It takes a special kind of skunk to ruin a widow's day, but apparently they grow that species over at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The widow is Edith Marget of Northwest, who opened the mailbox the other day to discover a tan envelope from the EEOC.

It was marked "Official Business." The address was printed in block capitals, by someone using a blue ballpoint pen. The addressee was Arthur W. Marget, Edith's husband-- which was a shocker, since he has been dead for nearly 20 years.

Inside? A chain letter. The same ridiculous one that has been doing the rounds in Washington for years.

Only the names in the letter ever seem to change. But that's apparently just for variety. The heavy-handed message is always the same.

"Joe Elliott received $40,000 and then lost it because he broke the chain while in the Philippines," the Marget letter "reports."

"Gene Welch lost his life six days after he received the letter. He failed to circulate the prayer. However, before his death, he received $723,000."

Wondering who Joe Elliott and Gene Welch are? Where they lived? How Welch died? How the two men came by those bucks? How the letter writer knew any of this?

Save your strength. You're too reasonable. Too reasonable, at least, for the alarmism and circumstantial "evidence" in this chain letter.

I've said it many times, but it bears repeating:

Chain letters are illegal, whether they solicit funds or not.

The one addressed to Edith's late husband doesn't solicit. But postal authorities say it's illegal anyway because its tone is frightening and threatening. It's illegal to use the mail for either purpose.

If you receive a letter like this, do one of two things. Crumple it up and practice your foul-shooting by aiming at the nearest trash can. Or mail it to me, and I'll do it for you. My foul-shooting can stand the help.

In the meantime, a special message to a certain EEOC employe:

Don't you have anything better to do than to scare widows, pal?