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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Every year after graduation, thousands of young adults begin new jobs and move into homes of their own. Although this is an exciting time for them, it also can be a difficult one as they struggle to furnish their new living quarters. Most are reduced to begging from relatives, "making do" with castoffs, or doing without.

Since people marry later now, bridal showers often are given for older persons who have good jobs and who already have acquired everything they need. Some couples even purchase and furnish homes and live together for months or years before they say "I do."

Young, never-employed brides who migrate straight from parents to husbands (the ones for whom bridal showers were designed) are rare today.

Isn't it time to add a new twist to the old tradition and give "starter" showers for single men and women who are setting up housekeeping for the first time? "Starting over" showers would benefit people who have lost everything in disasters, as well as people who have recently divorced.

What do you think, Abby? -- MARILYN SWARTZ, TACOMA, WASH.

DEAR MARILYN: When I first heard about showers for singles several years ago, I thought, "Here's an idea whose time has come!" It's a great idea -- for all the reasons you stated.

DEAR ABBY: In all the years of faithfully reading your column, I have never felt compelled to write to you -- until now.

After reading the poem titled "The Tone of Your Voice," I couldn't stop crying. For years, people have criticized me about my tone of voice. They say it is too sharp and full of hostility.

Abby, I fail to understand how this can be true because I honestly feel no anger or hostility.

My mother, husband and siblings all take offense at my tone of voice, which kills any hope of honest communication. Close friends have also told me that I am often misunderstood because of my tone of voice.

Please, please tell me how I can overcome this handicap. It is no fun being disliked and misunderstood. Thank you. -- A MISUNDERSTOOD WOMAN

DEAR MISUNDERSTOOD: Find a speech therapist or voice teacher. With proper training, the tone of your voice can be changed.

DEAR ABBY: You printed several letters about children at weddings and the consequences of their (mis)behavior. While I agree with the concept that it is the bride's day, I thought maybe you would enjoy a lighter side to the problem.

Ten years ago, our oldest daughter was married in our backyard. The weather was perfect, the lawn and flowers looked beautiful, and we had 70 guests. One of our neighbors had hired a baby sitter to stay with her two young daughters with strict instructions not to let the girls outside until the reception had started.

As everyone stood to pray, the baby sitter quietly opened the back door and let the dog outside and quickly shut the door before the girls begged to go outside. For 30 seconds, everything was fine -- then the dog saw the guests and commenced barking and howling throughout the entire prayer. As the preacher concluded, the baby sitter let the dog inside and everyone burst out laughing.

So, although everything was perfect and we had no disruptive children, we hadn't counted on the dog's blessing. We have it on the wedding video and it still makes us laugh every time we watch it. -- CAROL J. RHINEHART, ROCKWALL, TEXAS

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