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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I was bicycling through the park when I noticed a young woman dressed in black picking lilies along the side of the path.

I stopped and asked her why she was picking flowers. "I am going to a funeral today," she replied. I told her that while I understood why she was picking the flowers, she was still wrong to do so, because no one else going through the park would be able to enjoy them.

Abby, now I feel guilty that I confronted her. Didn't she have enough to worry about? After all, she was going to a funeral! Although I still feel that I did the right thing, was there another way of handling this? -- CIVIC-MINDED BUT CONFUSED

DEAR CIVIC-MINDED: Your direct approach was appropriate at the time you first noticed her picking the flowers. Black is a popular fashion choice, and you couldn't have known she was on her way to a funeral.

You were right. She should not have been picking the flowers, and your comment should give her food for thought. However, I suspect you'd be feeling less guilty right now if -- once she told you about the funeral -- you had expressed your condolences for her loss and then quietly gone on your way.

DEAR ABBY: My sister and I are married to brothers whose wealthy aunt invites the family for Easter dinner every year. This is a potluck meal, and she requests that we each bring double recipes. This year, my sister was asked to bring two cakes and another guest to bring pies. After our main course was served, the table was cleared and out came thin slices of pie. There was no sign of my sister's cakes!

After the meal, this aunt was busy in the kitchen putting away all of the leftover food. No one was offered anything to take home. Do you think my sister should have asked for her two cakes that were not served? She has a large family, and those cakes would have been enjoyed by them.

This is not the first time this has happened. By the way, there are only 12 adults at this gathering. What do you think of this? -- DISGUSTED IN DETROIT

DEAR DISGUSTED: I think your hostess takes the cake! For a hostess to solicit double portions for a potluck dinner, and then to hoard the goodies for another occasion, shows poor manners, worse judgment, and creates abysmal family relations. It would have been entirely appropriate for your sister to ask for at least one of the cakes to take home to her family. Next year, suggest to this aunt that any food not served be split among the guests.

DEAR ABBY: Please help me. My roommates are ruining my life. I'm a female freshman in college and live in South Carolina. I am living with three guys. Most of the time they're great -- until I bring home my dates.

They all have great social lives, so I see no reason why they feel the need to take apart my car, hide my clothes and scare my dates. They say it's for my own protection, but at this rate, I'll be an old maid forever.

What can I do to stop their foolishness before they scare away Mr. Right? -- DATELESS AND HOPELESS

DEAR DATELESS: Your roommates may regard their behavior as funny, or brotherly and protective. However, their methods are heavy-handed, intimidating, and an indication of their immaturity.

Make other living arrangements and get out of there as quickly as possible. And next time, share accommodations with female roommates.

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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