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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My mother, who lives in California, recently received a page torn from a newspaper with a handwritten note attached that said, "Jenny, try it. It works!" It was a full-page ad for a weight-loss product.

My husband's "Aunt Ethel," who lives in Ohio, got the same thing with her name handwritten on it. Neither of the notes had a signature.

Both my mother and Aunt Ethel thought it was an attack from an acquaintance or family member who didn't have the courage to sign a name. They were deeply hurt.

Luckily, when we heard that they both got the exact same ad, we figured out that it was a sleazy marketing scam.

Abby, please inform your readers about this advertising technique. I'm sure many other people have been hurt by it, and they should be made aware that the ads have not been sent by an insensitive "friend." It's terrible that a company would hurt someone to promote its product. This type of marketing should be exposed for what it is. -- CONCERNED IN CHESAPEAKE, VA.

DEAR CONCERNED: I'm familiar with that kind of advertising. One of my staff, who has a weight problem to contend with, has received the same ad on more than one occasion. However, because of a column I wrote on this same subject a few years ago, she recognized the marketing tactic for what it was and tossed it immediately. We suspect that some of the plus-sized clothing companies that market their clothing through catalogs sell their customer lists.

Readers, should you receive one of these ads, don't jump to the conclusion that someone is chastising you for your weight. And, if the product seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don't fall for false advertising.

DEAR ABBY: I have been seeing this girl for almost six months, and she means the world to me, but I get so upset when plans we make fall through.

The other night I suggested going to a movie, and later when I called to see if she wanted to go, she said she was just going to hang out at home and take it easy. I understand why and everything, but for some reason this extreme anger builds up inside me, and I end up being silent, and she knows I'm upset. The same thing happens if she gets called in to work -- she's a server, and if she gets offered a good shift (Friday or Saturday), then she's going to take it unless we have some major plans.

I totally understand why she needs to do this stuff (she's a part-time student as well), but it still doesn't prevent me from getting angry. I really care for this girl, and I don't want to do anything to hurt her in any way, but I can't seem to control these feelings. They subside after about half an hour, but by then I have already upset her.

Do you know of anything I can do to control my feelings -- maybe count to 100 before I say something? -- ANGRY IN OTTAWA

DEAR ANGRY: Actions are controllable; feelings less so. Learning to understand your feelings would be a step in the right direction, because your anger comes from hurt. Some sessions with a psychologist to probe into why you take normal changes of plans so personally might provide insight. Most people react with disappointment to such occurrences, not with extreme anger.

In the meantime, instead of counting to 100, remind yourself that people run away from those who pout, sulk and make others uncomfortable by applying the silent treatment.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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