Dear Short Answers >> I live in a small town that has a lot of amateur theatrical events. At some point or other, just about everybody I know is in a play or singing at a piano bar.

Since I used to be a professional musician myself, I know how bad some of these singers are. I don't mind attending these events, but I do mind having to tell everybody how "wonderful" they were. I can feel my face getting red from the embarrassment of lying.

Is it better to stay home and pretend to be sick or attend and lie through my teeth? Or should I just tell them what I think and never get invited again? None of these seem like great choices to me.

— Horns of a dilemma

DEAR HORNS >> You are thinking about this in the wrong way. It is not about virtuosity, it's about friends having fun. And lies are not necessary if you had a good time. Try harder.

Virtue is its own reward

Dear Short Answers >> My neighbor recently went on vacation and hired a dog walker to come by twice a day to walk her two small dogs. After a couple of days, the dog walker came to my house and asked if I could possibly walk the dogs in the morning because she was no longer able to do it. I don't really like dogs, but I felt bad for them so I agreed.


When my neighbor returned about a week later, she thanked me profusely for my help but never mentioned any kind of payment. I don't know what she paid the other dog walker, but I feel I deserve half. I was hoping my neighbor would offer me something, but since she hasn't, would it be out of line for me to ask?

— Good neighbor

DEAR NEIGHBOR >> Yes, we think it would be quite out of line.

Dear Short Answers >> My husband has the very annoying habit of making me say things I don't mean and then punishing me for it.

For example, he decided that he didn't want to have a big Thanksgiving dinner last year and wanted to go out to a restaurant instead. I argued with him but he was insistent until I finally said "okay." Then he kept asking me "are you sure?" I finally relented and said "Yes, I'm sure."

Well, of course, we had a horrible time and we both wished we were at a big Thanksgiving dinner instead. When we got home, he blamed me. "Why did you want to go out on Thanksgiving?" When I try to explain that it was his idea — he throws it back in my face — "but you said you wanted to go out."

This kind of thing happens all the time and I can't figure out a way to stop it. What do I do?

— Sick of it

DEAR SICK >> You know the game — just refuse to play it! (The sure sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.) He is trying to get you to take responsibility for his decisions and you play right into it.

If you miss this, you miss it all

Dear Short Answers >> Why are relationships important?

— Hermit

DEAR HERMIT >> Relationships are not just important, they are what it's all about. Not all of them are intimate, but all of them have the possibility of enriching your life.

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