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DEAR ABBY: I almost had a heart attack when I opened my phone bill. It was more than $800. I called the phone company and told them it had to be a mistake. To make a long story short, it was because of our computer-access phone number.

We recently moved 60 miles away. We were supposed to change the access phone number to a local number, but we didn't because we don't know much about computers and didn't realize we should. After talking to the telephone company representative, we changed access numbers, but not before the next billing cycle -- and we received a phone bill for another $800. This bill cannot be negotiated, so we are paying it in monthly installments.

Abby, please warn your readers to be sure they change their access phone numbers for their computers if they move. Otherwise, they will receive the shock we did. -- SORRY, WRONG NUMBER

DEAR SORRY: Yours was an expensive lesson. I hope that readers will learn from your eye-opening experience, and not procrastinate about changing their access number when the need arises.

DEAR ABBY: Could you please, please publish a letter in your column in which the age gap between a man and a woman is in the "other" direction, i.e., the wife is older than the husband? There are a lot more older women than men in the United States.

Thank you, thank you, Abby. -- SYLVIE IN PLANTATION, FLA.

DEAR SYLVIE: I happen to have just the thing. It arrived in the same batch as your letter. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I are celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary today. My wife is 72 and I am 43. I'm not going to claim it has always been a "bed of roses," but we are quite happy with our life.

We have no children together, but I have two wonderful stepdaughters and one fantastic 3-year-old grandson.

I believe that everyone who knows us -- including the ones who doubted my intentions -- will agree we are a very compatible couple. Most people thought I was marrying her for her money. That's a laugh, considering I had more than she did. -- A NOTE FROM THE "OTHER SIDE"

DEAR "OTHER SIDE": Best wishes to you and your wife on your anniversary. Nowhere is it written that the husband "must" be older than the wife. In fact, my husband is six weeks younger than I am -- and it hasn't bothered either of us a bit.

DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Ticked Off in Louisiana," who was concerned by the many thumbtack holes resulting from his stepdaughter's posters, brought back a fond memory.

When our teen-age daughter wanted to paint one wall of her bedroom black, I choked and sputtered, but I didn't criticize. My wife and daughter spent a memorable afternoon together painting and redoing the room. I was enlisted to remove the bed frame so she could have her mattress on the floor. She loved it. She was the envy of her friends, who chorused, "What cool parents!"

When our "baby" left home a few years later, I spent a bittersweet afternoon repainting her bedroom. It was a four-hour trade-off for a precious memory and an ongoing relationship with a daughter who is loving, respectful and cherished.

Someone once said about running a company, "Take care of the little problems, and the big ones will take care of themselves." It works in life as well. -- SAN DIEGO DAD

DEAR DAD: I agree with that philosophy. Since the letter from "Ticked Off" appeared in my column, I have been inundated with mail. Readers inform me that there are now adhesive products that allow posters to be displayed without damaging walls. I received samples of two products offered by 3M that feature Command Adhesive, which the company claims will come off cleanly without damaging the surface of the wall.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-size, 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, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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