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by Abigail Van Buren

Complaint About Sliced Lemons Makes Some Readers Pucker

DEAR ABBY: The number of people who take the time to write a letter, address it, stamp it and mail it only to complain about ridiculous, everyday things blows my mind. The lady who wrote complaining that restaurants don't slice lemons the way she likes them for her iced tea flabbergasted me. Maybe she should take a reality check.

When someone or something starts getting on my nerves, I find that taking a moment to think about its importance in the grand scheme of things really helps. This may seem morbid, but I do so by imagining that I am on my deathbed. Think about it: Do I want to lie there and say, "I've had a wonderful life full of challenges, beauty and love," or do I want to say, "I should have worried more about that snotty salesperson, or the paperclip requisition form"?

We can't all be easygoing all the time -- and we shouldn't be -- but the key is keeping things in their proper perspective.

Abby, the advice you gave the lemon-wedge lady was right on. If she doesn't like what's offered, she should bring her own darn lemons. That's a pretty good concept to keep in mind when it comes to just about anything. -- MONIQUE BYRNE, FREMONT, CALIF.

DEAR MONIQUE: Thank you for your support. I received a fistful of criticism for having printed that letter. Read on for a sample:

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing in response to "Incognito," who wrote to complain about her lemons being sliced instead of being cut into wedges in restaurants. Abby, I am only 16 years old, but I have enough sense to keep my mouth shut about small things. If I ever complain about my lemons being sliced wrong, I would hope to God that someone would slap my face.

There are people starving all over the world who would love to have a sliced lemon. I think your response to "Incognito" was way out of line. You told her it would be a "no-brainer" for chefs to provide lemon wedges. HELLO? Lemon wedges?

Abby, with all the problems we have in the world today, lemon wedges should be the least of our worries. Don't you think that a more appropriate response to "Incognito" would have been, "Get over it!"? I do. -- SKYLAR HOLBROOK, MIDLOTHIAN, VA.

DEAR SKYLAR: Not all problems are of equal importance to all people. I thought "Incognito's" letter provided an interesting change of pace and I'm sorry you did not agree that it was worthy of my column. Telling people to "get over it" is not very helpful; furthermore, it's not my style. I'm here to help my readers.