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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: "Kate," my girlfriend of two years, and I recently had an argument that has left me questioning our entire relationship.

I owned a 30-year-old classic car in mint condition that I purchased new at the factory. I took meticulous care of it and drove it only rarely. One day, Kate drove my car out of her garage and broke a taillight and dented the side. She told me she would contact her insurance carrier and pay the $850 that I had received as a damage estimate. She later discovered her insurance didn't cover the accident, and suggested I pay for it with my own accident coverage. I didn't have that kind of insurance on the car, and told her that since she caused the damage, she should pay for it.

She refused to pay, saying she couldn't afford it, and a car shouldn't come between two people who love each other. I finally paid for the repair myself, but was so soured over the issue that I sold the car. She now claims that since I sold the car, it's really over with, and I should just forget the whole incident.

Whenever we discuss this issue, I become incensed at her irresponsibility and immaturity, and I have begun to wonder if this lack of character would manifest itself in other areas should I marry her. She claims that I have made money my god. Was I off base in my request for compensation for the damage she did to my car? -- BENT OUT OF SHAPE IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR BENT: You were not off base. Kate caused the damage, and she should have paid for it. Failing in that, she should have at least made the effort to pay for part of it.

Money problems account for a sizable number of rifts in marriages. Since you and Kate have had so much trouble resolving this, I urge you to seek premarital counseling to determine if the two of you have a workable future before proceeding any further.

Kate appears to be immature and irresponsible, as you surmised. The $850 accident may have prevented you from making a more costly mistake later. Be grateful.

DEAR ABBY: I am almost 15 and love to skateboard. I know a lot of adults who think skateboarders are criminals. They seem to think we're all drug addicts who hate authority. This isn't true. All the skaters I know are respectable and respectful, and they don't deserve the bad rap they get.

Just because we aren't into organized sports and don't wear uniforms doesn't mean we're bad. The sport of skateboarding requires discipline and teaches coordination and self-control, not to mention learning to deal with physical pain.

Abby, please let others know that skateboarding is not a crime. I'm getting tired of the negative comments. -- LUKE WILLIAMS, OLYMPIA, WASH.

DEAR LUKE: I agree. Skateboarding is not a crime. It's a recognized sport that requires a good sense of balance, concentration and practice.

If you are getting negative comments, could it be that you are whooshing past pedestrians and frightening them? If the answer is "yes," you are part of the problem. However, if you are skateboarding only where it's allowed, are considerate of others and wear safety gear, by all means skate on, and have fun.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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