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Dear Abby 8/15
Guest uneasy at bat mitzvah should step up to the plate
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    DEAR ABBY: I am 14 years old and the daughter of a successful businessman. Daddy recently announced that we have been invited to the bat mitzvah of the daughter of one of his co-workers. I don't want to go.
    When I was in seventh grade, I went to her brother's bar mitzvah. While the actual ceremony was interesting and enlightening (I'm Catholic), the party afterward was really uncomfortable. I'm not shy, but it is hard to socialize with people I have never met before on such a large scale.
    I am afraid I'll be intimidated by all the other kids there who know each other. How can I enjoy myself this time around? I'd appreciate any advice you have. -- QUIET AND INTIMIDATED IN CLEVELAND
    DEAR QUIET AND INTIMIDATED: You are older and more socially skilled now than when you were a seventh-grader. You don't have to "sparkle," because the attention will be centered on the bat mitzvah girl.
    Why not use being Catholic and not knowing anyone to your advantage? Pick out the cutest boy in the room, walk over and explain that this is all new for you. Remember the circle dance in which everyone participated at the last party? It's called the "hora." Tell him you don't know how and ask him to show you and lead you when the music starts. You may make a friend.

    DEAR ABBY: When I had my first child, my sister "Ursula" bought me a cradle swing that retails for about $180. I have used it for both my children and have kept it in excellent condition. My youngest is nearing the recommended weight limit for the swing, so I'm considering selling it, as I do with all the items my children outgrow. I should get about $75 for it.
    I'm a stay-at-home mom and my husband works two jobs. We live on a tight budget. I'd like to use the money I get for the swing for birthday and Christmas gifts for the kids.
    Ursula's husband's niece, "Bree," is having a baby boy in two months. I'm not close to Bree and see her only every other year. I plan on giving her lots of the baby clothes, toys and equipment I have. I could have sold them, but chose to give them to Bree. I don't plan on giving her the swing.
    Ursula is now reminding me that she and her husband gave me the swing and they would like me to pass it along to Bree. Am I obligated to give what was a gift to me and my children to Bree's child? There were no stipulations when I received it. How do I handle this? -- PUZZLED IN PLANO, TEXAS
    DEAR PUZZLED: For Ursula to dictate to you how you dispose of the gift takes a lot of nerve, and no rule of etiquette obligates you to give the swing to Bree. However, unless you want that swing to become a bone of contention and a source of resentment, give it to Bree with a smile. The good feelings it will generate are worth more than $75  —and the penalty isn't worth it. Trust me.
    DEAR ABBY: This may be a dumb question, but I don't have the answer. If my elderly roommate dies (of old age) during the night, who do I call the next morning — his doctor at a big, impersonal HMO, the county coroner or the cremation society of which he is a prepaid member? He has no living relatives. -- ANXIOUS ROOMIE IN SAN FRANCISCO
    DEAR ANXIOUS: Your question is not "dumb." In the event that someone dies at home, the police should be notified so they can be sure the person passed away of natural causes.
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