Dear Abby: I have never seen my problem addressed in your column and I need your advice.

As a child, I bit my fingernails, and they were ragged and ugly - sometimes my fingers bled, and I was forever hiding them. Over the years, I've spent a fortune on products that promised they would give me "long, strong, beautiful fingernails." Nothing worked.About 10 years ago, I discovered artificial fingernails. I learned to apply them so nobody could tell they weren't real unless I told her. Now my nails are truly beautiful, but I hate when someone compliments me on my nails - then follows it with, "Are they real?" Or worse yet, "Are they yours?"

I find this offensive and embarrassing. Also, I feel guilty when I lie. Is there some clever comeback I can use when I'm asked these questions?

- Offended in Indiana

Dear Offended: Don't lie. When someone compliments you on your nails, say: "Thanks for the compliment. I didn't grow them, I bought them. Aren't they terrific?"

Dear Abby: My mother died recently in a nursing home after a four-year illness.

With few exceptions, I visited her nearly every day after work and took time to feed her dinner. I was grateful for the excellent care and compassion shown to her. In fact, after she passed away, I wrote the nurses and staff a letter expressing my gratitude.

Abby, no one at the nursing home sent a note, sympathy card or any offering of condolence to me.

My husband says they did "their part" by caring for Mom and not to give it any more thought.

It still made me feel bad. I would like your thoughts on this, Abby.

- Moira, Utica, N.Y.

Dear Moira: With such a clear-thinking, fair-minded husband at your elbow, you need not seek answers from Dear Abby.

Dear Abby: I was recently involved in a situation that has never happened to me before - twice in the same week at two separate restaurants over 200 miles apart.

The server brought my check to the table and asked if she could take the money to the cashier for me. (I said, "Fine, thank you," and gave her paper money.)

When she returned, she handed me only the paper money, and kept the coin change.

I deducted the change from the tip I would have given her, and left.

My question: Am I behind the times and is this something new that I am not aware of, or were these just two isolated cases? Sign me . . .

- Over the Hill in Albany, N.Y.

Dear Over the Hill: These were just two isolated cases, and very puzzling ones at that. Food servers - as a rule - are overworked, underpaid and scrupulously honest.

Dear Abby: About canned laughter: I am 82 years old, and I used to enjoy listening to Red Skelton, Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen on the radio.

Now, with the new comedians I see on TV, I NEED canned laughter so I'll know when to laugh!

- Al Motsch in Cincinnati

Dear Abby: Here's how I solved the problem of my dog sleeping on my bed: When she'd lie down on my bed, I'd turn my electric blanket on "high." Before very long, she'd jump off the bed. After several nights of this routine, she wouldn't go near my bed.

Simple, but effective.

- Old Tricks