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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have been divorced for five years and have been dating the same sweet man for a year and a half. We have lived together for a year and are very much in love.

My problem is he doesn't want to get married, and I can't make him understand that I need a commitment and stability in my life. He says he IS committed, but he won't buy me a ring.

Am I being selfish or foolish for wanting to marry him? -- LET DOWN IN UTAH

DEAR LET DOWN: I see nothing foolish or selfish about wanting a secure future and the benefits that go along with being a wife instead of a live-in.

If you're willing to settle for the current arrangement, continue as you are in the hope that one day you'll wear him down. However, if marriage is really what you're after, tell him that it is becoming clear your goals are different. You want marriage, but the only thing he seems "committed" to is more of the same. Then move out. If he loves you, he will be willing to make a serious commitment. If he doesn't, it's better you know sooner rather than later.

DEAR ABBY: Three days a week I sit with Elsie, a 93-year-old lady who is partially sighted. Elsie always looks forward to hearing me read your column. The day the letter from "Robert in Orlando" appeared, we both thought you dropped the ball in your reply. He asked which is more hygienic -- leaving dishes to air-dry on the counter or drying them with a towel. Abby, you didn't answer his question! -- RICHARD KRUSE AND ELSIE HUNTER IN LOS ANGELES

DEAR RICHARD AND ELSIE: I'm embarrassed to admit that you're right. Among the many readers who pointed it out was a Texas gentleman who said, "You should run for public office immediately, Abby! Only a politician can get away with giving someone an answer without addressing the question." Ouch. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Your answer about the proper method of drying dishes was right on the money. I've been in the restaurant business for 21 years -- from dishwasher to owner.

It is against the state health department code in every state in the United States to dry dishes (whether by hand or machine) any other way than to air-dry. A towel or cloth -- once wet -- becomes a breeding ground for micro-organisms that can cause illness. Just thought you'd like to know. -- "COOKIE" IN SIOUX CITY, IOWA

DEAR "COOKIE": Thank you for your professional input. Many other restaurateurs corroborated it. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Give me a break! "Robert in Orlando," the dishwasher in the family, believes it's sanitary to let the dishes air-dry, while his wife insists they should be wiped dry with a towel. You advised that air-drying is perfectly safe -- but you missed a more important point.

Robert's controlling wife needs to understand that since HE is the dishwasher, HE gets to decide how to wash and dry the dishes. If his wife thinks his method is unsanitary or unsightly, SHE should do them herself! -- LINDA IN ST. PAUL, MINN.

DEAR LINDA: That's true. And she could use a paper towel. End of problem.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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