LEAVE THE GUN, KEEP THE CANNOLI

Dear Short Answers: I got a present from my ex on Valentine's Day and my current BF went crazy. He wants me to return the gift (nice earrings). I don't want to and he won't let it go.

Penny

Dear Penny: Assuming old BF's gift was a lovely gesture to a PAST romance, reassure current BF, keep the earrings and don't wear them around him for awhile. If something else is going on, we bow out. IT'S A BRAVE NEW WORLD

Dear Short Answers: I've gotten several birth announcements of late from children of my friends who have had babies. I don't know the parents -- am I obliged to buy a baby gift?

Everyone's Nana

Dear Nana: Gift who you love, when you wish to. No obligation in this situation.

RAW OR DONE?

Dear Short Answers: I want my ex back after a very ugly breakup, but he's been ignoring every attempt at contact for the past FOUR days (since we broke up). Is the relationship really not salvageable or are his emotions still raw?

Change of Heart

Dear Change: The words "very ugly" and "four days" have us confused. Assuming you were the ugly one, be very sure this is what you want and think very deeply about why the ugly happened before you contact him again. If he was the perpetrator, why are you hound dogging him?

WAITING IN FLORIDA

Dear Short Answers: I have been waiting (and planning) for my husband to retire for three years. The absolute drop dead date was Nov. 1. We moved to our new home -- but now he says, "they need me at work" and "we need the extra money!!" And I am still...

Waiting

Dear Waiting: Surely you are not surprised. Bet he gave you lots of clues -- if you were listening. He will join when he is ready. And not before.

THE POWER OF SILENCE

Dear Short Answers: I share an office with a girl at work who used to be a fairly good friend, but now I absolutely can't stand to be around her. She talks to me all day long, bothers me when I'm trying to concentrate and is a general pain in the butt. I've talked to HR but they say that we essentially have the same job, and therefore have to share an office. I don't want to push it because I really like this job -- other than having to share an office with this idiot. How do I get her to stop annoying me?

So Done With Her

Dear Done: Don't answer her, tell her you need to concentrate and wear earplugs. That should do it.

THE SANDWICH GENERATION

Dear Short Answers: I am living with my daughter since I lost my job. Now she expects me to take care of her kids! Does she have nerve?

Mad Granny

Dear Mad Granny: Short answer -- No, you do. Play by her rules or move out.

WRONG FOR WHOM?

Dear Short Answers: I haven't had sex with my husband in 10 years. Is that wrong?

I'm Okay, He's Okay

Dear Okay: If it's working, you got no argument here.

Life is complicated. Short Answers isn't.

Send your questions anonymously on our website (www. shortanswers.net) or email them to theeagle@shortanswers.net. Jeff Johnson has worked as a psychologist for New York State, New York City and the federal government as well as teaching at the graduate level. He is a Williams College alumnus and lives in Pownal, Vt. Paula Forman has worked as a professional "trend spotter" with high-profile clients such as Procter & Gamble. More recently, she taught sociology in the New York City university system. She lives and writes in Hudson, N.Y.