Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a single woman who dates and is not in a serious relationship right now. I'm enjoying my life, having fun, but have met someone along the way who is becoming important. I'm getting the same vibes from him.

Before meeting "Mr. New," I booked a Caribbean vacation with someone I have dated off and one for a few years. Now I'm worried. What if things progress with Mr. New? How will I tell him, and how will he feel about my going on vacation with "Mr. Standby"? I don't think lying is the answer, but I could say I was going with a girlfriend. But what if we become something more and he finds out I lied to him?

The trip is coming up soon and I don't know when -- or if -- I should tell Mr. New. Who knows? We could be over by then, although I hope not. Any advice would be appreciated. -- SINGLE GIRL IN PINE HILL, N.J.

DEAR SINGLE GIRL: I'm surprised you would still be enthusiastic about "tripping" with Mr. Standby while you're falling for Mr. New. Do not lie. The truth has a way of coming out, and if you do, it will wreck your credibility and the romance as well.

I advise you to level with Standby and let him know you met someone. He needs to find another travel companion ASAP. There will probably be a penalty for assigning your pre-purchased ticket to someone else. If there is, offer to pay it. It's the price of being honorable.

P.S. If Mr. New does not turn out to be Mr. Right, you can always take another trip with Mr. Standby next year if he is still willing to date you. (However, if he reads Dear Abby and recognizes that you consider him only "Mr. Standby," he may not be.)

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are expecting our first child and selected names some time ago. If it's a boy, we'll name him Ethan; if it's a girl, we'll call her Ardith.

My father sent us a nasty e-mail telling us he's praying we have a boy because he couldn't imagine "saddling a child with a name like Ardith." This from a man who named his son "Seymour Herbert" and stuck with a last name that is an insult in two languages. (My brother and I grew so sick of being reminded of it that we changed our last name.) It wasn't even our original family name, but a badly Americanized name-gone-wrong that was laid on our grandfather when he came to this country.

My husband and I found my father's remarks extremely hurtful and wrote him to explain why we chose the name Ardith, but Dad persists in saying how much he hates our choice.

We know the name is old-fashioned and unusual. But considering what some celebrities name their children these days, Ardith doesn't seem weird to us. If she dislikes her name, we'll help her change it later, but I doubt that will happen. Meanwhile, how do we deal with my father when he keeps bugging us? -- EXPECTING ANY DAY NOW IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR EXPECTING: By standing your ground and refusing to be intimidated. The privilege of choosing a child's name belongs to his or her parents. If Grandpa doesn't like it, suggest that he call your daughter "Darling," or "Honey." Both are endearments and would be his "special" name for her.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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