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by Abigail Van Buren

Husband Holds Hostage Wife's Diary of Teenage Memories

DEAR ABBY: Two weeks ago, while we were sitting in church, my partner, "Roy," began chatting with someone seated next to him. At one point, the person reached out and patted the top of Roy's thigh. Later, Roy and I discussed whether this gesture could be considered flirting -- or was it like a pat on the back.

A few days ago, I was shocked to see my own mother do the same thing to a married male friend. Is this an appropriate gesture, or does it depend on the level of friendship or location on the thigh? -- TAKEN ABACK IN BIRMINGHAM, ALA.

DEAR TAKEN ABACK: Some people are "touchers" and mean nothing more by it than establishing contact when they reach out. Others are lechers. Much depends upon who is doing the touching, and who is doing the interpreting.