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by Abigail Van Buren

Teen Doesn't Want to Choose Sides in Family Name Game

DEAR ABBY: I am a 13-year-old girl with a big problem. My parents have been divorced for 12 years, and my mother and her family have pretty much raised me. Not long ago, my mom told me she thought I should change my last name so that our whole family has the same one. Abby, why didn't she think of this when I was 2? I'm used to my other last name.

The other reason this is hard is that just a few months ago, I visited my dad's side of the family. I learned many things from and about them, and now I feel closer to them. I don't want to hurt their feelings. What should I do? -- NO NEW NAME IN OREGON

DEAR NO NEW NAME: It is difficult to understand why your mother has waited so long to suggest a name change. Of course you are used to your last name. Perhaps there is a legal reason your mother has proposed this. If not, ask her to consider a compromise and let you hyphenate the two names. Good luck.

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing about the letter from the diner who entered a Chinese restaurant 15 minutes before the posted closing time and was rushed through dinner.

Abby, in some restaurants the posted closing time means that is the time the kitchen closes; in others, the kitchen closes 15 to 30 minutes before the restaurant closes.

I paid my way through beauty school by working in restaurants, and every one of them meant something different by the sign on the door. I now run a hair salon, and our hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. That means we take our first appointment at 8:30 a.m. and the last at 5:15 (but an appointment that late must be a simple, quick procedure such as a comb-out). I understand that clients want to know when they can come, not when I go home. However, the salon down the street posts a sign that closing time is 5:30 p.m., and they mean they want to get out the door at 5:30.

The best one can do in this crazy world is to ask what the hours mean. -- JOAN IN TUCSON

DEAR JOAN: Thanks. Once again, the sage counsel is one we've all heard a million times. When in doubt, ASK!

DEAR ABBY: My mother expects us to supply her with school pictures of our children. That is a problem because she insists on getting the large pictures that fit the frames she bought years ago. She actually demands the large pictures.

Abby, the large pictures are not in our budget, and she hasn't offered to help pay for them.

The other set of grandparents are delighted with whatever pictures they receive, but not my mother. Can you offer advice on how to handle the unrealistic demands and help us avoid the agony of a confrontation again this year? -- PICTURE-PRESSURED

DEAR PICTURE-PRESSURED: Tell your mother that providing the size pictures she requests would create a financial hardship. Be firm in letting her know that if she wants large photographs, she must pay for them. Then let the chips fall where they may.

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) 932-660o