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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: This is the first time I have ever sat down and written to you, although I often wonder what your thoughts would be on various matters.

I have a good friend named "Don." Don's wife, "Susan," is the problem. Every time we get together, she tries to impress people and acts superior. She does it in subtle ways, but my wife always ends up feeling somehow inadequate when the evening is over. Susan talks a lot about money and has hinted to her parents about "early inheritance" many times. For the most part, she will associate only with people who are at least as well off as she is. And when she meets people who are wealthy, she sticks to them like glue.

Don and Susan are having serious marital problems. I have seen her in action. She has a terrible temper and has been known to throw a phone or two. Also, she's the most shallow person I've ever met. How does someone get like this?

My wife has told me that she can no longer stomach Susan. I understand her objections to Susan's value system, but I fear if we refuse their invitations, Don will be hurt. Some of our other friends stopped seeing them years ago. I know Don would be puzzled if I started inviting him alone. My wife thinks I should level with Don and tell him, "The girls don't have much in common." We agreed we would abide by your advice. -- BRAD IN CLEVELAND

DEAR BRAD: Whose feelings are more important to you -- Don's or your wife's? She must be a saint to have tolerated being belittled without having ended this foursome sooner.

Since other friends have stopped socializing with Don and Susan, Don will understand if your wife is unavailable and the get-togethers are "men only" because "the girls" don't have much in common -- an understatement. (Susan might even be relieved.)

Believe it or not, the reason many people act superior and aloof is because they feel inadequate or inferior.

DEAR ABBY: The letters in your column about people meeting Harry Truman have conjured up a fond childhood memory of mine.

I grew up in Independence, Mo., but had never seen Mr. Truman until his library was being constructed. My father built and installed many of the display cabinets in the Truman Library.

My daddy, knowing me to be quite an autograph hound, thought that meeting and getting President Truman's autograph would be an event of a lifetime for his teen-age daughter, so he asked permission to bring me along one morning. I took my Bible and was introduced to Mr. Truman.

He graciously signed it with, "Read it carefully. It will make you happy." Then, handing me the signed Bible, he led me over to a display case and asked me to read the signature on a document. It was Joseph Stalin's. Mr. Truman smiled and added, "I collect autographs, too."

Even though both my father and Mr. Truman are gone now, and my autographed Bible disappeared during a move, the memories will be mine forever. -- SHIRLEY (YEAGER) HENDERSON, RAYTOWN, MO.

DEAR SHIRLEY: I think you've said it very well. Our memories can be our most treasured possessions, beyond material things. Circumstances may change, but our experiences make us who we are.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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