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by Abigail Van Buren

Handling the Office Flirt Requires Delicate Touch

DEAR ABBY: You were a little rough on "Tom" in your reply to "The Office Gang," the letter about the female trucker who kept coming on to the only man in the office. You implied he was like a little boy who lacked courage. I must disagree with you. Take it from one who knows: I've been in Tom's predicament more than once.

In the workplace when a woman is interested in a man, she usually lets him know discreetly. They can then proceed with a relationship if they're both interested, or quietly let it go. Then there's the occasional woman who won't take no for an answer. What starts as a nice ego boost can turn unpleasant in a hurry.

We men are taught from an early age to respect women and not show aggression toward them. Persistent females who show sexual aggression when we're not interested present males with a real problem.

I think Tom is trying his best to defuse a delicate situation. He wants this woman to back off, but he also wants to be polite and not cause problems for himself, the woman or his co-workers. He is not being a coward, Abby -- he's trying to handle the situation with the least amount of fallout. Give the guy a break, huh? -- BEEN THERE IN ALABAMA

DEAR BEEN THERE: If I gave the impression that I thought the man was a "wuss," I apologize. However, an aggressive woman with romance on her mind is not likely to give up if the target of her affection sits there and says nothing. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I loved the story about the female truck driver who couldn't keep her hands off the only man in the office. I had the same experience.

During World War II, I worked for a wholesale company, and my department handled government business. The woman in charge of sorting the mail would put mine aside so she could deliver it personally.

There were four women in my department, and the mail sorter would wait until they were away from their desks to bring my mail to me. She would slowly bend over my shoulder from behind and plop one of her breasts on my shoulder while she kissed my ear!

This routine went on for some time, until I finally discussed it with my staff. They devised a plan: They had me take off my coat, then they stuck straight pins up through the shoulder pads. When they thought it was time for this gal to deliver my mail, they all trooped off to the washroom.

Sure enough, she sneaked up behind me, slowly bent over and -- plop (ouch!). Abby, she never did it again.

Of course, the ladies were watching what went on from the washroom. When they finally returned, their faces were flushed from laughing. -- ART ROLLINS, PORTLAND, ORE.

DEAR ART: You got your point across. I'll bet she was sorry she tried to make a boob out of you.

DEAR ABBY: My older brother is being married at the end of May. He has asked me to be his best man. What are the guidelines for giving a "best man speech"? -- I WANT TO BE THE BEST BEST MAN

DEAR BEST MAN: It should be a short state of the union speech. Save the inside jokes and naughty comments for the bachelor party. At the wedding, congratulate the couple, offer a couple of G-rated compliments, raise your glass, and wish them a lifetime of happiness together.

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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