DEAR ABBY: I have a question for a new friend and need help in devising a subtle approach. This new friend has the potential to play a significant role in my life. I don't care if the answer is yes or no, but I would like to know if he is Jewish.

How can I find out if he doesn't volunteer? His last name is questionable. He is from a large family in upstate New York. His nose tells me nothing. His father is French, and I don't know about his mother. His complexion and hair are very dark. He has jokingly referred to Jews as "Hebes."Abby, how can I ask without sounding too concerned, which I really am not. - CURIOUS DOWN SOUTH

DEAR CURIOUS: It's a good thing you are not drawing your conclusions on the basis of his name or his nose because both are easily changed. Having a French father doesn't tell you anything about his religion. There are French Jews, Mormons, Christians, Moslems, Buddhists and atheists. And don't draw your conclusions on the basis of hair color or complexion; Jews come in all colors.

Also, some Jewish people jokingly refer to Jews as "Hebes." But if, as you say, this new friend has the potential to play a significant role in your life and if you're still seeing each other in December, ask if you can attend Christmas services with him.

DEAR ABBY: I have been wanting to write this letter for years, but I'm finally getting around to it. I used to respect the signs that read "Parking for Handicapped Only." No more. In my community, many drivers have special license plates issued to handicapped people, and do you know what one person's handicap is? Hard of hearing! Why on earth would a person who is hard of hearing need a special place to park?

I also know a man with a handicapped license who is supposed to be disabled. He goes dancing four nights a week until 1 a.m. Why should he be given a special place to park?

Another person I know borrows a car from a handicapped relative so she can park in reserved-for-handicapped spaces. Those places are meant for people who are in wheelchairs, walkers or crutches.

Is there no decency left in this world? - DISGUSTED WITH CHEATERS

DEAR DISGUSTED: I, too, am disgusted with cheaters, but may I remind you that not all handicaps are visible. People with heart conditions or emphysema may "appear" to be hale and hearty, but they can't walk a block without needing to stop and rest.

DEAR ABBY: Add this to your collection of unbelievable hospital bills: In 1953, my wife gave birth to a baby girl. Before checking out of the hospital, we were presented with the following bill:

Birthing and hospital care: $129

Circumcision: $25


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