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by Abigail Van Buren

Triplet Longs to Break Free From Her Sisters

DEAR ABBY: I am one of identical triplet girls. We're seniors in high school and experiencing some identity problems.

My sisters and I are good at many of the same things. We all play varsity field hockey, are on the cheerleading squad, take many of the same classes and share the same circle of friends.

My problem is I'm sick of being one of the "O'Sullivan triplets." I want to be just "Caitlin." Sometimes boys call our house and ask the sister who happens to answer the phone for a date, because going out with a triplet is a novelty.

Other boys who specifically want to go out with me become intimidated by my two sisters -- so they get cold feet about asking me. Only one boy ever wanted to date me because I'm me -- and he moved out of state.

Teachers keep asking which triplet I am. Coaches sometimes yell at me when their intention is to yell at one of my look-alike sisters. I'm so tired of people referring to us as a threesome.

My fear is that this won't end with high school graduation, because for financial reasons, we're all going to the same college.

Don't get me wrong, Abby, I love my sisters dearly -- but I'm ready to be my own person. How can I accomplish this without quitting the sports I love, giving up the friends I share with my sisters, or switching schools? Sign me ... JUST WANNA BE "ME" IN MARYLAND

DEAR JUST WANNA BE "ME": Discuss your feelings with your sisters. You may be surprised to learn they feel the same way you do. Next, look for ways to "individualize" yourself -- hair color, hair length, style of dress.

When you get to college, enroll in different classes at different times. You may discover you have separate interests. Make an effort to widen your circle of friends. Establishing yourself as an individual may take time, but a college campus is usually larger than a high school campus, so I'm betting your efforts will be successful. Good luck!

DEAR ABBY: My son is married to the most terrific woman in the world. The problem is he spends hours on the computer. The other day I visited a singles site and his name popped up. He had changed his last name, but he posted his picture on the site so I know it's him.

I'm extremely worried that he may be cheating on his wife, and it would kill her if it's true. Should I confront him? -- CONCERNED MOM IN COLORADO

DEAR CONCERNED MOM: By all means confront him. It won't be pleasant, but it might save his marriage. Give him a deadline to tell his wife what has been going on. If he has been fooling around, they both need to be examined for STDs. Her fertility, or even her life, could be at risk.

DEAR ABBY: I hope you can stand another story about the uses of pantyhose:

Three years ago I watched a bird building a nest in an evergreen tree outside our family room window. After a couple of windy days, I noticed the nest had tipped and the eggs had fallen out when a supporting branch broke.

I grabbed a pair of control-top pantyhose, tied the legs around the trunk of the tree and fastened the panty part to two small branches, forming a hammock for the nest to rest in.

I am happy to report that four dove families have used our pantyhose nest each year. And I have doves in my pantyhose as I write this. -- SALLY IN CLOVIS, CALIF.

DEAR SALLY: It's better than bats in your belfry or mice in your rice (to quote an old jingle I haven't heard in years!).

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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