Complaints about the glue on postage stamps wax and wane with a rhythm all their own. We are now in a waxing phase.

Each time there's an upsurge in complaints about adhesive that doesn't adhere, I tell a USPS spokesman that the native are restless again and I'm given the same answer: "We keep a very careful eye on this problem at all times. We have not tampered with the formula and we are not aware of any bad batches of adhesive."

In other words, that's our glue and you're stuck with it.

If you have stamps you think are deficient, it would be more productive to complain to USPS rather than to me. You can write to: USPS Headquarters, Washington, D.C. 20260.

But you must positively not fasten your stamps to envelopes with transparent adhesive tape.

Postal employees are instructed to return such letters to the senders. And they do. By the thousands.

A stamp covered by Scotch tape or by any other brand of transparent tape cannot be canceled by the Postal Service and could, conceivably, be used a second time. So USPS has decreed that transparent tape may not be used.

My own experience has been that the adhesive on stamps is adequate when stamps are issued, but handling, humidity, time and other factors can later diminish the effectiveness of the stickum. If the stamp is licked or passed across a wet sponge, it loses even more of its diminished adhesiveness. Clever District Liners figured out decades ago that one can preserve whatever is left of a stamp's sticking power by moistening the envelope instead of the stamp, so I always apply dry stamps to moistened envelopes, and I never have any trouble.

While we are on the subject of postage stamps, be advised that Al Brogdon was the first to direct my attention to a rate change for the second and subsequent ounces of first-class mail. When the first ounce cost 15 cents, subsequent ounces were 13 cents each.Now that we have gone to 18 cents for the first ounce, the discount on subsequent ounces has been cut from 2 cents to 1 cent. Subsequent ounces are now 17 cents, e.g.: A three-ounce letter requires 52 cents worth of postage -- 18 cents for the first ounce and 34 cents for the next two.

Small wonder that Owen J. Remington of Lancaster, Va., was startled to receive a request for a political contribution that was mailed for only 3.5 cents. The letter was from the Republican National Committee and signed by Ronald Reagan. It cost only 3.5 cents because it was from a "nonprofit organization." Owen asks why this is permitted.

Shame on you, Owen. You're almost as old as I am. Have you not yet learned that Congress is made up of incumbent politicians who pass legislation that benefits incumbent politicians? Congress has granted both the Democratic and Republican national committees the right to mail first-class letters for 3.5 cents. It has given the same privilege to the Democratic National Congressional Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee. Presidential candidates who qualify for matching funds also have been granted this semi-free ride.

Mrs. P. R. du Mee of Gaithersburg sends a letter to her son in Montreal every week. When postage rates were increased, she bought some "Eagle B" stamps (the temporary issue printed up before it was certain that the rate would be 18 cents and rushed into post offices to take advantage of the price increase as soon as possible).

Mrs. du Mee's letter was returned to her for proper postage. When she inquired at the post office, she was told, "The 'B' stamp can't be used on mail that's going overseas. Signs have been displayed in all post offices warning the public of this."

Mrs. du Mee's question was, "What sea lies between Washington and Montreal?"

The USPS spokeswoman to whom I relayed the question laughed ruefully. "We misinformed your reader," she said. "The stamp is authorized 'for domestic use only' because some governments -- a few -- won't accept it because it isn't marked 18 cents. I'm sure our friends in Canada know, but an overzealous postal worker spotted it and returned it, so what can I say except: 'I'm sorry it happened.'"

I'm sorry, too, but don't worry. By the time everybody knows, first-class postage will be 25 cents.

Keep smiling. Or as Jack Worden says, "Smile anyhow."