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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: What do you think of the practice of "reserving" a seat at a public event by placing an object such as an umbrella or a coat on the seat? My feeling is this should not entitle a person to select a choice seat, then wander off for half an hour or more and expect others to respect the "reservation." Abby, will you please state in your column that saving a seat for someone who is late is very unfair and should not be permitted?

Also, how should a situation of this kind be handled? Maybe you haven't been in a situation of this kind, but I'd like to hear from people who have. Is it fair, or isn't it? And if the person who is "holding" a seat for a latecomer encounters an angry theatergoer, who is entitled to the seat? I have witnessed some ugly scenes as a result of "seat saving" in theaters. What do you say? -- SAN FRANCISCAN

DEAR SAN FRANCISCAN: If a person comes in and says, "My friend (or spouse) is parking the car and I am saving a seat for him (or her)," that's fine.

But I would have a problem with the person who lays claim to a block of six or eight seats together. However, under no circumstances would I engage in an argument about it in a public place.

DEAR ABBY: I am a divorced woman with three children, 11, 10 and 7. Through the Internet, I met a man who lives in Kentucky. (I live in California.) I'll call him Dan. He is a high school teacher and is by far the kindest, most considerate man I have ever known.

Dan invited me to his house for Thanksgiving, and he spent a week at my home at Christmas. He and my children got along great; in fact, they are still talking about him.

Dan treats me with respect and is a perfect gentleman. The only problem is his appearance. He is slightly overweight and somewhat out of shape. He also has an eye problem that requires him to wear extremely thick glasses. My friends tell me that I am "too pretty" to settle for him. My mom says looks are not that important, and I would have to look far to find a man who will treat me with such respect and consideration.

Dan told me he is considering moving to California at the end of the school year so we can be closer.

I hate to be so superficial that I would miss out on a fulfilling relationship because Dan is not better looking. I certainly love who he is on the inside, but I know some people will look at us and wonder what I saw in him.

Would I be wrong to let his appearance hold me back? I would hate to have him give up everything for me and move out here. What if things didn't work out? He says that is a chance he is willing to take.

He makes me very happy and is always on my mind. I want to call him and tell him to come to California, but I am not sure it is the right thing to do. What do you think, Abby? -- ON THE FENCE

DEAR ON THE FENCE: I know your friends are well-meaning, but I question their values.

An average-looking man who is kind and caring will become more attractive with time, just as a handsome man will become less appealing if his behavior does not match his appearance.

Let Dan know that you are very much interested in him, but moving to California must be his decision alone. And when you get to know him better, if he is everything you want in a lifelong partner, you will have made a very wise decision.

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.)

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