Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

DEAR ABBY: Recently the six ladies in my garden club got together to celebrate the birthday of one of the "girls." We are all in our 50s and 60s and have been friends for years. They all know I have an allergy to nuts, and eating even one can cause a violent reaction. Therefore, I always make a point of asking if nuts are in any of the dishes served at our get-togethers.

One of the ladies, "Mary," served a beautiful casserole. When I asked her if it contained any nuts, she said, "Of course not -- I know you're allergic." Just before we sat down to eat, one of the other women pulled me aside and warned me not to eat any of Mary's casserole because it did, indeed, have nuts.

When I confronted Mary and asked if it was true, she laughed and replied, "This so-called allergy is all in your head, and I was going to do you a favor by proving it to you today."

Abby, I have seen several doctors about my allergy. It is not "in my head." Nuts can cause my blood pressure to skyrocket and cause terrible headaches and vomiting. How should I handle my friendship with Mary after this incident? -- ALLERGIC TO NUTS IN GEORGIA

DEAR ALLERGIC: Friendship with Mary? Mary is not your friend. She deliberately placed your life at risk. Avoid her -- and her casseroles -- at all costs.

DEAR ABBY: You recently printed many telltale signs of a cheating spouse. What are the signs that someone likes you? My friends tell me this guy at work has a crush on me. How can they see it, and I cannot? -- WONDERING IN MONTANA

DEAR WONDERING: Because the signs can vary. Some to consider:

(1) The person "lights up" and usually seems to have a lot to say to you.

(2) The reverse can also be true. The person becomes tongue-tied in your presence.

(3) The person makes a point of being complimentary.

(4) The person makes excuses to see you, call you, e-mail you.

Readers, would you care to add to this list?

DEAR ABBY: I'll bet more than a few people made New Year's resolutions to do some kind of good deed this year. I would like to help those who have procrastinated by recommending a volunteer job in a nonprofit organization.

This year, RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) is celebrating 30 proud years of service, placing older adults in positions of impact, allowing seniors to shape the communities in which they live.

If your readers are interested in volunteering, we can send them to schools, museums, hospitals, libraries, senior centers -- even to the zoo. The list is never-ending. Thanks for spreading the word, Abby. -- MERYL SUNSHINE, SAN FRANCISCO RSVP OUTREACH COORDINATOR

DEAR MERYL: It is my pleasure to spread the word. RSVP is a unique program for people 55 and older who are willing to donate anywhere from four to 40 hours a week. Its flexibility allows persons of various skill levels and expertise to help resolve problems that affect their communities. Volunteers provide food for the homeless and hungry, mentor children, assist in community policing, prepare tax returns for elderly and low-income individuals, and much more.

To become an RSVP volunteer, call toll-free: (800) 424-8867 or check the Web site www.seniorcorps.org.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen 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

More like Dear Abby