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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I'm a desk clerk at a hotel in Arizona, and I get hit on a lot. I think the reason probably is that I do not wear a traditional gold wedding band. I am not into diamonds and gold. My husband and I prefer simple silver and turquoise rings.

You would not believe how many rude comments I receive about my ring. When I pointed to my ring and told one man I was married, he said in an exasperated tone, "But that's not a wedding ring!" Says who? I wanted to sock him.

A co-worker referred to my husband as "your husband, your boyfriend -- whatever." I said, "Husband! We're married." He said, "Well, where's your wedding ring?"

Abby, women are the worst. Once I mention I am married, I see their eyes glance to see what kind of "rock" I have, and a mixed expression of revulsion, pity and disbelief washes over their faces. It makes me feel uncomfortable and angry. Sometimes I feel like hiding my hands to avoid this treatment. Why should I have to feel ashamed of my wedding ring?

I have considered trading in our silver and turquoise rings just to please the crowd. Abby, short of toting my wedding certificate around in my backpack, what can I do to fend off this rudeness? -- MARRIED (REALLY!) IN ARIZONA

DEAR MARRIED (REALLY!): There is nothing you can do to curb the rudeness and thoughtlessness of co-workers and hotel guests, but don't let their comments get to you.

I see no reason why you should replace the ring your husband placed on your finger. Nor should you have to carry around a copy of your marriage certificate. A better way to get your message across would be to keep a small, framed wedding photo nearby to present when words fail you.

DEAR ABBY: I have read your column for years but have never written. However, I felt compelled to do so after reading the letter from Donna R. Berryman, stating: "Bookstores are just what the name implies -- stores."

Abby, my husband and I own a bookstore. We do research and place special orders for our customers as well as provide many other services. We have a terrific staff consisting of teachers, math and science majors, and other college students.

Our store works hand-in-hand with a local library, and we have donated books to it as well as sent customers their way. In return, they refer people to our bookstore.

I ask that Ms. Berryman not pass judgment on bookstores. I also invite her to visit ours -- we welcome the opportunity to show her how we compare with a library. I think she would be impressed. -- SUZANNE E. LAYFIELD, LITTLE PROFESSOR BOOK CENTER, MC KINNEY, TEXAS

DEAR SUZANNE: It sounds as though you have a wonderful bookstore. Many people find it helpful to use both bookstores and libraries for their needs. Over the last 10 years, bookstores have become increasingly diverse, dynamic and customer service-oriented. However for those who cannot afford to buy books, or need help researching what they need, the library is an invaluable resource.

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