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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR READERS: I'll be on vacation between Aug. 18 and Aug. 31. Don't panic -- I've selected some of my favorite letters from past years to fill the gap. I hope you enjoy them.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I are having a big fight with her dentist. My wife is getting a full set of dentures. All her life she was ashamed of her teeth because they were yellowish, and now she wants snow-white teeth, but her dentist won't give them to her. He says snow-white teeth look unnatural. Abby, she doesn't care; she says movie stars have snow-white teeth and they look beautiful, and she wants beautiful white teeth too.

Meanwhile, her dentist keeps telling her that his job is to give her teeth that will look natural, and if she suddenly comes out with snow-white teeth, people will know the teeth are dentures, and they'll think her dentist did a poor job. We are deadlocked. Should a dentist give a patient what she wants or what he thinks she ought to have?

We live in Maine, but if we have to go to California to get what we want, we will go there. And I wouldn't begrudge the cost, either. Help us. -- UNHAPPY SENIOR CITIZENS

DEAR UNHAPPY: The dentist discharged his professional obligation when he told your wife that the kind of teeth she wants will look unnatural. Having said this, and being overruled, he should give her what she wants. If he refuses, there are plenty of other dentists in Maine.

DEAR ABBY: My husband is the head of a large corporation. He does not drink hard liquor, but very few people know this because at parties he takes one drink and pretends to sip it all evening.

He watches his junior executives' drinking habits very carefully, and they are promoted accordingly. Anyone who takes more than two drinks is passed over for promotion -- no matter how good a job he does.

I feel that my husband should have a talk with the man and give him a chance to cut down. He says, "No, once a drunk, always a drunk." He says it takes guts not to drink in today's society, and he needs men with guts to run the business right. What is your opinion? -- SCARSDALE

DEAR SCARSDALE: If everyone who takes more than two drinks is (as your husband states) a "drunk," there are a lot of "drunks" effectively running a lot of businesses.

I agree, it takes guts not to drink in today's society, but one who takes a drink publicly and "pretends" to drink it so no one will know he's a non-drinker is lacking guts himself. If guts is the issue, the person who says, "No thanks, I'm an alcoholic" has far more guts than your holier-than-thou abstainer.

DEAR ABBY: I am an attractive 66-year-old widow. I've dated a number of eligible men and have had many proposals, but there is one I would really like to marry.

He is 72, but looks much younger because he keeps in shape and has a young and healthy outlook on life. He says he "loves" me, but he will not propose marriage because he had surgery 10 years ago that terminated his sex life.

I told him it didn't matter to me because I never placed very much importance on sex anyway, which is the truth.

He insists that I was only being "kind," and eventually I would feel cheated. I swore to him on a stack of Bibles that I meant what I said. How can I convince this wonderful man that I want to marry him -- regardless? -- AUSTIN, TEXAS

DEAR AUSTIN: Get a higher stack of Bibles.

DEAR READERS: If you would like your letter considered for publication, please include your name, area code and telephone number.

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.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600