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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Who Has Fallen Off Wagon Needs Help Back On

DEAR ABBY: I have a very dear friend who is an alcoholic. "Elsa" went through the 12-step program a few years ago and has been dry since her recovery began. We rarely see each other, but we talk on the phone regularly.

In the last few months, when we chat I have the uncomfortable feeling that Elsa is drinking again. I have not said anything to her (or anyone else) because there is no way I can be sure.

Several weeks ago, a mutual friend asked me if I thought Elsa might be drinking. When I asked why, she told me she, too, had noticed Elsa slurring her words, repeating herself, and becoming very argumentative.

I know I should approach my friend with my suspicions, but I cannot seem to find the words. We have been friends since we were very young, and I'm afraid I will lose her friendship if I confront her.

Should I confront her? If so, please help me find a tactful way to do it. -- A FRIEND WHO CARES

DEAR FRIEND: Be completely honest with your friend. Tell her that you love her, that you are concerned that she has resumed her drinking, and urge her to get back on the program. She needs to hear this from someone she knows is a caring friend.

DEAR ABBY: A friend sent me a clipping of a column you wrote in 1987. It appeared in The Daily Times in Pryor, Okla. I thought it was great.

Will you kindly run it again? -- FAITHFUL READER, GLENDALE, ARIZ.

DEAR READER: Thanks for sending it. I agree it merits a second time around:

DEAR ABBY: I am enclosing several quotes from famous people. You may want to pass these along to your readers. I clipped this from the Arizona Republic in Phoenix. If you run this in your column, perhaps it might make some of us feel we are not all that stupid. Thank you. -- JOHN NESBIT, PHOENIX

DEAR JOHN: We can all use a little reassurance. These quotes reaffirm the fact that what may appear sensible at the time can be ludicrous later. For example:

-- "Everything that can be invented has already been invented." (Charles H. Duell, director of the U.S. Patent Office, 1899)

-- "Who the hell wants to hear actors TALK?" (Harry M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927)

-- "Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote." (Grover Cleveland, 1905)

-- "There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom." (Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923)

-- "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." (Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895)

-- "Babe Ruth made a big mistake when he gave up pitching." (Tris Speaker, 1921)

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