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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Some friends of mine and my husband's invited us over for a sit-down dinner at their home. The friends are acquainted with my husband's parents and extended a written invitation to them as well, which I thought was very nice.

Because the friends live some distance away, we planned to carpool there with my in-laws. When my in-laws arrived at our door, they had my sister-in-law with them. (She's middle-aged and still lives at home.) I was mortified because I knew "Sis" hadn't been invited.

I promptly called the hosts to give them a heads-up and an apology, and offered to bring more food. My mother-in-law overheard me on the phone and took great offense and said they weren't going. She said my husband and I were rude because we treated Sis like a criminal. She asked repeatedly before storming off, "What's one more person gonna hurt?" Who was in the wrong here? -- BAFFLED BY LACK OF ETIQUETTE

DEAR BAFFLED: Your mother-in-law was wrong to bring an uninvited guest with her. Assuming you quietly telephoned to warn the hosts, and did not embarrass your sister-in-law by doing it in front of her, your mother-in-law was wrong again in taking offense because you tried to keep the hosts from being caught flat-footed. It was extremely rude to punish the hosts by leaving them with empty seats at their table at the last minute.

DEAR ABBY: This is in response to "Wounded in Midland, Texas," who was devastated because a friend had told her that her deceased husband had had an affair. Twelve years ago, when I was 23, my husband committed suicide while I was in the room with him. Not only did I have to deal with the pain of losing him, but also the guilt of wondering what I could have done to stop him.

At his funeral, several of our "friends" just had to share stories about his infidelities and drug habits with me. They laughed about them. (This was the first I had heard of them.)

I'll never understand why people do that when you're at one of the lowest points in your life. If they couldn't tell me while he was with me, what was the point of telling me then? Losing someone causes enough pain; at least leave us with what happy memories we have.

I, too, went through years of therapy and am now happily remarried for eight years, but I'll never forget those "friends" at the funeral. Needless to say, I haven't seen or talked to them in 12 years. -- ALSO WOUNDED IN WISCONSIN

DEAR ALSO WOUNDED: I'm pleased that you have managed to get past your tragedy and have gone on to have a successful life. Believe it or not, I have actually heard from some people who feel that the widow should be told so that she won't idealize her deceased spouse and will "get on with her life." I have never subscribed to the "for your own good" school of disclosure. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: In response to the lady from Midland, Texas, whose "friend" divulged that her deceased husband had carried on a verifiable affair, she should ask herself, "Why did she tell me this?" The answer, of course, is she wanted to HURT her!

My sister revealed that my son had told his cousin that he didn't care about coming back home again after receiving his degrees. I cried every night after work for three months, until my husband asked me, "Why did she tell you that?" To hurt me, of course. I promptly quit bawling. -- FEELING FINE, PRAIRIE VILLAGE, KAN.

DEAR FEELING FINE: I applaud your husband for his insight.

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-size, 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, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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