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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter from "Frustrated in Denver," I felt compelled to reply. The argument between the husband and wife centered around how to correctly wash flatware (spoons, forks, knives, etc.) in an automatic dishwasher. The husband insists the business end should face up, with the handles facing the bottom of the basket. The wife insists the opposite.

You told the wife, "Your husband is wrong." The fact is, Abby, you are wrong. I have a degree in food service administration and have worked in the field for 20 years. I can assure you that the states in which I have worked (New York, Texas and Virginia) have public health codes that require all food service establishments to wash soiled flatware as described by the husband in Denver.

By placing the "business end" of the utensil up, you get much cleaner flatware. My wife was skeptical until she proved it in our dishwasher at home. -- G.M. GASPER, SPRINGFIELD, MO.

DEAR G.M.: The face with the egg on it is mine. I apologize for judging the poor husband harshly. However, according to the instruction manual for many dishwashers, my answer was half right. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: You recently advised a couple that flatware should be placed with the handles up in the dishwasher.

The instruction guide for our new dishwasher says:

"Place items in the basket with some handles up and some down. This prevents them from nesting together and improves cleaning results. Knives or sharp, pointed items should be placed in the basket with the handles up." -- DIANA IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR DIANA: Thank you for your support. I needed it! The number of food service professionals who disagreed with my answer was disconcerting. On the bright side -- it's nice to know that so many of them read my column.

DEAR ABBY: From time to time you print a letter about overcoming shyness. I would like to share some wonderful advice my mother gave me many years ago.

As a teen-ager, I was desperately shy and dreaded school parties and dances. One day my mother said to me, "You know, dear, being shy is really being selfish. You are spending too much time thinking, 'What kind of impression am I making? Am I saying the right thing? Do I fit in?' The next time you go to a party, instead of thinking about yourself, look for someone else who seems shy and make an effort to talk to that person."

It worked. However, my life didn't change overnight, and there are still times when I walk into a roomful of people and my heart pounds. But now instead of standing alone, I reach out to someone who is also alone. I've made some wonderful friends that way -- and I overcame my shyness. -- ROBIN SKONE-PALMER, LAS VEGAS

DEAR ROBIN: Your mother was not only wise, she had keen insight. I suspect she understood your shyness so well because she had experienced the same feelings in her youth. My compliments for sharing her wise counsel. I'm sure it will go a long way in resolving the problem for many people.

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.)

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