Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I would like to warn women, especially young women, about the danger of giving their car keys -- with their house keys attached -- to anyone.

A good friend's daughter went to a well-known tire company to have a flat repaired while she waited. Without thinking, she handed her key ring with all her keys on it to the serviceman and waited. What she didn't know is that most of these places also have machines that make copies of keys. One of the servicemen copied her apartment key, and two days later entered her apartment late at night and raped her.

This was a business she frequented, and they had all the information in their computer about where she lived, her phone number, etc. The man was caught months later and the police found out that he had done this before. He is now in jail, and my friend's daughter is trying to go on with her life.

I called my daughter right away and told her this story so she could learn from it, too.

Please, Abby, warn your readers to have their personal keys on another key ring or have a key ring that separates the car keys from one's personal keys. Perhaps this will save another woman from tragedy. -- MARILYN IN MARIETTA, GA.

DEAR MARILYN: You may never know how many tragedies you have prevented today. Your letter is a chilling reminder, and I hope my readers will heed it.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 32-year-old physician who has recently been seeing a wonderful woman who is caring, funny, and has a beautiful heart. I am very much in love with her.

The problem? Her table manners. I feel bad for letting such a trivial issue bug me, but my brothers, sister and I were raised with emphasis on table manners. It was a great source of pride for my mother and grandmother, so I am having a difficult time ignoring the matter.

We live in a small town where people frequently invite each other to dinner. I confess I am concerned about what others may think.

Abby, I know this is a petty issue in the grand scheme of things, but I'm having a hard time ignoring it. Have you any suggestions on how to give her pointers on manners without embarrassing her? -- LOOKING FOR THE WORDS

DEAR LOOKING: Begin by listing all the qualities you love about her, then explain to her there is one area in which her parents shortchanged her -- her table manners. After that, tell her exactly what you have told me and offer to coach her. You'll be doing her a great favor. Also, there are books available on the subject of etiquette. I highly recommend those by Letitia Baldrige.

DEAR ABBY: You erred when you told "Needs to Know" that there is no difference between "black tie" and "formal." For men, at least, there is a difference.

"Black tie" indicates that the men should wear tuxedos. "Formal" means that white tie and tails are indicated.

We don't see much formal attire in this country anymore, but that's what President Kennedy wore at his inauguration. -- DAVID CASH, SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR DAVID: More than a few readers pointed out that my answer was incorrect -- that although black tie and white tie are both "formal," white tie is MORE formal. Thank you for clarifying this.

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-sized, 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.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600