Dear Short Answers >> I run a small retail clothing store in a small town and I tend to carry pretty unique items. I recently saw one of my dresses at a party and went up to the woman to compliment her. Unfortunately, she said she bought the dress online, not in my shop.

I was disappointed, but later when I got to thinking about it, I checked our records and discovered we had never sold the dress. It somehow "disappeared" — by which I mean someone stole it.

Of course, I don't have proof this woman stole my dress, but I feel I am justified asking her for more information, like where she bought it online, how much she paid, etc. My husband says forget about it but I can't. What do you think is the best way to approach this potential thief?

— Angry!

DEAR ANGRY! >> Pursuing this "potential thief" is a waste of your energy. You might want to put it to better use examining your security system. Or better yet — forget it.

No good deed goes unpunished

Dear Short Answers >> My father's second wife passed away last month and left me a very extensive, and presumably rare, collection of china figurines. When she was alive, she loved to show them to me and I would always feign interest in them.

Now, he expects me to display them in my home. He even offered to pay for a display case!! I don't have the faintest interest in these stupid old-fashioned figurines and I'm not going to take up half my living room to display them. But I also don't want to admit to my dad that I had been lying all those years when I pretended to like them just to be nice to Margaret.


I'm between a rock and a hard place. Help!!

— Step Daughter

DEAR STEP >> Procrastinate. Tell your dad you are flattered, but need time to figure out an appropriate place. Ask him to "store" them for you in the meantime.

Dear Short Answers >> The house next door is for sale and my wife and I are very concerned that we get the right family — quiet with no little kids. The last family had two little terrors, who started playing outside (weather permitting) at the crack of dawn every Saturday and Sunday.

My wife wants me to talk to the real estate agent and let us speak to any prospective buyers to lay out the ground rules. I'm not comfortable doing this, but I also want a nice, quiet family to live next door. What do you think is the best way to handle this?

— Choosy Neighbors

DEAR CHOOSY >> We think the only way to choose your neighbors is to buy the house yourself. You have absolutely no grounds to talk to the broker or prospects! You are way out of line should you decide to do so.

Dear Short Answers >> How long should it reasonably take a grown woman to get ready for a party? My wife starts this complicated process around 5 p.m. and we're ready to go out the door around 7:30 p.m. Isn't that about 2 hours longer than necessary???

— Irate

DEAR I >> Why is this your issue? However long it takes to get in the spirit of partying is a worthy investment.

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