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DEAR ABBY: I am a 35-year-old single (by choice) woman, and after 20 years of dating, I have come to the conclusion that my mother was wrong when she said, "A lady never calls a gentleman -- she waits for him to call her." Too many times I've had a man ask for my phone number, then I'd wait impatiently for him to call me. Sometimes he'd call, yet there were times when he never followed through. Then I'd agonize over what I might have done wrong.

When a woman meets a man she'd like to see again, and he takes her number, why shouldn't she feel free to take his, too, so if he doesn't call her, she can call him?

I recently met a very attractive man and we seemed to hit it off very well, but instead of his taking my number and saying the usual "I'll call you," he gave me his number and asked me to call him. Perfect! I had the option either to call him or not -- it was all up to me. I liked that.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not on a power trip. I still like doors opened for me, but I prefer to do the calling.

I'd like to hear the opinions of men on this. -- DON'T CALL ME, I'LL CALL YOU

DEAR DON'T: Many women are the aggressors, and they do not apologize for it -- nor should they. Relationships should be based upon honesty -- and there is nothing wrong with saying, "I find you very attractive, and I'd like to see you again." It doesn't matter who makes the first call. Women are people, and people should not play games.

Gentlemen?

DEAR ABBY: When I read the story about the sister-in-law who allows her dog to eat off the same plates as humans, I thought of my mother. Buying a special dish for the dog will not work. My mother has several dogs and cats, and they have their own feeding dishes. After dinner, however, they are allowed to finish the leftovers from her regular plates.

Once when we were visiting, she went one step further. She prepared a tuna casserole, and during our meal, one of the cats jumped up onto the table. My mother took the serving spoon from the casserole, tapped the cat on the nose, then turned to my husband and asked if he wanted seconds. He declined. -- KANSAS CITY

DEAR READERS: This morning, I received the following note from Jack Hill, a valued friend and employee who has been in my mail room since Year One. I thought it was so cute, I would like to share it. It read:

DEAR ABBY: To remind you that I will be on vacation for one week beginning Monday.

For your information, I am not going anywhere; it will be a "Honey Do" vacation: "Honey, do this -- Honey, do that." -- JACK

DEAR READERS: Your chuckle for today: When George Jessel took Lena Horne to a famous restaurant, the doorman asked, "Who made your reservations?"

Jessel replied, "Abraham Lincoln."

Want your phone to ring? Get Abby's booklet, "How to Be Popular" -- for people of all ages. To order, send a long, business-size, 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. (Postage is included.

4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112; (816) 932-6600

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