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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My best friend of 12 years is a quilter, pattern designer and teacher. She recently showed me a pattern she created as a memorial to the Sept. 11 attack on America. She plans to sell the pattern as well as teach its construction at a local quilt shop. She does NOT plan to contribute any portion of the proceeds to any charitable organization connected with the attack. This has shown me a side of her I did not want to discover.

Abby, her actions have tainted my feelings toward her and I don't know how to react. Over the years, we have supported each other through many trials and tribulations, but this is completely different. Please advise me. A long-time relationship hangs in the balance. -- APPALLED IN THE U.S.A.

DEAR APPALLED: To the best of my knowledge, the charitable organizations connected to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have received a substantial amount of money. It is the local charities that are suffering.

I see no reason to end a longtime friendship. What people choose to donate (or not) is highly personal. Since I do not know your friend's financial situation, it would be presumptuous of me to criticize her. Please stop being so judgmental.

DEAR ABBY: My wife recently bought a new purse. Inside, was a preprinted "Important Data" card. On it, the owner is supposed to list her driver's license number, her safety deposit box, checking and savings accounts, car insurance carrier, and fire insurance and life insurance companies.

Just imagine how valuable that information would be to a thief should my wife lose her purse or be the victim of assault. With that information a person could steal her identity and run up thousands of dollars worth of expenses.

Please warn your readers never to leave such detailed information in a purse or wallet. -- JERRY IN WINTHROP HARBOR, ILL.

DEAR JERRY: I agree that it's too much information for a person to be carrying around. Much safer and more effective would be to simply write on the back of the card: "$$ Reward for the Return of this Purse" and a current telephone number.

DEAR ABBY: I am a senior in high school. At the beginning of the school year, I started dating "Austin," a sophomore. His mother is very protective and made him break up with me. Her only reason was that I am a senior.

Abby, I am a straight-A student. I have never tried drugs, cigarettes or alcohol my entire life. She never gave me a chance to prove I am a good person.

Austin is one of my best friends. Should I try talking to his mother or give up and accept the fact that Austin and I can only be friends? -- WONDERING IN KANSAS

DEAR WONDERING: Nothing you can say will make his mother feel less threatened. You have just gotten a glimpse of what it's like to be an "older woman" who's perceived as robbing the cradle. In another three years, the situation will be different. However, for now, you and Austin may have to remain school friends only.

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.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600