Dear Ann:

I belong to a canasta group. There are 12 ladies in our club, and we play cards two afternoons a week, alternating homes. Whoever is hosting always serves a light lunch. The problem is with one of our members, "Minnie." She is a lovely person, but a terrible housekeeper. The woman is an animal lover, and her pets have free rein of her home. The sun porch where we play cards smells of urine, and there is animal hair everywhere. That would be bad enough, but the cats walk on the kitchen counter where our food is laid out buffet-style, and yet we are still supposed to help ourselves.

Need I tell you, I have no appetite when I am in that house. I don't want to offend our hostess, so I put a small amount of food on my plate. Minnie always notices and invariably says, "Oh, darling, do eat more of this. You can diet later in the week!" She then piles more food on my plate.

Please, Ann, tell me how to handle this awkward situation.

Beside Myself in Ohio

Does Minnie serve paper napkins? If not, tissue will do. Put the inedible food in the napkin or tissue, tactfully excuse yourself briefly and flush it down the you-know-what. I have done this on occasion myself when an overzealous hostess piles seconds and thirds on my plate, and no one is any the wiser.

Dear Ann:

Please revisit the subject of overweight airline passengers. It is of great concern to me. I do not understand your sympathy for these people. Evidently, some folks mistakenly believe obesity is an incurable handicap. I believe foodaholics should be treated with the same intolerance as alcoholics.

Recently, on a cross-country flight, I sat next to a grossly overweight woman who wheezed, panted and leaned on me throughout the entire trip. Her huge left arm and shoulder occupied nearly half the space I had paid for. Then, after consuming the in-flight meal, she took two candy bars and a bag of cookies out of her purse and finished them. I cannot remember a more miserable flight.

If obese passengers had to pay for two seats, they might think twice before indulging their out-of-control appetites. Please suggest it.

Margaret in Alta Loma, Calif.

Your lack of compassion saddens me. People who overindulge in food (and drink) are troubled individuals who have genuine psychological problems. Most of them know it, and struggle with it. The next time you encounter one of the above, I hope you will remember this and try to be a little more tolerant.

Dear Ann:

I just read the letter from "At Rope's End in Utah," whose mother was driving her crazy with inappropriate comments about her infertility. Let me tell you how I handled my mother-in-law, who was also mean-spirited and insensitive to our fertility problem.

For six years, my wife and I went through a lot of agony, plus $30,000 -- and still no children. My mother-in-law, who took every opportunity to needle my wife about this, was adept at quoting scripture. One day, I was fed up and decided to quote scripture right back at her. I said, "The Bible also says, `The sins of the parents will be visited upon their children.' " That shut her up promptly. We never heard a word from her about my wife's infertility after that.

Fayetteville, Ark.

I am not fond of mean-spirited responses, but in your case, I'll give you a pass. The old battle-ax sounds dreadful.