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DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Zack," has been a bartender for many years. He has a terrible time remembering the names of his many customers who consider him a friend.

When we're out and about, we often encounter these people. Because Zack cannot remember their names, he simply does not introduce me to them. I feel very left out. Of course, they stare at me and wonder who I am, and it's a very awkward situation.

Zack refuses to admit to people that he can't remember their names. He says they would be offended, especially since he has known them for many years. Is there any way to deal with this? -- RED-FACED IN PITTSBURGH

DEAR RED-FACED: Absolutely! As soon as the person glances over at you, smile and say, "Hi! I'm 'Melissa.' What's your name?" It works every time.

P.S. When your boyfriend sees these people, he probably thinks, "There's rum and cola," or "gin and tonic." His problem is not uncommon among people in his profession.

DEAR ABBY: Five years ago, my 25-year-old son was killed in a boating accident. It was a very difficult time, as you can imagine. He was engaged to be married. His fiancee has since moved on with her life, and I have come to terms with my son's death.

My problem is that the mother of one of my son's close friends continues to remind me of this. She calls me every year near the anniversary of his death and wants to take me out to dinner. She always talks about what a "wonderful young man" my son was, how tragic his death was, etc.

Abby, I really can't stand this type of behavior. This year, she presented me with a photograph of my son that her son had taken about a year before his accident. When I saw the picture, it was like a knife in my heart. All of the horrible memories came flooding back.

I think that in some sick way, this woman thinks she is doing a good deed. I didn't want to hurt her feelings by telling her this, but I see that I am going to have to because I can't stand another year of her morbid behavior. Someone who has lost a child doesn't need reminders. We all grieve in our own way. -- M.A.R., MARLTON, N.J.

DEAR M.A.R.: The last line of your letter says it all. Some parents welcome the opportunity to talk about the child they lost. That's because they feel isolated in their grief by friends and family who are afraid to raise the subject for fear of hurting them, which leaves them with bottled-up pain they can't express.

I am certain that the woman who is reaching out to you has no idea how unwelcome her gestures are. You would be doing you both a favor if, the next time she calls, you explain to her that "we all grieve in our own way," and your way of dealing with your loss has been to move forward and put it behind you. Therefore, there will be no more dinners, no more reminders of the loss you feel so deeply, and no more souvenirs. Thanks, anyway.

DEAR ABBY: Could you please resolve a question concerning proper table manners?

When you are at a restaurant that has cloth napkins, is it proper to place your napkin on your lap as soon as you are seated or after the server takes your order? -- JULIA IN FAIRBORN, OHIO

DEAR JULIA: Your napkin should be unfolded and placed in your lap as soon as you are seated.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600

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