Dear Nathan

Dead plant

Dead plant (Photo credit: jblahblahblah)

DEAR NATHAN: My friend left a plant for me to take care of while she was out of town. The plant died. Do I replace the plant? — NO GREEN THUMB IN LUBBOCK, TEXAS

DEAR NO GREEN THUMB: Before we get to the question at hand, I have to ask you: do you know why people say they have a green thumb? I mean, I totally understand the phrase and get what people are saying, but it seems like saying you have a green thumb would be more indicative of a very serious medical condition, not a talent in botany.

I have found in situations like this, it is best to blame someone else. For example, you could tell your friend that a bunch of neighborhood youths broke in and killed the plant. It could have been a gang initiation for a gang that really hates houseplants.

If you are uncomfortable with saying that your friend’s neighbors are all in a terrible gang, you could go the “playing dumb” route. “Oh, I was supposed to take care of THAT plant? I wonder where that other plant I have been watering came from…”

Under no circumstances, though, should you buy your friend a new plant. This will set the precedent that if they want something new, they can leave it with you, you will kill it, the get them a new whatever. You don’t want to be that friend.

Happy breaking the news of your friend’s plant’s fate,



DEAR NATHAN: A family member has six cats and wants to have the Thanksgiving meal at her house. Every time I eat there, I find cat hair on the table, on the plates and in the food. I don’t want to cause hard feelings, but how do I handle this? I’m allergic to cats. — HOLD THE FUR IN AMARILLO, TEXAS

DEAR HOLD THE FUR: You are clearly a nicer person than I am. If I were forced to ingest cat hair, I would not be worried about causing hard feelings. In fact, I would probably scream “YOU’RE STUPID CAT GOT ITS STUPID HAIR ALL OVER MY STUPID TURKEY! KEEP YOU STUPID CAT OFF OF THE STUPID TABLE! CATS DON’T BELONG ON TABLES OR NEAR MY FOOD! MAYBE NEXT YEAR WE SHOULD JUST EAT YOUR STUPID CAT! WE MIGHT AS WELL SINCE I’VE SWALLOWED MORE CAT HAIR THAN TURKEY THIS MEAL!” This is, of course, presuming that my throat had not swollen shut because of my allergy. In that case, I would probably just make a gagging sound and then eventually pass out.

Oh, and just tell them you are declining their invitation because their cat is nasty. They should know what you mean.

Good luck keeping cat dander off of you Thanksgiving treats,



DEAR NATHAN: A few years ago, my husband and I decided that when our nieces and nephews turned 18 we would stop giving Christmas gifts. That decision has worked out fine — until my husband’s nieces and nephews began turning 18. Now it has become an issue with his side of the family, particularly his mother. She has made it clear through emails that we “have” to buy them gifts.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to start a war over gift-giving, but on the other hand, if we buy for his family, we have to buy for mine. We don’t have a lot of disposable income. Please help us find a way to get through this. — GRINCHED IN LAS VEGAS

DEAR GRINCHED: This is where the art of the homemade gift comes in. Since you are being forced to gift, though, I would not devote effort into knitting a scarf or something. Instead, I would go for my simple gift for those you do not want to gift.

First, find a computer. This computer can be a PC or Apple. It does not matter. Next, open up a word processor. Find a nice large font, then type the following:

A donation has been made in your name to the “Whiny Babies Wanting Christmas Presents” fund. Enclosed is a picture of the whiny baby who wanted a present.

Then place the letter and a nice picture of that person in an envelope. This is truly a gift from the heart that no one could ever take issue with.

Happy gifting,



DEAR NATHAN: My best friend, “Kathie,” has betrayed me. This may sound silly, but my husband and I have a sort of “coat of arms.” Ever since we started writing letters and notes back and forth, he has always drawn a character on them, and it turned into “our” symbol.

Kathie is in the armed forces and I made her my maid of honor. But when she showed up, she had that same character tattooed on her back! My husband was upset she chose something so intimate of ours as a tattoo, and a few people have noticed it as well. I don’t know how to handle this. It feels like a slap in the face. — ROBBED IN FLORIDA

DEAR ROBBED: You are right. This does sound silly.

You should probably take her to People’s Court to decide who owns her tattoo. Since it is “your symbol,” that may mean you actually own that particular piece of her back. I am not too sure how the legal rights to property work, so you will want to consult an attorney on that.

Also, “Kathie” should probably be wearing more appropriate clothing. Why is her back always exposed? Is she some sort of stripper? Or was her back exposed just because of the bridesmaid’s dress you picked out for her? If that is the case, you really should have chosen something that hid all unwanted tattoos.

By the way, if you think this feels like a slap in the face, you should really have someone slap your face sometime. They are nothing alike.

Happy suing for a piece of your friend’s back,



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