Dear Abby: I recently attended an Indian Head Start Directors conference in Washington, D.C., where I met an amazing woman.

This lady and I were riding a city bus, taking in the sights, as neither of us was able to walk for long periods of time because of health problems. As we chatted, a young man in his 20s who was standing near our seat listened to our conversation.During the conversation, I asked her how old she was. When she said she was 46, I couldn't believe it because she looked so young. When I expressed surprise at her age, the young man chimed in, "Yeah, you'd be a real knockout of an older woman if you'd lose some weight!" I, and the other bus passengers, were appalled at his rudeness.

My friend, however, simply looked at him coolly and replied: "I'll have you know, young man, that I AM a knockout. My self-worth and self-esteem do not depend on what you seem to perceive as my shortcomings. There are people in this world who think I'm the sexiest, wittiest and most dedicated person that they have ever met -- so what you think does not concern me!"

The other passengers broke into applause when she finished. Although I had the impression that he hadn't planned to, the young man got off at the next stop.

I wrote this to thank the lady for not letting the crassness of some people destroy her positive self-image. She has become my role model, and although we may never meet again, I'll never forget her example. Her name was Brenda. -- Standing Taller Now

Dear Taller Now: Those who would remind someone that she (or he) is fat, thin, short or tall are either woefully ignorant or brutally insensitive and possibly both.

And after reading your letter, I'm sure there will be more people applauding Brenda's stance than her fellow passengers on the bus.

Dear Abby: Here is another addition to your series on humorous inscriptions on tombstones:

My late husband, Jim Steele, was a sports announcer for WDSU-TV in New Orleans during the 1970s. At the end of his few minutes of live TV sports announcing, he would say, "Time's up. Gotta go."

Jim died Jan. 1, 1991. On his headstone I inscribed, "Time's up. Gotta go." Very appropriate, don't you agree? -- Jim's Loving Wife, Gloria W. Steele, Metairie, La.

Dear Gloria: Indeed it is. You are not the only reader to comment on the tombstone letter. Read on:

Dear Abby: The letter you printed about tombstone inscriptions reminds me of two others you might be interested in.

First, on a recent trip to Key West, Fla., we took the Conch Train tour of the city. When we passed an old cemetery, our guide told us of one tombstone inscription: "I TOLD YOU I WAS SICK."

When my first wife died a few years ago, I ordered a headstone for her and one for myself, leaving the final date blank, of course. But I added beneath my name, "OFTEN IN ERROR -- SELDOM IN DOUBT." I hope it gives some visitor a smile. -- G.B.F., Gulfport, Miss.

Dear G.B.F.: I'm sure it will!

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