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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: A few months ago I had some plumbing done. Due to some financial troubles, I wasn't able to pay the bill within 30 days.

Yesterday I received another bill with a note from the plumber's wife, who does his bookkeeping. It read: "Jim does not expect to take this bill out in trade, so please remit!" And she signed her name.

I sent a check for the full amount and enclosed the following note: "I was not aware that your husband was in the habit of taking his bills out in trade, but if he does, I feel very sorry for you." And I signed my name.

My son saw the note from the plumber's wife to me and recommended that I take it to a lawyer and sue the woman for slander.

What would you do? -- INSULTED

DEAR INSULTED: I would send her a get-well card. She is sick. (I would also let the plumber know what kind of statements his wife is sending out with his statements.)

DEAR ABBY: I am writing about the number of girls who have written to you saying: "How can I get a guy interested in me without having it look like I'm chasing him?"

First off, I am a 21-year-old college man who would like some reasonable answers to the following questions:

1. Why can't a girl ask a guy out for a date? As a male, I would welcome girls who find me attractive enough to ask me out. Believe me, Abby, I'm fairly attractive myself and get my share of dates, but I see nothing wrong with girls being on an equal basis with men when it comes to the dating game.

2. Why can't a girl be the aggressive one if she so chooses?

3. Why is it "wrong" for a girl to pursue guys? -- I.W., BRONX, N.Y.

DEAR I.W.: Where have you been? Plenty of girls ask guys out. More girls ask guys "over," however, because there is no tab to pick up, which takes the pressure off both of them.

And many girls ARE aggressors. They don't apologize for it. Nor should they. All relationships should be based on honesty. And what's more disarming than having someone say, "I like you"? It doesn't matter who says it first. Girls are people, and people shouldn't play games. They should express themselves honestly, naturally and without embarrassment.

DEAR ABBY: I don't understand what you mean when you tell girls: "Save yourself for the man you marry.

How does a girl know WHICH man she's going to marry? I have gone with five different guys at five different times, and I thought I was going to marry all of them, but I'm still single.

Will you please explain what you mean? -- STILL SINGLE

DEAR SINGLE: I mean, save yourself for the man you marry -- not the man you MAY marry.

CONFIDENTIAL TO LUCY: It's not always better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. It depends upon what you've lost.

Most teen-agers do not know the facts about drugs, AIDS, and how to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It's all in Abby's new, updated, expanded booklet, "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 Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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