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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am feeling very guilty about my role in the destruction of a co-worker's life. He was a nice guy, but he also was a workaholic who didn't fit into the "party" culture of this office.

In the course of his duties, he uncovered a fraudulent activity by the boss. The boss panicked and fired him. A wave of mass hysteria followed, and some of the employees (myself included) made false accusations against this man. Now some of us regret our involvement. We were inflamed by the snow job our boss did on us, as well as the emphasis he placed on his need for our "loyalty."

One employee even claimed the co-worker made sexual advances toward her. It is obvious now that she and the boss are "very close," and most of us are sure she was lying. This woman is now obviously after my position, so I will probably be the next to lose my job. The moral: Don't get caught up in the heat of office politics and don't become part of a lynch mob.

I wish I could undo the damage I did to this person's career. Should I contact the man's lawyer, or just keep quiet? -- SORRY DOWN SOUTH

DEAR SORRY: If you can right the wrong that was done to your co-worker, step forward and set the record straight.

DEAR ABBY: When a girl gets pregnant, why is it always HER fault? I mean, doesn't it take two to tango? And how come if guys have premarital sex, it's not considered bad -- but with girls, it's as bad as a heart attack?

What really makes me mad are these sex-loving guys who want to marry virgins! I feel if a guy wants to marry a virgin, he should be one, too. Guys should wait for sex, just like girls are supposed to do.

I have talked to both men and women about this. Most of them agree with me. Abby, what do you think? -- WONDERING OUT LOUD

DEAR WONDERING: The attitude you have described is called a double standard, which is defined as "a set of principles applied more rigorously to one group than another."

There would be less hypocrisy in the world if we all held ourselves to the same standards we expect others to observe.

DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Junie's Only Mom" reminded me of something that occurred shortly after my wife and I were married.

My wife had two daughters, ages 3 and 6, and an ex-husband who wasn't interested in raising kids. Curiously, while the oldest looked like her mother, the youngest strongly resembled me.

One day while the youngest girl and I were waiting in line at the supermarket, a customer commented that I would never lose my daughter since she was my spitting image. I responded that was strange since she was my stepdaughter.

As we left the store, my stepdaughter emphatically insisted that if people thought she was my "real" daughter, I should let them think that. Over the last 11 years, this scenario has played out several times, and I've never corrected anyone again.

Abby, a "real" parent is the one who is there from diapers to dating, and has nothing to do with biology. -- A "REAL" MONTANA DAD

DEAR DAD: Out of the mouths of babes ...

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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