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by Abigail Van Buren

Good-Neighbor Policy Is Leaving Each Other Alone

DEAR ABBY: Your recent reprint of a letter about the importance of being a good neighbor compelled me to write to you for the first time in 30 years.

Being too friendly with the neighbors can be risky business. What if it turns out that you don't really want to be friends with these people after you get to know them better? Then what do you do -- move?

Abby, neighbors should respect one another's privacy.

I have had neighbors who seemed to think that because I was always nice to them, they could preach their religion to me, tell me how to vote, dress and raise my kids. Sometimes I wish I'd never said more than a casual hello.

My idea of a good neighbor is one who is cordial, minds his own business and is willing to help in an emergency.

If a friendship develops over the years, fine. If not, you've still got a good neighbor. -- MINDING MY OWN BUSINESS

DEAR MINDING: There's an old saying, "Too thick doesn't stick." Before you and your neighbors became neighbors, you were strangers. After getting to know one another, you -- and they, too -- can decide how much you want to see of one another.