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Dear Abby: Recently a family member married a woman from a different part of the country. I mention this because perhaps the region she comes from may have some bearing on the answer to this question.

They visit us twice a year and we like them both, but the husband always asks me on the side if I have washed the bananas I serve with breakfast, as his wife insists on having the bananas washed.The first time he asked me, I asked him if his wife eats the peel, because I have never heard of washing a banana. (He said "No.") I have since asked around and have found nobody who washes bananas. I wash apples, pears, grapes and melons, which I will be cutting through, but I see no reason to wash bananas.

Some people told me to wash only the bananas being used that day, because there is a natural protective coating on the skin and washing it away will cause it to spoil quicker.

My husband gets annoyed when he sees me washing a banana because he thinks it's silly. Abby, are we in danger by not washing our bananas on a regular basis? If you eat bananas, do you wash them before eating them?

- Curious in Harrisburg, Penn.

Dear Curious: This is a first, and even though it isn't of earthshaking importance, it is a refreshingly new question. No one in my household has ever thought it necessary to wash a banana. Most fruit, yes; bananas, no. We just peel them and eat them.

Dear Abby: I have never seen this in your column, and I would like your comments:

I have a friend who, in most ways, is a lovely, good person. The problem is that no matter what you're going through, she has it worse.

If you say you've had a rough day, well, you don't work as many hours as she does. She works more hours so she is more tired and has had a rougher day. If your child is sick, her child had it, only worse. If you mention you are low on cash, well, you don't know what that means until you have her bills. (Meanwhile, her kids are playing in $135 sneakers!)

I'm sure you get the picture. No one has a rougher life. Everything you go through is practically nothing compared to what she goes through. It is not enough to break up a friendship. In most other ways, she's a very nice person.

Why do people do this? Thanks for letting me unload.

- Frustrated Friend

in Connecticut

Dear Frustrated Friend: They do it because they have a compulsion to top you.

Confidential: To "Discouraged at Work and at Home": Charles M. Schwab once offered some powerful advice with these words: "A man who trims himself to suit everybody will soon whittle himself away."

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, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

1994 Universal Press Syndicate