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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: For years I have wondered about this every time I have gone to a funeral and have ridden in the procession to the cemetery.

As the procession travels to the cemetery, all cars and trucks pull over and stop. That custom strikes me as very touching. I was in another procession last week, and even the UPS truck and several semis pulled over.

My question is, is this a custom only in southern Indiana where I live, or does everyone do this? -- WONDERING NEAR INDIANAPOLIS

DEAR WONDERING: According to Emily Post, this consideration should be accorded regardless of where people live. She writes: "If you encounter a funeral cortege (signaled by a line of cars with headlights or flashing hazard lights on), it's respectful to pull over to the side of the street until the cars have passed. Waiting at a green light while a cortege passes is also expected, even if someone behind you is honking to proceed."

DEAR ABBY: "Charlene" and I dated 10 years ago. We remained friends after dating. At the time, she was plus-sized.

I moved away for a while, and now that I am back, Charlene will talk to me only on the phone and not in person. Her reason is she is much too large now to let me see her. She doesn't want any human contact at all, and I'm scared for her. I have told her many times that I don't care about her weight. I want to see her, but she won't budge. I don't know how to get her to snap out of it. Help! -- KEPT AWAY IN PHILADELPHIA

DEAR KEPT AWAY: If Charlene has family and you know how to contact them, do so. Outline your concern that their relative has gained so much weight she's gone into hiding -- and hope they can convince her to seek help. Other than that, there's no way to force direct contact on someone who doesn't want to see you. However, you should continue to be a supportive telephone friend. She may need all the emotional support she will allow.

DEAR ABBY: I divorced two years ago after 25 years of marriage. During the divorce I met a man who helped me through the emotional roller coaster I was on. We became close and hoped to be married eventually. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack.

My mother introduced me to another man, "Donald," who is good and kind, but who was "burned" after a divorce and a long relationship. We see each other once a week, but I'd like to see him more often.

I'm having trouble being in limbo and not becoming too attached to Donald. Conventional wisdom tells me to stop waiting for him to come around. I work, volunteer, and have been asked out by other men. I have turned them down so as not to jeopardize what I currently have. Donald isn't seeing anyone else.

Can you please help set me straight once and for all? I'm in my late 40s and feeling blue about my dating situation. -- UNCERTAIN IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR UNCERTAIN: Has Donald told you he's not interested in marrying again? If not, he may warm to the idea eventually. However, for him to expect you to date him exclusively with no commitment on his part is unfair to you.

How long have you been seeing him? It seems to me you need to have a mature discussion. From where I sit you have no reason to feel blue. You're seeing him once a week, having a guaranteed good time, and you can explore the possibility of a permanent relationship with him or any of the other men who have shown an interest. So think positive and enjoy yourself.

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