Spare me from people who dodge dessert. People who, when presented with a triple- layer mocha butter cream cake, can see only their waists widening, their arteries clogging, their life expectancy shrinking. Let me have about me folks who dig into the sweetness life has to offer. Who greet the arrival of the dessert course with uplifted forks and expansive thoughts. Who believe that life is good, and seconds are even better.

Gimme the Ms. Desserts Ten. These are 10 area eaters who are so fond of sweet stuff that, in answer to a call put out by Ms. Desserts bakery, wrote essays on why they like desserts. Their essays were the best among 133 entries sent in by friends of the final course.

By winning these 10 achieve the dessert eater's dream, more dessert. The winners will be part of a panel tasting 13 items being tested Tuesday night at the bakery headquarters on Rolling Road. And at the end of the tasting, the eaters get to take home a cake of their choosing. Not just a slice, but the whole thing.

I know that this contest is, in part, a publicity stunt. I admit to being stunted. I go willingly, for two reasons.

First, because Ms. Desserts seems to be willing to share the spotlight with other dessert makers in town. One writer, Parker Sutton of Baltimore, fondly mentioned two other businesses -- Rheb's and Berger's -- in her essay. And she still won. So rather than just serve as a cheerleader for one dessert maker, it appears as though the Ms. Desserts Ten could serve as a forum for discussion of significant issues. Such as, should it be national policy to put more butter in the icing. (The correct answer is yes).

And secondly, in these dangerous times, desserts need an advocate. Hard though it is to believe, there are people out there who not only don't eat dessert themselves, but are actually plotting ways to eliminate desserts from daily American life. Some of them may be in your workplace. Or at your school. Or even in yourhome. They may pretend they like dessert. But they often give away their true feelings by eating a naked pear and calling it "yummy." If you should spot such dessert terrorists, send their names to me immediately. I will deprogram them, using charm and whipped cream.

But now, on a more excessive note, I present a sampling of these lyrical tributes to the final course.

George Edwards, Highland, Md.: "When I was younger, much younger, I had three great loves: pretty girls, fast cars and desserts. The girls were . . . interesting, and the cars fun, but the desserts were pure passion. . . .

". . . But nothing lasts forever, or so they say. When I got married my wife didn't seem to understand about the other pretty girls. And the Corvette got traded in on an Impala station wagon . . . after the kids came along. But if you're ever in Ms. Desserts'

Outlet Store on a Friday afternoon and by chance see a middle-aged man with a full bag under each arm patiently waiting for a sample of the latest double-chocolate, caramel, peanut butter volcano . . . say hello to me."

Mary Ann Dunevant, Baltimore: "As a thirtysomething mother of two young children, there aren't too many 'vices' left in my life. Dessert, I promise you, will be the last to go.

"Cigarette smoking bit the dust in the '70s, and my days of late-night carousing are over. My refrigerator stocks lo-fat yogurt, low-cholesterol margarine, reduced salt soup, and lite salad dressing. My evening meal was designed by Jane Brody. But not my dessert.

". . . Chocolate mousse, creme de menthe brownies. This is msinful '90s pleasure."

Sandra Wright, music student at Peabody Conservatory, Baltimore: "While having a piece of tasty elegant dessert, I always felt as if I bathed in a great musical work. Indeed, I do consider a piece of pure dessert as a piece of art."

Fred Weinstein, Timonium: "I love desserts because they awaken a carnival of senses . . . the need for visual, textural, olfactory and gustatory pleasure.

". . . Actually I'm a cream puff pretending to be a smart cookie."

Parker Sutton, Baltimore: "I remember places for their desserts -- the apple pie in Philadelphia, the chocolate-peanut butter pie in Middlebury, Vt., Rheb's and Berger's and carrot cake in Baltimore.

". . . I can't tell you why I love desserts. It's an inherent condition."

Catherine Gugerty, Baltimore, a School Sister of Notre Dame who runs a shelter for homeless men: "Since my youth I have loved desserts, but never before in my lifetime have I needed dessert more. With the ugly and bitter realities of war facing me daily, I find myself seeking a beauty and sweetness in life that . . . dessert offers."

Gail W. Brettschneider, Lutherville, who offered a recipe: "With a gentle stirring motion mix years of dessert eating experience, a sweet tooth, and a willingness to have fun with food. Add an ability to savor flavor, a desire to search for new recipes and willingness to try new tastes adventures. Pour mixture into comfortable chair."

Joel Barry Brown, Columbia, who sent in a letter stained with chocolate: "I was so excited after reading about the . . . contest that I had to reply immediately. That meant entering while munching on chocolate chip cookies. . . . I try to limit my overwhelming urge for desserts to specific times . . . but often the urge is so overpowering that I can't resist a sweet or two, or three. . . .

T. Michael McInnis, Highland, Md: "I love good desserts. I am honest. I offer over 50 years' eating experience. Cakes, cookies, licorice and lollipops, pies and puddings. I've devoured them all."

Arla Altman, Baltimore: "The year I was born, Ma gained 50 pounds. From desserts. Ice cream, cheesecake and lemon meringue pie entered my fetal cells, altering the DNA. I was born loving desserts.

". . . I've been judging desserts for over 30 years. Why not make me legitimate?"

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