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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: After being apart for two years, I recently encountered this guy I used to go with. He was always a manipulative jerk. But once again, I let him kiss me and shivers went down my spine.

He gave me his phone number; however, I keep getting his answering machine. I'm dying to talk to him, even though he always treated me so badly. I can't stop thinking about him. It's driving me crazy.

I can't leave my number on his machine, because I live with my boyfriend. I realize it's not good for me to talk to him, but for some reason, I feel I need to. I can't make myself throw away his number either, because I've already got it memorized.

Why, oh why am I so desperate to contact him? Is it because he has this manipulative power over me? -- GOING CRAZY OVER A JERK

DEAR GOING CRAZY: Heck no! This isn't about anything your former boyfriend is "doing" to you -- you're doing this to yourself. On some level, you have a need to be punished, and he is providing it.

Unless you stop obsessing and let it go, your compulsion will cost you the boyfriend you already have.

DEAR ABBY: Bless Jack Salisbury's heart, whose letter explained that people with a hearing impairment can be in danger because of their inability to hear high-frequency sounds. Due to loud explosions and the constant roar of airplanes during World War II, I am profoundly deaf in the high frequencies. I don't hear birds singing, the music of piccolos, cell phones or smoke alarms.

I have stood unaware beneath a blaring smoke alarm while my wife called to me from three rooms away asking if I had burned the toast!

Abby, I have brought this problem to the attention of fire chiefs and smoke alarm companies, however nothing has been done about it. The alarm companies point out that there are alarms with strobe lights, which is true -- but they can't take the place of alarms we can hear.

What is needed are appliances with frequencies of 1,500 to 2,000 megahertz. Most of us can distinguish those frequencies. Please bring this issue to the attention of those who can solve the problem. -- KEMAL SAIED, SAND SPRINGS, OKLA.

DEAR KEMAL: Fully one-third of our population over the age of 65 has significant hearing loss. Add to that the number of younger people whose hearing has been impaired from rock concerts and discotheques, and the market for appliances such as you describe becomes appreciable. A basic principle of business is the importance of continual improvement. I hope at least one entrepreneur or inventor will take note of these facts and regard your complaint as an opportunity.

P.S. Another point worth noting: People with hearing loss are frequently in denial about it. Untreated hearing loss can lead not only to isolation, anxiety, frustration and depression, it can also lead to accidents and suicide -- more reasons why it's so important to get one's hearing checked regularly, and if a hearing aid is indicated, to use one.

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.)

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