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by Abigail Van Buren

A Bee in Her Bonnet Is Not This Woman's Wish

DEAR ABBY: I have a strange and wacky problem that I have never seen addressed in your column. I have an intense fear of bees, hornets and wasps. I'm sure this will seem silly to many, but there may be others who share this crazy fear, although I have never met them.

Over the years, my fears have intensified. It is very embarrassing at times. Whenever I hear anything that sounds like a bee -- an electric razor, a buzzing sound on the radio -- I have a panic attack until I can locate the source.

I rarely go outdoors in the summertime (thank God, I work in an office), and I never wear perfume in the daytime during bee season. When I do gather the courage to go to a barbecue or some other outdoor event, I either leave early or stay inside the car. There must be a place for me to "escape" to or I won't even consider going.

My last apartment was chosen with great consideration for its landscaping. There are no flowers or bushes to attract bees. I am so deathly afraid of bees that I have (a) jumped out of a moving car, (b) left a 2-year-old child in the middle of the street, (c) run out into traffic, and done other outrageous things in a panic while trying to escape from bees.

Otherwise, I am a sane and sensible person. I wish there were some kind of device I could wear to discourage bees from coming to me. -- PAULA IN QUINCY, MASS.

DEAR PAULA: Your problem is not bees, it is your inappropriate overreaction to the buzzing. Your irrational fear is making you a potential danger to yourself and others. Therefore, I urge you to work through your phobia with a therapist who specializes in banishing such fears. (Ask your family doctor for a referral.)

Meanwhile, ask your local pharmacist and/or the proprietor of the nearest sporting goods store for a reliable bee repellent. And good luck.

DEAR READERS: "As our society ages and people are living longer, many older people suffer from aches and pains which they dismiss as signs of old age, and choose not to consult a physician," says Dennis Boulware, president of the Louisiana Arthritis Foundation.

"While over 37 million Americans suffer from arthritis, it is not a normal part of aging. (The symptoms of arthritis include pain and swelling in the affected joint.) Pain and swelling are not natural, and should not be tolerated -- especially when there is medical treatment available."

This reminds me of a very old story my dear, departed father used to tell: An elderly man went to see his doctor about a pain in his right leg. The doctor examined the patient quickly, then said, "Well, what do you expect, Mr. Goldberg -- that leg is 80 years old."

Mr. Goldberg replied, "Well, doctor, the other leg is also 80 years old and it doesn't hurt."

What teen-agers need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with their peers and parents is now in Abby's updated, expanded booklet, "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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