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

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am 18 years old and a freshman in college. I have been dating my girlfriend "Holly" for about eight months.

My roommate is also friends with Holly, and that is the problem. He treats Holly like she is a princess and gives her extravagant gifts, sometimes for no reason at all. This irritates me because it makes me look like a terrible boyfriend.

I cannot approach him about it since he is my roommate, and I have to live with him for the rest of the year. Holly realizes that it irritates me, but I can't have her say anything because then it would be extremely weird whenever she comes to visit -- even more than it is now.

How should I handle this? -- CONFUSED IN CLEMSON, S.C.

DEAR CONFUSED: You must speak up. For your roommate to buy expensive gifts for Holly, knowing she is your girlfriend, is inappropriate. (If you and Holly break up -- THAT'S the time he should make his move, but not now.)

For Holly to accept those gifts is insensitive. You're certainly within your rights to let them both know this bothers you. And there's no time like the present to make your roommate aware of your feelings.

DEAR ABBY: My wife recently had her yearly mammogram and we are grateful it came out OK.

I asked my wife if she continues to check her breasts between the mammograms. Her response was yes, but that she wasn't quite sure what to look for. Her physician told her, "You will know it when you find it." I am not sure this was a clear enough answer.

Why don't doctors have on hand one synthetic breast WITH a lump and one WITHOUT to enable the patient to know exactly what she is looking for? In my opinion, it would be a good idea for men also to be taught what to look for in the male breast.

I could suggest this to the medical profession, but I am afraid it wouldn't get the attention it deserves. Your column is a better way to get the word out. -- JOHN COLOMBE, INDIANAPOLIS

DEAR JOHN: I believe you've hit on something. I'm pleased to spread the word.

While not all women's breasts feel the same, a model with various sized "lumps" could be a lifesaver for a lot of people -- men included. Many men are not aware that they, too, can have breast cancer. Although it is less common in men, there is definitely a risk for males too.

DEAR ABBY: You printed a letter from "Surprised Wife in Oklahoma City," whose son had asked for his deceased father's military records. The widow was shocked to discover they contained a reference to her husband having been before a board of inquiry for striking an officer. She said her husband had never mentioned it to her or his family because it would have been a "disgrace."

Abby, I see no disgrace here. The function of a court of inquiry is to inquire into a situation and determine whether any legal action is appropriate. Since there is no mention of a military trial in her husband's records, the court of inquiry must have determined that her husband did nothing deserving of punishment.

The Army's opinion of her husband was expressed in the wording on his honorable discharge certificate "awarded as a testimonial of honest and faithful service." If it's good enough for the military, it should be good enough for her and her son. -- DICK SCHUBERT, DENVER

DEAR DICK: Thank you for the short course on the military legal system. I'm sure it will comfort the widow who wrote that letter.

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

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 $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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