Dear Readers:

My thanks to whoever sent the following, which certainly has the ring of truth, as every woman who has given birth will testify. Four cheers to the anonymous donor.

If Men Got Pregnant

1. Maternity leave would last two years--with full pay.

2. Men would stay in bed during the entire pregnancy.

3. All methods of birth control would be 100 percent effective.

4. Natural childbirth would be obsolete.

5. Newborns would be kept in the hospital until toilet-trained.

6. There would be a cure for stretch marks.

7. Morning sickness would rank as the nation's No. 1 health problem.

8. People wouldn't think twins were so cute.

9. Triplets would be subsidized by the federal government.

10. Briefcases would be designed so they could double as diaper bags.

11. Paternity suits would be a fashion line of women's apparel.

12. All male children would have to be home by 10 p.m.

Dear Ann:

My husband's cousins were planning to visit us last weekend--three children and two adults. They live about nine hours away, and were driving here. We knew they were short on money, so we bought food for the weekend, knowing they would not be bringing anything with them. We also bought six tickets to the zoo.

We don't have enough pillows or towels for five extra people, so I asked if they could bring some from home. We always bring pillows, blankets and towels for my children when we visit, so I didn't think this request was out of line. I was mostly concerned for their comfort, but apparently they didn't feel I was hospitable enough, because they decided not to come. They didn't even bother to tell us they had changed their minds. They just didn't show up. I became worried when they didn't arrive on time, and called to find out what happened.

My husband's aunt evidently told those cousins it was rude of us to ask them to bring towels and pillows, and so they were offended. I am furious.

Tell me, Ann, was I wrong to ask them to bring pillows and towels? Should I have gone out and bought more pillows, even though we don't need them and they are expensive? It's not as if I had invited guests to spend the weekend. These cousins are FAMILY, and they invited themselves. I'm happy to put them up, but I don't see why I should spend so much money so they can have a vacation. What do you say?

Disgusted in San Diego

Your husband's relatives were extremely rude not to phone and say they weren't coming. You can always use the extra pillows, so there's no legitimate beef there. But someone should tell your husband's aunt to MYOB.

Dear Ann:

I have a good friend I'll call "Rita." Whenever we go to Rita's house for bridge, a tea, dinner, whatever, one of her children approaches us to sell a magazine subscription, candy bars, cookies, etc., for a school fund-raiser. We love Rita, but every visit costs $15 to $20. We would never allow our children to do this, and we're getting tired of it. Advise, please.

Oxnard, Calif.

Leave Rita out of it. The kids need to be dealt with directly. Decline politely when they put you on the spot. After a while, they will get the message. And Rita will, too.

To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

(c)2000, Creators Syndicate Inc.