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by Abigail Van Buren

Girlfriend's Past Indiscretion Gnaws at Man in Here and Now

DEAR ABBY: I work in a small office with four "girls." A fifth girl, whom I'll call "Shirley," takes her break with us. Over the past year, we have all become friendly.

Shirley has a daughter I'll call "Toni." Toni is pregnant, and Shirley is throwing her a shower. We are all invited, even though I am the only one who has met Toni, and only once, briefly. Shirley approached us to ask if any of us are attending the shower, and when we declined the invitation, she proceeded to ask if we would all chip in $10 for a gift from us.

Does this take nerve or what? Any suggestions? -- MORTIFIED IN LANSFORD, PA.

DEAR MORTIFIED: It takes either "nerve" or total ignorance of the social graces. Unless you want to chip in for a group gift, I suggest you also decline that "invitation."