My wife must be setting the dryer controls on the SHRINK cycle again.

I say this because my shirts are starting to feel like sausage casings.Too bad our dryer hasn't functioned since Ronald Reagan started napping in the Oval Office. And I haven't been able to amass the small fortune - equivalent to what most Third World dictators have stashed in a Swiss bank - to befriend a repairman.

I know what you're thinking now. You're thinking this guy's problem isn't with his permanent press cycle; he's just added some tonnage over the holidays.

To which I plead nolo contendre, which, if I recall from my freshman year in college is Latin for "Spiro Agnew." In other Latin words: I'm a piggus maximus, which translates to: "My spare tire is overinflated."

But with this being the start of a new year and all, I'm resolving to shed a few - OK, maybe more than a few - pounds.

My motto is: "In Oprah I trust."

That settled, all I need is a diet.

The best place I've found for learning about the latest dieting fads is the local supermarket checkout stand, which is always well-stocked with sensational, sleazy tabloids masquerading as respected journalism - except they sell better. Coincidently, this is also the best place to learn which part of Michael Jackson's face is disintegrating this week.

TIP: Check the covers for pictures of famous blimps like Liz, Fergie or Goodyear. And while you're at it, remember to pick up a couple of Snickers bars.

After digesting the tabloids - and the Snickers - it's time to choose a diet. Fortunately, dieting in the 1980s isn't just a dull and dreary endeavor.

It can be expensive, too.

So on that note, here's a completely incomplete list of ways to trim your holiday fat:

-THE ORIGINAL TRIM-THE-FAT DIET: Drive to the grocery store and find the closest parking space to avoid any unnecessary exercise. Meander to the meat section, paying close attention never to raise your heart rate above that of a cadaver, and ring the butcher's bell. Order 16 ribeye steaks and ask for a quarter-pound of fat to be trimmed from each. Total weight loss: 4 pounds.

-GRAPEFRUIT DIET: Very popular because no one expects you to REALLY eat grapefruit. Dieter again ventures to supermarket, only this time makes a beeline to the produce section. IMPORTANT: Ignore anything that looks edible. Instead, buy seven crates of grapefruit - which incidently make great optic-yellow softballs. Lug the grapefruits home and let rot in the basement. During the rotting process, continue ingesting ice cream and frozen pizzas while watching rented movies on a VCR. Interestingly, these are the same movies that no one paid to see in the theaters but now eagerly rent for $2.99 each.

HINT: Toss the grapefruit out, or organize a neighborhood softball game, before any little green microbes are no longer little and want to arm wrestle you for your last piece of pizza.

-RABBIT-FOOD DIET: Old standby in which dieter visits costume shop to rent a bunny suit (size XXL). The dieter then selects a famous rabbit name, i.e. Peter Rabbit or Peter Cottontail, and spends the next six weeks wrinkling nose at carrots and lettuce.

WARNING: In rare instances, users of this diet have been known to greet everyone with: "What's up, Doc?"

-DIAL-A-MEAL DIET: Late-night dieters lose their cookies, Fritos or anything else they were snacking on after watching Richard Simmons for the umpteenth time during the showing of the colorized version of "Casablanca."

-ARM-AND-A-LEG DIET: Simply enroll in one of the many outrageously expensive diet programs or clinics - most typically costing an arm and a leg. Weight loss is usually 12-15 pounds, depending on bone structure.

-K-TALK DIET (ALSO KNOWN AS THE MILLS CRENSHAW DIET): Dieters circulate petitions to have tax limitation initiatives placed on November ballot. In theory, the initiatives pass and government fat is reduced. Calories are also burned by tax protesters jumping up and down inside Capitol Rotunda. Seems to work better at sea level than at higher elevations.

The only problem is that all this diet talk has made me hungry.

And, hey, for all I know, my wife is drying my shirts at the laundromat on the sly.

What the heck, I think I'll resolve to have a doughnut and wash it down with a Diet Coke instead.

Right after I catch Donahue.