Dear Short Answers >> A certain family member never gives gifts, but seems to expect them from me. I just don't feel like it this year. He will probably be miffed, but I'm not in the mood. Is that okay?
DEAR NOT FEELING >> Of course, it's okay! Sounds like you've trained one selfish kinda guy. A year of coal in his stocking won't kill him.
Dear Short Answers >> I have always thought that I was gay and have been happily having sex with men for 20 years. Until recently. There is a new woman at work who I absolutely adore. I even have dreams about having sex with her. I'd love to ask her out and see what happens. Should I tell her I think I'm gay, but not sure now? What happens if I'm not able to perform in bed? I'm petrified but also excited. I am ripping myself apart over this.
DEAR WBF >> Sometimes people change — but rarely. We suggest you proceed slowly for her sake, as well as yours. Ask her out — for lunch, or coffee. No need for full disclosure, unless after getting to know her and honest self-scrutiny you decide this could be a genuine relationship. By that we mean, not a lark nor a test of your own powers of seduction. In other words, don't be cruel and don't be a fool. This is about two people.
About "failure to perform"? You pays your money, you takes your chances — just like everyone else. In this regard, all relationships are similar. Good manners and a sense of humor are the only way to go.
Easier said than done
Dear Short Answers >> I have my daughter under lock and key — no dating, drugs or alcohol. But she will be 18 this month. Now what?
DEAR DAD >> Lock and key is not necessarily what we recommend for teaching teens about responsible choice-making. That said, tell her you are proud of her and that you trust her to make good decisions — and don't go nuts when she makes a mistake.
Dear Short Answers >> I recently moved to a new town and am trying to get to know the people here. Quite often, when I am introduced to a new person, they chuckle and say, "Oh, I've heard all about you!!"
It is true that I have done some things in the past that I am ashamed of, but I can't imagine how anybody here knows that. How do I get to the bottom of what is being said about me behind my back?
DEAR UN >> You will never get to the bottom of it. And the more you query the more excited the buzz gets. And maybe — just maybe — it is meant as a familiar form of greeting! Smile, wink, or say "And I'm so happy to meet you!"
A useful Rx
Dear Short Answers >> Why is work important?
DEAR BEE >> Work is often ballast against poverty, boredom and slothfulness. It has been known to ameliorate depression, heartache and low self-esteem. From time to time, it can be all of the above.