Life is complicated. Short Answers isn't.

HEY, THAT'S NO WAY TO SAY ‘HELLO'

Dear Short Answers: I recently sent out invitations for a dinner party I was planning and I just didn't feel like getting into the hassle of everybody's ridiculous dietary re stric tions these days. So, I in cluded a note listing what I was planning to serve and at the bottom of the note I put, "If your diet prohibits you from eat ing these items, please don't hesitate to decline." Most people accepted, but a few wrote back with very nasty notes basically telling me I shouldn't be having a dinner party if I couldn't accommodate everybody's "special" needs. Was I right? Or was I being a rude host?

JG

Dear JG: Yes, rude. Sounds very unwelcoming. NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED

Dear Short Answers: There is a guy who lives in my town who has hit a patch of bad luck. He hasn't worked for a couple of years and his wife walked out on him. I felt really bad for him, so I hired him for some handyman-type work around my house. First of all, he wasn't cheap. I know I should have ask ed for a price upfront, but I didn't. And second, his work was terrible. The door he fixed fell off the hinges two days lat er. I'm still finding splotches of paint where he should have us ed a drop cloth. Now I'm in a quandary. Should I ask for part of my money back -- or just nev er hire him again? I did this to help him out, but I don't want to get shafted in the process.

Mr. Nice Guy

Dear Mr. Nice Guy: You did the right thing. Now forget it. Don't discuss it and don't hire him again.

SMOKE SIGNALS

Dear Short Answers: My girlfriend seems to get upset whenever I'm scheduled to hang out with any personal friend of mine that isn't her. The other day, I called in an order for food and told my girlfriend I was waiting for someone to meet me at my home, so they could take the ride to pick up the food with me. My girlfriend then rushed to get off the phone with me. When I asked what was wrong, she simply said, "It doesn't matter. You're going to do what you please anyway." And she continued to be short with me until we hung up the phone. What is going on here?

Indirect

Dear Indirect: Well it definitely sounds like something is wrong. Maybe she is overly possessive and maybe you are insufficiently attentive. A conversation about expectations seems in order.

TRY, TRY AGAIN

Dear Short Answers: What are the chances of quitting smoking after 45 years of smoking a pack a day?

Scared and Smoking

Dear S&S: You can do it and you should! Talk to your doctor. If you are motivated, this is a solved problem. It's difficult but doable and there medications that can help. We wish you luck!

A TALMUDIC DEBATE

Dear Short Answers: Is it better to have loved and lost or never to have loved at all?

Have Loved and Lost

Dear Have: Yes, much better.

Send your questions anonymously on our website (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.