Dear Abby:

I am a 20-year-old college student. I first met "Andy" in my freshman year. We became good friends and shared a fair amount of time with each other. I became very fond of him after several months of dinners, going to Mass each week and studying together. I finally asked Andy point- blank where our relationship was headed. He responded that relationships "evolve."

Although I'm in no hurry to rush into anything, I wouldn't mind a little kiss from Andy now and then. He is very courteous and caring when we're together.

He calls our get-togethers "appointments," and if he has to break one (which has happened only twice in two years) he is very apologetic.

My question: In developing a serious relationship, how slow is too slow?

Perplexed Somewhere in Florida

THIS is too slow. Andy appears to be a master of the noncommittal understatement. He has a way with words, but they're not the words you want to hear. You are both young, and you clearly want more than Andy wants to offer.

I suggest you look elsewhere if you're looking for romance.

Dear Abby:

I am a 75-year-old married man.

Recently a good friend of mine died. He is survived by his wife.

Is it proper for me to call her on a regular basis to see how she is getting along? Would it be more correct to just call her once in a while? Please let me know.

Fred in Florida

You are a caring friend. It's fine to call her on a regular basis as long as you call her together with your wife.

You and your wife should also, as a couple, invite her out occasionally.

Sometimes after a death, friends seem to pull back just when their friendship and support are most needed. I'm sure your friend's widow will appreciate being both remembered and included.

Dear Abby:

Excuse me? Did I detect the perception of a correlation between "uncool" and "being in the high school band" in recent letters in your column?

I played baritone horn in school band and married my childhood sweetheart, a tuba player, 22 years ago.

We gave birth to a French horn-playing daughter and a trombone- playing son, both all-state band musicians.

Our homegrown brass quartet plays together in churches, at festivals and in our local community band, and I arrange music for us.

Can life even get any cooler than being able to share brass with your entire family?

As they say (to paraphrase just a bit), "The family that PLAYS together, STAYS together!" My advice to your school-age readers is, don't bypass those band people!

Our kind of "cool" holds up over time.

Kay in Bass Clef, Milford, Del.

It certainly does. Through music, your children have learned more than the value of teamwork -- you live together in beautiful harmony. What a gift!

To My Irish Readers: Happy St. Patrick's Day:

May there always be work for your hands to do.

May your purse always hold a coin or two.

May the sun always shine on your windowpane.

May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.

May the hand of a friend always be near you.

May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

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, Calif. 90069.

(c)2003, Universal Press Syndicate