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by Abigail Van Buren

Wit, Intelligence Come in Every Kind of Color

DEAR ABBY: I am a recent high school graduate. I have received several national commendations and graduated at the top of my class.

So why is it that because I work with my parents in an "ethnic" restaurant, patrons assume I have no command of the English language and am slow-witted?

Please print this letter in the hope that people will realize that behind my face -- white, black, yellow, brown, etc. -- there is a mind and a heart that is hurt when people don't bother to appreciate the diversity of the human race. -- STAMP OUT STEREOTYPING, NEW YORK CITY

DEAR S.O.S.: The patrons probably do not intend to be hurtful or disrespectful. They are behind the times. A generation ago, workers in ethnic restaurants were often newcomers to this country and just learning the English language. Today, however, restaurant workers are more likely to be second- or third-generation citizens.

I'm printing your letter to remind readers who are guilty of stereotyping "foreigners" that many of the workers are well-educated sons and daughters of the business owners, and doing this work by choice, not because they are unqualified for other employment. Looking down one's nose at someone who appears "different" is shortsighted and just plain wrong.

DEAR ABBY: My son and daughter-in-law -- she's 41 -- have an adorable 3-year-old, and they really want another child. In the last three years, she has had three miscarriages.

We will be visiting them in September, and I don't want to be a meddling mother-in-law, but I believe they need to relax and enjoy the little one they have and stop "hoping for more." I especially worry because of her age. How and what can I say to encourage them to accept with joy the fact that they'll probably have only one child? -- CONCERNED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR CONCERNED: In the interest of family harmony and their feelings, avoid the subject. No input from you can lessen your son and daughter-in-law's pain and disappointment at being unable to have another child. You are pushing for a conclusion they will have to reach by themselves in their own time.

DEAR ABBY: I am a pretty 29-year-old woman living in a conservative area in Canada. I have always been comfortable with my statuesque body. My boyfriend loves that I dress flatteringly -- or even downright provocatively!

My question is about the "do's and don'ts" of thong bikinis. We have lovely beaches here. Bikinis are common, but I have yet to see another woman wear a thong bikini. I enjoy wearing them, but I'm wondering if it's a breach of etiquette to wear one around families or children. Thong bikinis on older, out-of-shape men (eew!) are common. Abby, if it's good for the gander, what about the goose? -- TOO SEXY FOR YOUR KIDS?

DEAR TOO SEXY: Let's leave the geese out of it and concentrate on people. When in doubt, cover up. Getting arrested for indecent exposure would be a real "bummer."


Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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