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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I never married, but I have a 5-year-old daughter. It has been two years since I moved from my hometown and I haven't had a single date here.

I started a new job last August, where I met a man I'll call "Tony." I have not stopped thinking about him since the day we met. Call me crazy, but I think he may be attracted to me as well. He has flirted with me on many occasions, and I see something in his eyes every time he looks at me. I am no fool, Abby. I know when a man is interested.

The problem is, he has not asked me out except for a few lunches. In the five months I've known him, he has been out of the country for 2 1/2 months.

I am usually shy, but I confess I did flirt a little to let him know I was interested. However, I didn't want to appear desperate. He is very shy, too, but I feel deep in my heart that he cares. I have grown fond of him and would like to get to know him better. I know that I can't just ask him out, but I feel there is something special between us. What should I do? -- FEELING AWKWARD IN ONTARIO

DEAR FEELING AWKWARD: Unless there is a company policy that forbids co-workers from dating, I see no reason why you shouldn't ask him to join you for lunch on a weekend or dinner one evening. It's leap year -- so go for broke!

DEAR ABBY: Will you please answer a simple question? Why do grooms (husbands) always think it is the responsibility of the bride (wife) to write the thank-you notes? Moreover, why do they not know how to write thank-you notes?

I love my husband, but I'm about to wring his neck. By the way, he sees himself as a writing expert and a master of the English language, so it's not because he's illiterate; he just seems lost when it comes to doing this chore. I have heard that this is the case with most men. -- CURIOUS

DEAR CURIOUS: There is absolutely no excuse for someone who is literate not to be able to write a simple thank-you note. Your husband may have been raised in a male-dominated household where writing thank-you notes was considered "women's work." However, this is the year 2000 and times have changed.

The responsibility does not belong solely on your shoulders. Divide the "chore" and have him write to your side of the family while you write to his. Consider it just another way to blend the families.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter is being married this summer. She will graduate from college in May from a school in Texas. We live on the West Coast where the wedding will take place. Her fiance lives in Arizona where they will make their home.

The problem is they don't have the money to ship gifts to Arizona. I was wondering if it would be proper to ask people to take a picture of the gift they intended to buy, and wrap it in a box along with a check so my daughter can purchase the item when she arrives in Arizona. Is that tacky? Please advise. -- PLANNING A WEDDING

DEAR PLANNING: It would be improper to bring up the subject of monetary gifts, even if it is "prettied up" by requesting that the guests enclose a photo of the gift they had in mind.

However, if you are asked what your daughter needs or prefers, you may respond by explaining that a check would be the most practical gift.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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