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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Why do people with small children feel it is necessary to take these children with them when they go to the movies? I went to four R-rated, action-packed movies last summer, and in three of them there were parents with crying children.

I see the same thing every time I go to the movies. Don't these parents know that their children are not going to enjoy the movie? Why should they? They are sitting in a dark, strange place with many strangers they can't see, there is nothing for them to play with, and there are loud, strange noises all around them.

Here is my message to parents: If your child is under the age of 2, he or she is not going to enjoy a movie no matter what the rating is. If your child is under the age of 6, he or she should not be going to anything over a PG rating. Make the cost of the baby sitter part of the cost for an evening out. Most sitters will charge only $3 or $4 per hour for a small child.

If you can't afford a baby sitter, stay home and rent a movie. It's better for you, better for your child, and for all of us sitting in the theater. -- IRRITATED IN TEXAS

DEAR IRRITATED: I'm printing your "message," but let's be realistic: Parents who bring infants and small children to the movies often do it because they can't afford a sitter. There's no law against it. However, when a child creates a disturbance, good sense and good manners dictate that it be taken outside so it's not a distraction to others. But if it's not, the manager of the theater should be notified so he (or she) can quell the disturbance.

DEAR ABBY: My son's wedding went an infuriating step beyond the standard non-reply to an RSVP. When many self-addressed, stamped responses to the reception were not received by a reasonable length of time, I called some non-respondents from our immediate family. Since my son and his fiancee were committed to pay a considerable amount of money for each dinner at the country club -- in advance -- it was important that the number of guests be accurate.

I telephoned each invited guest and almost all assured me that they would be attending, several with children -- one family totaling five.

However, on the happy day, there were an inexcusable number of "no-shows" who hadn't even bothered to call at the last minute with an excuse. Consequently, the bridal couple had to pay for a lot of thoughtless relatives who had accepted when they should have been honest and said, "If we don't have anything better to do, we'll be there." -- FED UP WITH RELATIVES

DEAR FED UP: Believe it or not, some people do not know that "R.S.V.P." means "Please respond" in French.

WORTH QUOTING: Clarence Darrow, world-famous American lawyer in the 1900s who earned a wide reputation as a brilliant criminal defense attorney, said: "The trouble with the law is lawyers."

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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