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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I recently met a lady I'll call Gloria. We have been spending time together and enjoy each other's company.

Last week, she invited me to her home for dinner. While I was eating, she excused herself from the table and returned a few minutes later with her pet cockatiel, "Bogart," on her shoulder. After she sat down, she placed a morsel of food in her hand and lifted it to her shoulder so Bogart could eat.

Next, she put some food in her mouth, and with the bird still on her shoulder, exposed the tip of her tongue (which had another morsel of food on it), and proceeded to let Bogart peck the food off her tongue. Finally, she craned her neck toward the bird as if delivering a passionate kiss, while Bogart inserted his beak between Gloria's lips and withdrew a shred of food.

I enjoy Gloria's company very much, but we are only at the beginning of a relationship. Abby, does being a pet lover have any bearing on what is appropriate at the dinner table? And what are the health implications of intimate contact with one's bird?

I have had pets in the past that I loved. But they never sat at my table, nor did they insert any part of themselves into my mouth to retrieve snacks of any kind. Was what Gloria did acceptable behavior at the table? -- NAUSEATED IN OLDE VIRGINNY

DEAR NAUSEATED: Hardly! However, putting aside her lack of basic table manners, I have a "tidbit" for you: This is a basic hygiene issue -- meaning there are health concerns for both Gloria and her pet. My veterinary expert, Dr. Erwin David, tells me that the oral cavities of both birds and humans are teeming with bacteria. Both Gloria and Bogart could catch something potentially harmful from each other.

You have now had a taste of what life will be like if your relationship progresses. Do not kiss Gloria unless she first gargles with a mouthwash that kills germs on contact.

DEAR ABBY: I lost my virginity about a month ago. My mother and I have always been close, and I have been able to tell her anything. But this time I'm not sure I can. What if I see hurt and disappointment in her eyes when I say it?

My mother got pregnant young, and she has always told me she doesn't want that life for me. So, Abby, do I tell her or not? I hate lying to her and I hate keeping things from her. Please help! -- "DAISY" IN LAS CRUCES, N.M.

DEAR "DAISY": It is important for a number of reasons that you tell your mother. She may be hurt and disappointed, but she will also understand. It is important that you be examined by a doctor and learn how to protect yourself from becoming pregnant or catching a sexually transmitted disease. It is even more important that you learn how not to be pressured into having sex. Your mother can help you with these things because she learned the hard way. So level with her NOW.

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-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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