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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have an 8-year-old dog and a 5-year-old cat. Unfortunately, my new grandson is allergic to both.

I live only a few miles from my daughter and grandson and visit them every day, but the baby can't come to my house. My daughter is insinuating that I have chosen my pets over her baby.

Abby, I need a truthful answer: Do you think I should get rid of my pets, or tell my daughter to wait to bring her baby over until he is old enough to be treated for his allergies? Please help. -- WANTS TO DO THE RIGHT THING IN FLORIDA

DEAR WANTS: I see no reason why you should have to give up your pets -- provided your clothing is free of dog and cat dander when you visit your grandson. Since you visit the baby every day, I see no urgency about visiting at your house until he is older. It is not that you have chosen your pets over your grandchild, but rather that your daughter shouldn't force you into the position of having to choose unless it's absolutely necessary. (And it's not.)

DEAR ABBY: I am a single mother with a wonderful 4-year-old boy. I have been seeing this great man, "Mike," for about seven months. I have not let him spend time with my son because I don't want my child to become attached.

You see, I don't know if Mike wants a real relationship or just wants to keep things simple. He's 33, and that's a 10-year difference in our ages. Mike has never been married, and I have.

My friends have given me mixed advice. One says to go with the flow and just enjoy. The other says I should invite him to go somewhere with my son and if he objects, get rid of him.

Abby, he's the greatest guy I have ever met -- everything I could want in a man, and to top it off, he's drop-dead gorgeous. When is the right time to have a serious talk with him? -- LOST IN ARIZONA

DEAR LOST: After seven months, I'd say the time is right. Invite him to go somewhere with you and your son. If he and the boy get along, share your concerns about your son becoming attached and later disappointed. Then be quiet and listen to what Mr. Wonderful has to say.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are friendly with several couples at church. These couples get together every week for a meal after services.

Abby, they frequently make plans with one another right in front of us, without ever extending an invitation. The other night, I was sitting at a table with several of the couples and became virtually invisible as they planned, in detail, an upcoming dinner party. I felt extremely awkward and uncomfortable, but the group apparently was oblivious.

Must we put up with this? Or should we take someone aside and point out how insensitive they are? I'd appreciate any ideas. -- NOT INVITED IN CUPERTINO, CALIF.

DEAR NOT INVITED: Rather than taking anyone aside and pointing it out, I recommend you look around and see if there are any other church members with better manners with whom to socialize after church. If your absence is mentioned, tell those people THEN how hurt, offended and unwanted you were made to feel by their insensitivity. But don't expect them to change. Rude people rarely do.

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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