified

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DEAR MR. MILLER: This week is Fire Prevention Week, and I hope my readers will use this
week as a reminder to plan and practice their home fire drills. It takes only a few minutes
and it could save lives.

Readers, tomorrow is The Great Escape, a unified fire drill in which you should participate.
Please make a commitment to find out about it today from notices in your newspaper or
radio, or by calling your local fire department for information, and tomorrow take part in the
drill. It may save your life or that of someone you love.

DEAR ABBY: Please help settle a family dispute. Recently my brother and his wife visited my
family at our summer home in New York state. They presented us with a gift of wine upon
their arrival. I selected a favorite bottle of wine from my own small collection and offered it
to my guests.
The next afternoon my brother's family departed as scheduled. The following week, I was
informed by another family member that my brother had been insulted by my "greed and
inconsideration" for not opening his gift bottle and offering it around. Abby, what's the rule
here? Was I a poor host? -- UNCORKED IN HUDSON, OHIO

DEAR UNCORKED: No, you were not a poor host. When a house gift is received, whether or
not to open it and use it immediately is at the host's discretion. Your brother was
ungracious to bad-mouth your hospitality.




DEAR ABBY: I am 18 years old, married and seven months pregnant with our first child.

Recently, my husband and I got into a fight about my 3-year-old son. He was the result of a
rape. I put him up for adoption, and I keep in contact with his parents through the agency.

The first Christmas after my son's birth, his parents sent me a locket and a picture to put in
it. Since then, I have never taken this locket off, because it is the only thing I have with his
picture that I can keep close to my heart.

My husband thinks I shouldn't wear the locket because he feels that when our daughter gets
older, she may resent my wearing it. He also thinks I will be unable to love our child as
much as I love my son. I fear that I may fail to be a good mother to our daughter because I
couldn't be to my son.

I also worry about the future. How will my daughter react when she learns I gave her half-
brother up for adoption three years before she was born?

Abby, how can I make my husband understand about the locket? Also, how can I overcome

DEAR TOO YOUNG: Your husband is being unreasonable. If I had to hazard a guess, I would
say it's because the necklace is a constant reminder that he wasn't the first man in your life.

You are a sensitive and loving young woman, and I'm sure you will be a terrific mother. If
your daughter questions you about why you had to give up her half-brother, tell her that
when the child was born, you were too young to keep him and raise him properly -- so you
saw to it that the baby would have two loving parents who could. No one can fault you for
that. It was the courageous, selfless and right thing to do.

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Rape crisis counseling may help you and your husband deal with this in a healthy way. I
urge you both to make an appointment -- just pick up the phone and ask the operator for
the rape hotline.

DEAR ABBY: I'm 17 and have just ended a relationship that lasted seven months. I was a
virgin until this relationship. When we began dating, I told "Todd" I wanted to wait for sex
until I trusted him and felt I loved him.

The time did come when I trusted him and felt I loved him, so I decided to sleep with him.
That's when things started going downhill. A month later, he told me he was sick of me.

Abby, I feel so hurt and used. Now I'm starting to view sex negatively. I know I'm young
and have years of relationships ahead of me, but now I wonder if all men are only after sex.
If so, it wouldn't be worth it. -- YOUNG, HURT AND CONFUSED

DEAR YOUNG: Many young men -- and some older men -- are more interested in the
challenge than in a lasting relationship. However, not all males are alike.

Don't give up on men because of one bad experience. Give yourself and the young men you
date time to mature before making a decision to have sex again. Love takes time to grow
and it also takes time to discern whether the commitment is likely to be long-lasting. Once
you are certain about that, you can begin giving careful consideration to whether a sexual
relationship is what you want.



DEAR ABBY: I'm writing concerning the letter from the woman who was hurt by the way her
husband treated her 7-year-old son from a previous relationship. She said the boy's father
had no part in her son's life. Let me share my story.

I was a child in a home with a stepfather, stepsisters and stepbrothers. My sisters and I
could do nothing right; the other kids could do no wrong. I got pregnant at 19, and my
boyfriend said he would marry me, but he "might just leave" in a year or two. I chose to go
it alone. During my pregnancy, I lived at home and endured more verbal abuse from my

When my daughter was born, I went to work, paid my hospital and doctor bills and moved
out. I resolved never to marry so my beautiful little girl would never endure what I had
endured. And then along came "Jack."

He took us to movies, took us to play miniature golf; he took us fishing, and he won our
hearts. When I agreed to marry him, his next words were, "Let's see what it would take for
me to adopt 'Michele.'" A year later, our other daughter was born. At no time in the past 28
years has anyone who did not know that Michele was not Jack's child by birth, ever guessed
it. She is his -- in his heart and soul.

We all like to think we would risk our lives to save a stranger from a burning building or a
car accident, but most of us will never get the chance. That woman's husband has the
chance to be a hero to her young son. It will not happen in one day or in one event. It will
take EVERY day for the rest of their lives. Her husband can be a mentor, a teacher, a friend
and a daddy -- or he can be a jerk.

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When the world talks about heroes, no one from my house needs to look beyond my
husband. Will the woman who wrote to you be able to say the same thing? -- PROUD TO BE

DEAR PROUD: You certainly picked a winner when you married Jack. I congratulate you
both for having your priorities in order when it came to Michele. You're a lucky family to
have each other.

Whether or not the woman who wrote the sad letter that prompted yours will be able to call
her husband a "hero" remains to be seen. They had been married for six years before she
asked for my advice. I told her to no longer tolerate the situation and to ask her physician
for a referral to a family counselor who could not only help straighten out her husband's
thinking -- but also help the son rebuild his damaged self-esteem. I hope she took my
DEAR ABBY: Help! I am getting divorced. How do I tell everyone in the office? There are 18
women here and I get along with all of them.

Should I approach them individually? How can I keep it short and sweet? What if someone
asks, "What happened?" It's none of their business, but we're a close office. Any
suggestions would be appreciated. -- CLAIRE IN FAIRFIELD, N.J.

DEAR CLAIRE: Tell one or two of your co-workers. Believe me, the word will spread like
wildfire. If anyone asks for details, just say that you do not want to discuss them because
it's too painful. If they're your friends, they will respect your wishes.




DEAR ABBY: I hope you can help me, although it's my husband who needs help. "John" is a
wonderful husband and father. I love him dearly. When he was in high school, he was
always picked on by the jocks. (We all know that story.) Well, John carried this on into his
adult life and his business.

My husband has two partners. "Gene" is a "nerd" like John. The other one, "Don," is the
"jock." The company is 10 years old. They made about $5 million last year. All three have
equal shares of this company.

Don handles all of the accounting. He keeps his door locked at all times when he's not
there, as he should because of all the checks, etc. But does he leave an extra key for Gene
or John? No! He leaves it with the secretary, and she takes it home with her. Don gets very
upset if John or Gene goes into his office without his permission.

The way Don has his accounting program set up, John and Gene cannot access any financial
information on the company. They have to go through him first. I strongly suspect Don is

They have never had an audit done. John and Gene wouldn't dare insist on one, because
Don would get furious if they did. Don gets upset over the most minor things. Gene and my
husband are afraid of Don. They've caught him in several lies. He treats everybody like dirt.
They fight and argue on a daily basis. It's a terrible atmosphere. Yet they won't do anything
about it.

Any suggestions? -- DEPRESSED IN TEXAS

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DEAR DEPRESSED: The three partners should get together and agree to have an
independent C.P.A. (selected by all three) set up their accounting system so that all three
partners can understand what's happening financially, and the necessary security is
preserved. If Don refuses to agree to it, then Gene and John should consult a lawyer.

DEAR ABBY: Today, 14 days short of his 56th birthday, we buried my beloved younger
brother. He died by his own hand two days before his first scheduled appointment with a
psychiatrist. He had been referred by the general practitioners who had been treating him
for the past two months.

Bipolar or manic depressive disorder has ravaged my family for many generations. It is,
indeed, an inherited genetic disorder. But there is a wonderful treatment for it -- in the form
of lithium carbonate. I can attest to this. I am a diagnosed manic depressive and, thanks to
lithium, I have led a normal, productive life for the past 12 years.

If only I had realized how ill my brother was, perhaps I could have gotten him to treatment
in time. If only the GPs had realized this was beyond their expertise, perhaps they could
have referred him to a psychiatrist earlier and this tragedy could have been averted. If only,
if only.

Nothing will bring back my younger brother, but maybe our experience can help someone
else. Thank you for letting me vent, Abby. -- GRIEVING BROTHER, TAYLORS, S.C.

DEAR GRIEVING: Please accept my deepest sympathy for the tragic loss of your beloved
brother, but take heart in the thought that your letter may save the lives of countless
others. People who know there is a history of bipolar disorder in the family should alert their
doctors to it. Also, those who are experiencing mood swings should seek a referral to a
psychiatrist who can help them restore the balance in their brain chemistry.




DEAR ABBY: I just read the letter from "Ruth in Virginia Beach," about long-winded people
accepting awards. There is another solution. Write a letter! Don't know the address? That's
OK. There's bound to be a Web site for either the group or the record label they record for.
You don't even have to use an envelope or a stamp anymore. Use e-mail.

It's time for those of us who provide paychecks for the stars to let them know what we
think. I hear people complain about all the sex and nudity in films. Write a letter! There is a
Web site for just about every film out there. Let's start letting our feelings be known.

Don't have a computer? Not on the Internet? Go to the library or an Internet cafe. I never
used to write because I never knew the addresses. Now, it takes less than 15 minutes to
get online, find a site and send a letter.
On the other hand, let's also be sure to write letters when we are really pleased with
something. I believe if more people start sending letters, those who produce, direct, record,
etc., will start paying attention. -- SUZETTE BOUCHER, SPANAWAY, WASH.

DEAR SUZETTE: I agree with you. A letter-writing campaign can be a powerful force for
achieving change. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: "Ruth W., Virginia Beach" suggested in her letter that program committees
should make rules that would prevent microphone hogs from going on and on.

One story tells of a committee that did this, telling the master of ceremonies to warn
speakers that if they went past the allotted time, they would be mowed down with a sharp
bang of the gavel.

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The warning didn't register with one windbag, and the committee members signaled the
emcee to gavel the person off the dais. He took up the gavel, but in his nervous state about
performing such a gutsy move, he gave the person sitting next to him a mighty blow on the
head. The injured man was heard to say, as he slipped under the table, "Hit me again. I can
still hear him talking." -- BERNARD BRUNSTING, STUART, FLA.

DEAR BERNARD: Thanks for the laugh. That's an unusual cure for a pain in the neck -- and
in the future, if I'm sitting next to the emcee and see him or her reach for the gavel, I'll
DEAR ABBY: I have noticed the discussion of using whistles for safety and thought I had
better write to you.

My daughter had one with her the other night and when I tried to blow it, she told me it
didn't work anymore. It was a full-size, chrome-plated brass, police-style whistle. Upon
closer examination, I noticed it had lint in the throat from carrying it around. I used a
toothpick to clean it out and, lo and behold, it nearly broke our eardrums!

Abby, you would be wise to remind people to TEST these things periodically. I, for one, did
not realize that maintenance was necessary. -- RALPH E. FLORI SR., CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO.

DEAR RALPH: Neither did I -- until you and a few other caring individuals wrote to point it
out. One of them also cautioned that the little ball inside the whistle can sometimes
deteriorate, rendering it useless, so it's a good idea to check the whistle periodically.




DEAR ABBY: I don't drink and have always despised alcohol and drunk drivers. On New
Year's Eve in 1982, my 26-year-old brother was killed by a drunk driver.

Well, to my shock, I had a terrible car crash that has left me hospitalized for the last three
weeks. I am missing one-third of the muscle and tissue in my leg. I cannot get skin grafts
and reconstructive surgery for several more weeks.

The reason for the car crash was that when I decided to run to the store late one night, I
misjudged how my tranquilizer medication would affect me because I was unusually tired.

Now I am charged with DUI! Not only am I in excruciating pain, I am emotionally

devastated about being charged with a DUI. I never would have thought in a million years
that something like this could happen.

Please print this, Abby, so people will realize that you can get a DUI for reasons other than
drunk driving, and that the warning labels on your prescription bottle are there for a reason.
If even one person is spared what I'm going through, it will be well worth sharing what I

I thank God every day that I didn't kill someone or hurt anyone else. -- PAINFULLY WISER

DEAR WISER: You are generous to want others to learn from what could have been a fatal
error, and I hope your recovery is swift and complete. Those little labels on prescription
bottles warning consumers not to take the medication in combination with driving or
operating heavy equipment are there for a reason, as your experience clearly illustrates.

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DEAR ABBY: I am the owner of a beautiful 1-year-old St. Bernard. She is very loving,
playful, protective and weighs approximately 140 pounds. She stays indoors the majority of
the time, but we allow her to run in a fenced-in yard.

Yesterday, while she was in the yard, three children were walking down the street. Two of
the children were about 14 years old and the third child was about 8. The older children
were laughing because we have a sign posted on the fence that says, "Beware of Dog." The
youngest child picked up a long stick and started swinging it at the dog inside the fence.
Luckily, this story has a happy ending. The dog just barked at the children and we took her
back into the house.

Abby, I am pleading with parents to teach their children never to tease an animal. My dog is
140 pounds. A dog that size can cause a lot of damage. A dog bite from even a small dog
can be serious. Children should be taught NEVER to approach any animal (especially one
that is barking or growling); never swing a stick at an animal, or bark back -- even if the
dog is fenced in, because it could jump over. One should just walk away.

I realize this is long, but I hope you'll print this important message. -- CONCERNED DOG

DEAR CONCERNED: Your message is well deserving of space in my column. I would like to
add that small children should be warned never to play with a dog who is eating, because
the animal may think the child is trying to take its food away. Also, a dog who is nursing
should be approached with care, because of her maternal instincts to protect her young.




DEAR ABBY: I was lunching with five or six co-workers the other day and the topic turned to
gay rights. During the conversation, one of them said, "I don't know why they have to talk
about it." I was shocked speechless because everyone at the table knew that I am gay.

Later, I thought of all the things I should have said. Then I compiled a list of reasons why
we talk about it. If you think it's worthwhile, please print it on Oct. 11, because that is
National Coming Out Day. -- ED IN LONG ISLAND, N.Y.

DEAR ED: Whether to come out or not is a personal decision, and one that should not be
taken lightly. However, your reasons present a strong argument in favor of doing so and I'm
pleased to print them on National Coming Out Day to encourage those who might be
hesitant about identifying themselves. It's OK to be gay, and it's OK to be yourself.

1. Until we started talking about it, laws were enacted by straight people telling gay people
what they were and were not allowed to do.

Forty-five years ago, nothing could be sent through the U.S. mail about love or intimacy
between gay people. Thirty years ago, openly gay people could be fired from government
jobs. We could be expelled from most schools, the government could close bars that had
lesbian and gay patrons, we couldn't be priests or ministers, and we were banned from
many professional organizations. Twenty-five years ago, we could be jailed or
institutionalized for being gay.

Laws still exist that prevent gay people from adopting, that take our children from us, that
allow us to be jailed for making love to our partners, that permit straight people to refuse to
rent to us, or serve us in restaurants for no other reason than that we are gay. It was
"talking about it" that led to the repeal of hundreds of those laws.

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2. If we didn't talk about it, enlightened people wouldn't be teaching their children that it's
wrong to call people "faggot," and that it's wrong to treat gay people differently from
straight people. (My parents never told me otherwise.)

3. If we didn't talk about it, straight people wouldn't know who we are, nor would they
realize that their friend, co-worker, sibling, parent or child is gay. When straights don't
know that someone they love is gay, they often don't stop to think how unfair it is that gay
people can be legally discriminated against in 37 states.
4. We talk about it because many of us grew up thinking we were alone because nobody
talked about it.

5. I talk about it because otherwise, straight people tell me anti-gay jokes and use anti-gay
language in front of me.

6. I talk about it because so many other people cannot. In the U.S. military, men and
women lose their jobs for saying, "I am gay," which should be a direct violation of their First
Amendment rights.

7. I talk about it because I want folks to see that most gay people are average people, not
the monsters that straight people are taught that we are. Prejudice like that is the reason
that many gay men and women are beaten up or murdered in the streets.

8. I talk about it because my straight friends are surprised when I say that a movie they
liked was awful -- completely missing the fact that the gay characters were outdated

9. I talk about it because I want the children in my family to know that you can be gay and
a good person. And I want to counterbalance all those who are deceitful, misinformed or
have misinterpreted the word of God.




DEAR ABBY: I'm having a big problem with my mother, who still feels she can control my
life. She is mad at her siblings, and now only one remains because her brother just died.

If I choose to stay in contact with her last surviving sibling, Mother has told me she will feel
betrayed and will no longer speak to me or her grandchild.

My husband and I are very family-oriented. We feel that our daughter should know all her

Mother never told her siblings why she is angry with them, but I know. I'm not sure her
reason is valid -- especially since she told me that she found out while she was in a hypnotic

I think that as a 40-year-old adult, I should be able to make my own decisions regarding
who I see. I know I'll be getting a call from her soon whereupon she'll ask if I have been in
contact with her family. I want to say "yes," as I am not comfortable with lying.

My mother has been under psychiatric care since 1993. I don't feel I am betraying her; I
just want all my family in my circle. Abby, can you help? Please answer soon in the paper. -
DEAR BIG PROBLEM: The next time your mother asks if you have talked to her sibling, tell
her that if she chooses to isolate herself from the rest of the family, you think it is ill-
advised, but you won't try to make her change her mind. However, that is not the way you
wish to live your life, nor is it the way you want to raise your daughter. Then let the chips
fall where they may.

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Your mother is trying to manipulate you by using threats, and she should not be allowed to
get away with it. The poor woman sounds emotionally disturbed, and I'm pleased that she's
under the care of a psychiatrist.

DEAR ABBY: About five years ago you printed a letter from a woman whose husband had
just died from melanoma. She urged everyone to have their moles examined by a doctor.

Although I was only 20 years old and did not fit the normal age range for people with skin
cancer, I decided to go to the doctor. Well, Abby, I DID have melanoma -- usually the only
form of skin cancer that can cause death. Luckily, I was able to have it removed surgically,
and now I am fine.

Please continue to urge your readers to wear sunscreen and to have their moles examined.
I would like to thank the wife who took the time to write to you about her tragedy, and to
thank both of you for saving my life. -- THANKFUL IN LONG BEACH, CALIF.

DEAR THANKFUL: I'm pleased your story has a happy ending. Thank you for giving me the
opportunity to remind my sun-worshipping readers to have this kind of checkup done

Any suspicious lump, sore or ulcer on the skin should be reported to your physician if it
persists for more than a week. It's also important to be examined by a physician if there is
any change in the size, shape or texture of a mole, or if half of it appears "different" from
the other half.




DEAR ABBY: My wife and I made a serious mistake. We told some friends that we were
planning a vacation cruise and when we were going. We always travel alone because who
can take another couple 24 hours a day for 12 days? We like to do our own thing our own

Well, one couple -- good friends of ours -- casually mentioned they might be joining us and
we are horrified at the thought. Where do people get the idea that they can invite
themselves on someone else's vacation? We don't want to insult them or cause hurt
feelings. How do we tell them that we prefer to travel alone without hurting their feelings? -

DEAR HORRIFIED: Some people assume they are closer friends than they actually are, and
others do not understand boundaries. Waste no time in telling these "good friends" that you
use these vacations to PRIVATELY renew the romance in your marriage -- and that as much
as you like them, having them along on your vacation would destroy the intimacy. Then
cross your fingers.

DEAR ABBY: Several years ago you printed a letter from a woman named Elizabeth,
concerning your pecan (or walnut) pie recipe. You printed the recipe along with the letter.

I tried out both the pecan and walnut variations on my family. They liked both, but
preferred the walnut.

In August, I entered a walnut pie (using your recipe) in the San Mateo County Fair. Abby, it
not only took first place, but also won the Judge's Choice Award. (The Judge's Choice Award
is first place among the first place winners!) Needless to say, I was thrilled.

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Since you did say, "Please let me know how yours came out," I just thought you'd like to
know. Thank you, Abby. -- CAROL TULLOH, SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR CAROL: My congratulations! I'm delighted that the pecan/walnut pie recipe served
you so well. Your letter made my day! The recipe was included in my booklet "Dear Abby's
Favorite Recipes" (my first of two cookbooklets). But for those who may not have time to
order it before the holidays, here's the recipe:


9-inch unbaked pie crust

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/3 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 heaping cup pecan (or walnut) halves

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare pie crust. In large bowl, combine corn syrup, sugar, eggs, butter, salt and vanilla;
mix well. Pour filling into prepared pie crust; sprinkle with pecan (or walnut) halves.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until center is set. (Toothpick inserted will
come out clean when pie is "done.") Cool. If crust or pie appears to be getting too brown,
cover with foil for remaining baking time.

You can top it with a bit of whipped cream or ice cream, but even plain -- nothing tops this!
(Serves 8 to 10.)

TIP: The original recipe stated that the pie should be baked 45 to 50 minutes in a preheated
350-degree GAS oven. If an electric oven is used, it may be necessary to add 15 to 20
minutes to the baking time. (Begin testing the pie with a toothpick after 45 minutes.)




DEAR ABBY: You recently printed a letter from a reader in Chula Vista, Calif., regarding the
"Y2K Hype." While it is indisputable that many are profiting through the Y2K-related sales of
merchandise, this is America and, like it or not, when people see a way to make a profit,
they are free to take it. We are also free to choose what we purchase.

Thousands of people have gone to great lengths and expense to keep all services, many of
which we take for granted, fully operational during the Year 2000 transition. They deserve a
standing ovation for their backstage efforts. Hopefully, the sources of any Y2K-related
problems will continue to be found quickly and repaired easily.

Both the Red Cross and FEMA have posted emergency preparedness articles on their Web
sites with PRACTICAL as well as AFFORDABLE suggestions for all climates. While I agree
with the author of the "Y2K Hype" piece (i.e., "stay calm, don't panic, use your head"),
proper emergency preparedness can make a world of difference by relieving inconveniences
and uncertainty until services are restored. It may even save a life.
No one ever pencils in "possible date with an emergency" on one's calendar, but it makes
sense to do so. Jan. 2, 2000, is on the calendar. Why not consider making some
preparations -- without the hype?

Since many of the people who need this information may not have access to it via the
Internet, here are a few tips from the Red Cross disaster Y2K safety Web site. I hope you'll
share it with your readers:

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Stock supplies such as canned foods, bottled water, instant soups, etc., to last several

In the event of a power outage, plan to use alternative cooking devices in accordance
with the manufacturer's instructions. NEVER use liquid-fueled heating and cooking devices
without adequate ventilation.

Organize your first aid supplies. This includes prescription as well as nonprescription

Have plenty of flashlights and batteries on hand. (If you have small children, keep
flashlights available for their personal use and safety.) Do NOT use candles alone for
emergency lighting.

Plan to use extra blankets, coats, hats and gloves to keep warm, NOT gas-fueled
appliances such as an oven.

Listen to a battery-operated radio to keep yourself informed. Be prepared to relocate to

a shelter for protection or warmth if necessary.

Check with the emergency service providers in your community BEFORE an emergency
arises, particularly if you or a loved one has special needs. -- PAMELA RYAN, WILMETTE,

DEAR PAMELA: The essay I printed about Y2K has generated letters from readers who
thanked me for it, and others who feel I treated the subject too lightly. For the latter, I will

My intuition tells me that for many people, Y2K may be the modern-day version of the
backyard bomb shelters of the 1950s -- yet the prudent thing to do is to hedge your bets.
Unused supplies can be donated later to charities and food banks that feed the needy. Many
families are already "emergency prepared" because they live in areas geographically
vulnerable to earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes. Those who have not already done so
should follow the Boy Scout motto ("Be Prepared") and plan ahead for possible disruptions
in the municipal services we take for granted.



DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are approaching our fifth wedding anniversary. Apart from
the usual problems you encounter in marriage (money, family, etc.), things have been very
good. My husband is a loving and attentive man. I love him and feel lucky to have him in
my life.

So here's my problem. During the past few years, I have had dreams about my first love
whom I met in high school. I was 14 and he was 17. The relationship was wonderful, but
because I was so young and due to many problems in my life, our relationship ended after a
few years. I am afraid I hurt him terribly. He seemed to never want to give up on "us," but
as the years went on we grew apart.

At the age of 21, I attempted a reconciliation with him, but when he found out that I had
"been" with another man, it was too much for him to handle. That was the end of us. I
seemed to get on with my life and forget about him. I dated, and eventually met my future

Abby, the dreams have become much more intense over the years. At first, my "first love"
would appear in an occasional dream. Now I am having dreams where we are getting back
together or we are professing our love for each other. One week, I had four dreams four
nights in a row. I wake up feeling sad, and I am in a hazy state of mind because I feel I'm
being pulled back into the past with a young man I used to love so dearly.

I am confused, and I feel bad because I love my husband and can't bear to tell him the
dreams I've been having. I don't want to hurt him. I am hoping this is just a phase that will
pass. Any advice you can give me will be greatly appreciated. -- LOST IN A DREAM

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DEAR LOST: Romanticizing one's first love is very common. As the years roll by, people
tend to minimize the pain and magnify the emotions.

I'm no expert in the interpretation of dreams, but I can tell you this: Dreams are rarely
literal. It might be interesting for you to analyze what this man symbolizes in your life.

Since these dreams are recurrent and causing you discomfort, you could greatly ease your
mind by discussing them with a psychoanalyst. He or she will be able to help you discover
their real meaning and what's causing them.

DEAR ABBY: I am amused by the various opinions about life in recreational vehicles. They
brought to mind a conversation I had with a cousin in De Smet, S.D., who owns a general
store and restaurant.

When I remarked about the large size of the parking area, he replied that it had to
accommodate the number of recreational vehicles during hunting season. I said that I had
no desire to own one, and he said that anyone who is thinking about purchasing that kind of
vehicle should take the following test:

"Take your wife, children, the dog and cat into your largest bathroom, along with some
snacks and beverages. Turn on the shower and stay for two days, and if you enjoy your
'vacation,' buy an RV!"

I took his advice to heart. I now travel in my sedan and stay in hotels. -- ROBERT O.

DEAR ROBERT: Your cousin is a wit! In defense of RVs, there are millions of satisfied
customers on the roads who can't say enough good things about that mode of travel.




DEAR ABBY: Please help us deal with a problem we have with a dear aunt.

Every time my husband and I visit her, she greets us by telling us we have gained a lot of
weight, then proceeds to tell us about other family members who are also gaining weight. If
we dine out, she comments on the amount of food we eat. We are active, and 25 to 30
years younger than Auntie. No one in the family has gained an excessive amount of weight.

She has already noticed that some family members don't visit as often, and her remarks
about their weight are the reason.

I don't want to cause hurt feelings. Should we try to talk to her or just ignore her
comments? -- AUNTIE'S NIECE

DEAR AUNTIE'S NIECE: Talk to her. The time to bring it up is the next time your aunt
mentions that the relatives don't visit as often as they used to. Her comments may be well-
intended, but they are extremely tactless.

DEAR ABBY: "Glad I Tried, Joliet, Ill.," who wondered if her comatose mother heard her
when she said "I love you," may feel better after hearing my experience.

My aunt was a second mother to me. She kept me when I was a child and was there for me
during my critical years. Later in life, I received a call from her daughter saying that she
was in a coma and not expected to live. She was living in another state, but I rushed to her
side. As I stood alone in her room, I saw her move the big toe on her right foot. I said, "If
you can hear me, wiggle your right toe." She did! I then asked her to move her toe once for
"yes" to my questions and twice for a "no" answer.

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My talk with her lasted several hours. Although she was in a coma, she responded to my
every question with the correct "yes" or "no" while I sat there and talked about our lives
and the many experiences we had shared. During that time, I recalled many beautiful
times, and I talked and laughed while she used her toe to "talk" to me. It was a moving
experience that I cherish and will always remember. Two days later, my aunt passed away.

DEAR JOHN: How kind of you to take the time to write and confirm from your own personal
experience that people in comas can hear and comprehend. I received a similar account
from a widow in San Francisco. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: We were standing around my husband's bed, all so sad, when my son said,
"Dad, this is Al. If you can hear me, wiggle your feet." Lo and behold, the covers moved.
Then he said, "Dad, Uncle Frank and his wife are here. If you can hear me, shake your
feet." You should have seen the covers!

Abby, please consider this proof-positive that people in a coma can hear. My darling was
pretty well into the coma because he passed away about four hours later. -- SEVEN-YEAR

DEAR WIDOW: My condolences on the loss of your beloved husband. Thank you for sharing
your last precious moments with him so that others will know that as long as the breath of
life is there, it is never too late to express your love and compassion for someone near and



DEAR ABBY: Several years ago my husband's sister asked us if we wanted an old
schoolhouse bell she had purchased. She was moving and could not take it with her.
Because we like antiques, we accepted her offer.

After much effort and paying to rent a moving truck -- the bell weighed 1,500 pounds -- my
husband moved it to our house. It was so heavy he got it no farther than the top of our
driveway, and there it sat for more than two years! It became obvious that the bell was just
too large and heavy for us to do anything with. It would have cost us a small fortune to
have someone build a stand for it, so I asked a local auctioneer if he could sell the bell for

When my sister-in-law learned I had sold the bell, she had a fit! She thought I should have
asked her permission to sell the bell, as she had considered the bell only on "loan" to us. I
never considered a 1,500-pound item that we paid to move, sitting in my driveway for more
than two years, a "loan." I'm angry that this has caused such a rift in my husband's family.

I was always taught that when you are given something, it is yours to do with as you
please. My husband feels caught in the middle, and we are now having marital problems for
the first time in our 14-year marriage. What do you suggest? -- MELVA IN PHILLIPSBURG,

DEAR MELVA: I, too, have always thought that once a gift is given it belongs to the recipient
to keep or dispose of as he or she wishes. However, the bell is gone and there is nothing
any of you can do at this point to retrieve it. Perhaps offering to split the money you
received for the bell will soothe your sister-in-law's wounded spirit. In any case, you and
your husband should not let his sister's attitude sabotage your marriage.

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DEAR ABBY: Tomorrow I'll be celebrating my 64th birthday, and even though I have read
your column faithfully for many years, I never thought I would be writing you for advice.
This is the dilemma:

I am computer literate, while my wife of 45 years has been somewhat apprehensive about
attempting to learn computer basics. Our grandson is 14 and would very much like to have
a computer. My wife is adamantly opposed to it at this time. She says that when he
graduates from high school, she will contemplate getting him one. I say by that time our
grandson would have lost valuable time and the opportunities that come from having
knowledge of the computer. There are many youngsters who, upon completion of high
school, are forced to go to work. Consequently, their formal education is set aside until
later, or perhaps never.

My wish would be for our grandson to continue his formal education after graduating from
high school. However, in the event that he does not, I think we should get him a computer
NOW, so that he could gain the necessary knowledge to compete in the labor market. As
you well know, almost every workplace now requires employees to have at least some
knowledge of computers.

Whatever your answer is, I will honor it. If it is contrary to my thinking, I'll never again
mention it to my wife. However, if you agree with me, please try to convince my wife that
we are doing a disservice to our grandson by not getting him a computer now. Thank you. -

DEAR MANNY: I agree with you. Computer proficiency is a skill that students need today.
Colleges, as well as employers, expect applicants to be computer literate. If your wife
doubts this, she should place a call to some of the local high schools and inquire. Perhaps
that will reassure her.




DEAR ABBY: I'm writing to reassure the mother of "Trevor," who fears that her son is gay
because he prefers dancing and cooking to baseball cards and talking about girls. Twenty
years ago, that could have described my brother, although you'd never guess it to see him
today -- happily married to a lady who's happy to let him do the cooking in their home.

My brother was always small and shy, and although he had a number of female and male
friends, he didn't date until college. While in junior high school and high school, a knee
injury left him with only swimming and dance for gym class choices. He endured a lot of
razzing about his sexuality when he dressed to go to a dance class with the girls while all
the other guys were preparing to do "manly" activities such as wrestling.
Finally, my brother lost his tolerance and pointed out, "You are going into a class of sweaty,
smelly guys in shorts and sweatshirts. I'm going into a class with girls in skintight leotards
and tights. Who do you think is having a problem?" And that ended the discussion!

As for cooking, my brother has always been the better cook in our family, and he loved it at
an early age. To this day, he takes cooking classes and cooks up gourmet feasts out of

The mother is correct to encourage her son's interests. Dancers are often in better shape
than other athletes, and certainly the number of male chefs on TV and running restaurants
shows there is nothing effeminate about cooking. Someday, the other boys will realize that
Trevor actually has a lot of advantages they missed out on -- and they'll be envious instead
of harassing. -- PROUD SISTER, PLANO, TEXAS

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DEAR PROUD SISTER: Your brother handled the teasing with humor and confidence.
However, not all children have the confidence to deal with it in such a sophisticated manner.
A survey funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that one in
13 students has been attacked or harassed because he or she was suspected of being gay.
Four out of five of those individuals were actually heterosexual. Weapons have been banned
from our school ground -- and words that are used as weapons don't belong there, either.

DEAR ABBY: We're having a discussion in our office about dating. A co-worker is going out
with her husband tonight. She considers it a date, but another co-worker and I disagree. Of
course, if you are married, you're allowed to go out with each other, but it's not considered
a "date," is it? Abby, what do you think? -- CYNTHIA IN EL PASO
DEAR CYNTHIA: My trusty Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10th Edition) defines "date" as
"an appointment to meet at a specified time; esp. a social engagement between two
persons that often has a romantic character." That definition describes the engagement
your co-worker has with her husband, so she does indeed have a "date." Dating while
married is a terrific way to keep romance alive -- don't you agree?




DEAR ABBY: I'm writing to reassure the mother of "Trevor," who fears that her son is gay
because he prefers dancing and cooking to baseball cards and talking about girls. Twenty
years ago, that could have described my brother, although you'd never guess it to see him
today -- happily married to a lady who's happy to let him do the cooking in their home.

My brother was always small and shy, and although he had a number of female and male
friends, he didn't date until college. While in junior high school and high school, a knee
injury left him with only swimming and dance for gym class choices. He endured a lot of
razzing about his sexuality when he dressed to go to a dance class with the girls while all
the other guys were preparing to do "manly" activities such as wrestling.

Finally, my brother lost his tolerance and pointed out, "You are going into a class of sweaty,
smelly guys in shorts and sweatshirts. I'm going into a class with girls in skintight leotards
and tights. Who do you think is having a problem?" And that ended the discussion!

As for cooking, my brother has always been the better cook in our family, and he loved it at
an early age. To this day, he takes cooking classes and cooks up gourmet feasts out of

The mother is correct to encourage her son's interests. Dancers are often in better shape
than other athletes, and certainly the number of male chefs on TV and running restaurants
shows there is nothing effeminate about cooking. Someday, the other boys will realize that
Trevor actually has a lot of advantages they missed out on -- and they'll be envious instead
of harassing. -- PROUD SISTER, PLANO, TEXAS

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DEAR PROUD SISTER: Your brother handled the teasing with humor and confidence.
However, not all children have the confidence to deal with it in such a sophisticated manner.
A survey funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that one in
13 students has been attacked or harassed because he or she was suspected of being gay.
Four out of five of those individuals were actually heterosexual. Weapons have been banned
from our school ground -- and words that are used as weapons don't belong there, either.

DEAR ABBY: We're having a discussion in our office about dating. A co-worker is going out
with her husband tonight. She considers it a date, but another co-worker and I disagree. Of
course, if you are married, you're allowed to go out with each other, but it's not considered
a "date," is it? Abby, what do you think? -- CYNTHIA IN EL PASO

DEAR CYNTHIA: My trusty Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10th Edition) defines "date" as
"an appointment to meet at a specified time; esp. a social engagement between two
persons that often has a romantic character." That definition describes the engagement
your co-worker has with her husband, so she does indeed have a "date." Dating while
married is a terrific way to keep romance alive -- don't you agree?




DEAR ABBY: I am a 24-year-old woman with a college degree. I am intelligent, friendly,

drink moderately and have never touched drugs. You would think my mother would be
satisfied to have a daughter with these attributes; however, she is not. I am single, and
that isn't good enough for her.
Mother is constantly mentioning to me about this guy or that guy she met at the grocery
store, or a nephew of someone she works with or met at a wedding. She goes on and on,
even though I have no interest (and tell her so). Recently I went to a store and a young
salesman knew my name. My mother had been in and told him all about me and even
showed him my picture. I have told her repeatedly that I do not want her to set me up or
talk to men about me, but she continues to do so.

A month ago, she placed an ad in a singles magazine with my information. Doing this
required her to forge my signature. I was mystified when I began receiving biographies of
"interested" men in the mail. Although I was extremely upset, I haven't confronted her
about it. I'm not sure what to say because nothing has ever gotten through to her before.

She has no respect for my privacy or my right to live my own life. She obviously thinks it's
necessary for me to land a man, but I live at home and haven't completed my education, so
I'm in no hurry to do that. How can I make it clear to my mother that this is not her

DEAR WIT'S END: Showing your picture to strangers and placing an ad in a singles
magazine without your knowledge are beyond the realm of normal parental concern, and
could actually be dangerous. However, since you have talked to her in the past and asked
her to stop, and it hasn't helped, there is nothing you can do to stop your obsessive parent.

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My advice: Grit your teeth, complete your education, and then move as far away from her
as you can. It's the only way you'll be able to live your own life.
DEAR ABBY: One of my best and oldest friends became engaged to be married five months
ago. "Sarah" has put a deposit down on a location, bought her gown and picked out dresses
for her three bridesmaids, including me. The problem is that Sarah has yet to pick a maid of
honor or even to say she doesn't want one at all.

Whenever anyone asks her who the maid of honor is going to be, she shrugs off the
question by saying something like, "I haven't even gone there yet."

Abby, I'm trying to be there for her because I'm her friend, but it seems as if she's trying to
avoid the issue, possibly to avoid picking one friend over another. I would like to host a
bridal shower for her, but isn't that the responsibility of the maid of honor? I wouldn't be
offended if she didn't choose me, but it's difficult to assess my role without knowing for
certain what it is. -- JUST A BRIDESMAID?

DEAR JUST A BRIDESMAID: You are a wonderfully supportive friend, but this is a decision
the bride must make, and she must make it in her own time. Entertaining for the bride is
not solely a privilege of the maid of honor. Bridesmaids may entertain for the bride singly,
or as a group.




DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Shaking in Harrisburg, Pa." hit close to home. She said her
son was being married in a few weeks, and was insisting that she dance with her abusive
former husband at the wedding.

My daughter married a year ago, and she was kind enough to realize that asking me to
dance with my ex at her wedding was like asking me to dance with the devil himself. She
told me she would never put me through it, knowing how hard the divorce was on me.

Abby, I, too, am engaged to a wonderful man now. I never thought life could be so
beautiful. At the wedding reception, I stood looking at the man who had hurt me so deeply
and took a real hard look at him. I asked myself why I was still so fearful of him even
though I had put my life back together. I realized at that moment that I really wouldn't
completely put my life back together unless I faced my fear of him.

My children were stunned when I walked over and asked him to dance. I held my head up
and looked him straight in the face. He couldn't even look me in the eye. It wasn't long
before I realized the man was nothing more than a "weasel," and I actually began to smile.
By the time the dance was over, I realized I could put the past behind me. All my fears
were gone.

Weeks later, my daughter asked me why I had danced with her father when she knew it
was the last thing on earth I wanted to do. I told her the truth -- that I hadn't done it for
HER. I did it for ME. She knows the past is finally behind me, and she is proud of me.

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Please tell "Shaking" that she needs to face her past fears to really get on with her life and

DEAR IN CONTROL: I applaud you for conquering your fears and going on with your life.
However, unless someone is ready to do that, I would never push her. You are not the only
reader who identified with "Shaking in Harrisburg" and wanted to offer encouragement.
Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I danced with my ex-husband at my son's wedding this summer. I can
understand why "Shaking" is unhappy, but she might want to give this some consideration:

I view my ex as an emotionally handicapped person and more like a nonfavorite cousin.

Because we have children, I feel we will always be "related." I no longer focus on the
difficulty of our divorce eight years ago. If her ex still has her shaking, then she's letting
him live rent-free in her head. Surely he's not worth it. She should focus on him instead as
the man she loved when her son was conceived and born (if that was the case) and how
wonderful it was that they produced something so good.

Our 26-year-old daughter was surprised we danced so well together. I reminded her that
there were many things we did well together, which is why we married in the first place --
even if it didn't last. -- WISER NOW

DEAR WISER NOW: I congratulate you for your tact, and for handling the situation with
humor as well as grace. You're fast on your feet in more ways than one.



DEAR ABBY: May I give you an "upper" for the day and offer some advice for newlyweds?
Make love every day!

We're in our 60s, married nearly 50 years, and we still make love every day. Our children
can attest to it.

What is making love? It's a smile across a room, a hug, a kiss, a pat on the behind, a
"special look." Oh, yes, it's also having sex -- but it's so much more. As you get older, the
sex and passion may diminish, but the rest won't as long as you remember what your love
is all about.

True, we've had arguments and serious disagreements through the years. Who hasn't? I
even asked -- no, I TOLD him once in a fit of anger that I wanted a divorce. Know what he
did? He gave me "that look," didn't say a word. All I needed was "that look" that says it all.
"We're in this for better or for worse, for a lifetime, and most of all," it says, "I love you."

So, young people, if you make love every day and welcome God into your marriage, it will

DEAR STILL LOVING: After nearly 50 years of happy marriage, I'd say you were quite an
expert. I have been married for more than 60 years, and I adhere to your philosophy. Your
letter is a day-brightener, and I thank you for sending it.

DEAR ABBY: I have many friends and relatives in their 40s and older who find themselves
alone and still wanting to enjoy dining out. They sit alone in crowded restaurants and feel
out of place.

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What would it take for the restaurant to have a table for six with "one, please" dining
together? It would make it a lot more fun and increase business.

This evening, I saw a dear friend feel uncomfortable entering a restaurant alone. She has
lived in this town 12 years and her husband died recently. I also saw this happen 30 years
ago when my uncle passed away and my aunt tried to keep up their weekly routine. Dining
alone took all the fun out of the adventure.

Abby, please ask restaurants to consider this. It will make these people feel special again. --

DEAR KATHLEEN: That's a great idea; however, it's not a new one. I'm told it's traditional in
Germany, Austria and northern Italy. It provides a gathering place for people who prefer to
meet and converse in some place other than a bar. The owners of Rockenwagner, a
restaurant in Santa Monica, Calif., have found their "community table" (a Tuesday night
event with a special menu) so successful they're replicating it in their second location. More
restaurants should follow suit.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to offer another solution to the woman whose neighbor uses her
hose and water to water his lawn and shrubs.

Install a turn-off valve on the water line inside the house. She can then shut off the outside
water unless SHE wants to use it. It's a good idea, anyway, to shut off this water in
extremely cold weather. -- DONNA F., WEST CHESTER, OHIO

DEAR DONNA F.: I heard from several readers who told me that inside shut-off valves are
usually located in the basement, and that turning it off is a simple procedure. However, I
live in California and do not have a basement -- so I called my plumber. He informed me
that this is not usually inside a house, so it may be necessary to have one installed. I'm
sure it would pay for itself over time in the form of reduced water bills.



DEAR ABBY: Regarding your advice to the physician whose girlfriend has poor table
manners, you advised him to tell her that "her parents shortchanged her in one area -- her
table manners."

Her parents? Always the parents! Nowhere in his letter did the physician refer to her
parents. I am overweight and love good food. However, I eat too fast. My parents always
told us to take our time while eating, to enjoy our food and not to eat the meat first. Is it
my parents' fault that I did not listen? I think not!

This lady may have developed her bad habits in school or in work cafeterias. Perhaps her
schedule forces her to eat "on the run." Please, Abby, don't blame the parents. You can do

DEAR WILLIAM S.: The physician did not complain that his girlfriend ate her food too
quickly; he said her table manners were poor. He asked if I had any suggestions on how to
give her pointers on manners without embarrassing her.

I advised him to begin by listing the qualities he loved about her, and then explaining that
there was one area in which her parents had shortchanged her -- her table manners. The
reason I suggested it was not to malign the parents, but to introduce the subject in a way
that would not make the woman defensive.

DEAR ABBY: My husband travels extensively on business. Because he's gone so much of the
time, I pay the bills and handle his correspondence. He often calls and asks the children to
check the post office box for letters and postcards to them from him.

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Some weeks ago, he was in a post office in Arizona to send some letters home. The postal
clerk who assisted him copied our P.O. box number and wrote him several letters about how
infatuated she was with his looks and how she hoped he was not really married. She
mentioned in one of the letters that she does this regularly, in order to have so-called pen

Our 14-year-old daughter opened one of her letters by mistake, thinking it was from a
relative, and was horrified. My husband is completely unaware that this has happened. He's
en route between Cincinnati and Maryland.

I am furious. If my husband were a celebrity, this would be considered stalking. I feel the
clerk's behavior was highly inappropriate and something should be done about it. Our
privacy was violated, and I need some answers. -- FURIOUS IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR FURIOUS: I don't blame you for being furious. The postal worker was a mile out of
line. I contacted the Postal Inspection Service and explained your problem. The
representative said the most effective way to handle this is to go to your local post office,
request a complaint form and turn it in. That ought to cool her ardor in a hurry.

CHUCKLE FOR THE DAY: A young boy handed a bank teller a check made out for 1 cent and
said, "Please cash this check." The teller looked at it and asked the boy, "How do you want
it -- heads or tails?" (Submitted by Lou Yelnick, Sea Gate, N.Y.)



DEAR ABBY: I recently retired from the U.S. Air Force as a chief master sergeant, having
spent more than 35 years of my life serving my country. I still get goose bumps when I
witness a parade and Old Glory passes by. I am proud to stand and salute when the
national anthem is played at a sporting event. This country is very important to me, and
although she may not be perfect, I feel America is way ahead of whomever is in second
place. All Americans should honor and respect our country every chance they get.

For these reasons, I was surprised and excited by a passage I discovered a few months ago.
The passage is entitled "The American's Creed." Its author is William Tyler Page, clerk of the
U.S. House of Representatives in 1917. It was accepted by the House on behalf of the
American people on April 3, 1918.

I was so impressed by his creed that I wanted to introduce it to others who may also have
missed it. Patriotism seems to cling by a thin lifeline these days, and anything we can do to
bolster it can only help. If you agree with my impression of the essay, please put William
Tyler Page's creed in your column. -- WILLIAM D. LaVALLE, LINDALE, GA.

DEAR WILLIAM: "The American's Creed" is beautifully written and very moving, and it's well
worth space in my column. Its message will touch many hearts, and I thank you for sending
it. Read on:


"I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for
the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy
in a republic; a sovereign nation of many sovereign states; a perfect union, one and
inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity
for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

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"I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to
obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies."

DEAR ABBY: You reminisced in a recent column that we used to be more tolerant of each
other. A reader, Irma Barragan, pointed out that we really were not all that tolerant -- and
the "good old days" were not all that good for everyone. I feel you conceded her point far
too easily.

What has changed, regrettably, are our ideals. In some ways, we certainly were not as
tolerant then as we are now. (After all, we have made some important progress since, say,
1964.) But we were headed deliberately in the direction of tolerance, of integration into the
"melting pot." In those "good old days," when we noticed intolerance, we still believed that
it would -- and SHOULD -- disappear with time.

No more. As a country, we no longer aspire to be a melting pot. Now we are satisfied with a
patchwork of separate cultures, each with uneasy relations with everyone else: a Balkanized

I once heard a politician define himself as a "paleo-liberal" because he still believes in

integration, not multiculturalism. That's me: one of the melting pot liberals. Remember us?

DEAR J: Indeed, I do, and warmly, too. As the daughter of immigrant parents whose fervent
wish was to learn English and become good Americans, those are the values with which I
was raised.




DEAR ABBY: I've been living with someone for nearly two years. When we first met we both
expected it to last forever. We work together and were together nearly all the time. This
took its toll on our relationship. I did everything for her, Abby, including buying us a house I
honestly didn't think we were ready for with my life savings.

Six months later she told me she wanted to separate. This wasn't the first time she's done
this. After a week of lethargy, I got angry and frustrated and threw her out in a rage!

Abby, I admit I'm not easy to live with. She just thought I regretted our relationship and
didn't love her anymore. I loved and still love her and her young son. I've humiliated myself
trying to win her back. Despite the advice of my friends, I still want to share my life with
her, but she's stubborn and fiercely proud and says she just wants to be "friends."
Abby, I'm a great-looking guy and know I'd make a terrific husband, and while I'm not a
vain man, I wouldn't have a hard time finding someone else. Problem is, for some crazy

DEAR HEARTBROKEN AND ABANDONED: Since you were the one who threw this woman
and her child out, I fail to see why you are now taking the stance of having been

You describe yourself as "not easy to live with" and have demonstrated a volatile temper.
You describe your efforts to win this woman back as "humiliating." Has it occurred to you
that she may have felt humiliated when she found herself and her child without a roof over
their heads?

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Whether it's possible to patch up this rift remains to be seen. A giant step in the right
direction would be for you to seek counseling in anger management techniques. That way
she would have some assurance that your apology is sincere and that you are taking steps
to change.

DEAR ABBY: My husband, James Patrick Kinney, wrote the poem "The Cold Within" in the
1960s. It is gratifying to know he left something behind that others appreciate.

He submitted it to the Saturday Evening Post; however, it was rejected as "too controversial
for the times."
Jim was active in the ecumenical movement. His poem was sent in to the Liguorian, a
Catholic magazine. That was its first official publication to my knowledge. Since then, it has
appeared in church bulletins, teaching seminars and on talk radio, listed as "Author
Unknown." If that was done for legal protection, I understand. My family is always happy to
see it appear, but we do think the true author should be given credit.

Jim died at 51 of a heart attack on May 23, 1973, after retiring to Sarasota, Fla.

My second marriage was to Homer Kenny, a Sarasota widower, so I became ... MRS. JAMES

DEAR MRS. KINNEY-KENNY: I agree that the true author should be given credit. James
Kinney was a gifted poet. How sad that he died so young, because he had keen insight and
constructive things to say to all of us.




DEAR ABBY: I could not disagree with you more strongly regarding your advice to "Worried
About My Friend," who doesn't want to be in her friend's wedding. She told you she thought
her friend's fiance was abusive, and the marriage would be the biggest mistake of her
friend's life. You told her to be there for the bride on her big day and afterward, in case she
had to help her pick up the pieces of her broken heart -- that's what friends are for.

Abby, a friend should speak up when a friend is about to make a terrible mistake. Most of us
need help when making important choices. We may not see ourselves -- or people with
whom we are in love -- as others do. We lack objectivity.

In my opinion, a true friend values the friend over the friendship. Risking the friendship for
the sake of the friend can be an act of great love.

Anyone considering giving this kind of advice takes the risk of rejection, embarrassment or
error. When making a decision to offer advice, one should ask: "Is my decision made to help
my friend? Is it motivated by love?"

You may be right, Abby, that it's unlikely anyone with wedding plans will listen to such
advice, but it's not impossible. Some may listen. For the sake of those, I hope you will
publish my letter. Friends are not just for picking up the pieces of a broken heart. They are
also for trying to catch that heart before it shatters on the hard pavement of a poor

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DEAR FR. FRANCESCO: You are a wise and caring religious adviser, and I'm pleased to print
your letter. However, I think your timing is off.

While it is never pleasant to hear that one's friends think the object of our affections is an
unworthy jerk, the time to speak up is while the two are dating.

By the time the wedding plans are being made, most brides are deaf to anything beyond the
sound of wedding bells and will probably react defensively to criticism of their intended --
preferring instead to believe the friend is jealous, overly judgmental or has ulterior motives.
Furthermore, many young women would be reluctant to face the potential embarrassment
of calling off a wedding once the announcement has been made.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a longtime reader wishing I'd been a heeder. I don't know how many times
I've read in your column the advice, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." This is especially
true when dealing with relatives.

Last fall my brother desperately needed a loan to get out of financial trouble with the IRS.
Ignoring my first instinct, I sent him the money. He assured me this would solve his
problems and that he would be able to pay me back in full by May or June of this year.
Guess what? Those dates are past and I haven't been repaid.

I've lost more than money. I've also lost all respect and trust I once had for my brother.
Also, I feel like an idiot for allowing him to prey on my sympathy. He's made me look like a
fool in front of my wife.

Say it again, Abby: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." I don't know who this sage advice
is attributed to, but sign me ... POORER RICHARD IN FLORIDA

DEAR POORER RICHARD: The quote is from "Hamlet," written by William Shakespeare, and
the line that follows it is, "For loan oft loses both itself and friend." Prophetic words, indeed.
You were not foolish to help your brother, although you would have been wiser to have
documented the loan in a businesslike fashion. However, since you didn't, you may have to
chalk it up to tuition in the school of experience




DEAR READERS: After printing letters about racism during the summer, I received an
onslaught of mail from readers who wanted to comment. It's a subject about which people
are passionate.

I regret that space limitations do not permit me to share all of the terrific letters with you.
Read on for a sample:

DEAR ABBY: I am writing in response to Mr. Jones' and Dr. Wood's replies to the letter from
"My Kid's Mom." Dr. Wood claimed that he knew of "no dark-skinned people who believe
they are superior to light-skinned people, at least not those living in Western societies,"
while Mr. Jones claimed "there is no racism in the African-American community."

Are these gentlemen actually serious? One only has to listen to the comedy of Chris Rock or
D.L. Hughley, or a speech from Louis Farrakhan, to realize that there is racism in the
African-American community.

The only way there can be serious discussion and improvement of race relations in America
is if we as citizens refuse to accept ANY racist rhetoric, regardless of the skin color of the
speaker. As long as American society accepts racist dogma from white, black, Asian and
Hispanic communities, this country will never find peace among her citizens. Only when we
can accept this fact and make a conscious effort to root out this aspect of ourselves will we
truly end racism once and for all. -- CHRIS HOWELL, ALSO FROM GEORGIA

DEAR CHRIS: I agree with you. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: When our society gets to the point where one discusses race only when talking
about genealogy or national origin, and when we begin to describe ourselves as
"Americans," and not "something-Americans," then and only then can we make the
statement that there is no racism. -- HOPING FOR A NON-RACIST AMERICA

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DEAR ABBY: Mr. Jones states that he teaches his kids "to be tough and smart, because a
black person is always surrounded by whites with racist attitudes." Mr. Jones should teach
them instead to be intelligent and compassionate for the shortcomings of others. Defense
mechanisms are no way to deal with real problems.

Teaching to hate because others hate only shows his willingness to sink to someone's level
and to conform to racist policies, which only fuels racism. -- CITIZENS FOR AN EQUAL

DEAR ABBY: I applaud your attempt to cut out the sore from our society by bringing this to
the written medium and opening the forum for discussion on the level where we need it --
at our lunchroom tables, our breakfast tables, our dinner tables, because so many people
read your column. Thank you! -- PHOENIX READER

DEAR ABBY: Hatred and bigotry should be as equally condemned when it comes from a
minority as it is when it comes from the majority. -- D.L. IN S.C.

DEAR ABBY: As an R.N. who has worked in a major city hospital in the United States as well
as small hospitals, let me tell you -- there is racism in the African-American community no
matter what it's labeled. There is racism between blacks and Asians, blacks and whites,
blacks and Hispanics, just as there is for white and other races in these United States.
Racism is not just a white evil. It's an all-pervasive, color-crossing evil that debases us all. -
DEAR READERS: Stay tuned; there will be more on this subject tomorrow.




DEAR READERS: Yesterday I began sharing some of the many comments from my readers
regarding racism. Today I will continue. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Thomas Anthony Jones Sr. is simply wrong in his statement that "there is no
racism in the African-American community in the United States." Is he right when he says
that black people are "discriminated against on a daily basis because of ... color"?
Absolutely. Does that mean that only people belonging to the historically oppressive group
can be labeled as racists? Absolutely not!

The pain of oppression is real and sharp. It shouldn't blind anyone, however, to the plain
fact that racists come in all shapes and sizes, and yes, in all colors. You said it best, Abby,
in your answer to "Cincinnati Educator": "Racism is never 'OK,' regardless of the skin color

DEAR NEAL: To that I will add that racism and prejudice are a cancer of the spirit. They
invade and destroy everything they touch. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 16-year-old Asian-American. Mr. Jones declaring in an absolute

statement that there is "no racism in the African-American community in the United States"
is simply not true. Unfortunately, I have encountered racism from African-American
individuals numerous times.

I fully believe that the majority of African-Americans living in the United States are not
racist, but I was extremely annoyed to read about someone declaring that there's none at
all. I have noticed in general, whenever race relations are discussed in the U.S., it's always
a matter of black or white. I think it's unfair not to include the opinions of other minorities,
especially the increasingly growing Hispanic and Asian minorities that are projected to
outgrow all other ethnic groups in the coming years. -- JI H. CHONG, CATONSVILLE, MD.

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DEAR JI: If your perception is true, I agree with you that it's unfair. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: As a proud Hispanic teen-ager, I found Thomas A. Jones Sr. to be driving in
the wrong direction. His so-called "defense philosophy" is merely an excuse for intolerable
behavior. His comment, "A black person is always surrounded by whites with racist
attitudes," truly aggravated me. He implies that racism is a black-and-white issue when
truly it is not.

Mr. Jones should be teaching his children to love, not retaliate. Just because others' beliefs
are immoral does not mean that you should make the same mistake. As long as society
continues to make this an attack-and-defend situation, how can we ever make any

DEAR KATRINA: That's the million-dollar question. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I, too, am African-American, and for Mr. Jones to say there is no racism within
the black community is an outright lie. While I cannot deny our country's heritage of slavery
and bigotry, to say it is fine for blacks to hate white people because of this is nonsense. I
should know. I was once a black militant, filled with hatred. Thankfully the Lord blessed me
with eyes to see that my hate was killing me and no one else.

Ignorant people of all races hate with or without cause. It is that simple. The means do not

DEAR READERS: As you can see, when I told you the comments from readers were terrific,
I wasn't exaggerating. I'll have more tomorrow.



DEAR READERS: If you have been reading this column for the last two days, you will have
seen that racism is an issue that troubles many of us. Today will be my last in this series.

DEAR ABBY: You can't teach your children to be on the defensive, as one of your black
readers wrote, without having these children LOOKING for discrimination. A basic law of
physics teaches us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In life,
sometimes there's an overreaction. Our best defenses against discrimination are education,
patience, understanding and time. And remember, we educate our children every day, by
our words, our deeds, our values -- and most of all -- by our thoughts. -- ANDERSON, S.C.,

DEAR READER: That's true. Children form their attitudes by watching their parents -- often
when the parents don't realize they are being watched. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am a bus driver and have had the opportunity to meet white racists and black
racists -- and believe me, there are both.

The vast majority of people are not prejudiced. They are cautious, as well they should be.
The whites, blacks, reds and yellows mostly want to just be accepted as another person on
this planet.

We aren't going to become color-blind, ethnic-blind or religious-blind just by snapping our

fingers and passing a couple of laws. We can only control ourselves, and hope that our own
attitude will rub off on those around us. May God have mercy on us if this attitude isn't one

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DEAR ABBY: Martin Luther King Jr. once said: "People don't get along because they fear
each other. People fear each other because they don't know each other. They don't know
each other because they have not properly communicated with each other."

We must begin to communicate with each other. No matter how much it hurts or how bad it
sounds, we must begin the dialogue of truth, facts, feelings, misunderstanding and
understanding. The solutions to all our problems are found in us.

Now is the time to make the decisions necessary to bring about closure and healing. The
survival of our nation depends on it. In our homes, at work, at school and in our everyday
lives, we must be about destroying the hate that is destroying America. We can never heal
the hurt and pain within our nation until we've healed the hurt and pain within ourselves.
Removing racism and discrimination from our society must begin with one person at a time.
It must start with me -- then with you. -- LARRY D. HARRIS, NORFOLK, VA.

DEAR ABBY: The world is a vastly different place than it once was, although the vestiges of
our past remain. The only way to end racism in our society is for each individual to take
responsibility for his or her own emotions and actions, and to act in a way that is fair to all
concerned. You can find hate in a lot of places -- sometimes without looking very hard. But
you can also find friends. -- MICHELLE IN GALVESTON, TEXAS

DEAR MICHELLE: I agree. Regardless of skin color or ethnicity, our aspirations are very
similar. We want to be liked and respected as individuals; we want our children to do as well
or better than we have. It's the American Dream.

We live in an increasingly diverse society, and if we can value each other and live in
harmony it will greatly enrich us. If we cannot, then greed and suspicion will drive us apart.
The choice is ours.




DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 13 years. My husband has one really big problem. He
doesn't like to work. He gets a good job and somehow always messes up or quits. Then it
takes him weeks to find something else. He's old enough to know better -- he's 50.

We have three children. I don't want them to turn out like their father. I have worked since
I was 15 years old. I work for two companies now and do extra work on the side. I make
good money, but not enough to pay all the bills. How do I get through to my husband the
importance of keeping a job and not quitting? I am to the point where I'd like to throw him
out of the house -- but I don't think he would leave. -- TOTALLY LOST IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR TOTALLY LOST: The majority of people in the work force today would prefer to be
living a life of leisure. That's why the lotteries are so popular. However, as responsible
adults they recognize the connection between working and getting their bills paid.
Your husband won't change until you draw the line and refuse to support him and his
irresponsibility any longer. Ask yourself, "Would I be better off with him or without him?"
From my perspective, you would have only one less mouth to feed.

DEAR ABBY: I completely endorse the list of seven suggestions on how to treat the mentally
ill sent to you by the psychologist in Texas (published Sept. 19). Now let me add two more:

8. If I confide that I'm taking medication for a mental health disorder, please do not warn
me about all the side effects this particular medication has and all the dangers of long-term
use, and then tout the "natural" or herbal alternatives to psychotropic drugs. Believe me --
I've tried everything else, to no avail. It was a difficult and agonizing decision for me to
finally take the step of seeking medical treatment for my illness. I resisted it, I rebelled
against it, and I saw several psychiatrists and tried many other medications before I finally
received effective treatment.

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There may be risks involved in taking my current medication, but no risk is as great for me
as doing without. At least now I am not daily, even hourly, considering suicide because of
the agony my mental illness causes me. So, instead of issuing dire warnings, simply
congratulate me upon finally gaining control over my illness, and offer your support and
friendship. This would be truly helpful.

9. I know you love me and mean well, but PLEASE do not suggest that I would feel so much
better if I had a meaningful relationship with God. I am suffering from a physical illness with
mental manifestations; it has nothing to do with my spirituality or lack thereof. You would
not tell someone with leukemia that he would not be ill if he simply prayed more often --
don't be so unintentionally cruel as to say such a thing to me. It is the same as blaming me
for my sickness, implying that my lack of moral character is the cause of my problems. I do
enough of that on my own. Just pray for me, and tell me your thoughts and best wishes are
with me. -- LIVING IT IN THE U.S.A.

DEAR LIVING: I'm pleased to add your suggestions to the list, and I'm sure they will
resonate with many people. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The most unwelcome
advice in the world is that which is unasked for.




DEAR ABBY: A pregnant 18-year-old wrote to you because her husband was having a hard
time accepting the fact that she wears a locket with a photo of the baby boy she gave up for
adoption three years before. You advised her that you thought it was because the necklace
"served as a constant reminder that 'he wasn't the first man in her life.'"

Abby, that girl told you she had been raped and the baby she gave up was a result of a
crime committed against her. How can you even insinuate that the heartless coward who
fathered this child was a "man in her life"?

I can assure you that a rapist, and the experience of being raped, becomes a permanent
part of your life. However, when a child is raped, that rapist does NOT become the "first
man in her life."

I hope you will print this letter along with an apology for offending all victims of rape. --

DEAR TAMIE: After an editor expressed concern about my terminology after that letter and
answer were sent to my newspapers, I issued a correction. However, not all of them used
my alternative wording. If you or anyone else was offended by my language, I apologize.
"First man in your life" was not intended to imply that the baby was the result of consensual
sex. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: In response to the young wife whose husband wants her to remove the locket
containing the picture of the baby she gave up for adoption, my next question would be:
How dare he? What does he want her to give up next -- her friends and family? If he can't
see that the locket is important to her, he may never see ANYTHING that is important to

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My feeling is that he's using this as emotional blackmail because he is insecure in himself. I
have had three children, and never loved any of them less than the others. Is this husband
an only child? If not, have him ask his mother if she loved any of her children less because
she already had one. A parent's heart is too big for something that petty, and "Too Young"
has already proven how big her heart is.

This young woman should hold her head up proudly, because her daughter will, too -- and
so will her son. She has already proven what a terrific parent she is. She did not blame her
unborn child and gave him the greatest possible gift, life!

Keep your locket, dear lady; you earned it. -- INSULTED PARENT OF FOUR, PHOENIX

DEAR INSULTED PARENT: I second the motion. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Most lockets have room for TWO pictures. I think she should add the
daughter's photograph to the one of her son. Or, even better -- the husband should buy a
new locket and put the pictures of both children in it. -- DIANE D., LAKELAND, FLA.

DEAR DIANE D.: That's a wonderful idea. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: That young woman's husband should applaud and support her for getting
through the terrible ordeal of rape in such a mature and responsible way. As for her loving
her new daughter as much as her son, I'm sure she will discover that a mother's love is like
no other -- and can be equally distributed to all her children. Her insight and thoughtfulness
prove that she is already well-suited for the job. -- DANIELLE M., FAIRLESS HILLS, PA.

DEAR DANIELLE: You've summed it up very well.



DEAR ABBY: I am a single father with a 14-year-old son. I am not married, but I have a

My problem is my girlfriend likes to run around very scantily clad. I have no problem with
this, except she does it in front of my son, or, when he's in the next room she'll run out,
naked or half-naked, into the hallway, just barely out of his sight.

I have asked her to stop, but I don't feel I should have to keep asking her that. We are both
in our early 30s. She also darts in and out of rooms naked or nearly naked when we are at
the homes of relatives. I do not understand why she does this. -- RATTLED IN REDWOOD

DEAR RATTLED: Your girlfriend may have a different standard of modesty than the one with
which you were raised, or she could be a bit of an exhibitionist. Your son is a young man
now, and whether or not it's intended that way, her nudity could be interpreted by him as

You should not have to keep reminding her. Tell her once and for all that you don't want
your son and your relatives surveying her "assets" -- so in the future, unless you're alone,
she MUST keep them covered.

DEAR ABBY: A year ago you were kind enough to publish a letter I wrote dealing with
infants who are thrown away, abused or killed by their parent or caretakers. It concerned
the news accounts of the death of one such toddler that haunted me. Shortly after, you
published a letter written by a nurse who said that for the first time an infant had been
abandoned on the grounds of the hospital where she worked. She thought perhaps my
letter had prompted that child to be abandoned in a safe place. I hope so.

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I would like to thank you for printing my letter, Abby, and share some information that may
save more infants who are at risk of being abandoned or abused. Programs exist to help
them. The first is the Baby Anthony Program in California, with a statewide, confidential
crisis toll-free hotline: (800) 606-BABY (2229). The other is a national 24-hour toll-free
hotline called Project Cuddle. That number is (888) 628-3353. I hope you will pass this
along to your readers because recently there were two more stories about abandoned
babies. One was found alive in a garbage can, another found dead in a field.

The phone numbers are for women and young girls who find themselves pregnant and do
not know where to turn for help. They are also for caretakers who feel they must somehow
get rid of the child. Some of these women and young girls will never see a doctor or any
other health-care professional about their pregnancies.

I still believe there should be a legal and safe location for caretakers to take these infants,
and no "manhunt" to add to the feeling of despair that led these people to think the only
way for them to cope is to "get rid" of the child.

Thank you again for the opportunity to ease the trauma the original "Baby Girl Doe" created
within me. I almost feel as though her message to the public has been received and some
lives have been saved because of her. She remains in my mind and heart, but she is no
longer heavy, thanks to you. -- DOROTHY MILLER, PITTSBURG, CALIF.

DEAR DOROTHY: I'm pleased to spread the word about the Baby Anthony Program and
Project Cuddle, for parents who are overwhelmed and cannot tolerate the responsibilities of
parenthood. They provide a sensible alternative to abandonment or child abuse.



DEAR ABBY: Since you didn't give marching orders to "In Shock and Heartbroken," whose
surgeon-husband suddenly cleaned out the house and had his lawyer offer her $20,000 in
exchange for custody of their children, may I offer some advice?

"In Shock," you deserve more than that jerk showed you. What kind of example is he
setting for his children? More important, what kind of example will YOU set for them? I urge
you to find the most aggressive, pit-bull lawyer in your area and tell him how you were
cheated out of your marriage, belongings, means of support and children.

Many divorce lawyers will work for a percentage of the settlement rather than an up-front
fee, especially in a case like yours. Your lawyer will file a motion to freeze hubby's accounts
and hire a "forensic accountant" to track down what your husband must surely be hiding
from you -- and possibly the IRS as well. This was obviously planned for a long time, and it
will take professionals to unravel the deception.

Hold him responsible. Stay and fight the good fight, and you'll never have to look back and
say, "I wish I had," while your children grow up to be as selfish and manipulative as he is. I
wish you love, luck, peace and victory in court! -- STEAMING IN BOSTON

DEAR STEAMING: In fairness to me, the woman did not ask what steps she should take to
proceed. She asked only if I thought she was right to stay and fight for her children.

An attorney who will take the matter on a contingency basis should be easy enough to find.
Once she whispers the magic words, "surgeon" and "prominent family," the lawyer will know
there is plenty of money and publicity to be had. Read on:

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DEAR ABBY: I read the letter about the surgeon who left his wife penniless and offered her
$20,000 for custody of their children. I'm a family law attorney. You stated, "You have my
respect for deciding to fight for your children against such odds, and I hope you prevail."
While this is a sympathetic statement, I do not believe the woman is against such odds.

Depending on what state they live in and how long they've been married, she's probably
entitled to at least one-half the community assets plus maintenance/alimony and child
support, based on the parties' incomes. I would advise her to go to an attorney and file for
temporary orders. Depending on the circumstances, the surgeon will be the one paying the
attorney fees, plus maintenance and child support, until the court makes a final disposition
of the property and a ruling on the parenting plan.

As he is a surgeon, I imagine he works long hours; and I imagine also that the wife has
been the primary caretaker of the children. The odds are against him financially, and in her
favor as the custodial or residential parent. -- JAN YVONNE RINKER, GIG HARBOR, WASH.
DEAR JAN: Since more people are ignorant about divorce law than are knowledgeable about
it, I'm sure your letter will be an eye-opener for many.

Several readers asked me to tell "In Shock and Heartbroken" that they doubted her
husband's sincerity in seeking custody of their children -- that he was either demanding
them so he wouldn't have to pay child support, or using them as a bargaining chip. To quote
"Dorothy in Maine":

"I wonder what he'd do if you said, 'Go ahead and take the kids.' His prospective new wife
wouldn't be thrilled with that, I'll bet! Makes you want to spit, doesn't it? Hire a woman
divorce lawyer ASAP. You'll prevail in the end."




DEAR ABBY: My husband of 12 years has just informed me that he has invited his former
girlfriend to our home for an upcoming weekend. He wants her to see our home and city. He
says he just wants to talk with an old friend with whom he has a lot in common and has not
seen for 15 years.

Abby, over the last two years, he has talked with this woman about once a month or so. It
never occurred to me to be jealous or concerned because I trusted him and he's never given
me any reason not to. He would tell me about their conversations if I wasn't in when she
called. It was never an issue for me until he invited her to spend the weekend without
consulting me.

When I told him I would feel uncomfortable having "Rene" stay with us, especially since
she's not a mutual friend of ours, he accused me of being insecure, became extremely
angry and was silent for several days. He also told me that if I don't agree to it, then he will
see her in secret.

I was shocked and assumed he spoke out of anger. Now I'm not so sure. Have you any

DEAR ERODED TRUST: Many. If the situation were reversed and you informed your husband
that an old boyfriend he had never met was coming to spend a weekend in your home, I'm
sure he would have been shocked and angered that you had acted without first consulting

Ordinarly, I wouldn't advise giving in to blackmail. However, since he's threatening to "see
her in secret" if you don't agree to accommodate her, put on your most charming face and
play hostess of the year. And if you or any of your friends know an attractive, unattached
bachelor, invite him over for a lovely family dinner.

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DEAR ABBY: My parents did not need more "stuff" to mark their 50th anniversary. So we,
their eight children, decided to include the following on the party invitation:

"In lieu of gifts, donations to Our Daily Bread, a non-discriminatory soup kitchen, will be
accepted at the door. All donations will be forwarded to Our Daily Bread in the names of Bob
and Mary Lou."

Abby, the 60 or so guests responded with donations amounting to more than $1,500. Our
parents were overwhelmed, as was the director of the soup kitchen, at the generosity of

DEAR 'CHILDREN': My congratulations to your parents. They have a great deal of which to
be proud, and the values of their children are only the beginning. Your idea is terrific.

DEAR ABBY: This may seem like a strange question, but I was trying to find out because
this is kind of important. You see, I had my nipples pierced, and I am pregnant.

I was wondering if I took the rings out and they healed, would I be able to breast-feed? --

DEAR CRYSTAL: I see no reason why you should not be able to. I checked with the La Leche
League, and their representative told me there are no known cases where piercing the
nipple interfered with nursing a baby.



DEAR ABBY: "Still Dating," the woman and her husband who have incorporated good
manners into their marriage, have my support. I encourage them to continue, regardless of
what their daughters think.

My wife and I have been married almost 42 years. We still hold hands in public and
exchange brief smooches. I open doors for her -- both to buildings and cars -- and I also
help her out of the car. I do little things "just because," like bringing her flowers or small
pieces of costume jewelry. It gives me great pleasure.

Let their children learn by observation a good lesson in chivalry, gallantry, and just plain
good manners. They'll see, in about 10 years, how fortunate they are to have such loving,
devoted parents. -- TWO-IN-LOVE IN ILLINOIS

DEAR TWO-IN-LOVE: You're right. And I hope those young women find spouses as caring as
you are. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: This is my first letter to you, but I had to write after reading the letter from
"Still Dating." Let's hope her daughters eventually learn to accept and value the old-
fashioned courtesies. The parents are setting an excellent example for them.

As a 61-year-old widow, I can't begin to tell you how much I miss those "old-fashioned"
courtesies from my husband, Richard. For most of a long, debilitating illness, he continued
to do those little things for me. And when he grew too ill to do them, I turned the tables and
opened doors for him and assisted him up the stairs or from the car.

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Nearly five years ago, my darling went to a better place. He's free of pain.

Occasionally I have had the pleasure of having a gentleman hold a door for me. I always
accept the courtesy and smile and thank him. Thank heavens some members of the
younger generation have learned to value manners and courtesy to and from others. --

DEAR STILL MISSING HIM: I offer my sympathy for the loss of your loving mate. It's clear
that yours was a very caring union. Although chivalry may no longer be universally
practiced, it isn't dead yet. And it should be nurtured wherever it appears. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: So many women today say, "I can open my own doors. I don't need a man."
Well, let me tell you something: When a man opens a door, holds a chair or a coat, he's
telling you he feels you are a woman worth the effort. The least you can do is to smile and
say "Thank you."

I am 88 years old and enjoy every courtesy a man pays me. Some time ago, I entered an
elevator, and a gentleman took off his hat and asked if I wanted the main floor. I said, "Yes,
thank you." When we left the elevator and approached the heavy front door, he hurried to
hold it for me. I thanked him again, and then I heard him say, "Well! It's been a long time
since a woman thanked me." I said, "How kind of you. These doors are so heavy." He
smiled from ear to ear. He felt good and so did I.

One day at the mall, a boy about 7 was opening a large, heavy door as a woman got there.
As he held it, she sailed right through without even looking at him. When he held it for me,
I said, "Thank you so much. These doors are heavy." His face lit up and he said, "Yes." I
added, "Oh, you are the dear man today." He stretched up about 3 inches with his chest
out. Even little guys like to be thanked.

A woman who learns to be gracious will be surprised at the perks. -- HELEN IN


DEAR HELEN: You said a mouthful, Sister!




DEAR ABBY: I'm being married soon, and as a bride-to-be, I have been very laid-back and
agreeable to all of the arrangements my mother has made. At first, I asked if we could have
just a small, informal barbecue. She said no -- so now we're having an all-out affair. My
sister will be my maid of honor. I'm letting her wear whatever she wants. Even though my
colors are blue, she is wearing a plum-colored dress. As long as she's happy, fine.

I have argued with my mother about only one thing: I have a beautiful, simple wedding
dress. I want to wear a pair of sneakers with lace shoestrings because I will be on my feet
all day. I don't want to wear heels because those shoes are not made for comfort. I think
the sneakers with the lace "accents" will be very cute and nice.
Although this is really the only thing I am asking for myself, my mother is acting like I'll
shame the family. (I am not doing the "garter" thing, so no one will even see the shoes.) I
did agree with my mother that I'd wear proper wedding shoes for the ceremony and formal
reception, but that wasn't good enough. I do not want to wear those ceremony shoes from
2:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m.

Abby, my mother will not compromise. Why shouldn't I be comfortable at my own wedding?
She's acting like I'm committing some horrible sin, and threatening I'll forever be the
laughingstock of New Jersey. All I want is to be comfortable at my own wedding. Please help
me put this into perspective. -- WISHING FOR COMFORTABLE SHOES, PARSIPPANY, N.J.

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DEAR WISHING: Please tell your mother I suggest that she loosen up a little. Since you're
wearing a long dress, and will be wearing traditional "wedding slippers" during the
ceremony, your mother should be willing to compromise and allow you to wear your
sneakers at the reception. Many brides simply kick off their high-heeled pumps and go
through their receptions in stocking feet. Your idea has merit.

DEAR ABBY: I have just returned from my mother's funeral in another state. Not only did I
have to go through the trauma of my mother dying in my arms, and then the funeral, but
also a terrible battle with my brother and his wife about the "things" Mother left behind.

My sister-in-law made all the decisions about who would get what. Every time I tried to say
that my mother told me during many telephone conversations what she wanted me to have,
I was told, "You don't know what you're talking about!" There was an old will that did not
specify to whom her possessions should go.

Abby, it was a horrible experience. I will never forget or forgive. I not only lost my beautiful
mother, but a brother as well.

Please, advise older people to update their wills and make clear what is to be divided among
the children or grandchildren. My brother disobeyed my mother's last wishes, and he must
live with that knowledge for the rest of his life. -- DIANE D., FORT PIERCE, FLA.

DEAR DIANE: This is a topic that has appeared in my column regularly. I hope it serves as a
reminder to those who need it.



DEAR ABBY: I was stationed at Al Karj Air Base in Saudi Arabia during the holiday season
last year. I would like to say thank you to you and all your readers who participated in
Operation Dear Abby and sent mail to service members overseas.

We don't always get the chance to answer all of the cards and letters, but they are dear to
us. We are grateful to everyone, from the third-grader who prints better than I do, to the 9-
year-old whose brother beats up on him (he wins sometimes, though), to the veterans who
remember what it was like to be far from loved ones during the holidays.

Abby, please print the military addresses again this year. Our military personnel need those
morale-boosters. -- ROGER SURRATT, WHEATLAND, CALIF.

DEAR ROGER: I'm delighted to oblige, and thank you for providing me this opportunity to
announce to readers that it's time to launch Operation Dear Abby XV.

My thanks to each and every one of you who has worked to make Operation Dear Abby so
successful every year. Your outpouring of cards and letters lifts the spirits of our servicemen
and women who are far from home and family, to remind them they are in our hearts.

Many schools and clubs make this a group project, and in years past have sent cookies and
packages to the troops. This year, however, in order to ensure that the mail is received
within the required time frame and that it falls within the Department of Defense security
guidelines, mail will be limited to ONLY first-class letters and cards, 13 ounces or less.

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Operation Dear Abby has been assigned four addresses for use during the 1999 holiday
season. Specific units and countries are not being targeted, only major U.S. military Aerial
Mail Terminals and Fleet Mail Centers overseas. Once mail is received, these mail hubs will
distribute it on a fair-share basis to all branches of the armed forces. This means a letter
addressed to a "soldier" may be distributed to an airman, sailor or Marine, allowing for
wider distribution. This should also prevent the transportation system or specific units from
being inundated.

To send mail to a specific area, address it to the closest geographic hub.


Any Service Member


APO AE 09135


Any Service Member


FPO AE 09646


Any Service Member


APO AP 96285


Any Service Member


FPO AP 96385

The U.S. Postal Service will begin accepting this mail on Nov. 15, 1999. After Jan. 15, 2000,
mail will no longer be accepted for these addresses.

P.S. Readers, if you have difficulty at your local post office, ask the clerk to check recent
postal bulletins. OPERATION DEAR ABBY addresses are not always entered into postal
computers, and clerks may not be aware that they are valid.



DEAR ABBY: Anger -- a normal human emotion when dealt with positively and assertively,
not negatively and aggressively -- can advance mankind.

However, many people don't have the skills to positively deal with anger because they've
never been taught the skills.

Anger-management skills classes should be part of the curriculum in all our nation's schools
and prison systems. This would help eliminate some of the depression, domestic abuse,
divorces, alcoholism, drug addiction, crime and murder in our country. I believe the benefits
would far outweigh the costs.

For people who recognize their anger-management problems and want to learn the skills to
enable them to deal with those problems positively, our society should make it "politically
correct" to seek help through counseling. In other words, we should drop the stigma, as we
have in the last 10 years or so in regard to alcoholism and drug addiction. -- CARL FOX,

DEAR CARL: Although I'm not sure I agree that the "stigma" in regard to alcoholism and
drug addiction has been erased, I do agree that anger-management classes in schools could
be helpful in lowering levels of violence. A step in the right direction are the peer mediation
programs that are being implemented in many schools, which help to defuse problems
before they become serious.

DEAR ABBY: You goofed when you advised "Tony's Mom" to buy earplugs if counseling
couldn't keep her husband from yelling at their 10-year-old son. All that yelling will only
harden the child, and when he reaches his teens, it could become explosive.

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I, too, was a "yeller" and found my teen-ager becoming increasingly angry, hateful and
disrespectful. Instead of trying to force him to change, I decided to change myself. I
focused daily on adhering to the following goals:

1. I showed my love for my son by touching him gently at least 10 times a day with hugs,
pats, or just resting a hand on his shoulder when he talked to me.

2. When I wanted his attention I went to him, touching him gently and speaking very softly,
looking him in the eye.

3. I listened attentively to his stories, remarks, comments, etc., without judgment or


4. I stayed in control of my emotions and stopped yelling, which eliminated the power

This calmer, nicer approach reduced the arguments and resistance to what I asked. It was
amazing how quickly I got my sweet, loving son back. -- WISER IN NORTH TEXAS

DEAR WISER: Your suggestions are certainly worth trying -- and in many cases could go a
long way toward establishing a more loving family atmosphere.

However, I recommended family counseling because it can provide insight into how these
disruptive patterns began, as well as methods for eliminating them and improving the level
of communication between all parties.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 15-year-old boy who likes to read Dear Abby. I would just like to say
that not just girls read Dear Abby. Please print my letter because I do not want boys to feel
DEAR PATRICK: You're right. My readership includes all ages and both sexes.




DEAR ABBY: Some friends of mine and my husband's invited us over for a sit-down dinner
at their home. The friends are acquainted with my husband's parents and extended a
written invitation to them as well, which I thought was very nice.

Because the friends live some distance away, we planned to carpool there with my in-laws.
When my in-laws arrived at our door, they had my sister-in-law with them. (She's middle-
aged and still lives at home.) I was mortified because I knew "Sis" hadn't been invited.

I promptly called the hosts to give them a heads-up and an apology, and offered to bring
more food. My mother-in-law overheard me on the phone and took great offense and said
they weren't going. She said my husband and I were rude because we treated Sis like a
criminal. She asked repeatedly before storming off, "What's one more person gonna hurt?"
Who was in the wrong here? -- BAFFLED BY LACK OF ETIQUETTE

DEAR BAFFLED: Your mother-in-law was wrong to bring an uninvited guest with her.
Assuming you quietly telephoned to warn the hosts, and did not embarrass your sister-in-
law by doing it in front of her, your mother-in-law was wrong again in taking offense
because you tried to keep the hosts from being caught flat-footed. It was extremely rude to
punish the hosts by leaving them with empty seats at their table at the last minute.

DEAR ABBY: This is in response to "Wounded in Midland, Texas," who was devastated
because a friend had told her that her deceased husband had had an affair. Twelve years
ago, when I was 23, my husband committed suicide while I was in the room with him. Not
only did I have to deal with the pain of losing him, but also the guilt of wondering what I
could have done to stop him.

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At his funeral, several of our "friends" just had to share stories about his infidelities and
drug habits with me. They laughed about them. (This was the first I had heard of them.)

I'll never understand why people do that when you're at one of the lowest points in your
life. If they couldn't tell me while he was with me, what was the point of telling me then?
Losing someone causes enough pain; at least leave us with what happy memories we have.

I, too, went through years of therapy and am now happily remarried for eight years, but I'll
never forget those "friends" at the funeral. Needless to say, I haven't seen or talked to them

DEAR ALSO WOUNDED: I'm pleased that you have managed to get past your tragedy and
have gone on to have a successful life. Believe it or not, I have actually heard from some
people who feel that the widow should be told so that she won't idealize her deceased
spouse and will "get on with her life." I have never subscribed to the "for your own good"
school of disclosure. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: In response to the lady from Midland, Texas, whose "friend" divulged that her
deceased husband had carried on a verifiable affair, she should ask herself, "Why did she
tell me this?" The answer, of course, is she wanted to HURT her!

My sister revealed that my son had told his cousin that he didn't care about coming back
home again after receiving his degrees. I cried every night after work for three months,
until my husband asked me, "Why did she tell you that?" To hurt me, of course. I promptly

DEAR FEELING FINE: I applaud your husband for his insight.



DEAR ABBY: My parents divorced when I was 2 years old, and remarried soon afterward.
Unfortunately, the man my mother married was an abusive alcoholic whose beatings
eventually contributed to her death in 1981. My father had remained on good terms with
my mother throughout the years, and he and my stepmother attended the funeral.

After the funeral service, my stepmother said to me, "I insist that you thank your stepfather
for putting up with your mother all those years. You should spend the rest of the afternoon
with him and his family."

Not wishing to cause a scene, I did what she ordered. It was the hardest thing I've ever
done in my life. Abby, no one deserved the punishment my stepfather inflicted on my
mother. My stepmother knew exactly what he had done to my mother and to me, too. How
could she make such a demand?

After all these years, at 42, I am still troubled by my stepmother's demand, and the fact
that I actually obeyed! What can I do to get over this? -- STILL TROUBLED AFTER ALL

DEAR STILL TROUBLED: Your stepmother's comments were outrageous. She may have
hated and resented your mother, and felt she had gotten what she deserved. And, like
many victims of abuse, your self-esteem was so low you obeyed her without question.

Counseling can help you work through the feelings you're experiencing. Since you're still
troubled, I hope you won't wait any longer.

DEAR ABBY: This is in reference to the letter from the 23-year-old manager of a suburban
fast-food restaurant and the teens who were bound and left after a robbery. I want to
address the fact that the parents of these teens never came to find out why they were out
all night. As a parent of a 15-year-old and a 13-year-old (and for 10 months, a 17-year-old
foreign exchange student), I have an explanation for the apparent lack of concern from the
parents. Exhaustion!

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Our 17-year-old had curfew hours on the weekend, which her mother and I set. Our student
would be home exactly on time or call us if there was a problem. At first, I stayed up to
make sure she got home -- but after arising for work at 5 a.m. every day, I was too
exhausted to be efficient. I shared this problem with other parents of teen-agers. Here's
how I solved it:

I set an alarm for the time the child should be home. If the child gets home before the
alarm goes off, he or she turns off the alarm and goes to bed. If the child does not arrive
home in time, the alarm goes off and wakes the parent. Parents get their sleep -- and the
teens get to keep the hours they desperately want. -- ANGIE IN L.A.

DEAR ANGIE: I received a stack of mail from defensive parents of teens about my reply to
that letter, for saying that the parents of those young girls weren't doing an adequate job.
Many said that their teen-agers ignore their attempts at discipline and refuse to accept their
authority or curfews. Others said they were unable to wait up for their children and still
function the next day.

For households where there is mutual respect and order, your solution is ingenious. I only
wish I had stock in an alarm clock company.




DEAR ABBY: Never did I think I'd be writing to you, but for the past few years I have been
plagued by widows who cannot drive. However, most are not shy when it comes to
expecting neighbors to drive them to church, to shop, to the doctor or the dentist, to senior
affairs, etc.
What in the world were these women -- and their husbands -- thinking in years past? It's a
well-known fact that women usually outlive their husbands. Did they think a chauffeur
would automatically appear when the husband died? Or were the husbands stubborn male
chauvinists who refused to accept the fact that they might go first?

I loved your item re: Who would a man rescue if both his mother and his wife were going
over the falls and he could rescue only one? You humorously wrote, "... it's so important for
women to know how to paddle their own canoes." Amen! Healthy ladies: LEARN TO DRIVE!

Thankfully, the new generation has all girls and women learning to drive early. Those no-
drive widows are such a pain. -- WIDOW-DRIVER IN ILLINOIS

DEAR WIDOW-DRIVER: I have another saying for you: "You don't have to run to the fire
every time you hear a siren." Perhaps your pain would be less if you made yourself less
available. I'm sure those nondriving widows would try harder to arrange other
transportation if they could hear what you're saying under your breath!

Another thing to consider: Not all older widows are good candidates for learning how to

DEAR ABBY: With regard to the letter from "Bound and Boiling," I just want to reassure the
three young women who spent the night bound and gagged in the fast-food restaurant that,
as a political scientist who has studied crime and violence for more than two decades, I am
firmly convinced that they did the right thing in not resisting.

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The risks involved in resisting an armed robbery far outweigh those of not resisting.

As the old military axiom goes, "Great courage is required to take a seemingly unheroic

DEAR ERNEST: I agree. It takes presence of mind to remain calm in an emergency, and to
weigh whether heroism is prudent.

DEAR READERS: This wonderful poem, written as the closing remarks for a friend's speech
on Memorial Day at a veterans cemetery, was sent to me by the author's wife, Marie C.
Middleton. I think it is fitting to print it to honor Veterans Day. Read on:


by Maj. Gen. James B. Middleton

Lord, bless the wives

who grieve alone,

And comfort the mothers

who mourn their own.

Give solace to the fathers

who lost their sons

On foreign shores and in

places unknown.

Lord, strengthen the resolve

of we who remain

To see that they did not

die in vain.



DEAR ABBY: I was surprised at your response to "Used in the Northwest," whose college
friend and family visited without offering to defray expenses. Your response, to charge $60
a day, seemed harsh. "Used" may lose a friend.

I would suggest a few alternatives:

1. "Used" and her family could reciprocate by visiting her college friend's family;

2. "Used" could suggest that the two families meet someplace where each would pay their
own way;

3. "Used" could level with her friend, saying that the visits had become a financial strain,
but that the visits might continue if they could agree on how to resolve this. -- PHYLLIS

DEAR PHYLLIS: Your suggestions are good ones. However, "Used" stated that after 15
years, she and her husband felt taken advantage of, that the visits were no longer
enjoyable, and she and her husband had dropped countless "hints" that were ignored.
Therefore, I concluded that her college chum had the hide of a rhino and knew full well that
she was taking advantage.

You are not the only reader who felt that my answer was too harsh. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Your suggestion that "Used" charge her friend $60 a day to "cover the cost of
feeding them, the additional water, electricity and telephone charges" is guaranteed to cost
her the relationship with her friend. I'm from the Southeast, and such a demand would be
considered extremely rude.

Why didn't you suggest that "Used" simply talk to her friend? She could inform her that the
annual visit makes it difficult for her family to maintain their somewhat strained weekly
budget. She could suggest that, perhaps, they go grocery shopping together and then
simply ask her friend to pay for part. If they run out of milk or need a video, she could ask
her friend to go to the store for it. By being up-front with her friend, she may appear to be
struggling financially, but her friend should appreciate her honesty. Following your advice,
she will appear rude and cheap. -- USED TO SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY

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DEAR USED TO SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY: Please re-read my answer to Phyllis (see above).
Read on:

DEAR ABBY: After 15 years of silently taking the abuse from her visitors, the chances of
"Used" being able to say that she is going to charge them is slim to none. I suggest she
send the following note to her friend:

"Dear Jane and Family: We're delighted to hear that you and your family are once again
going to be in our area. As you know, our little home gets really crowded and uncomfortable
with so many of us under one roof. But I'm delighted to tell you that I have found a
delightful motel close by that is very reasonable and comfortable. It is the Cozy Inn on Main

"We know that you'll find it to be the best place in town for only $60 a night for you and
your family. Since it's so close, we'll be able to spend all the time together that you're able
to give us. Looking forward to seeing you again." -- JOANN MABEL, BROOKLYN CENTER,

DEAR JOANN: I like your style. You have a deft touch. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Your advice was good, but I'd go still further. How about informing this "friend"
that since she is jobless, she has started a "bed and breakfast" business and that her rates
are $100 a day for four persons, with a maximum of six days? This would shorten or
eliminate the stay and/or recoup the previous losses to a small degree.

I'm amazed that "Used" and her family would tolerate such an imposition for 15 years. If I
were her husband, this deal would have stopped years ago with a frank discussion and a

DEAR JOHN: I agree!



DEAR ABBY: It happened again! My fiance, "Greg," left me behind to spend another long
holiday weekend with his family. Let me give you the details.

Greg is 22 years old. He lives at home with his parents and goes to college. His parents
have a lake cottage one hour away. They go there almost every weekend, and they expect
Greg to come, too. In fact, we go there almost every weekend.

My sister's birthday was during the Labor Day weekend. I invited Greg to stay here and
celebrate with us, because my sister lives five hours away, and we don't get to see her that
often. However, Greg wanted to "spend time with his family." He insists I'm selfish for
getting upset. I feel that I'm getting the "leftovers" and I'll never be first in his life.

Another thing: Greg has been wanting to get his own place, but changed his mind because
his dad travels occasionally, and Greg says he doesn't want to leave his mother alone, even
though he has two teen-age brothers who are still at home.

What do you think about this? -- FUMING IN FORT WORTH

DEAR FUMING: You are getting a taste of what it will be like to be married to this young
man. Greg is still emotionally and financially tied to his family, and your family appears to
rank a distant second place. Unless you can adjust to playing second fiddle to his parents,
you may want to reconsider your engagement.

DEAR ABBY: I was struck by the letter from "Missing Them in Colorado," who had moved to
a new city and whose old friends ignored her attempts to remain in contact via
correspondence. Something similar happened to me.

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Years ago I moved from Pittsburgh to Clearwater, Fla. I kept in touch with my friends
through letters and cards. After a time, the letters dropped off, but I continued to send
cards for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, births, etc.

Five years ago, six of my friends retired and moved here. I was delighted -- and we
socialized at parties, dinners and sports events. Gradually, they stopped including me in
their get-togethers.

In the meantime, I became friendly with one of the busboys at my favorite restaurant and
his lovely family. He calls me "Mr. R.," because I'm 72 and he is 20. He attends junior
college at night. I'm always included at his family's parties and dinners. He insists on cutting
my grass each week and afterward invites me out to bowl or to a movie. He has become a
dear friend.

Several months ago, I ran into one of my old friends and asked why I never hear from them
anymore. His wife said, "Wake up and smell the coffee. You can't keep up with us timewise
or financially."

Not too long after that encounter, I inherited a great sum of money. News gets around
quickly, and guess who came out of the woodwork? The same couple called and invited me
for dinner and said it would be nice to have me "back in the fold."

I replied that my time is precious -- and besides, they could not keep up with me financially.

I'll continue to send cards on their special days, but I will concentrate on building my
friendship with Jose and his family. And guess who will be mentioned in my will?

Sorry this letter is long, Abby, but I needed to vent. -- MR. R., CLEARWATER, FLA.

DEAR MR. R.: That's what I'm here for. The value of friendship is not supposed to be based
upon a person's wealth. Count your blessings, not your losses. You're a lucky man in more
ways than one.



DEAR ABBY: Will you please ask your readers to take a minute to think about how they
treat people who are different or unique? These days we seem to care about how we treat
people who are disabled or in a minority -- however, some of us seem to forget that ALL
people should be treated with kindness, dignity and respect, regardless of who they are or
what they do.

My son is an Elvis impersonator. Now, I'm not talking about some clairvoyant who thinks he
channels Elvis; I'm talking about a talented singer who works hard at his profession of re-
creating the Elvis concert experience. He was even selected to be in a new film on
impersonators called "Almost Elvis." But you would not believe the way some people treat
him in public.

Although he doesn't walk around in a jumpsuit, he must look the part with black hair and
sideburns. It amazes and upsets me how rude and insensitive people can be with their
smart remarks. If they stopped to think for a minute about the Golden Rule, about choosing
to build up rather than tear down those around them, then we might have a little more
kindness in the world. Elvis was known for his kindness to strangers -- and I think we could
all take a lesson from him. -- PROTECTIVE LITTLE MAMA, OLYMPIA, WASH.

DEAR PROTECTIVE LITTLE MAMA: Although the comments may not be all that a mother
would wish for, they may go with the territory. There's an old show-business saying, "If you
want a place in the sun, you had better be prepared to put up with a few blisters." Since
your son is respected in his profession, I'm hoping he receives his share of compliments to
make up for any hurt that may be caused by the clumsy attempts at humor.

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It's interesting that Elvis Presley's talent was so unique he is still an unforgettable celebrity
so many years after his death.

DEAR ABBY: Each year, usually in December, you print letters about choosing appropriate
gifts for the elderly. You have advised us against purchasing unwanted items such as bath
powder or earrings for Grammy and neckties or after-shave for Grandpa. You have
reminded us to stay clear of useless things for their homes, like vases or knickknacks.

I have learned from your column and for the last few years I simply ASK my relatives what
they can use. If Mom wants postage stamps and a grocery store gift certificate, and Dad
wants a coupon for an oil change this year, that's exactly what I give them. They're pleased
and so am I.

Here comes my problem: How do I get my elderly relatives to stop sending ME useless
gifts? I wouldn't dare hurt their feelings, but they never ask me what I want; they simply
send things I have no use for.

How about writing a column to the elderly about gift BUYING? This really needs to be
addressed and printed in the newspaper. (Then maybe I can cut it out and send them
copies.) I appreciate your help. -- STUMPED IN NEVADA

DEAR STUMPED: Your problem is universal. As the holiday season approaches, write or call
your relatives and thank them for their past generosity, then tell them that from now on, a
card expressing their loving feelings would be appreciated more than a gift.



DEAR ABBY: I recently attended an Indian Head Start Directors conference in Washington,
D.C., where I met an amazing woman.

This lady and I were riding a city bus, taking in the sights, as neither of us was able to walk
for long periods of time because of health problems. As we chatted, a young man in his 20s
who was standing near our seat listened to our conversation.

During the conversation, I asked her how old she was. When she said she was 46, I couldn't
believe it because she looked so young. When I expressed surprise at her age, the young
man chimed in, "Yeah, you'd be a real knockout of an older woman if you'd lose some
weight!" I, and the other bus passengers, were appalled at his rudeness.

My friend, however, simply looked at him coolly and replied: "I'll have you know, young
man, that I AM a knockout. My self-worth and self-esteem do not depend on what you seem
to perceive as my shortcomings. There are people in this world who think I'm the sexiest,
wittiest and most dedicated person that they have ever met -- so what you think does not
concern me!"

The other passengers broke into applause when she finished. Although I had the impression
that he hadn't planned to, the young man got off at the next stop.

I wrote this to thank the lady for not letting the crassness of some people destroy her
positive self-image. She has become my role model, and although we may never meet
again, I'll never forget her example. Her name was Brenda. -- STANDING TALLER NOW

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DEAR TALLER NOW: Those who would remind someone that she (or he) is fat, thin, short or
tall are either woefully ignorant or brutally insensitive, and possibly both. And after reading
your letter, I'm sure there will be more people applauding Brenda's stance than her fellow
passengers on the bus.

DEAR ABBY: "Worried in Woodland Hills" wanted to know what she could do to make the
"coming out" process easier for her son. I was moved by her caring and loving regard for
her son, whom she feels might be gay. I have no advice for her, only my admiration for
what a wonderful mother she must be.

I am 42 and have been out since I was 18. It has never been a problem for me. The
problem was always in the minds of other people, and their reaction to something they did
not understand. If she is right, her attitude will make a world of difference and help create
one more well-adjusted, loving human being. I have known too many who have suffered,
and some who have even died, because of the shame and disgrace they were made to feel.
I am writing to say thank you to that woman who is truly a mother in the highest sense,
and to you, Abby, because your answer was right on. -- BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, SEATTLE

DEAR BEEN THERE: I'm sure your letter will be meaningful, not only to the mother from
Woodland Hills, but also to parents everywhere who are emotionally supportive of their gay
children. Thank you for your kind words about my reply.

However, several readers have written to tell me that I missed my chance to tell the mother
that PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) could be an excellent resource for
her. Founded in 1981, PFLAG is a respected support, education and advocacy organization
with chapters in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 11 other countries.

For literature or referral to a local chapter, write: PFLAG, 1101 14th St. N.W., Suite 1030,
Washington, D.C. 20005; or call (202) 638-4200. The e-mail address is, or
you may visit the Web site at




DEAR ABBY: After only six years of marriage, my darling husband died on Oct. 4. He had
three children and taught them good values. He once said during our marriage, "When I die,
I hope my kids don't come in and start announcing, 'I want this' or 'I want that.'"

Well, sure enough, two days after my husband's death -- even before the funeral
arrangements had been completed -- his son came to me with a verbal list of things they

I kindly told him that his father and I had discussed what he would like them to have, and
we would take care of it sometime later. I left his kids at home while I went out to run some
errands. When I returned and they had left, I found evidence that they had gone through
my belongings looking, I suppose, for things they wanted.
The next day his son called and said they would be bringing my husband's ex-wife over to
load up the things they wanted before they went home. The day of the funeral his son called
to inform me that they had brought a truck from Arkansas to haul it all away.

Abby, I couldn't take it any more. I said, "Your daddy would be ashamed of you. To ask his
widow on the day of his funeral to come over immediately afterward is incredibly crass."

Well, during the funeral, I observed his son's grief, and now I feel terribly guilty for being a
wicked stepmother. Am I?

Also, is it in good taste for an ex-wife to pluck flowers from her ex-husband's grave in front
of his widow, before he is lowered into the ground? I'm appalled. -- GRIEVING IN MISSOURI

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DEAR GRIEVING: Stop feeling guilty for having reacted the way you did to the phone calls.
You showed remarkable restraint in the face of insensitivity. Something tells me that any
hurt feelings will be mended as soon as you tell "the kids" they can come and collect the

As for your husband's ex-wife taking flowers from his grave at the burial, customs vary in
different parts of the country. Perhaps she wanted to press them and put them in a family
album. After having had three children with him, she must have been feeling some sense of
loss at his death. When people are grieving, they sometimes say or do things without
thinking them through. Give her the benefit of the doubt.
DEAR ABBY: I recently took a commercial airline flight home from England to the United
States. Regrettably, the woman I sat next to wore too much perfume. I don't mind perfume
in good taste, but this woman must have taken a bath in it. The smell was unbearable, so I
first covered my nose with a blanket. Then I tried turning my head in the other direction.
Then I tried to sleep. Lastly, I put the air on me, but nothing seemed to help.

What should I have done to get away from the horrible perfume smell? -- SENSITIVE NOSE

DEAR SENSITIVE NOSE: I have heard countless complaints over the years from people who
are sensitive to perfumes. Many of them suffered allergic reactions when in close quarters
such as elevators. The problem is perfume wearers who think that if a little bit is good, then
more must be better. Not true!

You should have informed the flight attendant that you couldn't tolerate the strong odor and
asked to change your seat. If the flight wasn't fully booked, the attendant would have
accommodated you.




DEAR ABBY: I read the letter from "Depressed in Texas" about her concern that her
husband's business partner was stealing from them. I agree with your advice about having
an independent CPA set up the accounting system, and consulting an attorney if the partner
does not agree.

However, "Depressed" did raise a warning to other business owners. Whenever a person in
charge of the records limits access to the records, it may be a red flag denoting fraud.

Our firm specializes in forensic and investigative accounting. Over the years, our partners
have audited thousands of claims for fraud and employee dishonesty. The comment we hear
most frequently: "That guy was my trusted friend." It can happen anywhere, at any time.

As a service to your readers, the following is a list of some other "red flags" business
owners should look for indicating fraud or employee dishonesty:

Excessive drinking or gambling

Refusing access to records

Rewriting records for "neatness"

Coming into a "sudden inheritance"

Skipping vacations
Overriding internal controls

Attempts to dodge or direct an internal audit

Working regular overtime

Carrying excessive cash

Bouncing personal checks

Turning down promotions

Maintaining a high lifestyle

Has check-signing authority

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Intimidates staff and other co-workers

Abby, theft is a serious problem costing society billions each year. The costs are always
passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices. If someone suspects he or she is
having this kind of problem, it is best to contact an accountant or attorney who specializes
in this area. Often an experienced fraud examiner can perform an audit without the
knowledge of the alleged embezzler. A CPA can be helpful in implementing internal controls
that will lower the risk of fraud. -- HENRY H. KAHRS, CPA, CERTIFIED FRAUD EXAMINER,

DEAR MR. KAHRS: Thank you for an eyebrow-raising but helpful letter. I'm sad to say the
business partner that "Depressed in Texas" complained about has exhibited at least two of
the warning signs you listed. As a service to business owners, I'm printing your letter in its

DEAR ABBY: My mother has given her family 80 years of love, a wonderful sense of humor
to get us through hardships, and always a smile and a hug at her front door. I thought
you'd enjoy her latest gem:

"You know you're getting old when the only thing you exercise is caution!" -- DAVE IN SAN

DEAR DAVE: That's cute. I have another one for you. A family friend who fancies himself a
"man about town" once told me he knew HE was getting old when his barber said she had
"just the girl for him" -- and offered to fix him up with her grandmother.




DEAR ABBY: My husband's mother has been diagnosed with emphysema and deteriorating
lungs. Last April, the doctor's prognosis was that she would die within the year. We decided
to move to her hometown to be with her and the family during this time of crisis.

We have discovered that she still smokes cigarettes and doesn't use her oxygen as often as
she should. Her doctor ordered her to quit working, so now she is home all day, and all she
does is complain and talk about dying. Abby, if she's so worried about dying, why won't she
quit smoking and try to make herself better? She is not that old.

She has four wonderful grandchildren to watch grow up, and my husband and I would like
her to be around when WE have children. I feel like I'm hitting my head against a brick wall
whenever I try to talk to her and give her words of encouragement. She refuses to go to
another doctor for a second opinion, which I feel she needs to do.

Abby, what can the family and I do to help her see the light? I'm hopeful that if she sees
this letter in the paper, she'll understand what we are going through. -- CONCERNED

DEAR CONCERNED: Your mother-in-law probably has not stopped smoking because she is
hopelessly addicted to cigarettes and feels that because she is terminal, it's useless to fight
a battle she has been told she will lose anyway.

Your suggestion that she seek a second medical opinion was excellent. No one should
accept a death sentence without seeking a second opinion -- or even a third. Your husband
and the other members of the family should schedule an appointment for Mom and see that
she keeps it. Where there is life, there is hope.

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Your letter is a timely one, because today marks the 23rd annual Great American
Smokeout. For those who may not know about it, the Smokeout is an upbeat, good-
humored, one-day campaign to encourage smokers to quit smoking for 24 hours -- just to
prove to themselves they can do it.

In 1998, 19 percent of smokers (approximately 8,930,000 people) participated in the Great

American Smokeout. Of those participating, 10 percent -- more than 89,000 adults --
reported that they were smoking less or not at all one to five days later. That's more than
89,000 people who are well on their way to healthier, smoke-free lives -- thanks to the
American Cancer Society.

While "cold turkey" is the most difficult way to quit, I'm told it is also the most effective way
to rid oneself of the habit. Those who need help or want more information about the effects
of tobacco may call their local chapter of the American Cancer Society or (800) ACS-2345.

And so, Dear Readers, if you're hooked on tobacco and have been saying, "One of these
days I've got to quit," why not join the Great American Smokeout and quit today? It won't
be easy, but it will be the best holiday present you can give yourself and those who love




DEAR ABBY: In a recent column you advised "Clueless in Michigan" to delay telling her
daughter that her stepfather is not her biological parent until she is old enough to
understand the difference.
NO! Tell her NOW, when she is TOO YOUNG to understand. It should not be done directly,
but by occasionally and casually referring to her "other father." If she knows all along that
she had "another father," then it will not be a great shock later on when she is able to

The same holds true for adopted children, Abby. From the day they are adopted, they
should occasionally be referred to as adopted. Then, when they are old enough to ask, they
should be told what it means. -- ROWENA SPENCER, M.D., RETIRED PEDIATRIC SURGEON

DEAR DR. SPENCER: Your thinking makes sense. Thank you for writing. When a fact is
presented to a child who is too young to question it, the child simply accepts it. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I agree the baby should be told her father had adopted her, but why wait? Do
it right away!

My parents adopted me when I was only 6 days old. From the first minute I was home with
them, they began the process of making me comfortable with being adopted. They always
referred to me as an infant as their special adopted child. They told me stories all through
my childhood about the king and queen who were very sad because they couldn't have
children of their own, so they went on a long journey and found a beautiful baby girl by the
river who they adopted as their own and made their princess.

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They gave birth to a "natural" daughter 10 months after I was born, and when we fought as
children -- like ALL children do -- I had been made to feel so special that I often turned the
tables and told her, "Well, Mom and Dad didn't get to CHOOSE you!"
I am 28 years old now and have never for a moment had any issues concerning being
adopted. I have never for a moment felt a void in my life, or a need to contact my "real"
parents. I'm being married in six months, and my real sister is my maid of honor, my real
dad is walking me down the aisle, and my real mom is going to be with me every step of
the way.

Babies are never too young to understand things on some level, and the best answer to the
question of "When did you find out you were adopted?" is, "I've ALWAYS known." --

DEAR TOGETHER: Your signature says it all. Congratulations on your forthcoming wedding.
If there is any question in any reader's mind about when a child should be told it is adopted,
I think you have answered that question once and for all.

DEAR ABBY: I have a problem. My boyfriend is pushing me into things that I don't want to
do. I tell him no, but he just ignores me. What should I do? I really like this boy a lot and
don't want to hurt his feelings. -- WENDY IN WHITEFORD, MD.

DEAR WENDY: First, stop worrying about hurting his feelings, because by ignoring you when
you say "no," he is showing you that he has no qualms about hurting yours.

Wendy, I hope you will take this to heart: No one has the right to pressure you into doing
anything you know in your heart is wrong. Draw the line and stand your ground. You will be
respected for it.




DEAR ABBY: Every year our family gathers at the home of "Aunt Dottie and Uncle Joe" for
Christmas dinner. This includes us, our parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and their children.
Aunt Dottie and Uncle Joe used to charge only the adults -- the children ate free -- and the
adults also brought along bottles of alcohol. Now the charge is per person, so everyone

Abby, we have no choice in the menu. Aunt Dottie and Uncle Joe plan the meal. If they
serve something we don't like, or if we can't stay for the whole meal, don't you think we
should get at least a partial refund? Shouldn't we have a say in the menu since we pay for
our meals? They don't need the money, but they never offer a refund if we eat little or leave

I think a better plan would be for all of us to meet in a restaurant for Christmas dinner, so
we'd have a choice. What do you think? -- FED UP IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR FED UP: It's unrealistic to expect your aunt and uncle to refund the money for the
uneaten food, and having a "committee" create the menu might be more of a hassle for
your aunt and uncle than they're willing to accept. Since all of you pay for your own dinner
anyway, your suggestion is practical. Mention it to your relatives and see how they react.
More than a few may "second" the motion.

DEAR ABBY: I had to laugh when I read the letter from "Uncorked in Hudson, Ohio." I had a
similar experience.

Some out-of-town friends came to visit and, upon their arrival, presented us with a bottle of
wine, too. Like "Uncorked," I had planned to serve a wine I had selected for dinner and did
not open my guests' wine.

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The next day, as our guests were leaving, the woman walked into my kitchen, grabbed her
bottle of wine, and said that since we didn't drink it, she was taking it with her! I was

No matter how rude her gesture was, I realized I had hurt her feelings by not serving her
wine, and since that experience I have always served the wine my guests bring -- no matter
what else I have planned. I would much rather keep my friends than worry about the
perfect dinner. -- UNCORKED 2, RICHLAND, WASH.

DEAR UNCORKED 2: That's one way of looking at it. Read on for another solution:

DEAR ABBY: In reference to "Uncorked in Hudson, Ohio": I agree that the host was not
rude. I always play by the following rules when someone brings wine to the house. If it's
wrapped, it is gift and meant to be saved or added to my "collection." If it is not wrapped, it
is meant to be served for that meal. This simple rule seems to work well for me. -- CORKED

DEAR CORKED: If it works for you, it has my blessing. But there is no formal rule of
etiquette that dictates that a bottle of wine brought to an informal dinner party as a
housegift must be served that evening. Once a gift is given, it belongs to the recipient to do
with as he or she chooses.




DEAR ABBY: There is a possibility, hopefully slim, that a friend's bride-to-be may not show
at the wedding. If this happens, what is the proper protocol for whomever is asked to
announce the postponement of the service? What does one say in such a situation? --

DEAR WANTS TO BE PREPARED: If there is a possibility strong enough to write to an advice

columnist that the bride will be a no-show, the wedding should be postponed NOW -- while
the guests can still cancel their travel and lodging reservations, and before anyone has
gathered for the ceremony.

Were I the person whose duty it was to inform the wedding guests that the wedding was
canceled, I would simply say: "Ladies and gentlemen, I regret to inform you that there has
been a change of plans. There will be no wedding today. However, don't let that stop you
from enjoying the music and refreshments that have been provided. I'm sure you'll be
hearing the details in the weeks to follow."

DEAR ABBY: For many years, I searched for a family project to give added meaning to the
holidays and instill in our children the foundations of "social service." Three years ago, at
Thanksgiving, I found the perfect project, one our whole family could share.

Since most people get both Thursday and Friday off from work, we decided to spend all of
Thanksgiving Day cooking a complete Thanksgiving dinner and delivering it to a needy
family. With three children aged 7, 3 and 1 at the time, even the youngest could "help"
mash potatoes and bake cookies.

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Each year it has given us an opportunity to get acquainted with wonderful people who were
in difficult circumstances, experience their joy at receiving these gifts, and feel we have
something worthwhile to celebrate at our own Thanksgiving, which we now celebrate on

This family project has provided us with an altruistic and uplifting focus for the holiday. We
have chosen to focus our giving on immigrant families who often work at the most
unpleasant and dangerous jobs, and receive the lowest pay. However, any group that has
personal meaning to the individual, such as the elderly, people with AIDS and single parents
-- the list goes on and on -- would appreciate some special care on Thanksgiving.

Also, before Christmas, the children and I were cleaning out closets to make room for new
toys and wishing we could find a good use for the old toys. We made a few calls and located
a homeless shelter that welcomed our donation. Abby, we have a limited income, and
cannot always afford to contribute to new-toy drives. However, we had an abundance of
used-but-still-nice toys my children had outgrown, which made the children in the shelter
very happy indeed.

We found our shelter by looking in the Yellow Pages under "Housing Assistance and
Shelters" and "Social Service Organizations." If at first you don't connect, keep calling!

This has become a family tradition, and I can't tell you how much it has enriched our lives. -

DEAR DARIA: What an inspiring way you have chosen to teach your children to share their
abundance with others. Churches and synagogues can also provide names of families and
older people who are in need and would welcome being included in a family celebration.
Thank you for providing living proof that it is more blessed to give than to receive.




DEAR ABBY: I am a balloon artist, earning my way through college. I entertain children,
families, individuals and couples by creating characters in all shapes and sizes. My services
are requested in restaurants, at parties and special events, most often without contracted

Since balloon artistry is not a common occupation, many people do not realize I depend on
tips for my income and to cover the cost of supplies. (Some characters require several
balloons to make.) Moreover, those that do tip are not quite certain how much is
customary. I would like to suggest the following guideline: $1 per balloon used in the

It is heartwarming to watch small children enjoying a balloon made especially for them. I
wish I could afford to make them free for everyone. -- ENTERTAINER FOR A LIVING
DEAR ENTERTAINER: This is the first I've heard of balloon artists having to make their living
on tips, and I'm sure it will be to many of my readers.

Since your college education depends on running a small business, you must guarantee that
you at least break even. Do that by informing potential clients that you charge a minimum
amount per day or evening. (After that, what you earn in tips can be called a "balloon
payment.") Alternatively, you can post a sign listing the price of your creations, at $1 per

DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Mother on the Defensive," who resented her friends
disciplining her children, really got my attention. You're going to get lots of mail on that

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Haven't you seen people who have tunnel vision when it comes to their children's behavior?
If you have, apparently you haven't been cooped up with them on vacation.

I never permitted any child to do things in my home that my own children were not allowed
to do. If their parents ignored the misbehavior, then I spoke up and told their children to
stop running, screaming or whatever. -- VOICE OF REASON IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR VOICE: You're right; I received a barrage of letters from readers who thought I was
too easy on the mother. Many of them related stories about visiting children who walked on
white couches and porch railings, had tantrums if fragile knickknacks were placed out of
their reach, and one who fell off a diving board and broke his arm after having been told to
stay away from it. The common denominator in all of them was parents who tolerated the
behavior while completely ignoring their function as responsible adults.

"Mother on the Defensive" stated that her children had been "humiliated" by her friends,
and were "hesitant to do anything around them for fear of being disciplined." I interpreted
that to mean the discipline was excessive, and advised the mother to make it plain to their
friends that should the children need discipline, she and her husband would administer it.

However, if no one is supervising the children and stepping in when things get out of hand,
someone should. And if the parents fail to assert themselves, another adult must.




DEAR ABBY: I am 23 years old and was previously involved with a man who, at the
beginning of our relationship, was married. At the time, I was 17 and about to graduate
from high school, and had no previous relationship with a man.

As our relationship progressed, his wife found out about us and divorced him. They had a
child who was born in the midst of their divorce. I thought the split would send him flying to
my arms. However, that was not the case at all. Instead, he proceeded to sleep with
everyone in a skirt who would give him the time of day. He denied our involvement with
each other to everyone.

Even knowing all of this, I stayed for three years, and in the process I lost everything --
family, friends, jobs, just about everything I cherished. More important, I lost sight of
myself, my goals, and the person I once thought I was. I thought if I loved him enough, he
would change. Well, it didn't happen. What did happen was he got someone pregnant and
lived with her for a year and a half. It was the last straw for me. I packed up and moved
north and regained my life.

I stopped dating for a long time, found the best job I've ever had, and am back in school
working on my degree. I am living on my own, and my life is better now than it's been in

Recently he left that other woman and has begun to better himself. He has a good job now
and has matured a lot in the last five years. We have been talking, and he tells me that he
loves me and has asked me to marry him.

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Although he and I have been talking, I haven't told anyone in my family or my friends. I
know they would not accept him.

Abby, I'm afraid of the outcome. I thought I had closed this chapter in my life, but now I'm
not so sure. I always wanted to marry the first man I had ever been intimate with, and he
seems genuine this time around. Should I give him a second chance? I know he put me
through hell, and I'm leery of repeating it. Should I try again and hope it all works out? --

DEAR LOST IN LOVE: When people ask me whether they should listen to their hearts or
their heads, I advise them to listen to the part of their anatomy they THINK with.

It has taken you a long time to get your life back on track. This man sounds like a one-
person wrecking crew. Should you try again "and hope it all works out"? Absolutely not.

DEAR ABBY: I have lived on the West Coast for more than 20 years. I go home to the East
Coast every summer for four to five weeks. Friends and family insist on always treating
when we go out to eat. When I protest, they say, "But we're so delighted that you spend
your vacation visiting us," or, "But you spend all that money flying here to visit us."

Some of these people have visited me on the West Coast, and I've thought, "Now it's my
turn." However, this time when I offered, the response was, "But you're saving us so much
money by providing us a place to stay, use of a car and meals at home."

After all these years, I feel that the scales are very unbalanced. I try to be gracious and
appreciative and always send thank-you notes. Can you suggest another strategy, Abby? --

DEAR TRAVELER: Since your hosts refuse to let you pay for anything when you visit them,
reciprocate by sending them a lovely house gift after your return home. Include with it a
short note reiterating how much you enjoyed their hospitality.



DEAR ABBY: When I heard the weather report for a nearby mountain community, I was
reminded of an item I had clipped from a newsletter a few months ago. The temperatures
are already down to freezing in some areas and soon will be downright cold in many
locations. Responsible pet owners must consider that their pets need protection from
inclement weather, so I dug out the clipping and hope you will print it as a reminder. --

DEAR ANIMAL LOVER: Thank you for sharing that item. Countless pets will thank you in the
months to come. It should not be assumed that a dog's or cat's "fur coat" is sufficient
protection from icy weather. Read on:


In many parts of the country, winter is a season of bitter cold and numbing wetness. Help
your pets remain happy and healthy during the colder months:

Do not leave dogs outdoors when the temperature drops. Regardless of the season, short-
haired, very young or old dogs, and ALL CATS should never be left outside without
supervision. Most dogs, and all cats, are safer if kept indoors, except when taken out for
exercise. Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks.

No matter what the temperature, wind chill can threaten a pet's life. A dog or cat is happiest
and healthiest when kept indoors. However, if your dog is an outdoor dog, he/she must be
protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie
down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised
a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings. The house should be turned to
face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with burlap or a rug.

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DEAR ABBY: Thank you for printing the letter from the reader who suffered great injuries
and was charged with DUI without the use of alcohol. A copy of that letter has been
laminated and now hangs in our department. It will be shown to patients who give us the
excuse, "I am OK to drive."

Also, please tell your readers not to drive after having medical procedures that involve
sedation or anesthesia. As a nurse who works in an endoscopy unit, I encounter patients
almost daily who insist they are "safe to drive" and that they have "done it many times

Patients who are to receive any type of anesthesia or sedation are instructed by the
physicians to have a responsible driver to take them home. Please, Abby, through the
power of your column, remind your readers to follow these important pre-procedure
instructions. The medical staff who will prevent you from driving home are not trying to give
you a difficult time; we are trying to prevent injury or death to our patients, or God forbid,
an innocent bystander. -- DIANA PASINI-WOJNISZ, WILMINGTON, DEL.

DEAR DIANA: Thank YOU for a letter that's well worth space in this column. I hope that
anyone who is having a medical procedure performed that requires sedation or anesthesia
will take your letter to heart, and not attempt to get behind the wheel of a car until the
medication is completely out of his or her system.




DEAR READERS: By popular demand, here is my traditional Thanksgiving column:

Today is Thanksgiving Day, so take a few minutes to reflect upon all the things for which
you are thankful.

How's your health? Not so good? Well, thank God you've lived this long. A lot of people
haven't. You're hurting? Thousands -- maybe millions -- are hurting even more. (Have you
ever visited a veterans hospital? Or a rehabilitation clinic for crippled children?)

If you awakened this morning and were able to hear the birds sing, use your vocal cords to
utter human sounds, walk to the breakfast table on two good legs, and read the newspaper
with two good eyes, praise the Lord! A lot of people couldn't.

How's your pocketbook? Thin? Well, most of the world is a lot poorer. No pensions. No
welfare. No food stamps. No Social Security. In fact, one-third of the people in the world will
go to bed hungry tonight.

Are you lonely? The way to have a friend is to be one. If nobody calls you, pick up the
phone and call someone.

Are you concerned about your country's future? Hooray! Our system has been saved by
such concern. Your country may not be a rose garden, but neither is it a patch of weeds.

Freedom rings! Look and listen. You can still worship at the church of your choice, cast a
secret ballot, and even criticize your government without fearing a knock on the head or a
knock on the door at midnight. And if you want to live under a different system, you are
free to go. There are no walls or fences -- nothing to keep you here.

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As a final thought, I'll repeat my Thanksgiving prayer; perhaps you will want to use it at
your table today:

O heavenly Father:

We thank thee for food and remember the hungry.

We thank thee for health and remember the sick.

We thank thee for friends and remember the friendless.

We thank thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.

May these remembrances stir us to service

That thy gifts to us may be used for others. Amen.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and may God bless you and yours. -- LOVE, ABBY

An afterthought: Want an instant high? The surest cure for the holiday blues is doing
something nice for someone. Why not call a person who lives alone and invite him or her to
share dinner?

Better yet, call and say, "I'm coming to get you, and I'll see that you get home." (Some
older people don't drive, and those who do may not like to go out after dark.)

Try it. And let me know the results.

P.S. Special greetings to those of you in the military who wrote from remote corners of the
world to tell me that you are using my prayer on this Thanksgiving Day.




DEAR ABBY: This is the time of year people begin thinking, "What should I get Mom, Dad
and Aunt Tillie for Christmas?" Well, I AM a mom and an Aunt Tillie, and I filled Dad's shoes
for more years than I care to count. So, for all of you who haven't a clue what "we" would
like, keep reading:

Don't try to buy me happiness with a token gift. Most of all, I'd love just a little of your

If you want to buy something for me, I'd appreciate a box of all-occasion greeting cards. A
roll of stamps to go with them would also be helpful, so that when my old friends have a
reason to celebrate, I'll not have to venture to the store or post office. (An assortment of
gift wrap and Scotch tape are another novel idea.)
You all know how much I love flowers -- not the cut bouquets from a florist, but real plants
from a nursery, delivered at the right time for planting in the spring. Something like that
can be enjoyed all year, and I'll remember your thoughtfulness every time I look at them.

My little doggie needs grooming every month. How about a gift certificate? They make
terrific gifts. Also, I would never spend household budget money for a manicure, pedicure or
massage, but a gift certificate for one would certainly be welcome. Or one for a car wash, or
the next trip to the dry cleaner or shoe repair shop.

What about a gift certificate for a dinner for two, so I can treat a good friend to a meal and
company because HER family is also busy? Have you forgotten how much I enjoy Reader's
Digest, Family Circle and TV Guide? I can't afford subscriptions anymore, but they would be
a lot more welcome than bubble bath that I'm now allergic to.

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Also, if you want to give me something, how about a prepaid phone card, or a few bucks
prepaid on my telephone bill? And if you're feeling generous, how about contacting the
company that aerates my lawn, the chimney sweep or, for that matter, the mechanic who
readies my car for winter?

You see, we're not as difficult to buy for as you thought. You have simply forgotten who we
really are. We're not "those old people down the street." We're the parents who always
knew what you wanted or needed -- because we loved you.

Thanks for the space, Dear Abby. I hope my kids are listening. -- ANY PARENT OR
DEAR ANY: Thanks for a letter that's sure to start a lot of people thinking creatively about
the Christmas holidays. Another idea is to create customized gift baskets filled with small
cans of tuna, salmon, chicken and turkey, hearty soups, and "goodies" that someone on a
fixed income might forgo. Put on your thinking caps, folks. The season is at hand!

DEAR ABBY: Every year I read about the urgent need for organ donation, and the tragedy of
people who die waiting for one.

Don't you think it would be a good idea to give people a tax rebate who pledged their
organs for transplant upon their death? It seems to me it would solve our country's great
need for donor organs with a nationwide system of registration and reward.

I was going to send my idea to Washington, but I believe your column would be more
effective, and has no political agenda. Do offer this idea to your readers. -- PEGGY MARTIN,

DEAR PEGGY: It's an intriguing idea. One way to make the option more attractive would be
for the government to forgive a portion of the inheritance taxes for the families of the




DEAR ABBY: I was married to my high school sweetheart for nine years, until he cheated on
me. While I was at home taking care of our 1-year-old son, he was seeing other women.
The one he was seeing when we divorced is now his wife.

Since she caused the breakup of my marriage, I really don't want to have anything to do
with either of them socially.

I live 1,000 miles away from my family. When I visit them, my stepmother makes it a point
to invite my ex and this woman to our family gatherings, including family reunions. The
stress has caused me to have health problems. My stepmother is well aware of this.

I don't want to be a party pooper, but my feelings should come first. I am one of nine kids,
and she does this only to me. It is very hard to sit across the table from them, as I feel very
strongly that they don't belong in the picture. Any advice? -- HEARTSICK IN FORT ST.

DEAR HEARTSICK: Since your father and stepmother are aware of the circumstances that
ended your marriage, and the fact that you are uncomfortable in the presence of your ex-
husband and his new wife, but continue to invite them -- face it: They have made a choice,
and it isn't you. Before you return for another family reunion, ask them why they invite your
ex-husband and his wife, and make your plans accordingly.
DEAR ABBY: Here is another addition to your series on humorous inscriptions on

My late husband, Jim Steele, was a sports announcer for WDSU-TV in New Orleans during
the 1970s. At the end of his few minutes of live TV sports announcing, he would say,
"Time's up. Gotta go."

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Jim died Jan. 1, 1991. On his headstone I inscribed, "Time's up. Gotta go." Very
appropriate, don't you agree? -- JIM'S LOVING WIFE, GLORIA W. STEELE, METAIRIE, LA.

DEAR GLORIA: Indeed it is. You are not the only reader to comment on the tombstone
letter. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: The letter you printed about tombstone inscriptions reminds me of two others
you might be interested in.

First, on a recent trip to Key West, Fla., we took the Conch Train tour of the city. When we
passed an old cemetery, our guide told us of one tombstone inscription: "I TOLD YOU I WAS

When my first wife died a few years ago, I ordered a headstone for her and one for myself,
leaving the final date blank, of course. But I added beneath my name, "OFTEN IN ERROR --
SELDOM IN DOUBT." I hope it gives some visitor a smile. -- G.B.F., GULFPORT, MISS.

DEAR G.B.F.: I'm sure it will! Read on:

DEAR ABBY: The recent letter in your column about tombstones spurred me to write.

"Trouble" was her nickname. She was 80-something and always enjoyed passing me articles
in church that brought a smile to my face. God has "Trouble" now, but in memory of her I
share this:


Remember, Friend, as you pass by,

As you are now, so once was I.

As I am now, you will be --

So be prepared to follow me.

Under that, in black crayon, was written:

To follow you I am not content --

Until I learn which way you went!





DEAR ABBY: Last year, my sister called with a wonderful suggestion that we all pool our
Christmas money given us by our parents and get them a wonderful gift. I was overjoyed.

When I replied, "I'll send the $40 ASAP," she was shocked. I was deeply hurt to find out the
distribution of gifts to me and my siblings was as follows: $40, $40, $150, $150 and $200!

My parents are in their mid-70s and still quite vibrant. All of their children are married with
small families and mid- to upper-class incomes. I'm 43, their third-oldest, and have been
married 11 years. The $40 was unusual, as past gifts have usually been in the $25-$35
range. I had always assumed that my parents, over the years, had been sending all of us
the same gift.

Needless to say, since that call from my sister a year ago, I no longer feel the same about
my parents. Their favoritism has hurt me deeply. As this Christmas season approaches,
please let your readers know that siblings do share information with each other. -- SLAPPED

DEAR SLAPPED: I'm passing your message along. However, before you cut your parents off
at the heartstrings, you should tell them exactly what you have told me. There may have
been extenuating circumstances, and they deserve a chance to explain why they chose to
be more generous with some of their children than others.

DEAR ABBY: I agreed 100 percent with your advice to "Deserted in New Orleans," the man
whose wife deserted him and their 5-year-old son. You advised him that if he could let her
go without bitterness, he would be the winner in the long run, and to please consider
counseling for himself and his son to help them through the heartbreak of being deserted.

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We cannot choose or control what others do to us, only how we react to it. At the risk of
sounding cynical, "deadbeats" come in all forms -- dads, moms, children who ignore aging
parents, spouses who cheat, partners who embezzle, and so on.

Let's hope "Deserted" will hang onto the positive and slough off the negative. By the way,
just because he "lets her go without bitterness," he should NOT release her from her
financial debts or child-support obligations. When you adopt a child, you agree in a court of
law to be responsible for that child as though you birthed him yourself. A college-educated
woman with a "good job in Florida" can still do much for her child financially. Good luck and
God bless him and his son.

Abby, thanks for all you do. People need to hear supportive words. The ability to encourage
others is a God-given gift as important as any other. Please don't reveal my name or
location. This is a universal message. -- KINDRED SPIRIT

DEAR K.S.: Thank you for the kind words. When I advised "Deserted" to let his wife go
without bitterness, I did not mean to imply that he should do it without legal representation.
In a situation such as the one the writer experienced, a lawyer is not only a great comfort,
he or she is also an absolute necessity.

CONFIDENTIAL TO "TUNED OUT IN TULSA": To paraphrase Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor

and author who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986: More dangerous than anger and hatred
is indifference. To be indifferent to suffering is what makes the human being inhuman.
Indifference is not a beginning, it is an end -- and it is always the friend to the enemy.

If I were you, I'd tune back in.



DEAR ABBY: Your response to "Frustrated and Unappreciated," the mammographer who
found it irritating to be asked, "Is this all you do, all day long?" was right on the mark.
However, "Frustrated" also needs to gain a deeper understanding of her patients, as well as
sensitivity toward them.

Has it not occurred to her that perhaps that question was an attempt at "small talk" by
women who felt uncomfortable having a mammogram? Because of my medical and family
history, I have had mammograms yearly since I was 35. After 10 years, I still do not find
the procedure of having the mammographer touch me to lift, pull and smash a personal part
of my body between two plates of plastic something I look forward to or feel comfortable
with. Usually the mammographer is a different health-care professional from the prior year,
therefore, a stranger. I have had mammographers who made me feel as much at ease as
possible, but I have also experienced a few who treated my breast as if a woman was not
attached to it.

"Frustrated" needs to understand and empathize. It's important she remember that her job
in performing mammographies is more routine for her than it is for her patients. Perhaps
understanding this will help her to focus on her patients' feelings, and not become
frustrated over a question. -- DOES IT, BUT DOESN'T LIKE IT, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

DEAR DOES IT: I suspect that the reason the majority of women "do it but don't like it" has
something to do with modesty, and also the fact that it's like stepping up to a slot machine
that reminds us of our potential mortality. In fairness to the majority of mammographers, I
have found them to be efficient, gentle and caring. Read on:

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DEAR ABBY: I am writing in response to "Frustrated and Unappreciated Mammographer":

Please, do not think for a minute that you are unappreciated. Without your dedication and
professionalism, I and many others would be a statistic instead of a survivor. Breast cancer,
which has no symptoms, would go undetected without you.

I thank God every day that you "do what you do all day long." I am forever grateful that
you were a part of my life. We may not have a chance to thank each of you personally, but
for me and all of those others, I say, "Thank you! We need you."

Each day you go to work, another lucky woman may be saved. Together, we will someday
wipe out this disease. I am forever in your debt. -- JOY HOPKINS, MARCO ISLAND, FLA.

DEAR JOY: (You are aptly named!) When people are stressed out or ill, they're often unable
to express their gratitude to the caring individuals who go the extra mile on their behalf.
Your letter is sure to be appreciated not only by mammographers nationwide, but by every
health-care professional who reads it.

DEAR ABBY: I'm being married next year and I need to know -- when I send out "save-the-
date" cards for my wedding, do I send them to everyone I'm inviting, or only to out-of-town
guests? I'm not sure which way to go. What's your advice? -- LAURA IN PHOENIX

DEAR LAURA: "Save-the-date" cards are typically sent to announce forthcoming charity
events. You should not send one for a wedding. Your wedding invitations -- which should be
sent four to six weeks in advance -- should be enough notice.

However, if you think that some of your prospective guests might have a schedule conflict
at that time, telephone them with the good news and ask them to save the date.




DEAR ABBY: Along with millions of other Americans, I am overweight. This time of year is
particularly difficult for me because of the well-intentioned but misguided actions of friends
and family. With the holidays upon us, I have the following suggestions for anyone who
knows someone who is fighting the battle of the bulge (and who doesn't?):

1. Avoid giving gifts of food. This means ALL food -- even your special sugar-free coconut
cream pie. Giving chocolates or other fattening treats is, at the least, insensitive and
borders on downright cruelty.

2. Do not "push" food on another person. If you're hosting a meal or a party, make a
variety of healthy foods available along with any special treats you've prepared. Allow your
guests to choose for themselves without comment. It is especially unfair to use guilt ("I
made these just for you") to force food upon someone.
3. Do not comment on how much (or how little) someone is eating. Such comments draw
unwanted attention to attempts to maintain control of holiday eating.

4. Have some compassion. We don't want to be fat. Losing weight and keeping it off is
extraordinarily difficult for some of us. Don't think that you know what our problem is,
because you don't. Obesity is a complicated issue with behavioral, emotional and spiritual
elements. A single formula that works for everyone has yet to be discovered.

Finally, be supportive. If someone you love is trying to lose weight, be available to listen.

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DEAR CHUBBY: Your suggestions are terrific and well worth space in this column. Obesity
has reached epidemic proportions in this country, and those who are trying to do something
about the problem deserve all the help and support they can get. Dieting is difficult any
time of year. But during the holidays with temptation all around, it's especially difficult to
make it through the minefield.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for 38 years. During the past 10 of them,
we have taken up dancing, and folks think we're pretty good.

My problem is, the place where we go has women who have no dancing partner, and they
all want to dance with my husband, which leaves me sitting part of the night. There is one
woman in particular who is younger than I am and who wants to do all the dances that I like
to do with him. She had a dancing partner until just a few months ago. Actually, her
husband is there, too, but he doesn't dance.
My husband will tell me he's too tired to dance to anything fast, and then she will ask him
and he jumps up. He always says I should go ask other men to dance, but there is really no
one there who can dance the way I like. Am I wrong to let this bother me? -- CONFUSED IN

DEAR CONFUSED: It all depends upon how many dances you're sitting out. Your husband is
probably flattered by the attention he's getting from all of these partnerless ladies. If one of
them asks your husband for a dance that's one of your favorites, speak up and tell her that
it's already spoken for -- and she should try again later. It's better than sitting and fuming.




DEAR ABBY: I am a counselor at a residential home for teen-age girls. We've recently had a
problem with a few of our girls "huffing" (inhaling) cleaning chemicals. We've had several
discussions with the girls, separately and in groups, about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
Although the girls repeat our warnings to us and appear to understand, I doubt that they
fully understand how dangerous it is. I overheard one girl say, "Plenty of movie stars do it."

I remember a column in which you once printed a list of celebrities who had died from
alcohol or drug-related incidents. If you would reprint it, I would be most appreciative. --

DEAR CONCERNED COUNSELOR: Although I have listed the names of celebrities who died
because of tobacco, I haven't previously published a list of celebrities whose deaths were
substance-abuse related. However, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention was able to
provide me with one. The amount of God-given talent lost because of substance abuse is

Chet Baker, John Belushi, Kurt Cobain, John Coltrane, Dorothy Dandridge, Miles Davis, Jerry
Garcia, Judy Garland, Andy Gibb, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Bela
Lugosi, Keith Moon, Marilyn Monroe, Jim Morrison, Charlie "Bird" Parker, Edith Piaf, River
Phoenix, Elvis Presley, Freddie Prinz Sr., Jean Seberg, Sid Vicious and Dennis Wilson.

I was shocked to learn that inhalant abuse is the fourth most common form of substance
abuse among high school students, behind alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. While nine out
of 10 parents refuse to believe their children would take such a foolish risk, a 1997 national
household survey on drug abuse revealed that almost as many eighth-graders have abused
inhalants (21 percent) as have used marijuana (22.6 percent).

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Among the common products on the market with the potential for being abused: glues, nail
polish remover, paint products, correction fluid, hair spray, gasoline, room deodorizers,
markers, Freon, lighter fluid, gases (helium, butane, propane), computer sprays, cleaning
agents and fire extinguishers. The effects of inhalant abuse include intoxication, short-term
memory loss, hearing loss, limb spasms, bone marrow damage, liver and kidney damage,
permanent brain damage and death.

Last August, a reader named Michael Richardson sent me a copy of a letter about "huffing"
he had sent to his local newspaper. In part, it read:

"When I was younger, 20 years ago, three schoolmates got a kick from sniffing Pam, the
nonstick food stuff. They are dead because of it. I understand that Pam and Scotchguard
are popular today.

"Many people do not realize that the solvents they get a buzz from are only carriers of the
product in a spray can. The solvents help distribute the product uniformly on their intended

"Pam uses oil to 'seal' and prevent food from bonding to the surface of a hot frying pan;
Scotchguard is a fluorocarbon compound used to 'seal' dirt from cloth; paint uses pigments
and binders to 'seal' out the environment, preventing deterioration and rust.

"When these materials are concentrated into the human lungs they also 'seal' out the
transfer of oxygen to the body. So while you're getting a buzz from the carrier solvent,
you're also drowning from lack of oxygen. There is nothing anyone can do to help you;
you're as good as dead, and that's it."



DEAR ABBY: Please alert your readers to a problem of grave concern. (No pun intended.)
"Club drugs" are becoming the "rave" with teens and young adults at all-night dance parties
across the country. While those who use Ecstasy, GHB, Rohypnol -- to name only a few of
these drugs -- may think they have no side effects, the reality is that these drugs are
potentially life-threatening. Whether kids knowingly use these drugs or have them
surreptitiously slipped into their drinks at "rave" parties, they can produce a range of effects
-- including hallucinations, paranoia, amnesia and even death.

Ecstasy, which goes by several names including "X," "Adam" and "MDMA," is both a
stimulant and a hallucinogen. People may use Ecstasy for energy to keep on dancing and
improve their mood. However, this drug increases the heart rate and body temperature,
occasionally to the point of heart and kidney failure. It also appears to diminish the sense of
thirst, and Ecstasy users have died from acute dehydration.

In addition, brain-imaging studies have shown that frequent Ecstasy use may damage brain
cells that produce serotonin, a natural chemical that is partly responsible for memory and
mood. It is still not known if these cells can regenerate, so the memory loss -- and perhaps
additional, still-to-be discovered serotonin-related impairments -- may be long-lasting or

GHB ("G," "liquid Ecstasy") and Rohypnol ("roofie," "Roche") have been associated with
"date rape" and sexual assault cases around the country. These two drugs, which are
colorless, odorless and tasteless, have been easily slipped in the drinks of unknowing
victims. Because both GHB and Rohypnol cause sedation and produce amnesia, they often
prevent a sexual assault victim from identifying and successfully prosecuting the

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Widespread use of Ecstasy, GHB and Rohypnol is relatively recent. The worst effects of
these drugs may be the ones that are not yet known. Researchers, supported by the
National Institute of Drug Abuse, are studying "club drugs" with a sense of urgency.
Although we still have much to learn about the effects of these drugs, we already know that
they can be extremely harmful.

On Dec. 2, we will launch a National Club Drug Initiative that will include issuing a
Community Drug Alert Bulletin explaining what science says about the effects of these
drugs. In addition, we will be working with several national organizations to get the word
out to parents, teens and others about the dangers of these drugs. We also have
information about these and other drugs on our Web site at Or, your
readers can call (800) 729-6686 to request free copies of these materials. Thank you for
your help in getting the word out, Abby. -- ALAN I. LESHNER, Ph.D., DIRECTOR, NATIONAL

DEAR DR. LESHNER: I applaud your research, and I'm pleased to help.

When will people learn that there is no free lunch? There is a price to pay for every mood-
altering chemical people put into their bodies. One can only hope that the substance is not
addictive and the effects aren't permanent. Years ago, many people thought that cocaine
was not addictive. Then fortunes were lost and lives were ruined or lost when the opposite
turned out to be true.

I hope your Web site will be visited by people of all ages. Young people need to know
everything they can about what they are putting into their bodies so they can make
informed judgments. And as to the "date rape" drugs -- it has reached the point that people
should not drink beverages at clubs or parties unless they have opened the container
themselves and had the beverages in their possession AT ALL TIMES.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The




DEAR ABBY: After reading your column about outrageous mothers-in-law, I had to write.
When I was 17, I married my high school sweetheart. He was only 20. We were entirely too
young to get married. However, his mother never said a negative word about it. In fact, she
was our most ardent supporter.

The following year, we had a baby boy. We were too immature to have children, but my
mother-in-law never said an unkind word. She was extremely kind and generous to my son
and to me as well. She never once criticized the way I took care of the baby. When she
came to visit, she asked me nicely what I wanted her to do, and then she did it. When I
think of this now, it brings a smile. I was only 19 and knew nothing about babies, but still
she respected my wishes as the mother of this child. If she had a negative opinion about
me, she kept it to herself.

After a few years, the marriage fell apart. The subsequent divorce and custody battle got
very ugly. My mother-in-law never took sides.

I am now happily remarried and live about 3,000 miles away from my former mother-in-
law. My former husband has also remarried. Neither of us has had any more children, so my
12-year-old son is my former mother-in-law's only grandchild. He visits her every summer,
and I keep her up-to-date as much as possible about his activities via e-mail and pictures.

Sometimes people are curious about why I work so hard to keep this connection to my ex-
husband's family. After all, according to the world's expectations, we're supposed to "hate"
each other, right? Wrong! This lady is a gem. She's a sterling example of how people should
treat each other.

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She and I had a long talk this summer about this very subject. I told her that I do not "own"
my son. He's part of her, too. And I would be doing a grave disservice as a parent to deny
my child the gift of knowing this wonderful grandma. I only hope that someday I will be as
terrific a mother-in-law and grandmother as she is. -- RACHAEL IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR RACHAEL: I'm sure you will be -- because you fully appreciate the maturity,
generosity and diplomacy that are required to fulfill those roles. Many people could take a
lesson from your former mother-in-law.

DEAR ABBY: I read with interest the letter about checking to see that a security whistle is in
working order. Many years ago, I had a persistent obscene caller. Hanging up on him did
not dampen his enthusiasm, so I decided to blow a shrill whistle during his next call. As
expected, he called late one night, so I grabbed the whistle and began to blow.

Instead of making a shrill noise, the whistle made an odd rattling sound. Undaunted, I
continued trying to whistle -- but I began to laugh at the pathetic noise. A moment later,
the caller asked in an incredulous voice, "What on earth is that noise?" I explained,
laughing, "I'm trying to blow a whistle in your ear!" With that, he howled with laughter,
hung up and never called back. -- STILL LAUGHING IN DALLAS

DEAR STILL LAUGHING: Congratulations. Even though the whistle malfunctioned, you
succeeded in "blowing off" the obscene caller. That's a victory.




DEAR ABBY: In past months, some of the letters in your column have dealt with
forgetfulness and aging. I would like to inform your readers about a research study
designed to address the issue of memory loss found in normal aging compared to that seen
in early Alzheimer's disease.

The Memory Impairment Study is taking place at 60 to 80 sites across the United States
and Canada, and holds promise for medical intervention against the development of
Alzheimer's disease. The study will investigate two treatments that will, we hope, lessen the
likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease in people with a condition known as mild
cognitive impairment.

Mild cognitive impairment refers to a type of memory loss beyond that which is expected
during the course of normal aging. Symptoms typically include forgetting recent experiences
on an increasingly frequent basis. Persons with mild cognitive impairment are otherwise
normal, engage in the usual activities of daily living, and do NOT have a diagnosis of
dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Nevertheless, it appears that such individuals are at higher
risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.

For the study, we are looking for men and women between the ages of 55 and 90 who are
in good general health but are forgetful for their age. They must have a partner who is
familiar with them and can accompany them to their clinic visits. The study will run for three
years. Clinic visits occur approximately every six months. We will be testing two treatments
in comparison to a placebo (an inactive pill).

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Volunteers for this study are key to helping us provide hope for the millions of individuals
affected by Alzheimer's disease.

We greatly appreciate your support for research in Alzheimer's disease and hope your
readers will contact us if interested. -- RONALD C. PETERSEN, M.D., DIRECTOR,

DEAR DR. PETERSEN: Thank you for a fascinating letter. I'm sure that many will be
interested in the direction that the latest, cutting-edge research is taking in the search for a
cure for Alzheimer's disease. As the population of our country ages, it's a problem that will
affect an increasing number of individuals and families.

According to the latest figures from the Alzheimer's Association, approximately 4 million
Americans have Alzheimer's disease. Fourteen million Americans will have it by the year
2050, unless a cure or prevention is found.

Readers can obtain more information about the study by calling (888) 455-0655 or by
visiting the Memory Impairment Study Web site at:

DEAR ABBY: Some of my friends tend to be a bit immature at times, about both serious and
minor situations. I try to give good information if they don't know what to do, or if they're
considering something foolish to get through their crisis.

Is there a certain approach or a time that is best to give out my information so that they
take it as seriously as I would take it? -- KELLY IN PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y.

DEAR KELLY: Yes. The most unwelcome advice is that which is unasked for, so volunteer
your information only when asked. The exception would be a life-threatening situation.

CONFIDENTIAL TO MY JEWISH READERS: Happy Hanukkah, one and all!




DEAR ABBY: In the late '80s, I worked in the kitchen of a catering company. The hours were
long, the work was hard and the pay was minimal.

One day, the boss posted a letter on the bulletin board in the kitchen from a customer who
was delighted with the food, service and professionalism of our company. All of the
employees were thrilled that someone took the time to write a letter to compliment us.
That letter set the tone for a very long time. Whenever we felt overworked and underpaid,
all we would have to do was go over to the bulletin board and read the letter. Our spirits
and morale were automatically boosted.

Since then, whenever I encounter a product or service that I really enjoy, I take the time to
let them know it -- in writing.

If there is a company that is doing something right, a product that you really enjoy or a
person who is an angel in disguise, take the time to express to them, preferably in writing,
what you feel. Encourage them to keep up the good work, tell them what they do is
important, and thank them. It will make their day -- or year.

To all the bosses out there: Don't keep the letters in a file; put them where everyone can

DEAR READER: I couldn't agree more. A thank-you note or written word of praise takes so
little effort -- and yet it can make a tremendous difference. The written word is a powerful
medium that can be enjoyed over and over again, and speaks as eloquently of the writer as
it does the subject about which is being written.

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DEAR ABBY: After 34 years of marriage, I learned that my husband was cheating with a
woman three years older than our son.

The hurt was terrible and the embarrassment was horrendous. Not as much for me, but for
people who did not know how to console me. With a death, friends can be sorry and there is
closure. With a divorce, people do not know what to say.

My method for dealing with this was with humor. People were well aware of my hurt, but
when I replied, "He got the bimbo; I got the tractor," they were able to laugh and their
discomfort dissipated. My advice is to find a catch phrase that lightens the situation. You'll
still hurt and mourn, but your friends will be much more comfortable. The sooner you laugh,
the sooner you heal. -- MERILYN IN HOLLY, MICH.

DEAR MERILYN: Wise words, indeed.

DEAR ABBY: You were wise to advise the concerned family members to seek help for the
sister whom the mother was avoiding because of her newly unpleasant behaviors. However,
you were incorrect in your statement that she may have a mental illness or depression.
Abby, depression -- along with a whole host of other neurobiological brain disorders -- IS a

DEAR CYNTHIA: Thank you for pointing this out. Readers, NAMI (the National Alliance for
the Mentally Ill) is a nonprofit organization of more than 190,000 members that advocates
for research and services in response to major illnesses that affect the brain. Anyone
interested in learning more about mental illness is encouraged to call NAMI's helpline at
(800) 950-6264 or visit the Web site at




DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Happy to Lose the Lottery" is just another sign of the decline
of manners in our society. Co-workers were notified by e-mail that their names had been
"entered in a lottery," the winners of which would receive invitations to attend a "small but
poignant wedding." The writer had not been a winner, but was advised to send a gift

You asked readers if they cared to comment. I certainly do. My reply:

DEAR ELMER AND GLADYS: Like your wedding, my bank account is also a "small but
poignant affair," and due to the "physical nature" of cash-flow difficulties, I cannot send
gifts to all my friends and relatives.

Per your suggestion, I have "held a lottery with your name included, but alas, you were not
on the winners list." When my gift does not arrive, you will know you've invented a "most
equitable" solution for any "disappointment problem." I "thank you in absentia." -- MARTY

DEAR MARTY: You are a wit, and I'm sure your suggested response will bring a smile to
many faces. That letter generated a flood of mail from longtime readers, many of whom had
not been moved to pick up a pen and write to me before. Read on for a sample; I only wish
I could print more of them:

DEAR ABBY: When I read the "invitation" from Elmer and Gladys, my jaw dropped. Do you
think they actually expect a gift and a continuing friendship with those people? I don't think

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Perhaps it's punishment enough that their invitation would appear in your column. However,
I would send them a gift, all right -- a book on etiquette. They need to learn a thing or two.

DEAR ABBY: To ask for gifts from people who weren't even invited to the wedding is the
most tasteless thing I've ever heard. It's a blatant demand for gifts. I hope one of the gifts
they receive is an attitude adjustment! -- KAREN IN BARTOW, FLA.

DEAR ABBY: I don't know if this follows the Golden Rule, but it does answer the question,
"What are friends for?" This is my response to Elmer and Gladys:

DEAR FRIENDS: Sorry to learn we didn't win the lottery to attend your wedding. In order to
celebrate your good fortune, we decided to take the sum of nearly $500 we had saved for
your wedding gift and do the following:

We spent the money at a luxurious hotel where we had a three-course dinner and offered a
number of toasts in your honor with our favorite champagne in celebration of your future
happiness. When you return home, we'd be glad to tell you of all the kind thoughts we had
of you in absentia. If you'll take us out to dinner, we can discuss our good fortune. Best
wishes to you both. -- HERMAN IN CYPRESS, CALIF.

DEAR ABBY: How's this for a response, Abby? "Please don't worry about having to send us a
thank-you card for our gift. Since our PRESENCE at your wedding was not required, our
PRESENTS will not be forthcoming. Better luck next time!" -- MRS. B. IN L.A.

DEAR ABBY: The invitation from Elmer and Gladys was hilarious, and personally I wouldn't
have responded at all. I have known stranger announcements.

My parents received a wedding announcement from a couple that included a note on a

prescription pad from the doctor's office that said, "I certify that this girl was a virgin."

My thought on that was, "At one time, we ALL were virgins." -- ABBY FAN




DEAR ABBY: We all know that toddlers can get into everything, but while I was baby-sitting
my grandchildren, the little one did something I never would have imagined.
My son-in-law had taken my suitcase up to my room and placed it on the bed. Shortly after
that, I missed my granddaughter and went looking for her. I found her in my room with all
my pills strewn around her. She had unzipped the suitcase, unzipped the bag in which I
keep my medicine and removed all of the caps! Fortunately, she hadn't put any of my pills
in her mouth.

However, I would like to warn others about this and thought your column would be the best

DEAR CONCERNED: I'm sure your helpful reminder will be appreciated by those who carry
medications while traveling, or in a handbag on a daily basis. Small children are naturally
curious. Anything they shouldn't touch should be placed out of reach or in a child-proof

DEAR ABBY: This year my husband and I have sent the enclosed poem to all of our children
and their numerous offspring -- 28 at last count. We know it's difficult to select gifts for us,
and frankly, we don't need anything. We want to simplify our lives by having less "stuff."

Perhaps our little verse will help other senior citizens who feel as we do. It is original, but
feel free to use it if you think it's something your readers will find useful. -- LONGTIME

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DEAR LONGTIME READERS: Your delightful poem is well worth sharing, and I'm sure its
message will be appreciated by countless people of all ages who feel as you do. Read on:
So many of you asked us (since Yuletide's drawing near)

"What do you want for Christmas? What can we give this year?"

If we say, "We want nothing!" you buy something anyway,

So here's a list of what we'd like; believe now what we say:

Pajamas for a little child, food to feed the poor.

Blankets for a shelter, and we ask but little more --

Perform good deeds and let us know,

Or volunteer your time.

These last are worth a fortune,

And they needn't cost a dime.

We have too many things now, vases, candles, tapes and clocks.

We have our fill of garments, ties, underwear and socks.

Candy is too fattening, crossword books we've more than 20.

We don't need trays or plates or cups,

And knickknacks we have plenty.

We've no walls to hang more pictures;

We have books we've not yet read;

So please take what you'd spend on us

And help the poor instead!

Just send a Christmas card to us and tell us what you've done;

We'll open them on Christmas Eve, and read them one by one.

It won't cost as much for postage as a package sent would do,

You'll need no wrapping paper, ribbons, ink or glue.

And we'll thank God you listened to what we had to say,

So we could be the instruments to help someone this way.




DEAR ABBY: Your response to "Nameless Please" was shortsighted. (She was four months'
pregnant when she married, and had lied for 39 years about the date of the wedding.) You
advised her to say nothing now.

My half-sister, "Stella," gave birth to my niece "Lucy" 13 months before she married
"Wayne." Stella never named Lucy's biological father. The marriage lasted until Stella's
death 11 years ago.

Stella and Wayne (who was NOT Lucy's biological father) told Lucy they married two years
before they actually did -- making it appear that Lucy was conceived AFTER the wedding.

A few years after Stella died, my mother (Stella's stepmother) visited Wayne and essentially
browbeat him about the lie he and Stella had told about their wedding date, and how it
would affect Lucy when she eventually found out.

After Mother left, Wayne called Lucy in tears. Lucy raced to his home fearful of what was
wrong. Wayne began to tell Lucy the truth. When she realized what he was trying to say,
she stopped him. She had found her parents' marriage certificate more than 10 years
earlier. When she hosted their silver anniversary party, she knew then it had actually been
their 23rd. She didn't care!

Mr. and Mrs. Nameless should tell their children the truth, and give them an explanation of
what happened and why they lied about it. The climate was very different then. "Nice" boys
and girls didn't get pregnant before marriage.

The truth may save one of their grandchildren from falling into the trap the Namelesses fell
into. The virtue in their story is that they apparently have been faithful to each other all
their lives. They have nothing to be ashamed of -- and a great deal of which to be proud. --

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DEAR JOHN: When I told "Nameless" to let the past stay buried, I hoped to save them
embarrassment. Although pregnant brides are common in recent years, 40 years ago it was
still something to be concealed. Further, parents are usually uncomfortable discussing their
sexual adventures with their children -- clearly that was the case with the couple who wrote
to me.
Since I printed that letter, I have received many letters describing the pain caused by
parents keeping this secret from their children, stating that it was greater when it was
finally uncovered than it would have been had it been dealt with in a forthright manner.
Read on for yet another view:

DEAR ABBY: May I offer my thoughts to "Nameless, Please," who was concerned about
telling her children the real anniversary date, which had been hidden for 40 years?

Abby, their real anniversary date was the date they made a COMMITMENT to each other.

As I say in the wedding ceremonies I perform, "Marriage is an act of faith and a personal
commitment, as well as a moral and physical union between two people." When that
commitment is made, married life begins.

I applaud that couple for their faithfulness to each other. -- THE REV. MARILYNNE NEWMAN,

DEAR MARILYNNE NEWMAN: I know you are right. Your answer to that question is more
profound and comforting than the one I gave. Thank you for writing.




DEAR ABBY: My mother and stepfather would love to be the guardians of my children. My
children adore both of them. The problem is my mother has a drinking problem. She never
drinks during the day, or even every day. However, she entertains a lot, and when she
does, she often drinks too much and becomes loud and slurry. I consider her to be a binge
alcoholic and can recall incidents of her being drunk since I was 7.

I overcame my own alcohol and tobacco addictions because I wanted to do it for myself. I
felt it was important to set a good example for my children. I knew I couldn't expect them
to listen to me tell them not to drink and smoke when I indulged in both nasty habits.

Now that I am free of these substances, I don't know if I should approach my mother about
this issue. Should I tell her that I wouldn't want my children growing up in a household
where alcohol is used irresponsibly, and give her a chance to clean up her act and quit? Or
should I just not mention that I have selected someone else in my will to be my children's
guardian and let it be a surprise should the occasion arise?

Mother would become incredibly hostile and defensive if I bring up her drinking habits. I
want to stack all of the odds against my children becoming alcoholics, as it does run in the
family. My husband agreed that you would know how to handle this in the best way. --

DEAR STACKING: Your children must come first. Arrange for someone other than your
mother to be your children's guardian. Then contact Al-Anon and inquire about an
intervention program for her. With the help of an intervention team, talk to your mother
about her binge drinking and the effect it had on you while you were growing up.

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If she gets a handle on her problem, you can change your will at a later date. Perhaps it will
be an incentive for her to quit.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I decided to host a small but formal New Year's Eve party. I
called my neighbor to tell her, and to invite her and her family. She graciously offered lots
of help and proceeded to give me her guest list.

I politely told her that my husband and I were hosting the party. (I thought perhaps she
had misunderstood -- that she thought I had asked her to host the party jointly.) I
explained that we wanted to keep it small and limited to our close family and friends;
therefore I could extend the invitation only to her, her husband and their children. She
replied that she didn't think it was out of line to invite her own guests -- and that they
probably wouldn't show up anyway.

It has caused a lot of friction between us, and I have since canceled the party, which I really
didn't want to do. Can I still have the party but not invite them? They live right up the

DEAR A. DILEMMA: Just when I think I've heard everything, I receive a letter about a
neighbor like yours. To invite people to a party and assume they "probably won't show up
anyway" is foolish. What if they DO show up and you're not prepared for them?
Give the party, and allow me to be the first to wish you a happy, healthy new year. Make
one of your resolutions to have little to do with your nervy neighbor. It doesn't take a
crystal ball to predict she'll be angry when she learns she wasn't included.

P.S. Don't be surprised if they show up anyway.




DEAR ABBY: I'm a widow in my 60s, and I'm beginning to think I'm the biggest fool in the

After my dear husband died two years ago, I convinced myself I would never get involved
with another man. I needed peace after nursing my mate through five traumatic years of
cancer and a painful death.

A year ago, I met a charming man my age at church with whom I had many interests in
common. He asked me out right after we met, and we have been a happy twosome ever
since. He owns his own home a short distance from mine, and we've had a marvelous
relationship in all ways. He told me he was divorced and that his ex-wife lived 3,000 miles
away in another state.

However, after he told me that he had four unmarried, grown children but didn't feel
comfortable telling them about me, I became suspicious. When he visits them in another
state, he asks me not to write or call him because they "wouldn't understand." My children
and grandchildren like him very much, as do all my friends.

Finally, I asked him outright if he were, indeed, divorced. After a long pause he replied, "Not
yet." (After a eight-year separation!)

Noticing our friendship, church members began to approach me and advise me to back off
and not get hurt. I was told he had been involved with another woman at the church for a
long time before he met me, and that they had broken up for unknown reasons. The reason
for this occurred to me -- that she didn't want to be caught in a dead-end relationship,

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Abby, this man won't tell me straight, but I have this strong feeling that he cheated on his
wife during their marriage, and she simply moved far away. He keeps my calendar full of
dates and commitments extending far into the future, and I've always had a wonderful time
with him. This is apparently the kind of life he wants, but it's not for me.
I am embarrassed and hurt. Do I just say to him, "I want marriage or nothing"? I am so
emotionally entangled that an abrupt severing seems beyond my ability. Fragile as it is, I
feel that we have something of great value together, but I only visualize an empty future
together. Your thoughts, please. -- IN LIMBO IN WASHINGTON

DEAR IN LIMBO: Politely put, your charming escort is a cad and a liar, and I'm sorry your
heart is hurting because of his dishonesty. You deserve better.

Ask him to come clean and tell you if he and his wife are really washed up or not. You seem
like a lovely woman with terrific instincts, and you already know what you have to do.

DEAR ABBY: Here's another solution for the woman whose neighbor uses her hose and
water to water his own lawn and shrubs. Most faucet handles have a screw in the middle.
Even without the screw, you can use the faucet. And when you're done, the handle can be
removed and taken into the house. It worked for us. -- SHARON L., PUYALLUP, WASH.

DEAR SHARON: Thank you for a helpful suggestion. I hope it will help the woman who wrote
to stop the drip next door!




DEAR ABBY: I am an 18-year-old who has lived with a gay man ever since I was 6. I'll call
him Harold. My mother got tangled up with drugs and practically abandoned me and my
brother (who's now 22).

Abby, for the last 12 years of our lives we never saw Harold do anything but work hard and
come home to us. If he has a companion, we've never seen him. My brother is married and
has moved out with his wife and new son. I'm still living at home and am in my freshman
year of college -- which Harold is paying for.

There's only one problem. Some of my friends from college come to my house to study.
They have seen Harold and they ask questions about him. He has never been the
flamboyant type or the proud, outgoing kind -- so I tell them he is not gay, even though I
know he is.

Harold has never touched me or my brother in any kind of sexual manner. Abby, he has
been my mother, father, aunt, uncle, counselor and, most of all, my best friend. I love him
as though he were a blood relation and so does my brother. Should I keep lying to my
friends about him when they ask questions, or should I move to protect my reputation?
They think I should transfer to another college so people won't know about him raising me.
I love him, and the last thing I want to do is hurt him. Please help. -- TORN AND CONFUSED
DEAR TORN: Harold's sexual preferences are personal, and none of your curious "friends'"
business. Since you say he is not "out," I see no reason for you to reveal anything for him.
Tell your friends exactly what you told me -- that he is your mother, father, aunt, uncle,
counselor and -- most of all -- your best friend. Alternatively, you could call him a confirmed
bachelor. (It's certainly the truth!)

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Anyone who would imply that you should be ashamed of the way you were raised is
speaking out of ignorance, is not your friend, and is not worthy of your time. You have a
rare and beautiful relationship. Don't sacrifice it out of fear of what others might say. If
you're happy living at home and attending college, you should remain there.

DEAR ABBY: "Ed in Long Island" sent you a list of reasons why gay people need to talk
about being gay.

I would like to add some thoughts because people need to talk about problems if we are
ever going to put an end to discrimination.

1. Women had to talk about their right to vote before it became a reality.

2. Black people had to talk about discrimination against them before they secured civil

3. Workers had to talk about their problems before they secured decent pay and other

4. Jewish people had to keep talking about the terrible crimes of the Holocaust to make sure
it never happens again (and don't forget, gay people were killed along with the Jews in the

I'm sure others can think of other examples of the need to talk to put a check on
discrimination, prejudice, bigotry and hate. -- DORTHA HARNED, TERRE HAUTE, IND.

DEAR DORTHA: Indeed they can -- and I hope they do. Unless people talk about
discrimination, there is a tendency to sweep it under the carpet and ignore its presence.



DEAR ABBY: I am a widow and the mother of 10 children. I live in an older house that
occasionally needs repairs. My children refuse to do work around my house and suggest I
sell it or hire a handyman. Handymen are not easy to find for small jobs, and I like where I
live and do not want to move.

I was very good to my own mother and did her every bidding. My children say children don't
do that anymore. All I ask is that each one give me one or two days a year. They are good
to me in many other ways, but as long as I'm on a roll, I wish they'd ask me out to dinner
more often.

Do children have any responsibility toward older parents? I promise to abide by your reply.
If I am wrong, I'll never mention it again. -- "SIS" THE NAG, HICKORY HILLS, ILL.

DEAR "SIS": Of course children have a responsibility toward their parents. However, what
that means may differ from family to family, and should be mutually agreed upon by
everyone concerned. It appears that your children are living busy, complicated lives. If they
won't listen to you, Sis, they're not likely to listen to me either. That means you may have
to solve this problem without their help.

You would be wise to listen more closely to what your children are trying to say to you.
Since you are unable to keep your house in good repair by yourself, perhaps it IS time to
sell it and move to a condominium or an assisted-living facility for active seniors. It would
solve BOTH of your problems because a staff maintains the premises, and there is also a
pool of people with whom to socialize without having to depend on your children. Please
don't nix it until you have thoroughly checked out what is available in your area.

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DEAR ABBY: I am a 32-year-old mother of two, and yes, I am married. This is my second
marriage, and we've been together for seven long years. My husband is a drunk. He does
work two jobs, but when he's home on the weekends, he stays drunk.

At first, I didn't mind being the adult. (I thought it was my job.) But it has gotten really old,
and I'm tired of it.

I know that if I leave, my husband will make it hard on me, and he'll tell the kids more than
they should know. They are 11 and 5. The kids have seen and been through enough
already. How can I leave if he's going to put the children through this? I'm not sure how this
should be handled. -- STUCK IN THE SUNSHINE STATE

DEAR STUCK: Your husband appears to be what is called a "functional alcoholic." Before you
do anything else, attend some meetings of Al-Anon. Al-Anon, an offshoot of Alcoholics
Anonymous, assists spouses and families of alcoholics and is listed in the telephone book --
or you can call directory assistance for the number. There you will find people like yourself
who may be able to help you change the way you react to your husband's problem. It could
save your marriage.

If the marriage is really over, before you leave, explain to your children what is coming and
the fact that their father is going to be angry about it and will say things that are untrue and
that he doesn't really mean. Reinforce that message as necessary.




DEAR ABBY: This letter is for "Manny in Las Vegas," who wanted to buy a computer for his
grandson but his wife argued against it. She felt he wouldn't need one until he was ready
for college. She couldn't be more wrong.

I am the mother of three children, two of them in high school. Students today use
computers to write papers, just like we used typewriters when we were in school. My two
high schoolers use our computer two or three nights a week to complete their homework
assignments. In fact, their high school requires that the students complete a keyboarding
course as a requirement for graduation.

Computers are part of our children's future. The younger they learn how to use them, the
easier it will be for them. -- SUSAN IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR SUSAN: I agree that young children are "wired" to learn more easily than adults. They
are also less likely to be technophobic. (Ask anyone who has had to ask his or her children
how to program the VCR!) Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am 12 years old. When I was 10, my parents bought the family a computer. I
have loved every minute of it. I have my own Web page, but I also have time for school,
family and friends. If Manny's wife thinks the computer is a bad idea for their grandson, she
should look at me! -- MELISSA IN PHOENIX

DEAR MELISSA: You're right, and you're also an articulate young lady. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I read with interest the letter from the grandfather who wanted to buy his
grandson a computer. I had the same idea, but I held off buying a computer until my son
entered -- kindergarten!

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When he was in first grade and needed reading assistance, I bought reading-oriented
programs that he looked forward to using, then math, then science and also spelling. He
was able to play educational games on the computer because we held out until last year to
buy him video games (although all of his friends had a set). My son is in the third grade
now, and our computer is, of course, outdated, but I am very happy with our decision.

It was not necessary for him to have a home computer, because his school has a computer
class, and even at 6, my son would help his dad negotiate our computer. I hear from friends
with older children that they do quite a bit of their homework assignments or research on
their home computers.

In my opinion, computers would be an enhancement for a child of any age, and the
grandfather should purchase one for his grandson. -- AMBER IN OVILLA, TEXAS

DEAR AMBER: I have a stack of letters on my desk from people of all ages who agree with
you. Computer literacy has become a necessary survival skill -- although like any other
technology, children's use of it should be supervised by the parents.

DEAR READERS: If I could give young people only one piece of advice, it would be: read,
read, read!

In reading, you will open up new worlds, real and imagined. Read for information, read for
pleasure. Our libraries are filled with knowledge and joy, and it's all there -- free for the

The person who does not read is no better off than the person who CANNOT read.



DEAR ABBY: I have been divorced for a year. My ex and I are no longer speaking. I recently
found our wedding album. What should I do with it?

I'm thinking of keeping it because it contains fun pictures from my past. Or perhaps I'll send
it to her parents because the wedding was held in their home. Any ideas? -- MICHAEL IN

DEAR MICHAEL: Call and ask your former in-laws if they'd like to have the album. If they
say yes, make a copy of the pictures you would like to keep and send the album to them. If
the answer is no, keep the album for yourself. But don't be surprised if your next wife
prefers that you keep it out of sight or in storage.

DEAR ABBY As the author of three wedding books, I was truly appalled at how "Happy to
Lose the Lottery's" co-worker handled informing her that she was not to be invited to her

Brides often ask me how to handle letting people know that they won't be invited to the
wedding. I always suggest that, whatever the reason, they tell people in person (or over the
phone or in a written note) that although they would love to invite them, there are reasons
why they can't. They can say, "We're going off to our cabin in Wisconsin for a private
ceremony," or as was stated in the first half of the message that "Happy" received, "Due to
the physical nature of the wedding space, there will not be enough space for all the friends
and relatives we would dearly love to invite."

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In fact, that bride was on the right track in the message she sent -- and if that had been
ALL she'd said, I doubt "Happy to Lose" would have been so upset. But to create a "lottery"
and then inform people that they were "losers" was really uncalled for. And then to tell
someone to send a gift, for which he or she would be thanked "in absentia," was truly over
the top. -- LEAH INGRAM, NEW HOPE, PA.

DEAR LEAH: You put it far more politely than most of the people who responded to that
item. However, some readers not only were offended at the idea of the lottery, they also
found the format of the announcement offensive. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: If I had received an e-mail from "Elmer" and "Gladys" announcing that I had
lost their "lottery" and that I would be thanked for my anticipated gift "in absentia," I would
have sent the following form letter in return:
DEAR FRIENDS: We were thrilled to learn of your significant life event through your
announcement, invitation, letter, phone call or e-mail. We offer our heartfelt congratulations
on your engagement, marriage, birth of your child, new home, anniversary, birthday,
confirmation or graduation, or any of these accomplishments on the part of any of your
children. How happy and proud you must be!

We must inform you that we have chosen to live an extravagant lifestyle even beyond our
already affluent means. Unfortunately, this leaves us with no money to buy gifts for all the
friends and relatives we would dearly love to honor on their special occasions. Therefore,
you will not be receiving any gift from us, other than our good wishes. -- DORENE IN L.A.

P.S. Tasteless is as tasteless does!




DEAR ABBY: I disagree emphatically with your responses to Father Francesco of Newark and
to "Worried About My Friend," who was concerned that her friend was entering into a bad
marriage and did not want to be in the wedding.

Fifteen years ago last week, I was in that same predicament. Wedding invitations had been
sent; the arrangements had been made. Two weeks before the wedding, a friend pulled me
aside and told me to think hard about my decision and search my heart to be sure this was
right for me. My friend reminded me that I had invited only people I cared about -- and who
cared about me -- to the wedding, and should I realize the wedding would be a mistake,
they would support me.

I canceled the wedding. Friends and family who had made nonrefundable reservations came
anyway and were there to support me on what would have been my wedding day.

The experience made me realize that I lacked the tools to make a good choice for a lifelong
mate. I got some help, and have been married 10 years to a wonderful man. If most brides
won't listen -- so what? The friend just might save one life -- and you don't know unless you

DEAR GRATEFUL: I've received quite a scolding from readers who agree with you and
Father Francesco and say I've missed the boat. I'm inclined to agree. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I've been down this road, and "Worried About My Friend" should know it's
never too late. Not all brides are so hypnotized by wedding bells they don't comprehend
their own situation, even as they shove aside inner fears and don a happy face.

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When confronted, I had already spent days smiling for the world and nights sobbing alone in
a locked bathroom. Thankfully, my sister and father invited me to a pre-wedding lunch and
showed me a clipping from your column. The article contained "15 Reasons to Leave Your
Lover," signs of an abusive mate. My fiance exhibited 11 of those red flags. Two weeks
before my wedding, and with the support of family, friends and your column, I called it off.

Please tell your readers not to underestimate the power of friendship and love. When we fail
to speak out against something we know is wrong, we unwittingly condone it. -- HAWKEYE

DEAR HAWKEYE GAL: I know you're right. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: A long time ago, one of my best friends was engaged. Her gown was hanging
in the closet when I found out her fiance had been sleeping with someone else. I knew I
could lose a very good friend by speaking up, but I also knew I couldn't live with myself if I
said nothing. I told her. The wedding was canceled. Her wedding dress was sold and the
invitations were thrown in the trash. However, all the bridesmaids were there to support her
through her tears, and she later met a wonderful, faithful man to whom she's been married
for more than 10 years. -- I'D DO IT AGAIN, CORVALLIS, ORE.

DEAR I'D DO IT AGAIN: You did the right thing. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I'm one of your male readers. A friend of mine once went through with the
wedding because the hall had been paid for by his fiancee's father, and "if I called it off, he
would kill me."

Today he is homeless and his wife is raising three children on her own. -- NEIL FROM NEW

DEAR NEIL: The lesson may be, "When in doubt, say 'I don't think so' instead of 'I do.'"




DEAR ABBY: I need some advice on how to handle a sticky situation with my in-laws. My
husband's father carries a concealed handgun in his pocket, and in addition to this, his wife
carries one in her purse. My father-in-law is in his early 70s, and it was not until recently
that I learned they carried these loaded weapons everywhere they go. This includes our

We have a child under the age of 1, and I am so afraid that the gun may go off while my
father-in-law is holding our child. The other possibility is that it may go off in a public place.
My father-in-law does have a concealed gun permit, but the thought of his gun going off by
accident and injuring our child or someone else has really upset me.

My husband says if it bothers me, I should say something to his father. How should I bring
this up to the in-laws if my husband will not talk to his dad about this?

I really do want to have a good relationship with my in-laws, but guns in my home or
around my child at any time will not be tolerated. Please help! -- DESPERATE IN DALLAS

DEAR DESPERATE: Tell your pistol-packing in-laws that the world may be a dangerous and
scary place, but they are safe when they are in the confines of your home. Then do what
any saloon keeper in the Old West would do to safeguard the customers: Insist that they
check their weapons at the door and put them in a place the toddler cannot possibly reach
or get into.

DEAR ABBY: This letter is in response to the one you printed from the woman who signed
herself "Lost in a Dream," who dreamed repeatedly about a former boyfriend.

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I can relate to her. When I was 13, I met my "first love." He was the same age. We lived 30
minutes from each other, but we corresponded through letters and saw each other at
monthly youth functions. It lasted more than a year.

Because of circumstances beyond our control, we were forced to part. It was one of the
hardest things I ever did. Neither one of us wanted to break it off, but it was something I
just had to do. I saw him for the first time in about 10 years four years ago. It was very
nice to see him again, but it brought back a lot of memories.
Now, 15 years from the time we broke up, I'm married and so is he. Like "Lost in a Dream,"
I have a wonderful marriage. But every so often I think of him and dream about him, and
wonder "What if?" He was very special to me. Some people call it "puppy love," but it was
real to me. And for a 14-year-old, that was all that mattered.

I want to tell "Lost in a Dream" that she is not alone. She is not a bad person for this.
Anything can trigger dreams. I am just relieved to know that I am not the only person who
experiences this. Thanks, Abby, for printing that letter. -- RELIEVED IN ORLANDO, FLA.

DEAR RELIEVED: You're welcome. I have a stack of letters from readers echoing your
message to "Lost in a Dream." Dreams of a former romance are nothing to lose sleep over.
However, if they are causing anxiety, it can't hurt to talk them over with a professional.




DEAR ABBY: On my way to work today, I followed a pickup truck with a beautiful husky dog
in the back. As we sped along, he moved anxiously from one side of the truck to the other.
Suddenly, the dog jumped out, hit the pavement and began tumbling out of control. I was
driving a full-size van at 60 mph. I slammed on the brakes and was able to keep from
running over the poor animal.

I pulled off the road and saw the dog had gotten up and was hobbling across the grassy
median toward oncoming traffic. Fortunately, I was able to coax the animal into my arms
and I held him until the driver of the pickup returned. I will never forget his stupid
explanation: "Why, he has never done this before!" It took all my willpower to keep from
smacking the driver up against the side of his head.

Please, Abby, pass this story on to everyone. If just one person reads it and decides to keep
his or her pet inside the cab with them, it will have been worth it. -- JOHN C., DAYTON,

DEAR JOHN: Thank you for an important letter. Not only should pets not be allowed to ride
in the back of a pickup truck, neither should human beings. As your story illustrates,
animals can be unpredictable. And should the driver get into an accident, there is absolutely
no protection for the passengers in the back.

DEAR ABBY: I go to garage sales every Saturday and generally come across some
interesting items. I found the enclosed "Death Cookbook Recipe" in a set of cards from
1966, put together by the Missouri Avenue Baptist Church, Clearwater, Fla. It is amazing
that 30 years later, the problem still exists.

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If you feel it is worth sharing with your readers, please print it. I found it very interesting. --

DEAR BARBARA: It's definitely worth printing, particularly during the holiday season when
people are "partying." Read on:


Take: 1 reckless, natural-born fool

3 drinks of whiskey

1 fast automobile

Soak the fool in the whiskey, place in the automobile, then let go.

After due time, remove from the wreckage. Place in a satin box and garnish with flowers.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I just moved to Michigan from a Southern state because of his
job. I had to leave mine, and I want to find new employment here. However, I am 17 weeks

If I interview for a job, should I tell my prospective employer of my pregnancy then, or wait
until I receive an offer? I am not showing yet. -- NEEDS TO KNOW ASAP

DEAR NEEDS TO KNOW: You are not required by law to inform prospective employers that
you are pregnant. If they withdraw an offer because they learn that you are pregnant, they
are in violation of fair employment practices.

If you're 17 weeks pregnant, they are going to see soon enough. Enjoy your "New
Millennium" baby!




DEAR ABBY: I am a medical student near graduation. In my admittedly brief experience in

the local hospitals, I have already seen the damage alcohol and drugs can wreak on a life
and the many relationships it poisons. Too often it takes a dramatic, life-threatening and
socially costly event to provide a patient "insight" into his problem.
In June 2000, I will receive my medical license. I wrote the following in the selfish hope that
it will keep me from having to deliver this bitter news, even for just one night. The words in
quotes are my spoken words. The words in parentheses are what I'm really thinking. --

DEAR HEALER: The short essay you have written is sobering and thought-provoking. I hope
its message will reach those who need to heed it -- and remind them to set limits on the
amount they imbibe. Read on:

"I realize you must be upset, Mrs. ____." (But you can only imagine how frustrated I am by
this daily occurrence.)

"I am calling to inform you of your son's admission to the hospital." (Where we still haven't
figured out why people do this to themselves.)

"As I understand it, the paramedics were called" (to a party where no one was sober
enough to explain what happened) "and were required to administer CPR in order to revive
your son's heart." (While his friends continued their drunken reveling, undisturbed.)

"He is currently on a machine to assist in his ventilation." (Because he drank so much he

stopped breathing.)

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"His brain suffered a significant period of anoxia." (And if he ever wakes up, he can never
have his life back.)

"His condition is serious, but he is receiving expert care." (I wish I could tell you just how
worried you should be!)
DEAR ABBY: I am a strict Catholic who does not believe in "kinky" activities. It was my
second date with a seemingly conservative gentleman. Everything was going well, so I felt
comfortable holding hands with him -- until he proceeded to stick my pointer-finger in his
mouth. We had just come from dinner, so he couldn't possibly have been hungry!

What are your thoughts on this situation? -- SHOCKED IN PITTSBURGH

DEAR SHOCKED: It could have been worse. At least he wasn't a thumb-sucker.

Never do anything you're not comfortable doing. There are men out there who will respect
you just the way you are. If he's not for you, fix him up with a nail-biter. They'll think they
died and went to heaven.




DEAR ABBY: Since it's the holiday season, your readers might enjoy the encounter I had
with a last-minute holiday shopper years ago.

It was five minutes before closing time on Christmas Eve. I worked in the lingerie
department of a major St. Louis department store. The regular employees were balancing
and closing their cash registers, so I was the only seasonal employee left on the floor. As
the closing announcement was sounding, my supervisor directed me to wait on a young
man who had hurriedly entered the department.

To each of my questions regarding cost, size, style or color, his reply was, "Doesn't matter.
Just one of everything that amounts to $200." I then selected panties, slip, nightgown and a
negligee in medium sizes and neutral colors. After boxing the items and ringing up the sale,
I wished him a happy holiday and hoped that his wife would like the gifts.

He replied: "Doesn't matter. She'll return them unopened; she just wants to see the sales
receipt to see how much I spent on her."

Abby, the entire transaction took 15 minutes and gave me a humorous story to tell my
waiting family. The gifts I received that year were praised to the skies and not one was
returned. A lesson learned. -- SHIRLEY IN CAPE CORAL, FLA.

DEAR SHIRLEY: Thank you for sharing. More than a few people can benefit from that lesson.

DEAR ABBY: I liked the letter from "Knowing in the Northwest" regarding depression.
However, I wish you had made the point that there is a difference between emotional
depression, which usually happens in response to an unfortunate event (such as death or
divorce), and biochemical depression, which is often genetic and usually requires medication
to be fully treated.

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The misunderstanding about the differences between these two conditions is widespread.

I have had polar depression for more than 30 years. I am doing well on medication and am
very grateful for this. However, I am tired of people who do not understand that there is
such a thing as biochemical depression.

People repeatedly ask what is depressing me. When I reply that I am not depressed ABOUT
anything, and that the problem is biochemical, they insist that isn't possible. These same
people understand that diabetics need to take insulin because their bodies do not produce
or properly use it. Why can't they comprehend that there are people who need
antidepressants because their bodies are lacking a chemical?

Abby, please do all of us who suffer from polar depression or bipolar depression a great
service by informing the public that some forms of depression are purely medical in origin.
Anyone who thinks otherwise is stuck in the misinformed thinking of 20 years ago, when
getting in touch with your feelings was thought to cure all emotional ailments. I tried that.
It simply didn't work for polar depression. -- ALSO KNOWING IN SUNNYVALE, CALIF.

DEAR ALSO KNOWING: I agree there is much confusion about emotional depression and
biochemical depression. However, after reading your letter, I'm sure there will be much less
confusion. You have explained the difference very well.




DEAR ABBY: What do you do when your daughter's ex-boyfriend continues to call you and
ask for information about her personal life and activities?

After two years of dating, "Anna" ended the relationship. There were vast differences in
their maturity and goals, and she had been unhappy for some time. Our family always
welcomed him into our home, and I think because of this, he feels that I'll sympathize with

I have told him that I cannot and will not give out information that is no longer his concern,
yet he continues to call. He cries and tells me how much he loves her, that he cannot live
without her. This is beginning to frighten me, as I have seen him driving down our street
late at night with the headlights turned off. He is not a teen-ager; he is 24. My daughter
insists that he would never harm her, but his denial of reality makes me very concerned. --

DEAR WORRIED MOM: The next time he calls and cries, tell him that the signals he's
sending out are not those of "love" but obsession. Tell him that he has been seen driving by
with his lights off, and it's not a sign of devotion; it could be considered stalking. Explain
that you are concerned about him because his behavior isn't normal, and if he's unable to
accept reality, he should seek professional counseling. If he persists, consider getting caller
ID -- and notify the police about the drive-bys.

DEAR ABBY: I am in love with a 44-year-old man I'll call "Mark." He was a guest for about
five months here at the hotel where I work. Mark would stay here Monday through Friday
and go home every weekend. His job transfer was the reason he was staying here. After he
sold his home, he planned to move closer to here.

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Well, a few days ago Mark got promoted, and now he has to work in Detroit. He lives only a
couple of hours from Detroit, so he might not have to sell his house after all. The bad thing
is, not only is Mark working in Detroit, he also has a wife.

I know this whole thing is wrong, but I love him. He promised to leave me his pager and cell
phone numbers when he left, but he didn't. In fact, my boss was the one who told me that
he got the new job and would never be back again. Mark and I saw each other for most of
his stay here, and I miss him so much. I don't know why he left the way he did or why he
hasn't even called. I have a boyfriend, and he happens to like Mark. (He doesn't know about

I have Mark's address and telephone number at home, but I can't call because of his wife.
I'm in the process of making plans to move to Detroit just so I can be near him. Abby, I
love Mark and will do anything just to see his face and hear his voice -- even if it's for the
last time. What should I do? -- MISSING MARK IN MICHIGAN

DEAR MISSING MARK: A man who cared about you and respected your feelings would not
have left it to your boss to tell you about his promotion and the fact that he wasn't

Not only are you missing Mark, you also seem to be missing the entire picture. Face it, my
dear -- you've been dumped.



DEAR ABBY: Please print my letter about volunteering on suicide prevention/crisis hotlines.

Suicide affects most of us at some time in our lives. Most of us know someone who has
considered suicide, attempted it or killed himself or herself. While it is a challenge to talk
with someone about suicide, doing so opens communication in an amazing way. It is an
enriching experience for both the person in crisis and the volunteer. I hope the U.S. surgeon
general's recent statements on this issue will draw nationwide attention to its importance.
There IS something that can be done about it -- become a volunteer! Contact your local
suicide prevention/crisis hotline and find out how. -- A VOLUNTEER IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR VOLUNTEER: Your letter is an important one. I'm often asked to recommend worthy
causes to which people can donate time or money. I can think of no more meaningful way
to fill one's extra time than by literally saving the lives of others. It takes some time and
training to become a hotline volunteer; however, the emotional payoff is beyond

DEAR ABBY: Here's how we solved the "appropriate gift" problem for our elderly parents.

Knowing that my mother-in-law was having difficulty keeping her house cleaned
(vacuuming, floor scrubbing, etc.), we decided to give them one gift that would last all year.
We eliminated Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthday, anniversary and Christmas presents,
and instead hired someone to come into their home and clean it once a month. My husband,
his sister and I pay for the service each month.

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We lost my mother-in-law last year, and the day after her funeral, my father-in-law asked if
we could continue the service because it was so very much appreciated.

No longer do I have to wrack my brain to buy something I'm not sure would be wanted or

DEAR ANN: I can't think of a more practical gift. Thanks for an ingenious solution to a
problem that crops up every year. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: A reader asked you how to stop elderly relatives from sending useless gifts
without hurting their feelings.

I would suggest that the reader tell them how much a record of their own history and
personal recollections would mean to younger members of the family. These stories could
be written or taped, but should always be identified as to who the person is and all the
proper dates. They could also be recorded in installments and given on various gift-giving
occasions. Many families would deeply appreciate such gifts. Historical societies could no
doubt help the elderly with suggestions, if needed.

My mother was born in the late 1800s to pioneer parents. I am grateful that she allowed me
to tape her recollections of her parents as well as her own experiences. Many children and
other relatives would appreciate similar gifts. -- HARRIET FROM TAMPA

DEAR HARRIET: That's a terrific suggestion. A collection of written recollections would make
a unique bound volume after a few years -- and the collection of tapes becomes a one-of-a-
kind library or oral history.




DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter from "Concerned Counselor in Virginia Beach," who
wrote about the problem he was having with teen-aged girls who saw no harm in "huffing"
(sniffing glue from a spray can) to get high, I had to write. He asked you for names of
celebrities who have died from drug overdoses, which you provided for him in abundance
because, sadly, some celebrities, like some teen-agers, think nothing will ever happen to

Let me tell you a story about a REGULAR person who happened to be my 16-year-old
brother. Twenty-nine years ago (yes, I still keep count) my brother, unbeknownst to me,
was experimenting with ways to get high. He tried huffing. I was in college at the time. On
March 16, four days before my 20th birthday, I got a phone call at 3 a.m. telling me that
my only brother had died. I was devastated. It was the worst time in my life. I still think
about it every March 16.

I grew up real quick that week. Not only did I help my dad arrange the funeral because
Mom was totally unable, but a few weeks later, I came home for spring break. I opened the
door of his bedroom where he had died to find that it had not been cleaned since his death.
It was not a pretty sight. I called my dearest friend, who lived five hours away at the time,
and told her. She was there the next morning. We dealt with cleaning up the blood he had
coughed up while his lungs were hemorrhaging and no one could do anything to help. To
this day, she is my dearest friend, even though we have not lived in the same city for 31

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I deeply regret that my brother never got to grow up, live his life, get married and have
children of his own to love. I have always regretted that my children never had the chance
to meet and know their wonderful Uncle Mark.

If today's teen-agers feel the need to get high, please let them know this is not the way to
do it. Huffing kills! -- DEBBY BENSON, WILMETTE, ILL.

DEAR DEBBY: I offer my deepest sympathy for the loss of your beloved younger brother. I
join you in the fervent hope that the story of his tragic, senseless death will serve as a
warning to teens who mistakenly believe that "huffing" is a harmless pastime. Thank you for

DEAR ABBY: I had to giggle when I read the letter from the reader complaining about the
Christmas gifts they had received in years past. It reminded me of a feminist joke. If you
like it, feel free to print it. -- BURLESON, TEXAS, READER

DEAR READER: It's cute, and I'm sure many people will enjoy it. Read on:


If on the first Christmas, the three wise men had been women, they would have asked for
directions, arrived on time, cleaned the stable, helped deliver the baby, made a casserole
and brought PRACTICAL gifts.




DEAR ABBY: I read with interest the letter from "Wishing for Comfortable Shoes" and
wondered why the mother of the bride is dictating what the bride should be wearing. This is
the bride and groom's special day -- not the mother's. Mother needs to lighten up, or she
not only will spoil the bride's entire day, but also everyone at the affair will notice how
miserable the bride is. That's not a healthy way to start off a marriage.

I married 3 1/2 years ago. I wore a beautiful white dress with plain white sneakers, and
replaced the shoelaces with blue ribbon that matched the dresses worn by my bridesmaids.
And I was comfortable the entire day. -- COMFORTABLE IN DELAWARE

DEAR COMFORTABLE: I received a bushel of mail from like-minded, practical women such
as you. I hope the bride-to-be sees this column and heeds what you -- and they -- have to
say. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Whenever I'm invited to a bridal shower, or hear of an upcoming wedding, I
not only buy the happy couple a shower gift, I also take the time to decorate some plain
white lace-up sneakers with ribbons, lace, roses and bows to match the color of the bride's
dress. I also enclose a little poem. It's a special and personal gift for the bride to keep
forever. (It gets many ooohs and ahhhs from everyone who attends the shower.)

I am the mother of three daughters, and I'll make sure that their wedding will be what they
choose, not what I choose. -- PAM T. IN DANIELSVILLE, GA.

DEAR PAM T.: You have hit upon a terrific idea for a shower gift. You must be a very
talented lady. Read on:

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DEAR ABBY: I have been a professional wedding photographer for more than 15 years. I
have seen every kind of footwear, from cowboy boots to simulated "glass" slippers.

A few weeks ago, one of my clients came up with a clever solution to the wedding-day shoe
dilemma. The bride wore traditional dress shoes for the ceremony, but before the couple left
the reception, she changed into a pair of adorable white sneakers that her mother had
hand-decorated with lace, sequins and beads. (She applied them using a glue gun.) The
photo we took of mother and daughter with those shoes is one of their favorites. Those who
noticed them at the reception thought it was a great idea.

I hope that "Wishing's" mom will loosen up. The best thing any bride can do for herself is
wear comfortable shoes. -- DALLAS WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

DEAR DALLAS: I agree. One reader told me she wore Isotoner slippers that matched her
gown. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Your advice to "Wishing for Comfortable Shoes in Parsippany, N.J." should
have been, "Elope!" A mother as selfish, self-centered and inconsiderate as she is should be
left holding the high heels.

Whose wedding is it, anyway? -- ELAINE T., PORTLAND, ORE.

DEAR ELAINE: I think we all know the answer to that question. But don't be so hard on the
mother. Almost every woman who gives birth to a daughter has a fantasy of how she'd like
her daughter's wedding day to be. "Wishing's" mother is just having a little trouble letting
go of her dream. I'm willing to bet that after she sees this column she'll compromise.

CONFIDENTIAL TO EDWARD JAY: Happy birthday, son. Your father and I are so very proud
of you.




DEAR ABBY: I would like to share something special with you. What began as a simple little
experiment to give me insight into the people around me ended up giving me more than
just the warm fuzzies.

I asked some of those I work with and some close friends to answer the following question
with the first thing that came to mind. I asked it exactly as stated with no emphasis on any
one particular word: "If you could do any one thing in the world, what would it be?" Some of
the answers were amusing. My co-workers answered: "Turn invisible." "Lose 50 pounds."
"Educate the world." "I'd rule the world."

My friends answered: "Feel better about myself." "Feed the world" "Become a millionaire."

I asked my boyfriend of five months at the time the same question. Without hesitation, he
answered, "I would give you a working pancreas." My jaw dropped, my heart melted and
my eyes filled with tears. You see, Abby, I have had type II diabetes for nearly 10 years.
Thankfully, I am very well controlled and healthy, yet he knows that the daily rituals that
control my life will never go away.

I think I have finally met a man with my best interest at heart. How could I not love
someone with such unselfish kindness? Maybe there is hope for the world after all! -- LANA

DEAR LANA A.: You picked yourself a Georgia peach, honey. Hang onto him -- he's a

DEAR ABBY: Yet one more letter about tolerance. Can we not be great Americans and still
hold onto ethnic traditions? Why do we have to be a melting pot? Why do we need to shed
our backgrounds in order to be true Americans?

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There are so many wonderful, beautiful and enriching traditions, and if we open ourselves to
learning about them, we can only grow in our acceptance and appreciation of all people.
Tolerance means the acceptance of individuals as they are, not as we necessarily want them
to be.

I choose to believe that our founding fathers wanted America to be a place where all are
welcome, not just those who are like us. Good citizenship does not require the shedding of
our backgrounds. Good citizenship means accepting each other and working together for the
betterment of us all. -- ANDELA IN LOVELAND, OHIO

DEAR ANDELA: Of course we can be great Americans and still hold onto our ethnic
traditions. However, this country would be stronger if everyone who immigrates here
became proficient in the English language. And while our various cultural traditions are
important in defining who we are, I think it is important to define ourselves as Americans
first, rather than calling ourselves "hyphen-Americans," which separates us rather than
unites us as a nation. It's a matter of priorities.

DEAR ABBY: I have a neighbor who tells visitors to remove their shoes before entering
because she has a light-colored carpet.

I, for one, don't like it. What should I do in this situation? -- WONDERING IN COLORADO

DEAR WONDERING: Either walk on your hands or stay home!



DEAR ABBY: I recently divorced my husband of nine years because I found out he was
having an affair. He actually introduced her to people that we both knew. I ended up hiring
an off-duty police officer so I could get the proof (pictures). It turned out she was one of my
husband's co-workers, and the affair had been going on for three years. I ended up
divorcing him, but the woman's husband decided to forgive her.

My ex hates my guts because she chose to remain with her husband.

Abby, I am so ashamed. How could I not have known? We had not slept together since our
daughter was born; she is 6 years old now. He blames the whole affair on me. He says I
was not doing my wifely duty and that's what made him cheat. Well, I just didn't feel that
close to him. He had been verbally and physically abusive prior to our daughter's birth and
afterward. He was terrible to my parents and called them names. He never paid any bills
nor helped me with our daughter.

To this day he hates me so much he can't stand to look at me because he has to pay child
support. He has every other weekend with our daughter, and it kills him to come and pick
her up. He was a sorry excuse for a husband and not much better as a father.

The problem is -- if he wanted to come back, I believe I would take him back. Why do I feel
like this? Is there something wrong with me? Do I need counseling? -- DAZED AND

DEAR DAZED: Your husband was a master manipulator. Regardless of where he tries to lay
the blame, the physical and verbal abuse you received from him was not your fault. Nor did
you "make" him cheat on you -- he managed that all by himself.

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One of the tactics of an abuser is blaming the victim for the terrible things he does.
Unfortunately, the victim often believes her abuser when he says she "made" him act the
way he did.

There is nothing "wrong" with you that can't be fixed. Counseling is the answer -- and the
sooner the better. If your physician cannot refer you to a therapist, call the Domestic
Violence Hotline, (800) 799-7233, for a referral. (The TDD line for people with hearing
impairments is (800) 787-3224.) Please don't wait to make the call.

DEAR ABBY: The letters in your column about people who wear too much perfume in public
prompts this letter.
Some years ago, faced with an identical crisis, I discovered a fix that has stood me well in
the numerous olfactory confrontations I've encountered since. When assaulted by odors I
can't endure, I obtain a small wedge of lemon or lime. When rubbed under the nose, the
resulting citrus aroma effectively masks the sickeningly sweet smell of the perfume. The
application of the lemon slice can be done inconspicuously if one doesn't wish to embarrass
the offender, or can be done blatantly if one wishes the odor-wafter to become aware of the
problem he or she is causing. -- EARLE TIMBERLAKE, B.S.C., REGISTERED MASSAGE

DEAR EARLE: Thank you for the tip. For people who are simply offended by the odor of too
much perfume, your suggestion could prove to be a godsend. For those who suffer allergic
reactions to perfume, however, I still think prudence would dictate that they put as much
distance between them and the offender as possible.

CONFIDENTIAL TO MY READERS: Have a merry Christmas, but keep this in mind: If you're
drinking, don't drive; if you're driving, don't drink.




DEAR ABBY: I have been reading the letters in your column about acts of kindness, and I'd
like to tell you about the young man who saved my husband from drowning. Please don't
reveal my name if this is printed. My husband is embarrassed about the incident.

He and I were on vacation in Hawaii and went snorkeling at 8 a.m., something we had done
many times before. However, this time, when my husband, who is asthmatic, looked up and
realized how far from the beach we were, he panicked, and it brought on an asthma attack.
He kept saying he couldn't breathe and he wouldn't try to swim. I tried to get him to hold
onto me so I could pull him in (I'm a strong swimmer), but he kept saying we weren't
getting anywhere and pulling away from me.

We were right in front of a hotel, and I could see people on their balconies. I began yelling
for someone to help. No one came. As we were bobbing around, my husband kept drifting
away. I continued to yell for help.

A young man suddenly appeared on the rocks in his bathing suit, wearing a snorkel mask
and carrying fins. He climbed down the sharp coral rocks and yelled that he was coming to
us, and we should just relax. For some reason, my husband was able to believe him, and
they started a conversation. The young man put on his flippers and entered the water,
which was dangerous because of the rocks and the surging waters. He took hold of my
husband, told him to relax -- then pulled him all the way to the beach while I swam on my

When we reached the sand, not one person came forward to help us, although many were
standing and watching. No one said a word. The young man told us he was a physician and
gave us his name. He was Dr. Tom Elgin from California. If it weren't for his courageous
action, I doubt my husband would have survived. I bless him in my prayers daily. I hope
God is good to him. -- GRATEFUL IN FLORIDA

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DEAR GRATEFUL: Your letter gives new meaning to doctors as lifesavers. Dr. Elgin was
indeed a hero -- and I'll bet he's going to be surprised when he begins hearing from friends
and acquaintances all across the country telling him so.

P.S. Tell your husband to stay in shallow water hereafter.

DEAR ABBY: A reader wrote you asking for some thoughts on friendship. I would like to
share mine. It is one of the best descriptions of true friendship I have ever read. It was
given to me by a friend; I do not know the author.


Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person.

Having neither to weigh thoughts

Nor measure words, but pouring them

All right out -- just as they are --

Chaff and grain together --

Certain that a faithful hand will

Take and sift them,

Keeping what is worth keeping,

And with a breath of kindness

Blow the rest away.


DEAR DICK: Noble words, indeed, and well worth sharing. Thank you for sending them my
way -- and Merry Christmas.



DEAR ABBY: When I read your column about "huffing" chemicals, I had to respond.

I was a teen-age solvent abuser. For most of my early school days, I was an overachiever. I
was not popular, but I had one or two good friends and was active in Scouting and
volunteer activities. Because I was into books and getting good grades, by junior high I was
teased and beaten up by my schoolmates. High school brought more of the same merciless
harassment. I began to withdraw into solitary activities and discovered model building.

My descent into hell began innocently. I loved to build model cars, boats and planes. I
discovered that the fumes from the glue gave me a buzz. Soon I was buying as much as a
tube of model glue a day and huffing the fumes. I staggered around in a fog most of the
time, couldn't remember things, and my grades slipped badly.

I heard something on the news about kids who had died as a result of sniffing Pam. I
decided to try that as well, secretly hoping it would kill me. I huffed a number of other
aerosol products, too. In my depression, I tried to kill myself by taking an overdose of
aspirin. No luck. After the second overdose, a friend began dragging me along to activities
and events and focused my attention on other things. My depression lifted, I managed to
pull myself together, and I finished high school near the top of my class.

A couple of years later depression set in again. I dropped out of life and began huffing glue
again. I huffed myself into unconsciousness and even a couple of seizures. Paranoia and
hallucinations became the norm. I woke up once and found myself carrying on a
conversation with a tree -- yes, it was answering back! The police were called when I was
found running around with a knife, sure someone was out to get me. I was hospitalized on
at least three occasions.

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Fast-forward 20 years: What do I have to show for my stupidity today? I stutter, and
confuse similar-sounding words in conversation. My hands shake. I frequently have
problems remembering things for more than a few minutes. Worse yet, I'm now allergic to
fragranced items including fabric softeners, detergent, hand lotion, perfume, cologne,
hairspray and household cleaning items. Did you know that perfumes contain toxic
chemicals such as toluene -- the same stuff that's in model glue?

Even though chemicals make me horribly ill, the craving to abuse them never quits! On a
good day, I hate myself for the damage I've done to my brain and body. On a bad day, I
wish I had succeeded in committing suicide years ago.

Parents: Pay attention to your children and their behavior. Have your children taken an
unusual interest in being alone? Does their breath, clothes or room smell funny? Do they
have balance problems while walking across a room? Difficulty sleeping? No appetite?
Paranoia? Grades falling? Apathetic? Personal hygiene lacking? Do you find plastic bags with
strange-looking dried-up white stuff in them? Your children could be abusing glue or aerosol

Get them help -- and don't take "no" for an answer. Abusing household products is as
dangerous as abusing illegal drugs. -- SENSELESS IN SEATTLE

DEAR SENSELESS: You may never know how many people you have helped today by giving
such a graphic warning to teens and their parents. Your letter is unmistakable proof that
substance abuse may mask an even deeper problem, and a caring, tuned-in parent should
not minimize or ignore it.



DEAR ABBY: For the last nine years, thousands of your readers have written and called us
at the American Optometric Association to apply for free eye care available to low-income
working people through VISION USA.

Although this service helps people of all ages, VISION USA 2000 will mark the start of the
program's emphasis on aiding children. This focus aligns with VISION USA's commitment to
"America's Promise -- The Alliance for Youth," a program headed by retired Gen. Colin
Powell and dedicated to helping "at risk" youth.

Each year, more than 7,000 optometrists donate their services to VISION USA. Since the
program's beginning, free eye exams have been provided to more than a quarter of a
million children and adults. Among those helped was an 8-year-old boy diagnosed with a
detached retina. The VISION USA optometrist arranged for eye surgery at no cost, which
saved the boy's vision.

An 11-year-old girl who was extremely nearsighted had broken her glasses and her parents
couldn't afford new ones. After a new pair was donated, she reported that she could now
see the chalkboard even from the back of the classroom. One young girl was thought to
have a learning disability, but after an eye exam, it was discovered that she was farsighted
and had a high degree of astigmatism. With glasses, she is now able to see, and her
schoolwork has improved considerably.

We hope you will alert your readers to the VISION USA 2000 program. Application forms are
available now from VISION USA, 243 N. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63141, or on the
AOA Web site ( in the "Meet the AOA" section (click on the VISION USA
logo). Many libraries now offer free Internet access for persons without a home computer.
Completed forms must be postmarked by Jan. 20, 2000.

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Abby, we appreciate your support of VISION USA. You are helping many hardworking,
deserving people and their children to see better and to have healthy eyes. -- HARVEY P.

DEAR DR. HANLEN: I'm pleased to help spread the word.

Readers, from Jan. 3 to Jan. 31, 2000, low-income working people can be screened for
eligibility for VISION USA by calling (800) 766-4466. Phone lines will be open weekdays
from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. (CST). Interested persons are encouraged to apply early, in writing,
because of the heavy demand for the phone lines in January.

To qualify for the free eye care, persons must: have a job or live in a household where there
is one working member; have no health insurance that covers eye examinations; have an
income below an established level based on household size; and have had no eye exam
within the last two years. Eligibility requirements may vary in some states.
DEAR ABBY: I have recently become aware of my impressionable personality. Growing up
as a child I used to help my father roll joints and eventually started smoking pot. During my
college years, my roommate was a purse-snatcher and I started snatching purses with him.
Just recently, I started a job with a man who cross-dresses. The high heels are ruining my
feet and I don't look very good in miniskirts. Please help me. -- SUGGESTIBLE IN LAS

DEAR SUGGESTIBLE: You not only have an impressionable personality, you also have a
bizarre sense of humor. I suspect you also know someone who writes crank letters to advice

Your "problem" will become an asset as soon as you start surrounding yourself with people
who are involved in constructive activities such as volunteer work. Please don't wait.




DEAR ABBY: The rules for dieting during the holidays you printed prompts this letter. I want
to tell you and your readers about my weight loss and recovery from compulsive overeating
through Overeaters Anonymous.

Before I found OA at age 19, I had failed at every diet I tried. I wasn't able to stop shoving
food down my throat. Back then, I could easily consume eight candy bars, a pint of ice
cream and half a pizza in one sitting -- then wait for the food to digest so I could go back
for more. My emotional state, as you might imagine, was equally tortured. I had suicidal

Luckily I found OA which, as many know, is based on Alcoholics Anonymous and has a
spiritual component. I walked into my first meeting a confirmed atheist, but I was so
desperate that I was ready to try anything. And it worked!

I lost 45 pounds, Abby, but more important, I have kept it off for more than 18 years. One
of my closest friends lost 102 pounds through OA and has kept it off for nearly two years.
My sponsor, who guides me through the program, lost 250 pounds and has kept it off for 27
years. I'm not making that up.

Incredibly, I don't miss the foods I used to wolf down. I eat nothing sweeter than fresh fruit,
and I haven't been plagued by the relentless cravings I used to suffer. OA changed the way
I relate emotionally to food. I love life now, and often can't wait to get up in the morning.

Please tell your readers they can find OA in the phone book under Overeaters Anonymous or
through directory assistance. -- GRATEFUL IN L.A.

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DEAR GRATEFUL: I'm delighted to do it. I hope your letter will inspire others who are
waging the battle against compulsive overeating and who are unaware that help is

Overeaters Anonymous has more than 8,000 groups in 58 countries. Local chapters are
listed in the telephone directory. There are no dues or fees, and no membership lists are
kept. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively. There is
no shaming, no weighing and no embarrassment. You will be welcomed with open arms into
a fellowship of compassionate women and men who share a common problem.

There are chapters in almost every city, but if you have difficulty finding one near you, visit
the Web site:, or send a long, stamped, self-addressed
envelope to OA World Service Office, P.O. Box 44020, Rio Rancho, NM 87124-4020.

CONFIDENTIAL TO "IMPATIENT TEEN": Although it may seem to you that time is standing
still, before you know it, you'll be old enough to date. Henry Van Dyke summed it up nicely
in the poem "Time Is":

"Too slow for those who wait,

"Too swift for those who fear,

"Too long for those who grieve,

"Too short for those who rejoice,

"But for those who love,

"Time is eternity."




DEAR ABBY: In my 66 years of life, I have never written to you, but I have to respond to
the letter from "Widow Driver," who complained about chauffeuring older women who don't

She seems to think that a driver's license is obtainable by anyone who can guide an
automobile without hitting too many obstacles.

My wife can drive a car to some extent. I taught her the basics in case of emergency. But
when we went to the DMV to see about making it legal, she passed only the written test.
When the eye test was administered, the examiner said, "Lady, you should not even WALK
on the road -- much less drive on it!"

So, while she can "paddle her own canoe" -- to use your phrase -- she cannot see where it
is going. Does "Widow Driver" want my wife approaching her grandkids' school crosswalk? I

DEAR LONE DRIVER: I doubt it, too. That letter certainly touched a nerve with my readers.
Mail about it poured in for days. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Widow Driver" prompts my own. What a smug, selfish person!
There are many reasons why older people cannot drive -- and the LEAST of them is that
they don't know how. The aging process may cause blindness and other serious health
problems. Most of my friends who need transportation mourn the loss of their
independence. No doubt, there are those who could learn to drive, but please don't lump all
senior citizens into one group. -- FLORIDA READER

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DEAR FLORIDA READER: You're right. Just because older people don't drive doesn't mean
they don't know how. Some suffer from medical conditions that do not permit them to drive,
and others are exercising good judgment because they could be a danger to themselves or
others. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Thank you for your reasoned response to the mean-spirited woman who
complained about non-driving widows. I'm sure there are many reasons for a woman to fall
into this category. I once read that high-grade morons make the best drivers, and I hate
the assumption that a woman who doesn't drive is an inferior being.

Although I have never driven, I served in the Air Force, raised two children, and have led a
useful life using public transportation (taxis, buses -- and yes, occasionally good friends). I
have "paddled my own canoe" and have never been a "mooch," always offering to buy gas
or treat the driver to lunch. And yes, I have saved a bundle by not owning a car. What's
wrong with that? -- DONNA IN MESA, ARIZ.

DEAR DONNA: Not a darn thing, from my perspective. I think ride-sharing is an admirable
and environmentally friendly way to go. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I was furious when I read the letter from "Widow Driver." Has the milk of
human kindness curdled in that woman's breast? To write such an ugly letter has probably
caused a lot of women pain and anguish, thinking they are the widows in the letter.

If the woman needs help to pay for the gasoline, she should TELL the widows. I'm sure
they'd help.

I'm signing my name as I do on letters to friends, so that people know who wrote this letter
and can call me for rides if they need them. -- KATHY T., LAYTON, UTAH

DEAR KATHY T.: Spoken like a good neighbor. I salute you.




DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Wayne," and I met in high school. After high school, our
friendship grew deeper and we fell in love. We married and had three beautiful children
together who are now 10, 8 and 5. I thought we would have a bright future together and
watch our children grow.

Two years ago, he began experiencing unusual symptoms and went to see his doctor. We
learned days later that he had leukemia. For a year and a half, Wayne fought to survive.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. I lost my friend, my husband and the father of my children.

I am now a 35-year-old widow, raising my children alone. I am trying to do the best I can
without him.

Wayne told me during his illness that he didn't want another man to raise our children. It
was one of his last wishes. Abby, was he being selfish, or should I abide by his wishes? I
loved Wayne more than all the stars in the sky. What I fear now is living alone, and I didn't
plan on being a single parent.

Should I allow myself to move past this and concentrate on my and my children's future? Or
am I being selfish? -- LONELY MOM IN RHODE ISLAND

DEAR LONELY MOM: I offer my sincere sympathy for the untimely loss of your mate.
Allowing yourself to move past this tragedy and get on with your life is not selfish -- it's
practical. By eliciting a deathbed promise from you that you would never remarry, your
husband was trying to hold onto life -- an impossibility. Please don't feel guilty. Life is for
the living.

DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter from the Elvis impersonator's mom who was upset that
her son was the brunt of unkind comments, I just had to write.

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My brother-in-law is an Elvis impersonator, and he does it 24 hours a day, seven days a
week -- and frankly, the family is sick and tired of it! He never says, "Thank you" -- he has
to say, "Thann (not thank) you very much." He even wore his wraparound dark Elvis glasses
to his brother's wake and funeral, along with stage makeup and an outfit as close as he
could get to look like Elvis. And no, he had NOT just come from a "gig." This WAS his "gig"
for the week!

The mother's signature says it all. "Protective Little Mama" is what Elvis' mother was, and I
do believe that she considers herself Elvis' mom and enjoys the attention as much as he
does. Give me a break!

Most entertainers are professionals and leave the showbiz behind after work. This Elvis
wannabe probably does his act all day and all night -- and that's where the problem really
lies. Even Dolly Parton says she goes to the grocery store and no one recognizes her.

My sister is a professional musician, but she is "Mom and wife" during the week and a
"performer" on the weekends. That man should give the Elvis act a rest, do the "show" only
when on stage, and get a life the rest of the time. -- CHARLESTON, S.C., READER

DEAR READER: You could be right. However, I'm not about to psychoanalyze from long
distance the mother or her son who is living the part of Elvis. Although most actors can leap
in and out of character at will, I have heard of some who remain in character for the
duration of the role -- heaven help their families.

P.S. If Dolly Parton can go to the grocery store without anyone recognizing her, I doubt she
is shopping in this country!



DEAR ABBY: My good friend experienced a tragedy last night. Her ex-husband had their two
little boys with him for a weekend visit. He got drunk, took them for a ride and got into a

The boys are 5 and 7, and the most precious, sweet and funny children. Now the youngest
is paralyzed from the waist down, and there's a chance neither will make it.

It breaks my heart to see two such sweet little boys hooked up to machines, and not know
if they'll be here for Santa to visit or not. We are praying for them.

Please, Abby, remind your readers that if they drive, they shouldn't drink -- and if they
drink, to hand their keys to a sober friend or take a cab. -- DEVASTATED IN TRUSSVILLE,

DEAR DEVASTATED: Your letter is a chilling reminder of the innocent lives that can be
snuffed out or irreversibly changed because of people driving under the influence. During
this last holiday season of the century, let's all resolve to act maturely and responsibly while
celebrating -- and maybe we'll all be here to welcome the year 2000.

DEAR ABBY: My husband dislikes my family and friends. He never wants to be around them
for social gatherings -- and when he does go, he acts as if he's suffering. His attitude is
starting to affect the relationship between our children and my parents. It's as if he doesn't
want our kids to spend any time with them.

If I say something about his family or friends, he goes ballistic. If I don't want to be around
them, I'm "stupid" and "anti-social." His family talks badly about me and treats me like dirt.
When I say anything to my husband about it, he says I'm too sensitive or that I'm

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Abby, I'm tired of suffering, and my children deserve to spend as much time with my family
as they do with his. Please help! -- FED UP IN PIEDMONT, S.C.

DEAR FED UP: Under normal circumstances, spouses are willing to extend themselves in the
interest of family unity -- even if it means sometimes socializing with relatives they don't
particularly enjoy. Had you given any indication why your husband dislikes your parents and
friends, and why his family dislikes you, your question would have been easier to answer.

Name-calling and isolating someone from family and friends are considered abusive
behaviors. If you and your husband cannot reach an agreement about this, enlist the
assistance of a clergyperson or professional counselor.
DEAR ABBY: We get an awful lot of catalogs that we never requested. I don't know how we
got on so many mailing lists. Is there a way to call or write someone to stop getting so
many catalogs? -- ALAN W. IN TUCSON, ARIZ.

DEAR ALAN: There certainly is. To have your name deleted from these lists, write to: Mail
Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, N.Y. 11735.
The lists are purged only once every quarter, so it may take some time to notice a change
in the volume of unsolicited mail you're receiving.

P.S. There is no charge for this service.

CONFIDENTIAL TO MY READERS: HAPPY NEW YEAR! Many of you will participate in special
celebrations as we enter the year 2000. While enjoying the festivities, please remember the
first letter in my column today. The writer's plea -- one which I have been making for years
-- bears repeating! If you drink, don't drive; if you drive, don't drink!