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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a 66-year-old woman, married 48 years. We own a family farm not far from our home, which we share with our daughter and her husband, who are in their 40s. We are a close family and always have been. The farmhouse is old and has never been updated, so my son-in-law has built a shower outside. He works hard when we are there, mowing, etc., and the shower works better for him than a tub bath.

Recently I was sitting in a lawn chair not too far from the shower, and he came in from hours on the tractor in the hot sun and commented that he was going to take a shower. I didn't think he meant just then, but looked up to see him naked in the water. I didn't really mind -- I wasn't offended. Besides, he's a good-looking man, and I'm happy for my daughter. He obviously didn't mind and wasn't the least bit inhibited.

I later mentioned the incident to a group of my friends when we were discussing in-laws. They were very upset with me. They called me a "voyeur" and said I should have excused myself immediately.

Help, Abby. What have I done wrong? -- CONFUSED IN HOUSTON

DEAR CONFUSED: You blabbed the story to your friends. Everything was just fine until then. It's a wise person who learns from her mistakes.

DEAR ABBY: I hope my letter will benefit others.

I am going to be 50 next year, and recently started a job in a 22-story office building. I have never been self-motivated when it comes to exercise. However, I recently hit on the idea of using the stairwell in my office building to get regular exercise, and it is working out very well.

I arrive at work half an hour early and change into shorts and a T-shirt in the washroom. Then I go to the stairwell, and walk up all 22 stories, take the freight elevator down to the bottom and do it again. Sometimes I do it a third time if I have the time and energy to spare. Just walking up gets my heart really pumping, so I thought your readers might appreciate this idea. It's cost-free, convenient and not time-consuming -- unlike going to the club after work.

Because I don't perspire much, I just wipe myself down with a wet paper towel, dry myself with another one, change my underwear, get dressed and go in to work. I am so awake and alive by the time I start the day -- I recommend this to anyone.

The challenge each day is whether I can do it faster than the day before, and there is a real sense of accomplishment when I reach the top. I feel this would not be the case if I just ran around the block a couple of times. -- FIT AND HAPPY IN TORONTO

DEAR F AND H: I commend you for your commitment to personal fitness. However, your regimen could be dangerous to anyone with an undiagnosed heart condition. Those who decide to try it should first consult their doctor about having a stress test.

May I also suggest that most people who exercise strenuously tend to perspire profusely (perhaps more than you think) -- and a sponge bath with a damp paper towel may not be enough to deal with the problem. Out of consideration for your fellow employees, perhaps you should consider running the stairs after work instead of before to avoid the possibility of offending anyone. (Whew!)

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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