I heard on the news that Louise Woodward, of Boston nanny fame, has been barred from writing a book about her life. Too bad! That would have been a perfect gift for my husband, whose birthday is on the horizon. I'm determined to find something inappropriate, and Louise's book would have been just the thing.

Imagine the stories she could tell: "Today the children wanted peanut butter and jammy sandwiches, but we were all out! So I improvised, substituting honey for the jam. They didn't like it much, so I had to lock them in the closet for awhile. . . ."Alas, I'll have to come up with another clinker, since Mitch always gets me something I can't use or don't want, and I'd like to return the favor. Besides the obvious - diamonds, a Jaguar - there's hardly a thing he can successfully choose without my input. He insists on trying, anyway. For our 10th anniversary, he hit an all-time low when he surprised me with a king-size bed.

"It's a monster!" I complained.

"I thought you'd love it! Everyone wants a king-size bed!"

"What do you care; I'm the one who has to make the bed. It'll take me half an hour just to walk around this thing. Plus, I'll have to go out and buy new sheets. Thanks a lot, honey!"

Mitch's first mistake is in thinking he can find a suitable gift for me in a store that he frequents, like Home Depot or Brookstone. Perfectly good stores, but certainly not known for their feminine wares. One year he bought me an electric crumber, for cleaning bread crumbs off the tablecloth after dinner.

"Not just bread crumbs - any kind of crumbs," he said, hoping that this bit of information would get me to stop crying. "This is to make your life easier, honey."

"What am I, the maid?" I asked, covering my ears to his answer. More than just insulting, it was ridiculous, since after dinner at our house I usually have to burn the tablecloth.

After 11 years, he's learning. For my most recent birthday, Mitch finally bought me the thing I've asked for every year: a doctor's scale. Before you go thinking I'm totally neurotic (not that there's anything wrong with that), let's review the facts. A recent story reported the startling news that obesity is becoming a huge (ha ha) national problem. People are getting fatter by the minute. Just in the time it took you to read that sentence, hundreds of people put on weight.

If I were battling an epidemic of another disease, self-treatment would be applauded. I think of my scale as self-treatment. I'm sure it will save me hundreds of dollars in the long run, since my main reason for going to the doctor has always been to get on one of those scales and see what I really weigh. Honestly, those bathroom scales they sell in drug stores are about as accurate as fun house mirrors. (My son's pediatrician has been most generous in this area, allowing me to strip down to my skivvies for accuracy, while he examines Zack in another room.)

Determined to outwit the statistics, I girded myself for the battle of the bulge and joined Weight Watchers, stepping up at the very first meeting to be weighed and measured. The real shocker turned out to be my height. I was only 5'5" !

"That can't be right; can you please check again?" I asked. Several women behind me grumbled, but I stood my ground. I had to be sure. After a second time, I had to accept the truth. "I'm shrinking! I feel like the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz!" I groaned to the general public. A voice from the rear called out, "She was melting."

"Melting, shrinking, what's the difference? Heck, I'm down an inch and a half!"

"It's just the beginning, dearie," a little old lady behind me said, "I used to be taller than you."

Oh well, at least I got a great idea for Mitch's birthday present. I'm getting him a magnifying glass. A big one.