DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have been dating for two years. We live together, and his child from another woman lives with us. I love my boyfriend and his child, but one thing prevents me from imagining us being married: He has his child's mother's name tattooed on his body.
The tattoo bothers me for many reasons, and I'd like him to have it covered up if we ever do marry. He says he doesn't want to get rid of it. When the topic comes up, we argue.
Am I unreasonable for wanting him to get rid of the tattoo? If that woman really is in his past, why does he need a constant reminder of her on his body? -- IN A STINK OVER INK
DEAR IN A STINK: You're asking the wrong person. Only your boyfriend can answer that. He may not want to go to the expense, or to experience the pain of having more artwork done. Or he may not like the idea that you are telling him what to do.
However, if he has been living with you for two years, I doubt it's because he's still carrying a torch for someone else. If you love him and the two of you want to get married, my advice is to accept him warts, artwork and all, because regardless of any romance in his past, YOU have habeas corpus. (That's Latin for "you have the body.")
DEAR ABBY: I consider myself a social person and enjoy talking to friends on the phone. My problem is, when I talk to one of them, she will never let me get off the phone. Sometimes we'll talk for several hours, but eventually I have other obligations and have to go. When I tell her that, she often ignores me and keeps right on talking.
I don't want to be rude, but sometimes I have to say goodbye four and five times before she finally acknowledges that I must end the call. It irritates me. I like talking to her, but I can't go on and on forever. How can I make her let me off the phone without hanging up on her or upsetting her? -- MR. NICE GUY
DEAR MR. NICE GUY: The person you're describing obviously has less going on in her life than you do. She may also be a compulsive talker.
The next time you talk to her, make the conversation face-to-face and tell her that as much as you like her, you don't have the amount of time to spend on the phone that she does. Explain that when you tell her you must end the conversation, if she doesn't stop talking within five minutes, you will have to hang up. And then do it.
Will she like it? No. But the alternative is that she will continue to take advantage of you -- which she has been doing because you have allowed it.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.