Dear Annie: I am a 35-year-old woman with four children, an advanced degree and no serious health problems, but I have compulsively and secretly been eating crayons for months. I don't mean chewing on a crayon here and there. I mean eating an entire 64-count box, and doing it several times a week. I can't stop, and I don't know why I'm doing this.
I am too embarrassed to tell my doctor, because I know he'll think I am crazy. The box says the crayons are nontoxic, but I'm really eating a lot of them. And this is a really dumb question, but are they fattening? Why am I doing this? Am I crazy? Please help. Crayon Freak
Dear Crayon Freak: We have no idea how many calories are in a 64-count box of crayons, but that's the least of your worries. You may have pica, a disease that involves eating nonfood substances (dirt is the most common). Pica is usually caused by a nutritional deficiency, often iron or zinc, and it can sometimes occur during pregnancy. There is apparently something about the contents or texture of crayons that you crave.
While crayons are considered nontoxic, they are not intended to be eaten, especially in such large quantities. You are not crazy, but you do need to see your doctor and ask to be tested. Don't wait until you finish the next box.
Dear Annie: I have been with my boyfriend, "James," for three years. Last year, we moved in together with the understanding that we would become engaged shortly. (We're both nearly 30.) I was fully expecting that ring. A few months ago, I mentioned that I thought it was time we made definite plans. Somehow, James' mother got wind of it and freaked out. She called me, saying marriage is no guarantee that he won't walk out on me someday. (James' parents had a rather nasty divorce when he was young.)
Last night, James told me I might not be getting a ring at all. I was shocked, hurt and angry. He claims he still wants to marry me -- he just can't say when. I think it all comes down to his mother. She told him it would kill her if she heard news about a marriage. I suspect he would propose if it weren't for her. I don't know what to do. I've asked him to go for counseling, but he refuses. Should I wait this out and hope he comes around? I love him, but I want kids someday, and I'm not getting any younger. Lovesick
Dear Lovesick: James is tied rather tightly to Mom's apron strings. She undoubtedly "got wind of" your marriage plans because he told her. Decide right now if you want to stay with someone whose mother will always come first, because that's the way it's going to be.
Dear Annie: We have a big problem in our small office. There are seven people working here. One of the senior partners has a body odor problem. Most days it is so bad that it permeates the whole office. Even clients have recognized this horrid smell.
This partner will not allow us to burn candles, so we have no way of dealing with the odor. We have talked to the other partner, and he refuses to approach this man and says we'll have to live with it. We won't say anything directly for fear of losing our jobs. What should we do? Legal Assistant
Dear Legal Assistant: There are dozens of air fresheners available that will mask or neutralize the odor. Place a few around the office and use as needed.
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