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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing in response to the letter from "Sick of Being Cupid," the Manhattan, N.Y., office worker who was required to provide female dates to her bosses. As someone who has committed sexual harassment against co-workers in the past, I feel compelled to comment.

If ever there was a case of sexual harassment, this is it. However, Abby, although I agree with your reply, it did not go far enough. "Sick of Being Cupid" should do the following:

(1) In addition to documenting the times and places where she was asked to provide her bosses with "dates" or escorts, she must also document to whom she spoke and what was discussed in terms of what would happen on the date(s) and what, if any, compensation "Sick" was due.

(2) Research the company to see if her bosses have bosses of their own to whom they are accountable.

(3) Find and hire an attorney who specializes in employment law to represent her interests.

(4) Contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offices in the jurisdiction where she works, and file a sexual harassment claim. (The address and phone number should be in the government pages at the front of her telephone directory.)

By punishing her for her inability to provide them with dates, "Sick's" bosses are creating a hostile work environment. Not only is their behavior contemptible, it is also a violation of federal and New York state law. She should not have her job placed in jeopardy by a couple of idiots who can't find dates for themselves. I urge "Sick" to follow my suggestions so that she may receive justice. -- OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE IN OREGON

DEAR OTHER SIDE: It seems you learned these lessons the hard way. I'm sure that "Sick" -- and many other employees -- will find your letter useful. Thank you for writing and welcome back to the human race.

DEAR ABBY: I have a dance recital coming up, and I'm afraid the other girls in my troupe will forget what to do. Can you help? -- WORRIED IN THE NORTHEAST

DEAR WORRIED: Nervousness before a performance is normal. However, the most important thing is to enjoy your time on stage. The way to prevent an embarrassing lapse of memory during a performance is to practice, practice, practice until the routine is second nature to all of you.

DEAR ABBY: My father died a few months ago. Mother is suffering and clearly distraught. They were married 44 years. I love my mom and want to help her, but she is constantly telling me how much "torturous pain" she's in. She has always had a martyr complex and has been needy, dependent and childlike. My mother is healthy and works full time, yet I can't help feeling she is somehow using Dad's death to manipulate me into filling her emotional needs and placing me in the role of parent. (I already have three young children.)

I have suggested to Mom that she go to a bereavement group or see an individual therapist. She heard me, but has done nothing about it. Is there anything else I can do? -- CONCERNED DAUGHTER IN NEW YORK

DEAR CONCERNED: Yes. Take your mother by the hand to some bereavement group sessions. It will give both of you a chance to bring your issues out into the open. Also, if your mother's "pain" (translation: depression) does not begin to abate, inform her doctor. She may need anti-depressant medication to help her through this difficult period.

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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