Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Those Who Wait for Gifts Are Unclear on the Concept

DEAR ABBY: I'm continually amazed by people who write to you with righteous indignation about gifts that weren't good enough, objects they feel entitled to, or inheritances that they expect to receive.

Don't these people understand the concept of a gift? A wedding (or birthday or Christmas) gift is not an obligation, it is a generosity. An inheritance is not a right; it is a choice made by the benefactors to bestow upon whomever they wish.

I get the feeling that many of your readers would lead happier lives if they would quit worrying about what they think they're entitled to, and concentrated on earning what is theirs and being grateful for the gifts they receive.

My dear grandmother (whom I prefer alive, lucid, happy and loving at the age of 85, rather than tallying whatever her estate might amount to) gave me a plaque many years ago that contains a motto to live by: "Blessed are those who expect nothing, for they will not be disappointed." -- JEFF KURTTI, LOS ANGELES

DEAR JEFF: You make a good point. The higher the level of expectation, the lower the degree of satisfaction.

DEAR ABBY: You said in your column that a felon loses his right to vote. I think your experts need to bone up on constitutional law.

All citizens are allowed to vote as long as they are registered and are not serving a prison term (for felony conviction) and/or on parole. Once the parole has been served and the convict has been discharged from the sentence, his constitutional right to vote is restored.

Voting is not a privilege, Abby, it is a right! -- DON WEST, PARALEGAL INVESTIGATIONS, LONG BEACH, CALIF.

DEAR DON: I checked with my legal expert to be certain that I had not misled my readers. In 47 states and the District of Columbia, upon a felony conviction the right to vote is lost. In many, but not all states, the right to vote is restored upon completion of the sentence or parole. Some states require a pardon or administrative or court procedure before an ex-convict can vote again.

The courts have upheld state laws that prohibit felons from serving on juries, holding elective office and working as peace officers, and have limited other rights. So, while felons are afforded due process of law, their rights may be limited or revoked either permanently or temporarily, depending on the right and the state where the felon resides.

DEAR ABBY: Your answer to the woman whose live-in boyfriend would rather have his ex-girlfriend hem his pants than pay a measly $5 was lousy. You told her to take them to the seamstress when they arrived and pay the money to keep the peace. He's a cheap jerk who cares more about saving a buck than his girlfriend's feelings.

Why should she be the one to do anything differently? He should stop being helpless and self-centered. They both work and neither sews, so let him take care of his own pants. If he runs to his ex-girlfriend for something this trivial, be assured he'll start doing it every time his current girlfriend disappoints him. Peace schmeace! Tell him to grow up! -- SELF-RELIANT

DEAR SELF-RELIANT: I'll tell him, but I doubt if he will change his manipulative ways. Why should he? He has two women bending over backward to accommodate him.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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