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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I recently attended a formal wedding where I witnessed something I thought was outrageous. When it came time for the bride to toss her bouquet, the bride's grandmother, who is well into her 70s, shoved the bridesmaids and young cousins of the bride aside and caught the bridal bouquet. Everyone was bewildered!

When it came time for the groom to toss the bride's garter, none of the young men tried to catch it, so it fell to the floor.

One young man was coaxed into picking it up and placing the garter on Grandma's leg. Obviously embarrassed, he put it on up to her knee when Grandma urged him to go higher until it reached her thigh. (Yes, she was sober.)

When one of the bridesmaids reminded Grandma that tossing the bouquet was a ritual intended for the young unmarried girls, Grandma shouted, "Well, I'm single!" Everyone applauded.

Abby, what do you think of Grandma's behavior? -- NEW JERSEY READER

DEAR READER: I think it was outrageous and inappropriate, although it did add some unforgettable frivolity to the wedding. (Are you sure Grandma was sober?)

DEAR ABBY: Unless you are willing to state unequivocally that the books and magazines you read and the movies you saw in your youth did not affect the way you conducted yourself, then your statement, "It's unrealistic to hold the media responsible for your daughter's morality ..." is unrealistic.

When I was a teen-ager, the movies and what I read had some influence on my behavior toward others. Today we see raw sex on TV as early as 7:00 in the evening, and magazines on supermarket shelves devoted almost entirely to sex. I have seen sexual innuendoes on many TV shows to such a degree that it destroys their humor. I have heard more foul language in one Eddie Murphy movie than I heard in my several years in the Navy -- ashore and at sea.

You cannot tell me that the language of the movies is not absorbed by teen-agers, resulting in unbelievable rudeness. And the sex scenes ARE going to reduce their inhibitions.

There is no way that "Concerned in Chicago's" daughter can avoid seeing or reading all of this. When our children said, "But everyone else is ..." we could say, "YOU are not going to ..." with neutral or positive influence by the media. Now the movies and the printed word tell them that such conduct is all right. -- ALEX R. THOMAS, SAN ANTONIO DEAR MR. THOMAS: It is the job of parents to supervise the exposure their impressionable children have to "the media" and to provide moral standards for them. Although the idea seems tempting, I am opposed to censorship. The family should provide the "filter" through which their children view society.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I were shopping in a small pottery shop in a large city. I selected some merchandise that cost $80. As I stepped up to the counter, I realized I had used my last check. The store didn't accept credit cards, and I didn't have enough cash to cover the purchase. I was very disappointed, because I really wanted to buy the pottery.

Seeing my dismay, the owner suddenly told us to take the pottery and "just send me the money when you get home." I thought he was joking, but he waved off my attempt to give him identification or an IOU. We left the store with the pottery, still owing the money. Of course, the moment I got home I wrote a check and mailed it.

Believe it or not, this happened in the Greenwich Village section of New York City. I am sure people would like to know there are still some trusting people in such a large city. -- CINDY CARNEY, DENVILLE, N.J.

DEAR CINDY: Thank you for an upper of a letter. What a positive message with which to begin the new year!

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, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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