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KEEP YOUR KEYS TO YOURSELF

Dear Ann Landers: I am a member of the board of directors of the Massachusetts Crime Prevention Officers Association. I am concerned about the letter signed "Ohio Nightmare Without End." She said her in-laws often show up on Sunday morning uninvited and let themselves into their home. The in-laws use the emergency key the couple keeps hidden near the door of the house.

Please, Ann, tell your readers not to hide keys outside their homes. No matter how secret they may believe a hiding place is, a criminal is sure to find it. Burglars know exactly where to look. After all, breaking into homes is their business.

No one should leave an extra key under the mat, over the door, in the mailbox or any place someone could find it. If your readers feel they must have an emergency key, it should be left with a trusted friend or neighbor. May I also suggest that they not leave the key in any of the commercial devices advertised as "hiding places" because, believe it or not, criminals read those advertisements, too.

-- Richard D. Pontes, security specialist, Boston
Dear Richard Pontes: Your letter is sure to prevent a great deal of anguish. Thank you for giving my readers some extremely valuable advice today for the price of a newspaper.

A matter of inches

Dear Ann Landers: I need help -- fast. I have a very dear friend who will be flying to California next month to visit her family. She has never flown before. This woman is large -- I am talking nearly 300 pounds at least.

"Ruth" is not going to fit into a coach seat, and I am not sure she could fit into a first-class seat, either. I don't want her to be embarrassed when she boards the plane. You know how cruel people can be about those who are overweight.

How should I approach her? Should I ask if she is flying first class? I don't want her to be humiliated, Ann. Thanks for your help.

-- A Heavy Problem in the Motor City
Dear H.P. in M.C.: Call the airline and explain the situation. Ask if they would advise Ruth to buy a first-class seat or two coach seats. Then tell Ruth you have heard that airline coach seats are getting smaller, and let her know what the airline recommended. It is important that she call ahead so there will be no surprises at the airport. You are a thoughtful friend to be concerned. Bless you.

His rightful place?

Dear Ann Landers: I am getting married next year to a wonderful guy. His mother passed away when he was very young. My future father-in-law never remarried, but he has had a "significant other" for about 18 years -- it just happens to be another man.

My fiance is very close to his father's partner. He says it is like having two wonderful fathers. Would it be proper to put his partner's name on the wedding invitation? My fiance says that his father would marry his partner if it were legally possible and that his name should be on the invitation. I don't want to embarrass anyone by making a public announcement of their living arrangement, but neither do I want to offend my fiance by not including this man. How can I diplomatically resolve this?

-- Fiasco in L.A.
Dear L.A.: Significant others, whether gay or straight, should not have their names on wedding invitations. Your father-in-law's partner will be very much in evidence at the festivities, so he should not feel that anyone is hiding him. To put his name on the wedding invitation as if he were a spouse would, in my opinion, be improper and invite a lot of criticism. Don't do it.

Spread the word

Dear Ann Landers: Please help me figure this out. I am seven months pregnant, and my husband still hasn't told his mother. She lives in another city. We already have one child, so it's not as if she doesn't know we are sleeping together.

My husband obviously doesn't have a close relationship with his mother, but this example of poor communication makes me uncomfortable. I wanted to tell her, but he said he wanted to do it himself. Meanwhile, he keeps putting it off. My mother-in-law phoned the other day, and I didn't know what to say when she asked, "How are you doing?"

Should I tell her I'm p.g. or just wait until the baby is born? I'm pretty sure my husband won't have any trouble telling her then.

-- Infanticipating in Berkeley, Calif.
Dear Berkeley: Tell her yourself, and the sooner the better. Apparently your husband has some kind of hang-up about his mother. So, my dear, out with it.

Problems? Dump on Ann. Write her at The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240.

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