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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: At 4 years old, my son John is getting to the age where he's occasionally invited to the homes of his schoolmates.

Last week, a parent I'll call "Mr. Smith" invited John to spend the afternoon at his home playing with his son. John had a great time, but when I picked him up, he described deer heads on the wall -- and to my horror, the guns in the house!

Obviously, Mr. Smith is a hunter and there's no doubt that the guns John described were real.

I have decided not to let John go back, but I feel awkward bringing this up with the Smiths. I don't want to appear rude, since both parents are very much involved with the preschool our children attend.

Abby, I don't ever want my children in a home with guns, but how should I handle this without offending the parents? -- CONCERNED MOM

DEAR CONCERNED: Your child's welfare must come first. Be up-front about it when an invitation is again extended. Tell the Smiths that your son mentioned the guns in their home, and you prefer that when the children play together, they do it in your home under your supervision.

DEAR ABBY: The letter from Jose Fidelino interested me. My wife was born in Laos. Her mother came from China and her father from Vietnam. She also lived in Thailand for several years, so she speaks many languages.

Since we now live in Long Beach, Calif., we're 20 minutes from Chinatown, 20 minutes from Little Saigon and five minutes from Little India. We have two children, and when we are all together, we get lots of stares. When my wife takes the children without me, she is asked lots of questions from strangers wanting to know where she got them (as if she had stolen them), but she takes it as a compliment and moves on.

As for people asking, "Where are you from?" I hear that often, but I do not take it as an insult. In the case of Asians, they are asking, "May I talk to you?" It is simply a sign that they are interested in you and are groping for a starting point.

I have started many conversations with, "Where are you from?" And I found out that the best cakes are from a Filipino bakery in Little India; the best soup is at a Cambodian restaurant in Little Saigon; the best dim-cha is in Chinatown. Also there is a beautiful Chinese temple in Hacienda Heights.

Americans are slowly opening their eyes to the Pacific Rim. While many people are unfamiliar with Asian history beyond the war stories, that is not to say we can't learn. Just give us time. -- KENNETH SPICER, LONG BEACH, CALIF.

DEAR ABBY: I am amazed at the number of credit card receipts drivers leave behind after using their bank cards at gas pumps. This is very risky business because the account number is on the receipt.

Abby, please warn your readers either to take their receipts with them, or to press the "no" button when the computer asks if they want a receipt so that it won't print one. -- CAREFUL ABOUT MY CARDS

DEAR CAREFUL: Thanks for the warning. People should also take their receipts with them after using ATMs (Automated Teller Machines), and destroy them before disposing of them.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, 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. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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