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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My mother, who is a young 79 years old, has started eating like an old cow with bad teeth! She never closes her mouth any more when she eats; she chews with her mouth wide open, making smacking noises with each chew. It is very unappetizing to sit across from her at mealtime. Mom is active socially and goes to lunch and dinner with friends, and I wonder how many of them find her eating habits offensive.

Mom never ate like this before. In fact, when I was growing up, she often said, "Chew with your mouth closed!" Abby, I don't want to say anything to her because she doesn't take criticism well. I'm afraid if I said something to her, I'd get the silent treatment for about a week.

Maybe if she reads this in your column, she will recognize herself. I hope so, because not only is it unpleasant to sit across the table from her at dinnertime, I fear she will soon be excluded from lunch and dinner dates with her ladyfriends. -- A LOVING SON

DEAR SON: Don't wait for Mom to recognize herself in my column. Be a truly loving son and take her to a dentist who specializes in older adults.

DEAR ABBY: Perhaps you or one of your readers can tell me why so many people are reluctant to use the guest towels in the homes of people they visit.

I have a basket with soft pink paper towels on the counter next to the sink, but rarely does anybody use one.

Instead, I see "used" places on the heavy pink bath towels that hang from the towel bars. I can understand their preference not to use the terry towel that's there, but why do they shun paper and go for the freshly laundered bath towels? I feel I need to launder them again so they will be fresh for the family.

I've considered displaying a little sign saying "Please use the guest towels," but I'm afraid that would look tacky.

Abby, have others noticed the same thing in their homes? I'd love to understand people's thinking, or hear any suggestions you have. Sign me ... TIRED IN TUCSON

DEAR TIRED: Yes. It's happened to me. I've even had guests dry their hands on the bathroom window curtains rather than use a guest towel.

Five years ago, I published a letter from Mildred Lutz of Wichita, Kan., who asked the same question. I responded with a poem from another reader who had grown tired of having guests ignore her pretty little guest towels ... and here's the poem:


by Mabel Craddock, Ventura, Calif.

Please use me, Guest;

Don't hesitate.

Don't turn your back

Or vacillate.

Don't dry your hands

On petticoat,

On handkerchief,

Or redingote.

I'm here to use;

I'm made for drying.

Just hanging here

Gets very tiring.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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