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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have a friend who lives in a distant city and who occasionally calls me at work from her home, where she works, just to "keep in touch" for five or 10 minutes of chatting.

I hope you won't think I'm being petty, but I'm developing a pet peeve about how these conversations start off. Once I answer my phone (at work), she asks me to hang up and call her back so that MY company will pay for the call rather than have it on her telephone bill. Considering that this is the only way we "spend time" together, given the distance separating us, I feel she's subtly saying that my friendship isn't worth the dollar or two invested in the call. By the way, I am certain she can afford it.

Abby, am I being overly sensitive, or is this a rude practice? -- CALIFORNIAN

DEAR CALIFORNIAN: You are not being overly sensitive, and your friend is not only being rude, she is spending your company's money and occupying your time.

The next time she calls, tell her that you are not comfortable with personal calls on company time, and ask her to please call you at home.

DEAR ABBY: My family recently moved to this city, and in my new high school, two girls who are best friends have taken me under their wing, and we have become a threesome. One of the girls, "Jenny," has a backyard swimming pool and once school is out, they spend most of their afternoons sunbathing and swimming in the pool. They want me to join them. The problem is, they skinny-dip and sunbathe in the nude.

I told them that I am uncomfortable with it and they responded that I was being a prude. The pool is secluded, and Jenny's mom does not allow her to invite guys over to swim, but I am still unsure. Could they be lesbians? Is there any harm in swimming in the nude? What should I do? -- UNSURE

DEAR UNSURE: Everyone has the right to view nudity the way she chooses. Yes, they could be lesbians, but chances are they're just two straight females who are comfortable with their own bodies. There's no harm in swimming in the nude; however, you should do only that with which you feel comfortable.

DEAR ABBY: We have your book, "The Best of Dear Abby," which was published in 1981. It is wonderful -- rich with human interest, frequent grins, laughs and guffaws!

Have you published a similar book since then?

Apparently you've been at your "Dear Abby" job about 40 years. Keep it up -- we need your down-to-earth philosophy. -- LARRY E. HORN, LOS ANGELES

DEAR LARRY: Thank you for your kind words. Jan. 9 marked my 40th anniversary as Dear Abby.

I have been contemplating writing another book, with a working title of "The Rest of the Best of Dear Abby." I would welcome input from my readers, so if you have a favorite Dear Abby letter, please send it to: Dear Abby Favorite Letter, P.O. Box 531, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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