DEAR NATHAN: I’m 13, and a few weeks ago I met a guy online, got his number and we texted — a lot. Before I knew it, we were flirting up a storm.
He lives in Tennessee and I’m in Texas. He’s the same age as I am, so I don’t see anything wrong with liking him, even if he’s so far away. We have decided not to date until we have a chance to meet each other in person.
The problem is, I feel like I love him. He doesn’t call me “hot,” he calls me “gorgeous.” He doesn’t call me “Babe,” he calls me “Angel.” He listens to me when I have a problem and gives me sweet advice.
Yes, I know I’m young and love is supposed to come later in life. Yes, it seems shady that I met him online and we have never talked face-to-face. I know I might be mistaking love for infatuation — I’ve heard all this before. But I trust this boy to be faithful and supportive of me.
How can I tell if I love him or not? Should I cut off contact with him? Is it OK to feel the way I do? — TEENAGE GIRL IN A DREAM
DEAR TEENAGE GIRL: I don’t know if they still make After-School Specials, but they need to make one just for this situation. It would be about a girl named Emily. Emily, much like yourself, meets a guy that is her same age on the internet. She falls madly in love with him and goes to meet him. Then, Emily finds out the guy is really a creepy 47-year-old who owns a terrifying van.
The moral of the story, and I cannot stress this enough: DO NOT GO TO A GUY YOU MET ON THE INTERNET! MUCH LIKE THE NIGERIAN PRINCE THAT KEEPS EMAILING YOU TRYING TO GIVE YOU MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, THINGS ARE NOT AS THEY SEEM! PLUS, IF HE IS MEETING PEOPLE OUT OF STATE ON THE INTERNET, HE IS PROBABLY A LOSER ANYWAY!
Happy not going and meeting creepy strangers,
DEAR NATHAN: I have a question about office microwave etiquette. I work in a building with one kitchen for 40 people. Often there is a wait to use the microwave around lunchtime. Recently I needed to use it and found a warm packaged meal in there, and no owner around. I waited five minutes and came back. It was still there as if it had been forgotten.
I decided to place it on the counter with a napkin covering it so I could use the microwave. When I was finished, no one appeared to claim it, so I put it back in and went on my way.
Did I do the right thing? There was no way to know whose meal it was. What’s proper in this situation? Should I have just waited? — HUNGRY IN ITHACA, N.Y.
DEAR HUNGRY: The office microwave is one of the quickest tools for making your coworkers hate you. People take their food very seriously. If you don’t believe me, hide someone’s yogurt one day. You will soon see a person stomping around the office on a mission. They will be acting like they are storming the beaches at Normandy all because they are missing their peach Greek yogurt.
I think what you did was a very good thing. In fact, I have written a few rules for office microwave etiquette:
Rule 1: Do not leave your food unattended in the microwave.
Rule 2: If you do leave your food unattended, do not be mad if someone takes it out. Just be glad they didn’t poison it.
Rule 3: You know how you see those frozen meals that look super-delicious and they are always called “Garlic braised Chicken Breast”? Well, what that really means is chicken with an obscene amount of garlic on it. Under no circumstances should you stink up the office with your garlic stink. This goes double for curry or anything that is described as an “authentic” foreign dish.
Happy microwave usage,
DEAR NATHAN: Several salespersons recently have ended our transaction by saying, “Have a blessed day.” The last two times it happened, I stopped and asked, “What do you mean by that?” Both of them stammered and didn’t know what to say.
One said, “I’m sort of religious.” I replied that I’m atheist. I don’t think these folks realize what they’re saying. The next time it happens, I plan to respond by asking Zeus to bestow blessings upon them as well.
Why do people feel they have a right to force their religious beliefs on customers? — ANNOYED ATHEIST IN TEXAS
DEAR ANNOYED ATHEIST: I don’t feel like these people are forcing their religious beliefs on you. I believe that they are simply wishing you a good day.
In fact, the people I have met that are most likely to try to force their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) on people are atheists themselves. Having gone to a private Christian college, I met many people in my life who immediately wanted to debate the logistics of everything biblical when they found out about my college. Believe it or not, I do not want to discuss the scientific data that proves that God did not destroy the world with a flood whether historians believe Jesus was or wasn’t really a carpenter. I would much rather discuss taquitos.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this is a giant case of the pot calling the kettle an instrument for cooking food that is created by man and in no way has anything to do with a higher being.
Happy loudly proclaiming your beliefs in an annoying fashion,
DEAR NATHAN: My mother-in-law goes through my mail and any items on my desk at home. She used to do it in secret and would stop when she got caught. Now she does it in front of me, but never when my husband is around.
I don’t care why she’s doing it; I just want her to stop. How do I relay that to her without offending her? — FRUSTRATED SOMEWHERE IN THE USA
DEAR FRUSTRATED: Mother-in-laws can be frustrating, at least so I am told. My mother-in-law is not frustrating in any way. I repeat, NOT frustrating. I just want that on the record in case it ever comes back up for discussion.
This is a very sticky situation and I can see how you could very easily offend her with a simple request. If I were you, I would choose a much more passive-aggressive way to get my point across.
If you were to start subscribing to a newsletter for daughter-in-laws who are seeking support, it would be very awkward. So awkward, in fact, that she might stop going through your mail.
If this doesn’t work, just go through hers when she isn’t around and start questioning some of her debit card purchases. That should do the trick.
Happy vanquishing the nosey mail goblins,
P.S. Seriously, my mother-in-law is great.