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by Abigail Van Buren

Something Other Than Love Was in the Air at Reception

DEAR ABBY: A distant cousin I'll call "Maggie" stayed with my husband and me while she was visiting our area. We were friendly with her parents and aunts, and hadn't seen her since her wedding years ago.

She proceeded to tell us that her aunt, whom we adored, had been a kleptomaniac. (This aunt has been dead about 10 years. Why tell us?)

When Maggie left, she took an expensive pair of scissors off the table. Nobody else was here, so it had to be her. Abby, this woman is a pharmacist and an only child. She's very well-off. We wined and dined her, and sent her off with some local gourmet items.

I want to write and tell her we know she took the scissors, but my husband tells me I should forget it. They were very special scissors -- heavy-duty -- and I miss them. What would you do? -- MIFFED IN CHICKOPEE, MASS.

DEAR MIFFED: It appears that, like her aunt, Cousin Maggie has a compulsion to steal. It has nothing to do with her wealth or social status -- it's a sickness.

If it will make you feel better, you could write her and ask her if she packed them "by mistake." But don't hold your breath waiting for her to admit it. If I were you, I'd buy another pair of scissors and not invite her back.