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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Please be brutally frank with me. I am a 60-year-old retired, divorced woman living on a fixed income. My 54-year-old live-in lover has not worked during the three years we have been together. He says he is married in name only.

He owns a home; however, we are living in my house. I pay his mortgage, utilities, residence and auto upkeep. I also pay for food, clothing, medical expenses and his 1,000-mile trips to visit his children, as well as his trips to Europe to visit his parents.

He has (on three occasions) verbally degraded me and I fear there may be more coming.

We had discussed marriage, but now he says he can't divorce his wife because she has had two mild stokes and his 25-year-old daughter (now divorced) would blame him if her mother were to die from the stress of a divorce. I say this is hokum!

I am very uneasy about any future marriage with this man, and I am also fed up with supporting him.

The problem is that we are totally compatible otherwise. This is very important since it is hard to find someone else who shares my interests. I see no changes in the future, and I can't afford to support him forever; it is coming out of my inheritance.

What advice do you have for me? Sign me ... FLORIDA FOOL

DEAR FLORIDA FOOL: Since you asked me to be brutally frank with you, I will. In spite of the fact that you believe you and this man are compatible, he is an obvious freeloader. Say goodbye to him; leopards don't change their spots. You not only deserve better, you could hardly do worse.

DEAR ABBY: You told "Longtime Reader in Norristown, Pa." to see a jeweler for help in removing his wedding ring, which had grown tight over the many years of his marriage (he is now a widower).

Abby, it's not necessary to cut a ring off. My husband was an embalmer for more than 50 years, and he removed many a ring from those who had passed on. He also taught embalming at a local trade school and shared this technique with his students:

Thread one end of a piece of string under the ring and wrap the other, longer end tight around the finger. Then begin unwrapping from the short end of the string. As you unwrap it, the ring will come off! This works when soap and other lubricants have failed, and there's no danger of cutting the finger.

I am 90 years old, and I have known this trick for a long time. If you publish my letter, your readers can try it if they need to, and jewelers can use it as well. -- MAMIE GERACI, METAIRIE, LA.

DEAR MAMIE: It works beautifully! Thanks for a practical solution that was news to me (and I'll bet to many of my readers).

DEAR ABBY: My husband of 20 years has been suffering from a terrible case of scabies. His doctor isn't talking, and I heard that it can be caught only by sexual contact.

I don't have it. Can it be caught in other ways? I hate to be suspicious, but I'm worried. Abby, can you please check and find out if scabies can be caught from a toilet seat? I'm too embarrassed to ask my doctor (or his) if this is a venereal disease. -- WORRIED IN DENVER

DEAR WORRIED: You have been misinformed. Scabies is not a venereal disease. It is a contagious itch that is caused by parasitic mites. Please lose no time in seeing your physician -- both you and your husband must be treated, and family and friends who visit during the infestation may also need treatment.

DEAR READERS: If you would like your letter published, please include your name, area code and telephone number.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600