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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Periodically you invite your readers to "dump on Abby." My beef might seem trivial to many, and if that's the case, "Sorry about that!" but I am tired of seeing tourists in my hometown church dressed in sweatshirts, blue jeans, even shorts! Some might praise the fact that these ill-dressed folk bother attending church while they're on vacation, but why do they slight we year-round residents with their ultra-casual mode of dress?

I recall church at East Coast resort areas when some visitors, the famous among them, dressed casually -- but where most of the congregation were respectfully attired. The issue has reached the point where I, in nifty outfits, feel almost embarrassed for myself. Heaven forbid I should abandon my finery to blend in with the tourists!

At one packed August service last year, a woman with a head of cascading hair wore a halter top, giving the impression to those in pews in back of her that she was topless! Male, female, huge legs, shapely legs, hairy legs -- shorts are the "norm." Lack of consideration for year-round parishioners in resort communities is a sin. Please, dear visiting worshippers -- God loves you all, but give the locals a break. Dress with respect. AMEN! -- AIN'T NO SAINT IN OREGON

DEAR AIN'T NO SAINT: I, too, come from a generation where we were taught to dress up when visiting a house of God. However, in the last few decades, the old "rules" have relaxed considerably. People come to church to heal their souls and gain inspiration for living, and if you are focusing on what you and the other worshippers are wearing, I respectfully suggest that you are focusing on the wrong thing. REPENT!

DEAR ABBY: My 50th wedding anniversary is coming up in August and my children want to give us a grand party, but there is a problem: After 50 years of verbal, physical and mental abuse from my husband, I refuse to be a party to this hypocrisy. My husband, who is a retired professional man, is highly respected. However, we have not lived as man and wife for many years. He is an alcoholic, an adulterer, a wife-beater and a churchgoing hypocrite. He has ruined my life, and as a result, I have no use for him. I stayed with him over the years for the sake of the children when they were young, my religion (Catholic), and because of his threats.

We are both in our 70s now and we just tolerate each other. Never once has he shown any regret for his treatment of me and the children, who love us both but have no respect for their father. My children are not aware, as far as I know, of his adulterous womanizing over the years. Celebrating a life of hell is just more than I can take. What now? -- NO NAME, NO CITY

DEAR NO NAME: If your children are not aware of your husband's adulterous behavior, I see no reason to bring it up now. However, it would be impossible for them to have been unaware of the physical, verbal and emotional abuse you have suffered. Just tell them that under the circumstances, 50 years of the kind of marriage you have endured is nothing to celebrate, and ask them to please abide by your wishes.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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