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My cousin is getting married this summer. Let’s call him Peter Pan. You’ve never met a more immature 45-year-old in your life: always broke, can’t decide what he wants to do with his life, won’t hold a job. He’s a sweet guy, but he can never get his act together.

Now he’s getting married, and I get the invitation, and there’s a gift registry at a couple of chain stores. I see this and I am reminded that Peter Pan has owed me $1500 for going on 12 years. I doubt he even remembers it. Can I forgive the debt as a wedding present, or is that too cold? Must I instead buy him a set of plates?


Dining Out says: You have the right to forfeit a cash present for the wedding but don’t punish the bride to be. If you can’t stand the thought of contributing to your cousin’s John Deer lawn mower fund, order something off the registry that only the bride can use!

The Sales Guy says: Let’s get this straight: This loser has owed you $1,500.00 and doesn’t even acknowledge the debt? Unless you’re flush with cash or an idiot—in which case welcome him into the family with open arms and a generous gift.

I, on the other hand, would think the perfect gift would be to throw a “get your head out of your ass/bale out of the wedding” intervention. That’s if you want to save your cousin from an expensive mistake and endless misery. It’s tough love time, cousin!

floral morals

This time of year, my girlfriend steals lilac blossoms anywhere she can find them. It doesn’t matter if they’re in someone’s yard, a public park, the parking lot of a funeral home. She argues that the season is short, and the blossoms should be enjoyed while they last, and she doesn’t strip the entire bush—just a branch here and there.

Is she wrong to do this?

—Picking a Fight

Dining Out says: Would you pick apples off trees in a private orchard just because they only grow during the fall? Would you steal tomatoes off vines in someone’s home garden just because they’re only in season during the summer months? Martha Stewart probably wouldn’t approve of your girlfriends flora-related petty theft acts....especially the funeral home incidents. There are plenty of flower shops and nurseries that carry lilac blossoms when they’re in season. You can always research the best places that carry the for the best prices or better yet, buy your girlfriend a bouquet and surprise her.

Dr. Sigmund Fraud says: I’m not ordinarily in favor of people stealing what doesn’t belong to them. But this time I am. And I’ll tell you why.

The other day I was out for a walk. It was one of those spring days when everything seemed new and fresh. The buds were exploding on the trees. The grass seemed almost flourescent in the spots where the sunlight shone through the thickening leaves. Chickadees and bright yellow songbirds darted among the branches, filling the air with the sweet music of rebirth. A warm spring breeze caressed my skin, as a beautiful young woman approached me on the sidewalk, her long, print skirt clinging softly around her hips and thighs.

As she moved closer, she said “hello,” and my heart leapt. For a moment, I too was young again. Life was once more like a long, lovely book, and I was an enthralled reader, just finishing the very first chapter.

Then, before I could muster a greeting in return, I realized she wasn’t saying hello to me at all. She was talking into some kind of Bluetooth earpiece headset thing, to someone in another part of town...or another part of the world. She was talking about Dancing with the Stars.

I hate the fact that so few of us live within our immediate surroundings these days. How many people even notice the lilacs your girlfriend is so fond of? Not many, I’ll bet. Fewer still recognize what a brief and special a period it is when they share their intoxicating fragrance.

I encourage you to snip a few here and there, and bring them home to her. They are gifts of nature, and shouldn’t be cheapened by being viewed as mere “property” to be hoarded, or bought and sold. Their existence is too fleeting, and too precious.

Of course, if you get caught, you’re on your own, pal.

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