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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Last week I suggested to a co-worker, "Zack," that I treat him to a beer after work. Before our pints arrived, he disappeared to a corner of the pub to text on his phone, and 10 minutes later his girlfriend showed up. Her being there obligated me to buy her a drink, and it derailed the work-related discussion I had initially had in mind.

The following Monday, I mentioned to Zack that he should have asked me first if it was OK to bring someone else. He was none too pleased to hear that I thought his behavior was rude. How far off base was I? I'll bow to your opinion. -- WONDERING IN WESTMOUNT, CANADA

DEAR WONDERING: Did Zack know when you invited him for a beer that you wanted to discuss business? If not, then you're being too hard on him. But if he did know, then asking his girlfriend to join you was presumptuous -- and he should have offered to pay for her drink in any case.

DEAR ABBY: My 12-year-old daughter, "Jenna," is in the closet -- literally. About a week ago, she moved into her closet. She put her dresser in there, threw some blankets on the floor and that's where she hangs out now. When asked why she doesn't hang out in her room, she says, "I just like it in the closet."

Some of her girlfriends claim to be bisexual or gay. Is she telling me that she's "in the closet" or is she messing with my mind? Some of her friends are into cutting, and Jenna seems to be curious about it. I don't know what to make of any of this. Any advice? -- CONCERNED IN HOUSTON

DEAR CONCERNED: How close are you and your daughter? Are you the kind of mother she feels safe talking to about anything that might be troubling her?

Happy, outgoing girls don't usually take refuge in dark, confined spaces. She may be overwhelmed or depressed, or something may be going on in Jenna's life she needs help with but is afraid to tell you. Stay closer to your daughter for a while. If her change in behavior persists, keep probing until you find out what's going on.

Cutting can be an attempt to mask emotional pain, and if she starts, a licensed psychotherapist should be consulted.

DEAR ABBY: I have an 11-year-old son who has started having issues with lying -- nothing important, just little things like did he do his chores or brush his teeth.

I also have an alcoholic husband who says and does things he doesn't remember later. When I get conflicting stories from the two of them, I don't know whom to believe.

Don't suggest I leave my husband. It's not financially feasible right now, though it is something I am looking into. -- WHOM DO I BELIEVE IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR WHOM: I am not suggesting that you leave your husband, unless he poses a danger to his son during one of his blackouts. However, if I had to choose between a husband who says and does things he doesn't remember later, and an 11-year-old boy who lies occasionally about having brushed his teeth or done his chores, I'd be inclined to believe the more sober of the two, your son. And I'd make darn sure my son understood that, while I might be disappointed he hadn't done what he was supposed to do, he'd be punished if I caught him lying to me about it.

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