DEAR ABBY: We moved to the country, but we're not really far out of town. My educated, urbane, professional husband who has always lived in the city, now bypasses our two and a half bathrooms and relieves himself outdoors in a "king of all he surveys" pose.
We no longer have children living at home, and he refrains from doing it when we have company or there's any possibility of his being seen, but it still drives me crazy! Could I be jealous because I am female, or should I join him? Is it truly as unsanitary as it seems, and is my letter a "first"? — TEMPTED IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR TEMPTED: "Public" urination is against the law in most communities because of sanitation — as well as indecent exposure — issues. That said, however, the practice is not as unusual as you may believe. If you want to try it, I can't stop you, but I do suggest you bring along some tissue and plan ahead for a place to dispose of it.
As to whether your letter is a first, the answer is no. The topic arose about 20 years ago when "The Whiz-zard's Wife" wrote me about her husband doing it after dark and occasionally in the side yard during daylight hours. She wondered if it was a normal male ritual. I replied:
"This is not a subject that's often discussed, but I suspect the practice is not unusual. Dogs and cats urinate to mark their territory. Your husband may be doing it for the same reason. For pets, the problem can be resolved by neutering; however, I wouldn't recommend that for your husband. The Los Angeles Police Department informs me that it's 'not illegal as long as it is not in public view.'"
I then suggested she check with the police in her city to be sure there are no ordinances against it.
When people ask me what some of my favorite letters are, I tell them the correspondence generated by "The Whiz-zard's Wife's" letter ranks among them. A sample:
DEAR ABBY: My husband did the same thing over my vigorous objections, always after dark. When we moved to our new home, we had a wooden fence built. I decided to teach him a lesson and do the same. He was shocked. He told me I had better not do it again. I told him as long he continued, I would do it too.
Abby, he hasn't done it since. Sometimes, when they won't listen, you have to SHOW 'em. — HAPPY WIFE, FORNEY, TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: I strongly disagree with your answer to "Whiz-zard's Wife." You said you suspect the practice is not unusual. My husband doesn't do it, my ex didn't (except when he was drunk) and I've never seen my neighbors do it. My husband says the guy is an exhibitionist. I say he's lazy and ignorant.
However, I once knew a psychiatrist who confessed to occasionally "watering" the rubber tree in his outer office in this manner. I can't imagine why he disclosed this to me, unless it was to coax me into sharing personal secrets. — ARIZONA ANNIE
DEAR ANNIE: I can't imagine why he did it, either. It would certainly discourage a patient from using the chair closest to the plant.
DEAR ABBY: Though a frequent reader (after my wife), I've only now found reason to write to you, in response to the lady who feared her husband's habit of urinating on their lawn was inappropriate. So it may be, but all men pee outdoors.
My best to you and continued good luck with your column. — CHARLTON HESTON, BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF.
DEAR CHARLTON: Thank you for the input. Your letter is but a drop in the bucket compared to the deluge that has flooded my office since I printed that letter.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How To Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)