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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a 23-year-old mother of two children and have been happily married to a wonderful, caring man for three years; we dated for two years before we got married. My husband's career is demanding and he has very little time off. He works with the public, so when he has time off, he doesn't feel like socializing. I attend college part-time and also visit friends a couple times a week, but I still feel lonely.

Lately, I've found myself thinking about a man I used to date. We had a lot in common and had many good times together. We live in a small town and I run into him often. I have been tempted to ask him out for coffee. I don't want to be unfaithful to my husband, but I want to enjoy life while I'm young.

Abby, do you see any harm in going for coffee with my ex-boyfriend? -- FEELING FORTY

DEAR FEELING FORTY: Yes. Why ask for trouble?

Concentrate on rekindling the romance in your marriage. Begin by telling your husband that you miss his company, then hire a baby sitter and go out for a romantic dinner. Remind yourself of all the reasons you married your wonderful man, and turn to your girlfriends for the rest of your socializing.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to reply to "Looking for Love in Dallas." The solution to his problem is simple: Introduce his wife to my husband. They would be a perfect match!

After only three months of marriage, my husband won't kiss, touch, cuddle, hug or even discuss the problem. Sex is only a memory.

I am 60, still sexy and crave all of the above. Maybe we could arrange a trade-off. -- LOOKING FOR LOVE IN LONG BEACH, CALIF.

DEAR LOOKING FOR LOVE: You have my sympathy, but I do not recommend mate-swapping. To paraphrase the great bard, William Shakespeare: 'Tis better to bear the ills you know than fly to others you know not of.

DEAR ABBY: The realization of my lifelong dream finally arrived when, at age 50, I left my high-pressure job as a nurse-manager to enter the world of fashion by opening my very own dress shop.

I love my shop and enjoy everything about the retail business with one notable exception. I was ill-prepared to deal with the devious methods used by shoplifters to sneak merchandise out the door.

After initiating all the usual procedures to minimize theft, I have instituted a method of my own. I warn shoplifters that getting caught and arrested may be the least of their worries. I have posted the following notice on the walls of my changing rooms:

AN OPEN LETTER TO THOSE WHO WOULD STEAL FROM ME

"Some stores have signs that say, 'Shoplifters will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.' That is the least of it. If you steal from me, I will put a 'curse' on you that will ...

"Widen your hips,

"Lower your boobs,

"Flab-out your butt,

"And thunder your thighs.

"Your feet will lengthen,

"Your face will wrinkle,

"Your teeth will yellow and your hair will thin.

"Your eyesight will falter 'til the only light you can see is cellulite.

"Jail will start looking pretty good to you

"Compared to your own image in the mirror.

"Think about it." -- SHELLY DEMARCO, HOLLYWOOD, FLA.

DEAR SHELLY: Bravo! If that doesn't do it, nothing will!

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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