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Dear Abby: My best friend and I recently got jobs at the two biggest competitors in town. We always have confided in each other about everything important, including work-related problems. However, our two businesses are so cutthroat and competitive, we're not even supposed to associate with people who are employed by the competition.

I don't want anything to affect our closeness. How can we maintain our friendship and also our jobs?- Troubled in Texas

Dear Troubled: You will be doing a bit of a balancing act to stay friends in a competitive job situation, but it can be done. Look at Mary Matalin, who worked on the Republican campaign of former President Bush while dating James Carville of President Clinton's campaign. They later married. Or United Press International's White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who worked in competition with her late husband, Doug Cornell of the Associated Press.

The secret is to keep your business and personal lives separate, agree to avoid discussing work-related problems or situations outside the office, and don't spread office gossip.

Dear Abby: I hope my story gives "Ticked Off in Georgia" a good laugh. He and his wife had attended a party given by friends. Not many were in attendance, and only hot cider and nonalcoholic beverages were served. Later, when comparing notes with other friends, he learned that there had been two guest lists. Group A described the open bar, fine wines, etc., while Group B was on the "dull and cheap" list.

Years ago, my aunt and her husband invited us over for a chicken dinner at the noon hour. When we were called to the table, my husband and I noticed at once that the meat plate held boiled wieners. We never batted an eye, and no explanation was offered to us about the missing chicken.

Right after we had eaten, my aunt and uncle went outside for some reason. I speedily peeked into their kitchen cupboards. Lo and behold - there on the stack of remaining dinner plates sat a whole cooked chicken. I was miffed!

When my aunt and uncle returned, they commented over coffee that their preacher and his wife were dropping over for supper that evening. Then it all clicked! We felt better knowing we had been switched to the "B" list so the good preacher could have chicken for supper. Still chuckling . . .

- Janette Kauffman,

Beaverton, Ore.

Dear Janette: Thanks for pointing out that in some cases, there are extenuating circumstances.

Dear Abby: Last year my brother-in-law got married and less than two months later, the marriage was over. He moved out and all the wedding gifts were put in storage by the bride, as the groom wanted to give her everything.

Here's the question: Since the marriage lasted less than two months, shouldn't the wedding presents be returned to the people who gave them?

- Ripped-Off Relative in Santa Ana

Dear Ripped-off: Most definitely, yes!

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

1996 Universal Press Syndicate



All of the Dear Abby columns since 1988 are available online. Search for "DEAR ABBY" in the Lifestyle section and the Deseret News archives.