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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I had few close friends in grade school, but I did have one close confidante, "Janie" -- a girl in my class. We went on to high school together, which made the transition easier.

In my sophomore year I found a great group of friends, but Janie and I also continued our close relationship.

I'm a junior now, and a new girl I'll call Tammy has joined our group. She, too, had problems making friends when she was younger, but Janie accepts her. In fact, they share many common interests.

Tammy tells me everything the two of them do together, especially when I'm not invited to participate. I try not to let it bother me, but I must admit I'm hurt that my best friend spends so much time with Tammy instead of me. I don't want to be possessive and prevent Janie from forming new relationships, but neither do I want someone to come between my best friend and me.

Abby, Janie tells me that I'm still important to her, but I don't like feeling like second banana. I'm worried that Janie and I are slipping away from each other. -- FEELING LEFT OUT

DEAR FEELING LEFT OUT: It is not possible to "own" another person. You and Janie are growing up, and part of growing up is developing new interests and new relationships. Janie's compatibility with Tammy should not make you feel insecure. View this as an opportunity for you to branch out in new directions, and it will make you stronger and more popular.

DEAR ABBY: Thank you for the kind words about square dancing. Abby, members of square dance clubs do more than just dance. We have picnics, barbecues, potluck dinners, parties -- seasonal and otherwise -- and attend special events together. We take bus trips and get together to play cards or dine at nice restaurants. We also go on square dance cruises. There are opportunities for as much involvement as anyone cares to enjoy.

My husband, Don, and I have been square dancing since 1981 and consider it the best activity we have ever been engaged in. Don and I have held office in the club at least once, and are past presidents of the Associated Square Dancers of California (an organization of 70 square dance clubs in Southern California). We are currently chairing the 50th National Square Dance Convention, to be held in Anaheim, Calif., in June 2001.

Abby, our slogan for this year is "Square Dancing Is Fun and Friendship Set to Music."

We urge people who want to make friends and have a good time to take square dance classes or get back into a club if they have let their membership lapse. While it takes a little time to learn the dances, they will have fun learning and will be happy for the decision. They will never be lonely again -- unless they choose solitude. -- DON AND DONNA WEBB, TORRANCE, CALIF.

DEAR DON AND DONNA: I'm sure many people will take you up on your invitation. Readers, anyone who's interested in finding out where and when dances or lessons are offered should call 1-800-FUN-4ALL (386-4255). Square dancing is not only fun and entertaining, it's also great exercise.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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