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by Abigail Van Buren

Hard of Hearing May Need New Attitude as Well as Aid

DEAR ABBY: I had to comment on the letter from "R.H.G.," whose mother refuses to wear a hearing aid because she thinks it will make her "old." If she tries one matter-of-factly and refuses to let it change her lifestyle, hardly anyone will even notice it.

I am a male who lost my hearing at age 5, and got my first hearing aid, a clunky body-worn thing, at age 13. My parents were positive that I was frail and weak, so school was all academics and no athletics until I left home for college and started making up for lost time. Of course, I couldn't wear the hearing aid while playing basketball or wrestling, but my teammates and partners had no problem with speaking louder when necessary.

I have been coaching high school and youth league wrestling teams for the last 20 years. My current hearing aid is a behind-the-ear model that I take off and put back on several times at every practice, yet even some of the wrestlers with whom I have worked the most closely have failed to notice the aid for years until I happened to mention it.

"R.H.G.'s" mother could style her hair to conceal a hearing aid, but the best and most effective "cover-up" she can use will be to lead an active life and treat the hearing aid like any other routine item of clothing. -- NAMELESS, PLEASE

DEAR NAMELESS: In this case, the woman's attitude impairment is more disabling than her hearing impairment. I hope she sees your letter.

DEAR ABBY: I know that you have touched on my problem in your column a number of times, but someone wrote an excellent letter you printed, suggesting to family and friends around Thanksgiving that they wished to eliminate gift-giving for the upcoming holidays.

Would you please run that letter again? It would be helpful if I could reread that letter and your response.

Please do not print my name. -- LONGTIME READER

DEAR LONGTIME READER: Here it is, with pleasure:

DEAR ABBY: I think it was about this time last year that you ran a suggested letter for those who wished to discontinue giving Christmas gifts to friends whom you felt sure would appreciate being removed from their gift-giving list.

I failed to cut it out, and now find that I need to let some friends know that we both probably would appreciate not having to go through the gift-giving procedure simply because we've been doing it for years. Thank you again. -- ANONYMOUS, BUT ONE OF MANY

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Be absolutely up-front with your friends. Around Thanksgiving, write them a short note saying that you are counting your blessings -- and among them are friends with whom you can be completely honest. Then suggest: "From now on, let us exchange only Christmas cards -- no gifts." I assure you they will not be offended.

DEAR ABBY: My husband recently asked me not to wear high-heeled shoes when we are together -- at church, for example.

This did not come as a total surprise to me because in the past he has persuaded me to wear flats. He is 5 foot 7 and I am 5 foot 5 1/2, so when I wear heels, we are about equal in height.

My question: What is the real issue here? Is he insecure? Or is it an "ego" thing? -- MISSOURI MRS.

DEAR MISSOURI MRS.: As I size it up, it doesn't really matter why your husband prefers that you wear flats when you are with him.

If I were in your shoes, I would accommodate my husband without making an issue of it.

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