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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a gay man who has been with my partner for 31 years. I have a female friend, "Josie," whom I have known for years. She holds an executive position in the local bank and must attend many fund-raisers. I have been her escort to many of them. Josie knows and likes my partner, and he has never had a problem with my going to these social events with her.

Recently Josie became engaged, and she is now married. I was invited to the wedding, but my partner was not included on the invitation. I chose not to attend because of it. I have not heard from her since. It has been almost four months.

Josie's husband is a retired military man. I suspect she would rather not let him know about having a gay male couple as friends. Should I confront her or just end the friendship? -- DON'T ASK OR TELL IN ALBUQUERQUE

DEAR D.A.O.T.: Have a chat with Josie, lay your cards on the table, and let her do the same. If it's true that she's hiding her "past" and her husband is a narrow-minded homophobe, then you're certainly within your rights to move on. But give her a chance to explain.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 75-year-old man, and the past two years have been amazing. I met a woman with whom I had graduated from high school. She was also widowed after having been married 50 years. I knew her family back then, but we were just friends.

We are both is good health and enjoy being companions, going to movies, dancing, concerts, etc. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that we would be anything but pals -- but fate has a way of changing things. We have fallen in love.

After the life experiences of working, raising a family, losing a spouse and being alone a few years, love this time around is so much different. She loved her husband and I loved my wife, but at this stage of life we have come to appreciate even more deeply the magic of love.

We feel privileged to have this gift. We are young once again. Even our children say we're like two teenagers. Someone once wrote, "Love is a many splendored thing." Those words are true indeed. -- CHARLES IN MICHIGAN

DEAR CHARLES: Some people believe that Cupid's arrow can strike only the young, but your letter shows mature love can be like fine wine in that its fullness and depth improve with age. Congratulations to both of you. I hope you enjoy many more years of happiness together.

DEAR ABBY: What do you answer when someone says, "You look tired"? I seem to get this a lot lately, and I know it's because I'm looking older. People may be showing concern, but don't you think it's a little bit of a downer? -- OLDER, NOT TIRED

DEAR NOT TIRED: Not only is it a downer, it's also rude. When someone makes that comment, simply reply, "But I'm not tired. I sleep very well, thank you." Then watch the person try to remove foot from mouth.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)