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by Abigail Van Buren

Man's False Online Profile Is About to Rear Its Ugly Head

DEAR ABBY: I am part of a group of people who read our local newspaper online and comment on the news of the day in the public forums provided. It's great fun and offers an excellent place to interact with others.

Some of us have become close, exchanging e-mails and chat messages. One of the women has suggested we all get together at a local watering hole and meet each other, and the gang has agreed.

I would love to join in, but the problem is that the persona I built online is that of a hunky, handsome young man -- including a pilfered photo I posted as "me" on my profile. Needless to say, he is NOT me. I am a 54-year-old, chubby, graying man who wears glasses.

I would love to meet these people, but I'm embarrassed about the lies I have told them. Some of the women have flirted with me, thinking I am this sexy guy. How can I fix this so we can all be friends? I am afraid they'll be angry at my ruse. -- ABS OF SPONGE

DEAR ABS OF SPONGE: Keep your sense of humor, wear a name tag that reads "Guess Who?" and when they ask who you are, remind them people shouldn't believe everything they read. You are by far not the only person to "fudge" by a few years -- or a few pounds -- in describing oneself. In fact, you may be surprised to discover that you weren't the only creative writer in the group.

P.S. Your true identity may be the most interesting "news flash" at the gathering.