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by Abigail Van Buren

Tongues Wag Even After Death of Troubled Teen

DEAR ABBY: I'm a junior in high school, and a girl I was acquainted with was killed in a car crash. The accident was the result of bad road conditions, and she wasn't wearing her seatbelt. The driver of the car survived.

Because this girl had a reputation for being a troublemaker -- skipping classes, getting pregnant -- some adults here think she got what she deserved. I think it's insensitive to say such things while her parents are mourning the loss of their daughter. She may not have been the nicest person, but I feel sad for her parents and the baby she left behind.

How do I respond to these negative comments? -- SYMPATHETIC TEEN, PROSSER, WASH.

DEAR SYMPATHETIC TEEN: I think you said it very well in your letter. That girl's parents are mourning the loss of their daughter, and this is a tragedy not only for them, but also for the baby who lost its mother. Yes, she made mistakes but none of them warranted the death penalty.

DEAR ABBY: I crave certain foods sometimes. My doctor said that when you crave a food, it means your body needs something that's contained in the food -- such as salt on pretzels.

My grandmother thinks whenever I say I'm craving a food that I'm pregnant. I have tried to explain to her that I'm not -- that sometimes when your body needs a certain vitamin or mineral, people crave foods that are high in it.

My grandmother insists that my doctor is wrong and doesn't know what she is talking about. She says the only time a woman craves a certain food is when she's pregnant. Unlike my doctor, my grandmother has not been to medical school. She thinks experience and age are everything, and science is nothing.

Abby, what should I say to my grandmother to help her understand that science is here for a reason? -- CRAVING HELP IN MUSTANG, OKLA.

DEAR CRAVING HELP: Please stop arguing with your grandmother because as steeped in "folk wisdom" as she appears to be, she isn't going to budge. I do have one suggestion, though. The most effective way to get her to quit telling you you're pregnant would be to stop telling her you have a craving.

DEAR ABBY: We recently remodeled my mother-in-law's house. She's now trying to move back in and put things away. She asks my opinion constantly about where things should go, but when I give her my answer, she always disagrees.

Her house is small and storage is limited. I try to give her ideas (which she asks for) for organizing her stuff -- but then she says, "Oh, no," and shoves everything in her pantry.

I hate to see her clutter her house when she doesn't have to, and I feel her disregarding my help is intentional. What are your thoughts? -- TRYING TO LET IT GO, RICHMOND, VA.

DEAR TRYING: Your mother-in-law may ask your advice not because she intends to use it, but because she likes the attention she's getting from you. It's important that you emotionally disengage from what's going on, and remember that SHE will have to live with the disorganized mess she's creating, not you. You did your part by helping out with the remodel, so give yourself a pat on the back for that and step back. Your relationship with your mother-in-law will be better, and you'll experience less frustration if you do.

DEAR READERS: To those who live where daylight saving time is observed, I offer this gentle reminder: Don't forget to turn your clocks forward one hour before going to bed tonight. Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. tomorrow, and you know what that means -- spring is on the way!

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)