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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: When is it proper to play Cupid? My best friend, "Marsha," lost her husband a few months ago. He had a massive heart attack with no warning whatsoever. He was healthy and athletic.

A few years ago, Marsha and my cousin, "Marc," met at my daughter's christening. It was obvious that there was a strong mutual attraction between them, but they were both seeing other people at the time, so nothing came of it, and they both eventually married other people.

I just learned that Marc and his wife have split. Being a matchmaker is not something I do regularly, but I just know that Marsha and Marc would make a great team.

How can I get them together? And when would be the proper time?

I don't want Marsha to think I'm insensitive, but they are both very attractive people, and I don't want to chance either one of them getting involved with someone else before they have a chance to get together. -- FRUSTRATED CUPID

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Idle your motor -- you may be too late already. Do not mention Marc's availability to Marsha until you feel that Marsha is ready for another romance. And don't assume that Marc is waiting around for another involvement.

When Marsha is ready, contact Marc and ask him, "What's new?" and, "Are you 'involved'?" If nothing is new and Marc is not involved, tell him about Marsha's availability -- and let him take it from there.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 24-year-old future bride with a small problem. My mother and father were divorced when I was 10, and my mother married "Len" a year later. Len has been a wonderful stepfather whom I love dearly. My biological father and I had problems during my adolescent years. (We didn't speak to each other for four years.) My stepfather (Len) was a far more loving father to me -- in fact, he was the one who got me together again with my biological father.

Now I am going to be married. I read in a bridal magazine that where there is a biological father and stepfather involved, the bride's biological father is supposed to walk her down the aisle and give her away in marriage, and the stepfather has the privilege of dancing the first dance with the bride.

Is this the proper arrangement? I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but I have always had a much better relationship with my stepfather. -- HAPPY BUT CONFUSED

DEAR HAPPY: There are no hard and fast "rules" when it comes to weddings. If you're having problems deciding which man should walk you down the aisle, why not give both of them the honor? It has been done -- and with great success. Also consider walking down the aisle alone. It's the choice of many brides, and makes an impressive sight.

CONFIDENTIAL TO EVERYBODY: "Nothing is sometimes the right thing to say." (Malcolm Forbes)

This one's for everybody, from teens to seniors! To purchase Abby's new booklet, "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It," send a long, business-size, 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. (Postage is included.)

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