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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Who Speaks Out Gets a Mouthful in Return

DEAR ABBY: We are a retired couple. During a recent heat wave, we mostly stayed in the house. My husband kept saying, "Do you hear a baby crying?" (Our neighbor across the street heard it, too.) I walked around our back yard, and a couple of houses down, I saw a baby sitting in a stroller, screaming! The sun was beating down on that poor little thing while the mother watered the yard. She never even looked at the baby.

I felt so sorry for that child, I walked over there and said, "Excuse me, but it's too hot for that baby to be out in this heat with no bonnet for 20 minutes."

She said, "B----, I work at a children's hospital and I know what I'm doing -- besides, he's been out only five minutes!"

I said, "Don't call me a b----. He's been screaming for 20 minutes, and what you're doing is child abuse!" Then she called me a name you couldn't print, and aimed the water hose right at my face! As I walked away, she aimed the hose at my behind!

I am not a person who calls the police or children's services, but what should I have done? Covered my ears, eyes and mouth like those three monkeys? -- UPSET IN OHIO

DEAR UPSET: Your neighbor has an ugly temper and a mouth to match.

You were right to speak up when you learned why the child was screaming. Although your neighbor's "abuse" was more due to ignorance than deliberate cruelty, the woman could certainly benefit from some instruction in parenting. Being an employee of a children's hospital doesn't automatically make one a good parent.

DEAR ABBY: Can retarded people get married? I always knew I was a slow learner because I was put in special classes for slow learners and have been labled "slightly retarded."

I can drive a car and I own my own car. I have a job making deliveries for a liquor store. I am seeing a girl who was in my special class at school. She is also slightly retarded and she is very nice. We have been told that if we get married, I will have to have a vasectomy and she will have to have an operation so she will not have any children, because if we had any children, they might be seriously retarded.

I like this girl a lot and I know she likes me. We go to the same church. Do you think a marriage between us would work? Her parents like me very much, and my mother and stepfather think she is OK, too. Answer soon, please, as I would like to give her an engagement ring for Christmas. We will both be 21 on our next birthdays. Thank you for your time. -- A GUY NAMED WILLIAM

DEAR WILLIAM: From what you have told me, I would say you'd make a peach of a pair. I wish you every happiness, and may all God's blessings be yours.

To get Abby's booklet "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a long, business-size, 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. (Postage is included.)

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