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ONLY ASK QUESTIONS YOU'RE WILLING TO ANSWER

Dear Abby: I read your column regularly in The Elkhart Truth and The Goshen News. A letter appearing in July caught my eye and prompted this response:

As to the man with Oriental features who answered "Cincinnati" when asked where he was from, not only was this poor guy probably born in Cincinnati - his parents and grandparents may have been, as well. Just because people have Oriental features, it does not mean they just got off the boat. Even if they are new to our country, is this the best way to welcome them?Where do we white folks get this fascination with figuring out the nationality of people of apparently Oriental descent? How often are those of us with Occidental features assumed to be foreigners? My forebears, if we go back far enough, are from the British Isles. I'm proud of my history, but never has any self-appointed expert approached me with, "Excuse me, but my friend and I have a bet on. Are you from Scotland?"

I suggest the "walk-a-mile-in-their-shoes" test: Ask strangers only what YOU would not mind strangers asking you. Otherwise, MYOB.

- A WASP in Goshen, Ind. Dear WASP: Your suggestion sounds reasonable to me. But for the record, if I were asked where I was from, I would take no offense and would promptly reply, "Sioux City, Iowa."

Dear Abby: This is in response to the 20-year-old amputee whose mother thought it was "unladylike" for her to wear shorts, or skirts that didn't cover her stump.

Young lady, you are to be congratulated for your acceptance of the situation.

Four years ago, as a woman of 50, I also lost a foot at the ankle. (I do, however, wear a prosthesis.) I wear skirts whenever it pleases me, and I also wear shorts. I swim and do everything a "whole" person might do - with very few exceptions. I learned early on that if someone had a problem with my disability, it was his problem - not mine. I've found that many people are curious but are afraid to ask about it.

My 5-year-old grandson wants to take me to his school for "show and tell." Yes, he wants me to show the class how Grandma can take her foot off! With his teacher's approval, I will visit, and along with the "unveiling," I'll deliver a short lecture on the importance of taking care of one's body, i.e., exercising, eating properly, not smoking, etc.

I am a firm believer that something positive can always be found in a bad situation. Show others that by maintaining a happy disposition, although you have what some would call a "disability," you will not allow it to disable you. A good sense of humor helps, too!

- Thinking Positive

in Irving, Texas Dear Thinking Positive: Thank you for an inspirational letter. Others can learn from you.

Dear Abby: Can you stand another limerick? If so, here's one of my favorites.

- Milton Shapiro, Hillside, N.J.

There was a young lady from Thrace

Whose corset got harder to lace

'Til her mother said, "Nellie,

"There's more in your belly

"Than ever got there through your face."

Dear Abby: My son is being married to a lady who also has a fully equipped house. How can we suggest to their wedding guests that they need almost nothing, but are planning a tour to Europe next year, and cash gifts would be very much appreciated toward their trip?

I think it's sinful that so many gifts are inappropriate, some are duplicates, and much time is spent shopping and wrapping. Abby, can't you start a campaign to make checks socially acceptable as wedding gifts?

- Hates Waste

in Chula Vista, Calif.

1992 Universal Press Syndicate