Dear Ann Landers:

I received this in the mail from a friend who knows I am fighting the battle of the bulge. It made me laugh. If it makes you laugh, too, please print it.

--R.D. in Newark, N.J.

It did, and I shall. Here it is:

The Twenty-Third Pound

My appetite is my shepherd, I shall not want.

It maketh me to sit down and stuff myself.

It leadeth me to my refrigerator repeatedly.

It leadeth me in the path of Burger King for a Whopper.

It destroyeth my shape.

Yea, though I knoweth I gaineth, I will not stop eating

For the Food tasteth so good.

The ice cream and cookies, they comfort me.

When the table is spread before me, it exciteth me,

For I knoweth that soon I shall dig in.

As I fillith my plate continuously, my clothes runneth smaller.

Surely, bulges and excess weight shall follow me all the days of my life

And I will be fat forever.

Dear Ann Landers:

My 20-year-old son had sex with a 22-year-old woman. She would not take birth control pills because she was afraid it would make her gain weight. He said he used protection, but apparently, it failed. The woman is now pregnant, and refuses to have an abortion or give up the child for adoption. This means my son will have to pay child support for the next 18 years of his life.

My son respects this woman's religious views, although he does not share them. He is very angry that she is unwilling to consider adoption. My son was adopted, and knows how much love and care could be given to this child.

What are the man's rights in a case such as this? Shouldn't he have some say in the matter? My wife and I have been strong advocates for children's rights for many years, but we believe this is totally unfair to the man. We would appreciate your opinion.

--Steamed in California

This is a legal issue and a messy one at that. A man can, in some cases, prevent a woman from having an abortion or from giving up the child for adoption, but he cannot force her to do either if she is unwilling. If your son used a condom, as he said, he might consider taking a paternity test to make sure the child is his. I recommend it.

Dear Ann Landers:

My boyfriend and I have a wonderful relationship, except for one thing. I am ashamed of the way "Hank" speaks. He has almost stopped saying "ain't," and rarely uses the Lord's name in vain, but he continues to say, "I done something" or, "I don't want no apples." If I correct him, he becomes angry.

Hank had to quit school after the eighth grade in order to support his widowed mother. He says that's why his English is so poor. Ann, children in the third grade have better grammar skills than he does. Hank is anxious to marry me, but I'm concerned about what my friends will think of him. Please give me some advice.

--Perplexed in California

Tell Hank his poor grammar will stand in the way of success in every aspect of his life, and that he can do something about it. If he is willing, offer to pay a college student to tutor Hank on the basics, and rehearse with him daily. If you praise him on the slightest improvement, you can win this one. Good luck.

Questions may be sent to: Ann Landers, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, Calif. 90045.

(c) 1999, Creators Syndicate