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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am 20 years old and happily married with one child. A longtime family friend has a huge crush on me. "Mr. Jones" is in his late 40s and is always buying me gifts -- items of jewelry, etc. He keeps trying to persuade me to go to bed with him. He has even asked me to leave my husband, saying he would treat me better.

Abby, I'm scared to tell my husband. He is protective of me, and I'm afraid he'll kill Mr. Jones. I also am reluctant to ruin a longtime family friendship, but I'm tired of being scared to be around him alone -- afraid he'll do something to me.

What should I do? Should I tell my husband? Should I confront Mr. Jones? Help! -- ON THE SPOT, SIDNEY, OHIO

DEAR ON: Stop being passive and tell Mr. Jones in no uncertain terms that you're happy with the husband you've got, have no desire to "trade up," and his attentions are insulting. Return the jewelry and inform him that if he propositions you again, you will inform your husband and the rest of your family. Curtail the amount of time this intimidating "friend" can spend alone with you, and if it happens again, keep your word.

DEAR ABBY: Although I'm a longtime reader, I've never felt compelled to write until I read the letter from "Bowled Over in California." It's the one from the prisoner who communicated with another prisoner by talking through the toilet bowl.

The letter disgusted me. I am a female deputy in a county jail in California (probably the same one in which the writer is incarcerated). We call that method of communication "toilet talking," and it goes on daily in our jail. If we catch inmates communicating that way, we give them a "major write-up," because it's a violation of the rules.

Yes, many an unsuspecting woman (or man) has "fallen in love" in this manner, but I'll bet you won't find a single couple who have met this way, married, and are still together. It is a scam used to get the new, weak and uninformed inmate to send mail or money. The overwhelming majority of these toilet talkers are already married or tied up with someone else. Oh, the lies and schemes we've heard.

If "Bowled" has a brain in her head, she will run away from this so-called relationship as fast as she can. Think about it: Would you want to strike up a relationship with a person who may be locked up for many months or years (or a lifetime)? Or would you rather marry a fine, upstanding citizen who will be by your side, especially in times of need?

Most of these guys are ex-cons or have been through the system many times. They know how to manipulate. When they get out of prison, poor "Bowled Over" gets used and abused and taken to the cleaners before she's dropped like a hot potato and finds herself alone, pregnant and hooked on drugs, with no place to go and no one to turn to.

Please forgive the length of this letter; I could go on and on. If even ONE new, unsuspecting inmate turns her life around because of my letter, then it has been worth my time and effort. -- DISGUSTED DEPUTY IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR DISGUSTED: Thank you for the warning. I hope that those who need it will heed it. A real prince would communicate FROM his throne, not THROUGH it.

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