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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Our problem is our son, John (not his real name). He is 16 years old and thinks he is in love. The girl he thinks he's in love with is 21 and she's in a big hurry to get married.

John will be barely 18 when he graduates from high school. He had planned to go to a four-year college, plus three years of law school, and his father and I were prepared to finance his college education.

Now he tells us that his girlfriend wants to get married as soon as he turns 18. Abby, we have nothing against this girl; we just wish they would wait until he finishes at least four years of college. I think she figures that since we've agreed to support John all through his college years, we would support both of them if they were married. John is a very bright kid, but this girl has him wrapped around her finger. Please tell us what to do. -- JOHN'S MOM

DEAR MOM: Perhaps if you were to tell John that if he marries at 18 he will have to finance his own college education, he may reconsider marrying so young. It may also give his girlfriend reason to reconsider.

DEAR ABBY: As a music appreciation teacher at Marin Community College in Kentfield, Calif., I read with special interest the letter from the woman who had been a member of a tour group in Kiev, the Republic of Ukraine, U.S.S.R., when one of the members tried to organize a group sing-along. She was left wondering which songs are the most widely known among our population.

I threw the question out to my students, and they came up with the following songs to which everyone knows the melody: "Happy Birthday," "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," "You Are My Sunshine," "Daisy, Daisy," "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean," "Comin' Round the Mountain," "Yankee Doodle," "Dixie" and "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling." -- JUDY SILVER

DEAR JUDY: My congratulations to your students. And by the way, I just learned (from a couple of hundred readers) that Kiev is not in Russia, as I had erroneously stated; it is in the Ukraine. My apologies. They must have moved the borders. When I was a girl, all the people who emigrated from Kiev called themselves "Russians."

DEAR ABBY: After 25 years of marriage and my putting on a "few" extra pounds, my wife now repeatedly tries to get me to take cold showers before we go to bed. She claims that the energy my body will expend reheating the surface of my skin will burn up enormous amounts of calories, thus making me more attractive to her.

Is this some new fad, or at least is the principle valid? I can't help feeling she has some ulterior motive, although she's always quite honest with me. -- J.H. IN LEVITTOWN, N.Y.

DEAR J.H.: If it's a new fad, it's news to me. The only proven method of weight loss that I'm aware of is a change in eating habits and a regular program of exercise. Cold showers dampen the ardor; they will not burn calories.

To get Abby's booklet "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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