One fine day in June they go on a picnic, our young couple. If his Mars and hers are as incompatible as their Mercuries -- hers, you will recall, is in Virgo and his in Gemini -- they will probably hate each other before sundown. Planet Mars represents physical energy and indicates how people approach and perform their tasks. Hence our couple will have trouble from the start, even beginning with the food.

She might insist on a basket neatly packed and systematically organized. The eggs will be boiled just so, each piece of chicken will be wrapped separately, paper napkins will be folded neatly, in a very specific place. Each step of the way is orderly and premeditated.

But our man may hate all this fuss, and couldn't care less where the napkins are placed, nor will he be impressed by the neatness of the basket. He might be perfectly content with a paper bag, even with stuffing sandwiches into his coat pocket. And when it comes to repast he would happily eat from a leaf, or even on the ground, whereas she insists on paper plates and utentsils.

It does not surprise that she is hurt because he does not appreciate her efforts and he is upset with her wasting time on what he sees as nonsense and, moreover, makes him feel loutish. So they eat their eggs in silence, each feeling the other is wrong, and wondering how they got into this mess in the first place.

If their love survives, it might be because of Jupiter, a planet that imbues us with feelings of expansiveness, generosity, forgiveness and luck (or lack of it). Or it might be Saturn -- his sense of duty and responsibility and awareness of his limitations.

And hwere is Neptune in their charts, bringing imagination, illusions and dreams, often talent, but also, often delusions and penchants for alcohol and drugs? And where is the planet Uranus? That would indicate the areas of life where they would be unconventional and rebellious.

Is his Uranus by chance afflicating the Saturn in her chart? If so, still more arguments will ensue. Her value system, her deep sense of duty and obligation, he would want to fight, even destroy. He might even tell her flatly that she is "a square" and all her ideas are pure bunk. Each would be shocked by what they'd see as the other's "twisted values."

And where is his Pluto-the planet standing for unfathomable recesses of one's psyche? Is any planet in her chart afflicting that too?

Karmic link or no, by the end of summer this man's heart may turn away from love. He may still feel that her eyes were the most beautiful he'd ever seen, but by this time memories also include bitter arguments, long silences; that she always seemed hurt or upset by him without him every really knowing why. He remembers that she made him feel loutish and brutish and inadequate.

So the compatibility of sun signs is only the beginning. For this fellow's next love may have the same sun sign as the other.

And he could blithely say, "See, astrology does not work. I am going to marry a woman with the same sun sign as Whatshername! And she might call and say "I met this wonderful man, but he is Cancer and I'm afraid to go out with him because Whatshisname who broke my heart last year is also a Cancer!" w

And they would never know though their new Karmic links are the same, the planets incompatible before, now blend perfectly.

Any good astrologer who saw both charts at the start could easily have predicted the outcome.

But then the astrologer had the advantage of knowing both charts and how they meshed, while the couple knew only their sun signs and that they were in love and he had the most exciting mustache and she had the most beautiful eyes . . .