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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Wow. This is a first for me, but I do need advice. I have been married 36 years to a wonderful man, and we have a great family. What is bothering me is we had to move out of state 20 years ago, leaving all our friends and some family behind. We have made several trips back to visit, and I saw my very best friend, "Sally," whom I missed badly. But Sally has never once come to visit me. Not once.

She tells me about her vacations here and there. Sometimes she has gone right past our city, but never stopped. I hear from her off and on, and it can be a year before she makes contact. Then it is like she misses me so much and wishes we could get together. She has even asked us to stop by on our next trip up there.

It hurts me that Sally has never made an effort. Through the years I have asked her numerous times why she has never visited us, and she avoids answering the questions.

Should I stay in contact with her even though it hurts, or conclude that we have grown apart and say goodbye? This is really important to me, Abby, so please respond. -- KAREN IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR KAREN: When you and "Sally" were separated geographically, life went on for your friend in a way that it didn't for you. She made other friends and developed other interests, while you clung to her. This does not make Sally a bad person -- and it's not an "all or nothing" situation.

I see no reason to end a longtime relationship because Sally hasn't worked as hard at keeping it going as you have. If you enjoy her when you do have contact, that would be cutting your nose off to spite your face. But for your own sake, it is important that you put this into perspective. When people are separated, sometimes they grow apart. And it appears that's what happened with you and Sally.

DEAR ABBY: Why is it important to go to school? My mom always tries to get me to go, but I don't want to. She has been having me go to some therapist at Youth and Family Service. I don't like it taking up my whole summer.

Also, I have to repeat sixth grade because of my missing school. I mean, I'm not going to need any of the stuff they teach. -- CONFUSED IN WESTBROOK, CONN.

DEAR CONFUSED: Attending school is important because basic skills are being taught that you will need when you are a little older, just to get by. A knowledge of math, English, social studies, history and civics are necessary in order to become a fully functional citizen and fit into society.

The question you should be asking isn't, "Why is it important to go to school?" but rather, "Why was I so unwilling to go that I now must repeat a grade?" If you are having trouble with the other children, help is available through counseling. If you need extra help with the work, there are special teachers who can help you. But first you have to be honest about what is the real problem.

DEAR ABBY: Recently, when I have gone shopping, I have noticed stores are selling games that encourage binge drinking among college kids and others.

Why have shot glasses as pieces of games like checkers, tic-tac-toe, Chutes and Ladders, etc. to encourage drinking? -- MARCIA IN L.A.

DEAR MARCIA: Because they sell. And they sell because some people naively think that drinking to excess is "fun" or makes them appear more sophisticated than they really are.

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-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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