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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: This summer, my boyfriend and I will be working together. I will be his boss. I want to maintain a professional environment while still keeping peace in the relationship. My boyfriend can be sensitive sometimes, so do you have any tips to help me separate my work life from my love life? -- STAGE MANAGER IN THE SOUTH

DEAR STAGE MANAGER: Yup. Before you start working with your boyfriend, establish ground rules in advance. He needs to understand that he won't be treated any differently than the rest of the cast and crew members because of your personal relationship, and to protect your job there must be no suggestion of favoritism. For you to allow that to happen, or for him to expect special treatment, would be unprofessional and could negatively affect the production.

DEAR ABBY: I was my best friend "Chanel's" maid of honor. I received her beautiful engraved invitation in the mail, but never sent back my RSVP, assuming that because I was maid of honor, had purchased my plane ticket, reserved a hotel room (which the bride and I were sharing the night before the wedding) and had already bought my dress, it was "understood" that I was coming. The bride and I had already discussed my special meal for the reception because I am a vegetarian.

During the reception, Chanel's mother informed me that "in the future I needed to RSVP when invited to a function." Abby, as a member of the wedding party I honestly didn't think I needed to. Are the members of the wedding party expected to RSVP?

As an aside, Chanel's mother was never fond of my mother and has told Chanel she thinks I'm "flaky." Was I in the wrong, or did her mother use this as a way to express her dislike of me? I have never considered her someone who was a stickler regarding etiquette. -- PERPLEXED IN PLANO, TEXAS

DEAR PERPLEXED: Technically, when one receives an RSVP card with an invitation, the recipient should immediately return it with an acceptance or regrets. However, in your case, common sense should have allowed the bride's mother to conclude that you would be there -- for all of the reasons you mentioned -- unless Chanel and her mother weren't communicating.

It appears your assessment of the woman is on target. For her to have been so insensitive to have taken it upon herself to "correct" you at the reception was in extremely poor taste.

DEAR ABBY: What should I call my late daughter's husband? My daughter had been married to "John" for 10 years at the time of her death. They had two young children.

John has since remarried and his wife has adopted the children. We have a close relationship, but I am unsure how to introduce both of them. (They are also aunt and uncle to my other grandchildren.) -- JUDITH IN SAN JOSE

DEAR JUDITH: The family history does not have to be explained at the time you introduce them. I see no reason why you should feel compelled to explain that your daughter died and John remarried, etc. Why not just say, "This is John and Mary, and our grandkids, Laurie and Jimmy"?

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)