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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Here we go again. Besides being disrespectful, could it be construed as sexual harassment when a business establishment that caters to men and women hangs a calendar depicting nude or almost nude women in a conspicuous place?

My husband has one of those calendars in his office in a white-collar business that is patronized by male and female clients.

When I or my daughter, adult sons, grandson or granddaughters go to an auto repair shop, gas station or tire shop that displays girlie calendars, I am embarrassed and offended. My company has seminars regarding sexual harassment, and we are informed that this is a form of it. I do not allow it in my office. It is disrespectful, and I don't want to be part of a lawsuit.

Please don't get me wrong, Abby. There is nothing wrong with nudity -- it just doesn't belong in a public place. -- OFFENDED IN PALATINE, ILL.

DEAR OFFENDED: It may be in poor taste, but it is not against the law. As a member of the public, you are free to take your business elsewhere if the "calendar art" offends you. However, if you had to WORK in that environment, and if there was also demeaning conduct that was severe and pervasive, it might be considered sexual harassment.

DEAR ABBY: Yesterday my husband had surgery to remove a lump. The doctor prepared us for the worst, indicating that it might be cancer. My husband told only close family members and a few friends about his condition.

His sister, "Winifred," traveled 150 miles to come to the hospital, even though she was told there was no need for her to be there. I was very upset with her presence. I wanted some private time with my husband in the pre-op room, but within minutes, Winifred ushered herself in. I became upset and told her so. However, she refused to go back to the public waiting room.

While in the waiting room, during my husband's surgery, Winifred asked me if I would like to "talk about" the way I was acting. I told her I had wanted private time with my husband. She said I was selfish, that she is dearly fond of her brother. Abby, in the nine years we've owned our home, I can count on one hand the number of times Winifred has visited us. For the past year she has lived only 150 miles away.

Winifred has three children and a granddaughter to go home to, but what would my son and I have if my husband didn't make it? She would have lost her brother, but our lives would be drastically changed.

Fortunately, my husband does not have cancer. Do you think I was selfish requesting private time with my husband? -- BELIEVES IN THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY

DEAR BELIEVES: Your sister-in-law was frightened over the possibility of losing her brother, and probably felt guilty for not visiting him more in the past. Although you were understandably upset, you could have acted with a little more sensitivity. She is your husband's sister, not a stranger.

She, too, could have been more sensitive to your request, and left you and your husband alone after making her presence known.

Since your husband appears to be healthy and the crisis is past, I urge you to bury the anger and resentment you feel toward each other and try to become a closer family. Everyone will benefit.

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, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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