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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Is there a checklist of things to look for in a roommate? I need one.

After years of living alone, I was forced by economics and safety concerns to share a house with a friend of two years' standing. A kindergarten teacher who sings in the church choir and is devoted to her friends, "Donna" appeared to be the perfect roommate. That is, until I moved in.

Donna is a slob! She never washes a dish, empties a wastebasket or takes out the garbage. She leaves her shoes in the living room, uses the dining room table as her desk -- littered with paper, bills, hairbrush -- and has converted the den into her personal parlor. It's littered with dirty dishes and open food containers. We have one bath with a shower. Dirty clothes and wet towels cover the floor or are left in the shower.

In previous visits to her home, I'd always found it to be very neat. It turns out that her former roommate -- possibly as disgusted as I've become -- took it upon herself to clean up after Donna. I have neither the time nor the patience.

I'm looking for a new place to live. How can I protect myself from another roommate nightmare? -- DONNA'S SOON-TO-BE-EX-ROOMMATE, NEW ORLEANS

DEAR SOON-TO-BE-EX-ROOMMATE: Make it clear during the interview process that you're a "neat-nik" who is looking for a like-minded roommate. If you're placing an ad, mention it prominently in the ad. If you're using a search service, list neatness among your highest priorities.

If all else fails, try to locate Donna's ex-roommate. The two of you would be ideal for each other.

DEAR ABBY: I have an 8-year-old son who has shown me the power of television.

Recently on a "Simpsons" cartoon, there was a segment about eating meat. In this segment, Lisa had a dream about a lamb who said to her, "Don't eat me, Lisa." Since that day, my son has not touched meat. I have tried everything I can think of. He tried to eat a lunchmeat sandwich one day, but he gagged on it. He said he keeps thinking about that show.

My son is a picky eater anyway and it's hard to please him. He eats lots of veggies, but it's hard to get him to eat enough fruit and proteins to be well nourished. (He loved meat before that show.)

Abby, what can I do to ensure that my son eats properly under these circumstances? -- LINDA IN HOWELL, MICH.

DEAR LINDA: Where there's a will, there's a way. Talk to your pediatrician about a vegetarian diet that will supply all of your son's nutritional needs, and then visit your bookstore. There are many vegetarian cookbooks on the market, many written with children's tastes in mind.

DEAR ABBY: My girlfriend expects me to wear a condom because she's scared of getting pregnant. Obviously, she's putting her own welfare before my sexual satisfaction. What kind of girlfriend does that? -- AUSSIE BOB


For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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