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DEAR ABBY: I'm a male who has graduated from high school and is about to start college in another state. I'm ready for a new challenge. The only thing holding me back is a romantic attraction I have toward one of my high school teachers.

He and I are best friends, but I love him more than as a friend. I have bought him many meals and gifts since he taught me, and I have found every opportunity available to be with him. I'm not sure if he's aware of my feelings, although I wonder whether I unconsciously make myself obvious. Regardless, we have a great relationship. It kills me inside to know I can never be with him.

I have never told anyone how I feel, and I know if I ever told him, it would destroy everything we have. I can't forget about him. He's on my mind constantly. Having to leave him soon is killing me. Do you have any advice for me? -- DREADING IT IN LOUISIANA

DEAR DREADING IT: Yes. Go away to college and open yourself to new experiences and relationships. Correspond with this special person, and when you return for school breaks, continue the friendship. Your feelings may or may not be reciprocated, but it is important that you let some time -- years -- elapse before trying to pursue anything closer with him. If you don't wait, it could be damaging to his career.

DEAR ABBY: Last Saturday, two days before my 75th birthday, I did something very uncharacteristic of me. I went to a tattoo parlor 25 miles away and had a flower put on my right buttock. I don't intend to tell anyone. It was my birthday present to myself.

This was not a spur-of-the-moment impulse. I have told my husband many times that if I made it to 75, I might celebrate it with a tattoo. He just laughed it off. No one in our family has one, and in the past, I have been critical of them. But this one does not show.

Now I have to find a way to tell my husband. He has an explosive temper that goes on and on, and he never drops an issue -- ever. I need advice, and soon. Help me, will you? -- SITTING ON A SECRET

DEAR SITTING ON A SECRET: How do you know you are the first in your family to get a tattoo? If someone else also got one in a place that doesn't show, would they have told you after you told everyone you didn't like tattoos?

You can't hide this from your husband forever, so don't try. If he reacts badly, remind him that the buttock with the flower belongs to you and that at 75, you're a big girl who didn't need anyone else's consent.

Now it's time to give yourself another birthday present: Refuse to listen to your husban's verbal abuse, and you'll be much happier.

DEAR ABBY: What are you supposed to do when you are sitting in a salon having your hair cut and styled, and the next appointment shows up early and engages your stylist in nonstop conversation?

My wife says this happens often in beauty parlors and I should suck it up. I wanted the stylist's full attention so I could get a good haircut. She's not cheap. Am I right? What would you do? -- PERPLEXED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR PERPLEXED: For the stylist to carry on an ongoing conversation with the next customer was unprofessional. If it happened to me, I would take my stylist aside and explain my feelings.

For the next customer to monopolize the stylist's attention was rude. The person should have been asked to sit somewhere and make him- or herself comfortable until you were finished.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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