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by Abigail Van Buren

Son's Friends Need Quick Course in Common Courtesy

DEAR ABBY: I have absolutely had it with some of my son's friends, and his girlfriend is no better.

I take my son and his friends places. The friends get into the car and never address me at all. It is like I'm invisible.

When the girlfriend calls, she asks for my son, but never asks me how I am doing or even says, "Hello, Mrs. Jones."

What is this world coming to? My children are not like that. People tell me how personable they are, and that they greet other adults courteously and with respect.

I have reached the point where I don't want my son to hang around with these kids, and I want the girlfriend gone.

Oh, by the way, the son I am talking about is a sophomore in high school. Any suggestions? -- SICK OF DISRESPECTFUL TEENS

DEAR SICK: Yes. Take the bull by the horns. The next time you're at the wheel and one of your son's friends gets into the car, say, "Hello, 'Johnny.' How are you?" Ask questions about school, sports, his parents. Break the silence and lighten the atmosphere. You're the adult -- make the first move.

As to the girlfriend -- it's possible that she hasn't been taught telephone manners. So be pleasant, and keep it light -- but let her know that the way to a young man's heart is not only through his stomach, but can also be through his mother, and that one way to impress his mother is to slow down for a moment and say, "Hello, 'Mrs. Jones.' How are you? May I please speak to your son?"

DEAR ABBY: I have a most embarrassing problem. My job requires me to make public appearances, and often I am "dressed to the nines." I admit, for dramatic purposes, I sometimes apply too much makeup. I have always been told I am beautiful, and I have even done some modeling.

Here's the dilemma: People think I am a man. Once I was cornered at a festival by an angry group of people who had been fired up by one drunkard's insistence that I was a drag queen. (Abby, I have children and I am definitely female.)

The first few times it happened, I tried to brush it off and regain my composure -- once I stopped crying. But lately, it is getting ridiculous. I am mistaken for a cross-dresser even when I wear very little makeup. At 5-foot-7 and 120 pounds, I'm hardly manly. A week doesn't go by without this happening.

My boyfriend says I should blow it off -- that people are jealous. My self-confidence is in the cellar and I'm at my wit's end. I have struggled with severe depression my whole life, and this isn't helping. A lot of the time I'd like to cower somewhere, but my job won't let me. Help! -- CRYING IN PHOENIX

DEAR CRYING: It's difficult to give you an answer sight unseen, but let's analyze this. Drag queens are often known for their flawless makeup and their flamboyant manner of dress. Could this be a description of you? If the answer is "maybe" -- then it's time for a fashion and image makeover.

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