Suffer the Children
What do you do when a co-worker tells you about child abuse?
—Drowning in Stuff
It's one thing to give a true family heirloom with the understanding the recipient will keep it and in turn pass it on. It's another to declare that the set of Santa mugs from Wal-Mart has sentimental value and must be kept forever. Since your mother is trying to put restrictions on your disposition of gifts, let her know one more time that anything you don't have room for will be given away. Then take whatever you don't want and, in the spirit of the season, donate it to someone needier. There is one thing you should stop doing: feeling guilty for declaring your apartment will not be a warehouse for your mother's excesses.
My girlfriend and I are extremely happy and have a healthy relationship. She is wonderful in every way and I feel bad about mentioning one flaw (if you could call it that). Despite being extremely attractive, she has a little bit of flub on her stomach. It's something that I'm not particularly bothered by, but I certainly wouldn't mind seeing it gone. She has also complained about it. Even though she acknowledges this, I don't know if I could suggest losing the weight to her; I don't want to come off as being shallow in some way. How should I approach this?
—Cut the Fat
The best way to see her little roll gone is the next time she mentions it, squeeze it between your thumb and index finger, waggle it, and agree with her that she should do something about it. Keep doing this and you have a good chance that the flub, and she, will disappear from your life. Would you enjoy her pointing out that she's bothered by the receding trend your hairline is taking? A normal-weight woman is a woman who sometimes comes with a little belly roll. I usually don't advocate deceit, but when a partner points out a physical flaw on herself that requires surgery to correct, a good phrase to memorize is, "Don't be ridiculous, you look great!" Using this approach, my husband has almost convinced me he can't see the bags under my eyes, and I love him for it.
Photograph of Prudie by David Plotz.