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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: The phrase, "You can't have your cake and eat it too," has always bothered me. I wonder why not? I do it all the time. I have my cake -- and then I eat it.

Recently I read somewhere that the correct phrase is "You can't eat your cake and have it too." This makes much more sense to me.

Which is the correct version? Abby, can you check this out? Sign me ... HAD MY CAKE, THEN ATE IT

DEAR HAD MY CAKE: I checked it out, and the second version is the correct one. Quote books attribute it first to Thomas Heywood in 1546. He wrote, "Wolde you bothe eate your cake, and haue your cake?"

Somewhat later (in 1633), George Herbert phrased the saying, "Wouldst thou both eat thy cake and have it?" This popular criticism was also variously rendered: "She was handsome in her time, but she cannot eat her cake and have her cake" (Swift, 1738); "You can't have your cake if you eat it" (J.R. Planche, 1871); and finally, "One cannot eat one's cake and have it, too" (T.H. Huxley, 1880).

Readers, have you had enough cake already? I have -- unless it's chocolate.

DEAR ABBY: Regarding your recent column about insensitive comments to infertile couples:

What I would say is: "You are really fortunate. You can be free of the stresses and strains of parenthood, have sex without fear, concentrate on enjoying yourselves, save lots of money and retire early."

I am sure that would also be considered very insensitive, but as a man who is child-free by choice and wouldn't have it any other way, I have a hard time relating to the agonizing of infertile couples. -- CHARLES IN AUSTELL, GA.

DEAR CHARLES: Of course you are entitled to your opinion. However, I hope you've been vasectomized, because should you accidentally become a father, it would be a tragedy of triple proportions -- for you, the mother and the baby.

DEAR ABBY: In response to "About to Burst," regarding the secret of a child being given up for adoption:

When I was a teen-ager, I overheard my mother say, "I should tell the girls -- they always wanted a brother."

But when I confronted her, she denied ever having made that statement. Later, she said the story would be in her history to be read after her death.

She died last year at the age of 100, very alert until her death, still denying ever having made the "brother" statement. In her history, there is no reference to it.

In her Bible, we found a folded, yellowed clipping about a sailor who had died in Canada in World War I. The clipping was very worn. Her secret went with her. I, too, would like to have known another sibling.

When the World War I song "My Buddy" came on the radio, my mother always turned it off and cried.

I'm still yearning to know, but never will. -- A DAUGHTER, SPARKS, NEV.

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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