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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Justin," is obsessed with making his car stereo system the loudest in our school. That means I am alone and depressed most of the time because I miss him and have nothing to do. I never get to see him in school because our class schedules are different, and on weekends we both have to work.

It feels like I hang out with his best friend more, and he agrees that Justin needs to pay me a little more attention. Yes, I have told Justin how I feel, but his only reply was that he agreed he was being a jerk, he realizes he hasn't seen me -- and he's sorry. The next day he was back at it, messing around with the wires and speakers.

Please help me. What can I say to him to fix this problem? -- MISS LONELY IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR MISS LONELY: Tell him loud and clear you think the two of you should spend more time together or your romance is history. In the meantime, explore your own special interests. Do not totally depend upon others for your entertainment and sense of worth.

DEAR ABBY: My nephew was married six months ago. I gave him and his bride a beautiful wedding gift. To date, not one member of the groom's family or friends has received a thank-you note. The bride has written to all of her family and friends, but she has refused to acknowledge any from the groom's side. She told someone that it is HIS responsibility to write his own notes, and she is not going to "enable him."

In my opinion, the bride is self-centered and has no feelings or interest in the groom's family. I see it as a slap in the face. In my 75 years here on Earth I have never seen a groom write a thank-you note. What do you think? -- ANGRY AUNT IN AKRON

DEAR ANGRY AUNT: In the words of Bob Dylan, "The times they are a-changing." In today's world, most couples are both employed and share household and social duties. Please don't blame the bride. You're aiming your anger at the wrong target.

DEAR ABBY: My 78-year-old mother has a shopping problem. It's been going on for as long as I can remember. I used to organize yard sales once or twice a year to clear out some of the junk for her. We always had a huge turnout because Mom always had a nice selection of new stuff for sale. Now that I have moved away, my sister is left with the mess, and there have been no more yard sales.

Isn't "binge shopping" considered addictive behavior? Our mother is hooked on the Home Shopping Network, as well as the sales racks at her local stores.

We have pleaded with Mom to stop, but she always replies, "You might as well dig a hole and stick me in it now!" That shuts us up in a hurry, because we were always taught to respect our elders. Have you any suggestions for us, Abby? -- TIRED OF THE MESS IN MONTANA

DEAR TIRED OF THE MESS: Not unless your mother is willing to face the fact that she has a problem. There are self-help groups for spend-a-holics, and anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications that can help sufferers cope with the compulsion to spend.

One rule is that if you're going to stop a negative behavior it must be replaced with a positive one. But all this is beside the point if your mother has the financial resources and doesn't believe she needs help.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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