The bag war is ripping this country apart. Ever since plastic bags sought to replace the traditional brown bags, the supermarket has been the battleground of tension and infighting among the customers.

Mothers and daughters are facing off. Husbands and wives are sleeping apart until the issue is settled. Neighbors have added grocery bags to their list of subjects you never discuss, just after religion, politics and roaches.There hasn't been such animosity among shoppers since a man tried to take away a woman's Tide on camera and substitute for it the "new and improved" formula.

A woman in Brooklyn categorized it as a "national problem," saying those (blank) plastic supermarket bags are jeopardizing life and limb. She wrote: "It's bad enough in suburbia where there's at least a sporting chance of getting groceries from the car to the kitchen, but in New York it's a nightmare. We walk everywhere. Have you any idea what it's like to carry a roast beef, 1/2 gallon of milk, a jar of pickles and a carton of ice cream even three blocks? Never mind 10 blocks and four flights of stairs.

"After one block the plastic bags have stretched down to your ankles, just before they break when you're crossing a street. New York traffic rules are fairly simple. Anything left in the street after the light changes is considered fair game. I won't even repeat what surgeons said about what plastic bags do to your fingers. In a few cases, people made it home with everything intact, only to drop things from nerve-damaged fingers!"

Those who oppose the traditional brown bags are just as adamant. "There's no place to grab a brown bag. It's like putting a pair of shoes on a kid with no bones in his leg," said a shopper in Arizona. "They just flop around and go limp on you. If you don't double-bag your groceries, they rip apart and you have food all over the trunk. The only people I know who like brown bags are the no-talent women who still use them for Halloween masks or who gift-wrap their garbage in them. Besides, can you use brown bags to carry your sun lotion and towels to the beach? I say nuke the brown bag!"

Old habits die hard in this country. You just can't come in and revolutionize the way women shop and expect them to play dead. I read where the marketing guys are fiddling around now with the grocery cart. They're going to make shopping "more fun" by installing a video screen near the kiddy seat to entertain and offer a few words from sponsors.

This is a major issue, folks. We're losing our basic supermarket freedoms. Let your voices be heard. C'mon, people, do we really know how Dukakis and Bush feel about this?

Inquiring minds want to know.