Dear Abby: I love your column. Unfortunately, it appears on the same page as the comics and Sudoku puzzle in our newspaper. Every morning my boyfriend drinks a cup of coffee and then disappears into the bathroom for a good 15 minutes — even longer on weekends — with your section of the paper. Half the time I never get it back, and if I do it's never in fresh, crisp condition.

Any advice on how I can convince the male side of our household to extend a little more courtesy toward those of us who like to read Dear Abby before his morning "duty"? I don't even care if he leaves the seat up. — Desperate in Durango, Colo.

Dear Desperate: It's time to do some detective work. If it's Sudoku your boyfriend is after, cut it out and tape it to the toilet seat so it's ready and waiting for him. That way you can have your dose of Dear Abby untouched.

However, if MY column is his guilty secret behind that closed door, your only alternative is to grab the section first, beat him in there and lock the door. In a case like this, victory belongs to the fleetest.

Dear Abby: My best friend of 12 years, "Kimberly," has been engaged to "Oliver" for about six months, living with him for four. She recently confided to me that she does not want to be married and regrets ever moving in with him. We both cried as she told me everything that has been going on. She apologized for not telling me sooner how unhappy she was.

The next day, Kimberly claimed she regretted saying anything because it made Oliver sound so horrible. She said she had failed to tell me the good things he does to balance out the bad. I remained noncommittal and told her I am always here to listen. I told her my rule is, "Are the good times worth the bad?" She said they weren't, and she still doesn't want to get married. But she also insists she won't back out or say anything.

What should I do? Now that I know everything, it is impossible for me to see my best friend, who I love, enter a marriage she herself says she doesn't want. Should I keep my mouth shut, or fight on her behalf, since she refuses to speak up? — Advocate for Happiness in Seattle

Dear Advocate: Neither one. Tell you friend that, feeling ambivalent as she does, she and Oliver should seek premarital counseling from the person who will officiate at their wedding. If this marriage is not to be, it will become evident to all three of them at that time.

Dear Abby: I dread getting my hair cut and colored at salons because I detest small talk. I can't get to the salon until after work, and by then I'm all small-talked- out. Is it rude to bring a book and read while someone is doing your hair? — Not a Chatty Cathy, Irvine, Calif.

Dear Not Chatty: It is not rude to bring along something to read while your hair is being colored. However, reading while you are getting your hair cut might be counterproductive.

In order to get the "line" right, your hairdresser would probably prefer that you sit with your head up, looking straight into the mirror rather than down. My hairdresser, Asya, is a perfectionist who insists upon it.

Dear Abby: I am 12 and have bad problems at school. Whenever I'm behind, can't figure out a problem or just want to get it done, I cheat.

I'm home-schooled, and my mom is my teacher, which means the answer books are in my "classroom." I have tried to stop, but some-times I can't resist the temptation.

I have asked Mom to lock away the answer books, but she won't. There-for I continue to cheat. What should I do? — Cheater in California

Dear Cheater: Quit cheating, reorganize your time, and get extra help with your subjects if you need it. It is vital that you understand that when you cheat, the only person who gets cheated is yourself. Yes, you can "ace" a test — but if you haven't learned the material, you will eventually pay a penalty.

Take another look at your letter. It contains two errors. At some point you will have to take responsibility for your actions — and from my perspective, the sooner you do it, the better off you'll be.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. © Universal Press Syndicate