DEAR READERS: I'll be on vacation between Aug. 18 and Aug. 31. Don't panic -- I've selected some of my favorite letters from past years to fill the gap. I hope you enjoy them.
DEAR ABBY: We have an uncle who made a strange request some time ago. He asked us (his nieces) to be his pallbearers when he dies.
He is very sick now and has repeated that request. My father disapproves because he never heard of female pallbearers. I for one would like to be a pallbearer at my uncle's funeral because he is my favorite uncle. My cousins also would like to serve as pallbearers. Have you ever heard of such a thing? And even if you haven't, do you see anything wrong with it? -- LOUISVILLE, KY.
DEAR LOUISVILLE: I have indeed heard of it, and there's no reason why your uncle's wishes should not be carried out when he is.
DEAR ABBY: My son, Allen, who is 18, has been going with Anna Marie for three years. She's also 18. They have been engaged since last Christmas, but no wedding date has been set. Allen lives at home and just started working at a bank. Anna Marie works there too. This bank has a great benefit package, which includes a $50,000 life insurance policy. Allen told me he made Anna Marie his beneficiary. I was very hurt. I told him that after they are married, she should be the beneficiary, but until then, if, God forbid, something should happen to him, I should be the beneficiary of his policy.
He said no; if something should happen to him tomorrow, he'd want his girlfriend to collect on his policy. What is your opinion? -- ALLEN'S MOTHER
DEAR MOTHER: I'm with you. Until Allen and Anna Marie are married (unless she's pregnant), Allen's beneficiary should be his mother.
DEAR ABBY: I have been told by friends that it is possible to get pregnant through your jeans. I can't believe this!
I am a virgin, just turned 15, and know I am going to be more involved with guys now that I'm dating. If this is possible, I am scared to death to get very close to any guy. I need to know as soon as possible.
I hope you won't think this is a dumb question. -- WORRIED IN EL PASO
DEAR WORRIED: It is not a dumb question. It's a very intelligent one. A lot of kids get aroused just by lying close to each other while kissing. Then they just naturally proceed to the next step, which is petting.
It's not possible to get pregnant through one's jeans, but sometimes kids remove some of their clothing because it's "in the way," or they burrow underneath it to explore each other's bodies with their hands. This is known as heavy petting, or "doing everything else but."
The technical (and legal) definition of sexual intercourse is "penetration." (The male's sex organ must penetrate the female's.) However, as impossible as it may sound, in the medical literature can be found cases where there has been no penetration -- the girl remained a virgin, but after engaging in heavy petting, she found herself pregnant.
I have included this information in my booklet for teens.
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 $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)