Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I had intended to order some of those "Please Call Police" banners you mention periodically, but in the past I have procrastinated. This year I made it a New Year's resolution.

Last summer our car broke down on I-81 during a vacation trip. My husband has emphysema. It was hot and humid, and my husband was having trouble breathing. We had no electricity to power his nebulizer, and we were carrying no oxygen with us. We sat by the side of the road for a very long time and no one stopped to help us. We tried reaching 911 or the police on our CB radio with no luck. Seeing no other alternative, I got out of our car and started walking for help. My husband was so scared, Abby. When I left him in the car he didn't think he would see me again.

I finally managed to stop a truck on an off-ramp, and the driver was considerate enough to take me to a gas station where I could use a phone to call for assistance. All the police were busy, but they did summon a wrecker who came for us and took us to a garage, where we called a sister to come and pick us up.

Please print the ordering information for the banners again. I want to order two -- one for the front and one for the rear window of our car. We want to be independent again. As it stands, a relative either accompanies us or follows us to our destination when we go out of town. -- MRS. G.E. BEARD JR., LEXINGTON, VA.

DEAR MRS. BEARD: I'm pleased that your frightening experience had a happy ending. And thank you for sharing your story so that I can remind my readers to order the "Please Call Police" banners, which can literally be lifesavers in a roadside emergency.

To order, write WCIL-Banners, P.O. Box 91501, Los Angeles, Calif. 90009. You will receive one PLEASE CALL POLICE banner as a premium for a $5 contribution to WCIL, and another banner with each additional $4 contribution. (Like you, Mrs. Beard, many people order two, one for the windshield and one for the rear window -- so it can be seen "coming and going.")

Checks or money orders (U.S. funds only, please) should be made payable to WCIL-Banners. Allow eight weeks for delivery. The Westside Center for Independent Living is a not-for-profit organization that helps disabled people live independently.

DEAR ABBY: I need your opinion: Recently, while watching "Baywatch," I saw a scene where two male actors were sitting at a beachside restaurant watching the bikini-clad ladies walking by. I think of myself as normal -- and I mentally placed myself there with them.

I mentioned this to my wife who was present, and she lit into me, saying, "Men looking at bikinis are only evaluating the women toward having sex." (Actually, she was a bit more crude.)

I didn't argue, but I resented the guilt trip she tried to put on me. I am over 60, still virile, and the father of three beautiful daughters who grew up unabashed by nudity. I enjoy looking at good-looking women of all ages, and seldom did I have a prurient thought unless I had a good reason.

Abby, in your opinion, is it wrong for a man to enjoy "girl watching"? -- INTERESTED IN TEXAS

DEAR INTERESTED: I subscribe to the old adage "You can't blame a man for looking" -- as long as he doesn't drool.

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.)

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