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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a wonderful man for three months. He takes me out to dinner, to the movies, shopping, etc. He is in his early 40s and I am in my early 30s. He is everything I have ever wanted in a man, and I really care for him.

However, there are a few problems that I don't know how to handle. For one thing, he wears the same clothes for three or four days in a row, and after the first day, he tends to smell of perspiration. He says he showers every other day. Also, he doesn't brush his teeth regularly.

We are going to be living together soon and I would like to clear up these problems before we move in together. Please give me some advice on how to tell him, because his feelings are easily hurt. If it weren't for the reasons stated above, he would be perfect.

Also, this is a small town, so please don't print my name, initials or where it came from. He reads your column every day. -- HIS GIRLFRIEND

DEAR GIRLFRIEND: You must tell your sweetheart that you are concerned about him because he doesn't take proper care of himself. Explain that it's imperative that he see his dentist twice a year, and that he brush and floss his teeth twice a day so that his mouth is always "kissing sweet." And point out the importance of showering every morning and in the evening, too, if he goes out that evening. It goes without saying that a well-groomed adult launders or changes his clothes daily.

Once it has been pointed out to him, insist that he follow these suggestions. Living with someone who has poor personal hygiene could be very trying to anyone with a keen sense of smell, and I'm putting this mildly!

DEAR ABBY: With summer coming, this may help people who have swimming pools.

We bought a home with a pool. Each warm day, we came home to a "pool party" -- but not ours. All the neighborhood kids were on our property. We could not keep them out; they climbed over our locked fence.

We got our lawyer to print a "release of responsibility" form. The children had to have it signed and notarized, and could not use the pool without a parent and the signed form each and every time they used the pool.

Needless to say, the parents got tired of watching their own kids, so now we finally have the exclusive use of our pool. -- SAN FRANCISCO READER

DEAR READER: Congratulations. Others could learn from you.

DEAR ABBY: Several years ago -- perhaps three or four -- you printed a brief prayer titled "A Serenity Prayer." Will you kindly print it again? It is one of the wisest prayers I've ever read. -- LONGTIME READER IN HAWAII

DEAR READER: With pleasure:

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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