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by Abigail Van Buren

Officer's Call for Help Is Answered With Laughter

DEAR ABBY: Here's my "Locked in the Loo" story: As a police officer patrolling the streets, I sometimes had to use public restrooms. On one occasion, I went to a friend's business to attend to the call of nature. To get to the restroom, I had to walk through the showroom, office area, warehouse and garage. When I tried to leave the restroom, the door wouldn't open.

I didn't have the luxury of having a window through which to escape. I yelled and banged on the door, but got no response. Having no other choice, I used my portable police radio to ask the dispatcher to call the business and inform them of my plight. There was no immediate response from the dispatcher. When he did respond, I heard loud laughter in the background.

I knew immediately when my friend at the store received the phone call because I could hear howls of laughter coming from the showroom.

This happened more than 20 years ago. I'm sure that when the citizens of that fine city read this in your column, they will have another good laugh since everyone who had a police monitor heard my plea. You may use my name. -- JAMES A. OEHMKE, RETIRED TOLEDO POLICE OFFICER

DEAR JAMES: When I read your letter aloud, howls of laughter echoed throughout my office. Interesting, isn't it, how funny a predicament can be when it's happening to someone else.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married 19 years. We have one daughter in college and three at home, ages 17, 15 and 11. We went to therapy because I was unhappy. The therapist said my wife was not allowing any of us space, including me. My wife was making all the decisions -- which included having the kids believe in the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny.

My wife doesn't like one suggestion the therapist made. I believe it could work well. The therapist said we should have one weekend a month free. From Friday at 6 p.m. to midnight Sunday (54 hours), I take care of the kids and house, and my wife can do whatever she wants with the time and $120. I get the same on my weekend. The other two weekends are for the family, and the children choose alternating activities from my wife's list or mine.

On my weekend I go away fishing, camping, hiking or whatever. This is what my wife hates. Abby, I need the time alone, undisturbed, and have felt much better since I started doing it. I also enjoy having the kids alone without my wife constantly interrupting or contradicting me.

My wife will sometimes stay around the house on her "alone" weekend and try to interfere even though she's not even supposed to have dinner with us or be involved in any way when it's my weekend with the kids.

How can I get her to understand how much this means to me? How can I get her to get a life? She hates camping and fishing. Please answer soon because she's driving me and the kids crazy on my weekend with them. -- NEEDS TIME OUT IN SACRAMENTO

DEAR NEEDS TIME OUT: Your wife already understands how much your separate time means to you -- and she finds that threatening. What's sad is that the harder she clings and tries to control, the more uncomfortable she's making you and the further she's driving you away.

Some individual counseling to resolve her insecurity would be helpful. If she refuses, I see difficult times ahead.

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

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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