If this were an unusual situation I wouldn't write about it, but it's happening more and more in this great land.

Mrs. McDougal whispered to Mr. McDougal in their bedroom, "Is he still here?"

Mr. McDougal replied, "Seems to be. I saw him eating breakfast this morning and reading my paper. Tell me again exactly what the conversation was two weeks ago."

"He said he wanted to come home for Christmas, and I told him, 'Son, that's wonderful. Your old room is waiting for you.' "

"Did he say anything about coming back for good?" McDougal asked.

"Not that I recall. He told me he just wanted to be part of the family for the holiday season."

"Then why the hell is he still here?" McDougal demanded.

"Perhaps he doesn't know the holidays are over. He was always weak on keeping time."

McDougal said, "I believe we should confront him and ask him what his plans are for 1988."

"I did that already," Mrs. McDougal said. "He claimed he had no idea, but he'd do something. He's waiting to hear about a roofing job from a guy in Minnesota."

"That's not good enough. This is my house and I want to know how long he's going to be staying here," McDougal yelled.

"Hush, he'll hear you."

"Tough, he's 31 years old. He should be able to figure out when Christmas is over."

"Well, I have no intention of telling him to get out. You should see the fear on his face when I ask him to go down to the store and buy milk and bread. He looks like a drowning puppy."

"He has to go out and do something," Mr. McDougal said. "He's been in safe harbors too long."

"But he is so happy. I never saw anyone eat so much and sleep so late and watch TV so religiously. He told me the only thing that would make him happier is if he had his dog with him. It's the only thing he really loves," said Mrs. McDougal. "You can't separate a child from his dog."

"He's not a child and if he misses the dog that much let him go back to it."

"Maybe we should both talk to him. We could tell him Christmas is over and we are looking forward to having him come back for Easter or the Fourth of July, whichever comes first."

McDougal said, "That makes sense. We'll promise to forward any messages to him from the guy in Minnesota. He's got to understand that we're kicking him out for his own good."

Mrs. McDougal said, "He'll never believe that. He'll think we don't want him because he's one more mouth to feed."

"If he believes that it's a better reason than I can come up with for booting him out in the cold," McDougal said.

"Why don't we wait one more day, just in case he decides to leave on his own?"

"No way. He doesn't have a job and the chances of his friend calling him are no better than 1,000 to 1. We better get him out before the guy in Minnesota decides to move in with him."

"It's funny," Mrs. McDougal said. "I thought of all our children he would leave the nest first and never want to come back."

"You never know until they reach 31 how becoming a grownup is going to hit them. Let's go downstairs and have it out."

"What are you going to say?"

McDougal replied, "How about, 'Por favor, hijo, but our casa is not your casa.' "