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by Abigail Van Buren

Lunchtime Dental Flossing Offers Distasteful Display

DEAR ABBY: On occasion, I lunch with a rather casual business acquaintance. Recently, after finishing the meal, this lady took dental floss from her purse and flossed her teeth at the table. This was in the presence of other diners. I was shocked and embarrassed.

The woman holds an important position with a reputable company. Abby, I could not believe what I was seeing! The first time this happened, I put the incident behind me, assuming it would be a one-time thing. However, she repeated the same scene at our next luncheon. And as if that were not bad enough, she laid the used dental floss on the edge of her plate.

Abby, please advise your readers that flossing is something that should be done in the privacy of one's own home, and should it be necessary to floss elsewhere, please ask to be excused and floss in the restroom.

I cannot tell this individual in person because it could mean the loss of business for me, and I can't afford such a loss at this time.

No name, initials, city or state, please. Just make up a name if you print this, or sign it ... APPALLED

DEAR APPALLED: It is possible that this woman doesn't know that it is very unappetizing to see someone floss his or her teeth at the table, so you would be doing her an enormous favor if you told her -- privately, of course.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for 12 years. We have two fine children, and I can honestly say we have about as good a marriage as anyone could hope for. So why am I writing to Dear Abby?

We have moved three times since our marriage. We lived in a one-bedroom apartment for the first three years, then we moved to a small house. After our second child was born, we moved to a larger house in the country.

I hope you won't think I am being petty, but my husband has kept a box of letters from a girlfriend he dated before he met me, and every time we've moved, he's moved that box with us.

This is no big deal, but it irritates me. Should I say something to him about it? -- IRRITATED IN OJAI, CALIF.

DEAR IRRITATED: Yes; say something, but not in a mean or critical way. You will have gotten this irritating subject off your chest, and he may even toss the letters.

DEAR ABBY: I read your column every day, and a while ago I saw a letter from a man who thought he was too old to go back to school. My story is similar.

After graduating from high school in 1983, I went into the Air Force. I served two four-year terms and worked a year at a job that didn't seem to be going anywhere, but I thought at 29 I was too old to go back to school. Then I saw a letter in your column from someone who said, "I've always wanted a college education, but if I go to school for four more years, I'll be 30 years old when I graduate." You said, "And how old will you be in four years if you DON'T go back to school and graduate?" That did it for me!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me the much-needed push to go back to school. -- MARTY G. IN DENVER

DEAR MARTY G.: Thank you! Your letter made my day.

CONFIDENTIAL TO CURIOUS IN CHARLESTON: Men who miscalculate are called "mathematically challenged." Women who miscalculate are called "mothers."

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