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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am an attractive, college-educated woman. For the past 18 months, I have been living with my boyfriend, "John," an attorney in a four-man firm. About six months ago, one of his partners threw a large, formal dinner to celebrate an important firm victory. Although I had met this partner and his wife (I'll call them Mel and Alice) many times, and they knew we lived together, the invitation came addressed to "John Doe and guest."

At the dinner, John was greeted warmly and introduced to the other guests, an assortment of accomplished and well-known local socialites. I was barely acknowledged and was left standing alone as John was escorted around the room. At dinner, I was seated at Alice's table. She never addressed a single comment to me, nor did she acknowledge any of my attempts to join the conversation.

Later, Alice approached each of the other ladies and invited them to join her for a tour of her beautiful home. She left me standing in the living room alone with the men. The snubbing was so pointed that later others commented on it to John. Being socially shy and insecure anyway, I was devastated.

John and I are being married soon. I do not want this nasty woman at my wedding. Even more, I do not want to give Alice the chance to snub me again by declining my invitation. John says we have no choice but to invite them. How should I handle this? It's eating me up. -- STILL STEAMING IN S.F.

DEAR STILL STEAMING: I don't know what was eating your hostess, but don't let her appalling display of bad manners eat away at your self-esteem.

You have my sympathy, but if John feels it's necessary to invite his partners to the wedding, regard it as business and include everyone. It will be your chance to show one and all what a terrific life partner and helpmate John has selected. To do anything less than be gracious would reduce you to her level.

DEAR ABBY: The letter about the teaching nun reminded me of the only teacher who treated me like I was someone special. His name was Mr. Fleming, and he was a teacher at Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Ill. I was a student there between 1966 and 1969.

I came from a large family. I had no confidence whatsoever and was suicidal at times. No one paid any attention to me, and I was going downhill. Then classes started, and all of a sudden there was this teacher who made each and every one of us feel important and that we could accomplish anything. Needless to say, there was always perfect attendance in his class.

The sister who instructed her students to each write down something nice about their fellow students was truly inspired. Luckily, I had Mr. Fleming -- but for students who are not so fortunate, the sister's idea could be a real blessing. Teen-agers' feelings are so tender and fragile. -- BEEN THERE IN PARKLAND, FLA.

DEAR BEEN THERE: Many former students have had teachers who influenced their lives in positive ways long after their school years were over. A wonderful way to repay the kindness is to write the teachers a letter and tell them what a difference they made. Such a letter would become a treasured keepsake.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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