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by Abigail Van Buren

Baby Sitter Needs More Than a Moment's Notice

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I were recently invited to a friend's home for a screening of a movie in their home theater. About 15 other guests were also in attendance. We arrived on time and chose our seats by leaving our coats on them, then joined the other guests for pre-movie socializing.

When we returned to the room to watch the film, we found that a college-age couple had tossed our things aside and taken our seats.

Because there were no other seats together, we told them the coats were ours and that we had placed them on the seats for a reason. The couple left.

Later, another couple mentioned that they thought we had overstepped our bounds -- that we should have said nothing because this was a private home. I had always been taught that one could set one's items down, and that it indicated that seats were spoken for. Were we in the wrong? -- WONDERING IN COLUMBUS

DEAR WONDERING: Everybody was "in the wrong." The young couple should not have moved your things and grabbed your seats. Because you were all guests in a private home, you and your wife should have taken what seats were available. (I mean, would it have killed you to sit apart for a couple of hours?) And last, the couple who corrected you should have kept their mouths shut.