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by Abigail Van Buren

Restaurant Gadabout Leaves Friend Alone at Their Table

DEAR ABBY: My friend "Brooke" knows everyone in town. It creates a huge distraction when we dine in a restaurant because she is constantly looking around to see who else she knows. When she spots someone, she leaves me sitting at the table to go and say hello to the person.

If this happened once, it would be acceptable. But it occurs continually throughout the meal and interrupts our conversation. The fact that Brooke is constantly scouting the room for others to greet makes meaningful conversation impossible because her mind is never fully present.

I have reached the point of no longer wanting to dine with her although she is a good friend. How would you recommend resolving this? -- ALONE AT THE TABLE, LAS CRUCES, N.M.

DEAR ALONE AT THE TABLE: Have a frank talk with Brooke, and explain how her rudeness has made you feel. If her behavior continues, then socialize with her in places where there are no distractions -- like her home or yours.

She may be insecure and feel a compulsion to ingratiate herself with others, but constantly leaving you alone at the table shows lack of consideration for your feelings. Also, I find it curious that all those people she knows do not come by your table to greet her -- and possibly be introduced, don't you?

DEAR ABBY: I work with a nice woman in a service-oriented job. She wears a full set of dentures -- top and bottom. When she's nervous, she has a habit of "clicking" and adjusting them. It gets worse when she's had an energy drink.

Personally, I can ignore it. But I have heard comments from customers and co-workers who wonder if she's "on something" -- like speed.

Should I tell her what people are saying or suggest she use a product to help keep the dentures in place? I would hate for her reputation to be ruined because of this nervous habit. -- CARING CO-WORKER IN IOWA

DEAR CARING CO-WORKER: Take the woman aside and tell her privately that the clicking is distracting to customers and co-workers. She may not be aware that she is doing anything. Suggest that she discuss this with her dentist because her dentures may need adjusting -- or, as you mentioned, her dentist can recommend a product to stabilize them. She may be more receptive if she hears it from a dental health professional.

DEAR ABBY: I purchased some things at an estate sale. Later, while looking in a piece of luggage, I found a gold watch (with an appraisal of $7,000 that was in the same box) and a string of pearls.

What is the proper thing to do in a situation like this? The estate people are long gone, but there was a name on the appraisal. I tried doing a search on the Internet, but can't locate the person. Will I have bad karma if I keep these items? This person must have family somewhere. -- FINDERS KEEPERS?

DEAR FINDERS KEEPERS?: If you have exhausted all avenues at your disposal to find the heirs, keep the items with a clear conscience.

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.)