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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: We are 83 and 86, and engaged to be married. This is my problem: I haven't had a "real" kiss for some time.

My fiancee, Emma, had a sore throat several months ago, so she stopped kissing me on the lips. Recently she told me she had seen on television that there was an outbreak of the "kissing disease." Now she has become completely paranoid about it.

Emma says she loves me and is always very attentive when we're together. However, when I try to kiss her, I have to settle for a kiss on the cheek.

Am I being unreasonable to want a kiss on the lips? -- TIRED OF TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK

DEAR TIRED: In view of the fact that you and Emma are engaged to be married, you are not being unreasonable in wanting to be kissed in a romantic fashion.

Ask Emma to be frank with you. She may be reluctant to tell you that you have a halitosis problem. If that's not it, schedule a visit with a physician who can explain to Emma how the "kissing disease" (infectious mononucleosis) is transmitted, and screen you for it. If neither of you has it, you won't get it from each other -- and she can kiss you till the cows come home with perfect peace of mind.

DEAR ABBY: You published a poem years ago that I clipped and enjoyed very much. It was a poem that compared the behavior of man and the apes, and was quite humorous. I think the title was "The Monkey's Disgrace." Would you put it in your column again, please? -- CHESAPEAKE, VA.

DEAR CHESAPEAKE: With pleasure. That poem last appeared in my column in 1987. It's one of my favorites.


Three monkeys sat in a coconut tree

Discussing things as they are said to be

Said one to the others, "Now listen, you two,

"There's a rumor around that can't be true

"That man descended from our noble race

"The very idea is a great disgrace.

"No monkey has ever deserted his wife

"Starved her babies and ruined her life

"And you've never known a mother monk

"To leave her babies with others to bunk

"Or pass from one on to another

"Till they scarcely knew who is their mother.

"Here's another thing a monkey won't do

"Go out at night and get on a stew

"Or use a gun or club or knife

"To take some other monkey's life

"Yes, man descended, the ornery cuss

"But, brother, he didn't descend from us."

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