A close friend in our social group, "Reed," has been in and out of rehab for alcohol problems. We have all been there to offer moral support any time we can - including him in golf outings, barbecues, etc.

The problem is he has started lecturing us about "the dangers of drinking." We are social drinkers and professional people. Some of us don't drink; others are "on call" and can't. So it isn't like we're lying around getting drunk as skunks.

Reed has no family here. We love him dearly and don't want to exclude him. But he's starting to make people feel uncomfortable. How should we handle this?

- No Lectures, Please, in Florida

DEAR NO LECTURES, PLEASE: Reed is preaching with the fervor of the newly converted. Whoever is closest to him in your social group should tell him privately that his comments are making some of you uncomfortable and to please stop it - or start spending more time with other teetotalers.

DEAR ABBY: I am a census worker and knock on doors to interview people who have not sent in their census forms. I am concerned that so many people are reluctant to participate in the census. Please help us get the word out.

A real census worker will never ask to come inside your house or any questions about personal finance or your employment. If you are not sure who is at your door, ask for the person's picture identification, such as a driver's license.

By now, everyone should have received a census form in the mail. The deadline was very important. Once the deadline passed, the addresses of all the non-respondents were turned over to us: the nonresponse follow-up team. In order to prevent someone from being counted twice, once the nonresponse follow-up list was compiled, the rest of the forms out there were no longer collected or counted.

If you mailed in your census questionnaire, but a census worker still shows up at your door, it is because your questionnaire was not received in time. So please bear with your enumerator because he or she has to interview you again. Please take a few minutes to make your voice heard, because your participation is important.

- Your Census Worker

DEAR CENSUS WORKER: I'm glad to help spread the word.

Readers, taking the time to participate in the census is not only important, but it's also to your advantage. The census is how your representation in Congress is determined. And in addition, the census is used to determine how federal funds will be used to build hospitals, schools and highways in your community. And by the way, the census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution and has been conducted every 10 years since 1790!

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I went out to dinner with another couple. After finishing our meal, I offered our friend, "Elaine," a piece of gum. I handed her the box so she could remove the piece herself.

When she returned the box she said she had taken two pieces. I told her it wasn't right as I had offered her only one piece, which I believe is the correct serving. Elaine claimed I had no right to dictate her serving size. Was she right for "chewing me out" over this?

- More Than I Can Swallow,

Wayne, N.J.

DEAR MORE: After reading your letter, I took a random poll among my staff. Of those who had chewing gum with them, two-thirds had packages that indicated a serving is two pieces, while the rest read that a serving is only one piece. I don't think Elaine was wrong to defend herself after you attacked her, and before criticizing, you should have asked yourself if it was worth possibly gumming up a friendship.