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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have been the principal of an elementary school for four years, and for the most part have been able to keep my cool except during those noisy lunch hours in the cafeteria.

Every January, our school takes part in a "Bound for Literacy" promotion to encourage reading. The promotion is usually capped off by (who else?) the principal kissing a pig, eating worms or some other bit of nonsense to honor the students attaining a reading goal. This year, my husband and daughter -- a fifth-grader at the school -- suggested a stunt to literally "tie in" with the promotion's name. I agreed to spend a lunch hour (two sessions) bound and gagged in a chair in the cafeteria if the student body read a total of 2,000 books. Of course, I knew they would reach that goal, so I had to gear myself for the noise I'd have to contend with on the appointed day. It would be a deafening racket.

Friday, Jan. 29, was the big day. Just before lunch, several PTA mothers armed with a bundle of jump ropes bound me securely, taped my mouth and hoisted me into a chair on a raised platform in the cafeteria. Then the children filed in. Of course, they giggled and waved -- but to my astonishment, the kids in both sessions were so quiet you could hear a spoon drop. I was amazed! One of the older children later told me, "We didn't want to take advantage of you while you were all tied up."

The following Monday, the noise levels returned to normal in the cafeteria. I have no desire to spend lunch hours bound and gagged -- but I have acquired a new tolerance for lunchtime noise, and I have definitely gained added respect for my pupils. -- BOUND FOR LITERACY, ABINGTON, PA.

DEAR "BOUND": After the "sacrifice" you made, I'm sure the respect is reciprocated. Not only are your students' strides toward literacy laudable, their exhibition of fair play is admirable. My congratulations to them.

DEAR ABBY: I have never written to you, but for a number of decades I have frequently read and enjoyed your column. I have even quoted you to patients occasionally. I am now a retired psychiatrist.

I am sufficiently appalled by your answer to "Devastated in New York" -- the woman with the cheating fiance -- to write to you. Heaven help her if she does "proceed with caution" as you advised. She is almost sure to become an abused wife, emotionally if no other way.

My answer would be much more along the lines of: "Trust? Are you serious? This man has lied to you not once but innumerable times over the last year and a half. (Since you say you 'recently discovered' his liaison, I assume he didn't come to you to present this as a problem.) People who habitually lie don't stop. Count yourself exceedingly lucky to have made this discovery now and not later. Any love you feel is left over from the romantic time during which you thought you had a relationship. You will get over it. He is a loser. Do not hesitate to lose him."

I hope you publish some "second thoughts" on your answer. -- HERTA SILZER, M.D., BERKELEY, CALIF.

DEAR DR. SILZER: Not only have I had second thoughts about my answer, but I also realize it did not convey what the young woman needed to hear.

Your answer is better than mine, and I hope "Devastated in New York" sees it.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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