A: I know what you mean, but there's something defensive about having to explain to other people where the name came from. Maybe they should say to a couple of friends who think these parents should apologize that Mia is the name of the father's late sister—but leave it at that. No one owns a first name.
Q. Fake Boobs: Kids have big ears, I guess. My son overheard me mention to my sister that I think his father's girlfriend has fake boobs. The next time he saw her, he asked her if her boobs were fake and explained the context in which he heard the term. She thought it was hilarious—she assures me they're not fake—and I am mortified. What's the best way to apologize for this sort of social faux pas? I've already apologized but am worried she and my husband think I'm obsessed with her appearance.
A: You are lucky the girlfriend of your ex has a sense of humor and you two appear to have a decent relationship. When she told you, you apologized and felt like a boob. So drop it because there's no reason to blow it into something bigger than it is.
Q. Adoption vs. Biological Child: I spent five years teaching English in Asia and for most of that time I also volunteered at various orphanages. I am back home now and married to a wonderful man I met while teaching. Since I returned home, the kids and babies I met have remained at the back of my mind. I would like to go back and adopt an older child. The trouble is that my husband says that the idea of adoption doesn't appeal to him. We had a lot of strained discussions over this, and he still says he doesn't want to adopt. I am heartbroken, and this is severely affecting our marriage. He wants to start trying for a baby, but I want to adopt instead, and have a biological child later on. Do I need to let go of adoption in order to please my husband? Am I asking for too much for him to at least start the process? I feel like once we adopt a child, he will love him or her.
A: As with the letter above about having children, if this was something you have always known you wanted to do, it would have been better to bring this up before you married. But it's fair that if now that you're home you realized you want to bring back one of these children you have broached the subject with your husband. Even if instinctively he has no interest, he should do you the courtesy of exploring this with you—no, not starting the adoption process, but gathering information and talking to people about this. Equally, you have to hear and respect his concerns. This kind of thing doesn't work unless both parents are completely onboard, and if ultimately your husband can't be swayed, don't think of this as the end of the way you can help these children. You can contribute to their lives financially or through annual visits, etc. It's also possible that if you have your own biological children, your husband may then be more willing to reopen the topic of adoption.
Q. Bridesmaid Dilemma: I agreed to be a bridesmaid in my cousin's wedding. I am more than thrilled, because I love her very much and I feel honored. However, she has asked all of the court to do something I'd rather not participate in. She wants us to learn the choreography of a song and dance it at the reception. Not only do I not like the idea, but I don't have the dancing skills to pull this out. I feel obligated to participate, but I am dreading the idea just thinking about it. I feel compelled to speak up and tell her I want to be a bridesmaid, but I don't want to dance. Some tell me that I must do it, since I agreed to be a bridesmaid, even if I have to do something I don't like. What can I do? I don't want to be rude, and I want to be her bridesmaid. Bridesmaid with two left feet.
A: As someone who always mouths the words to "Happy Birthday” to spare pain to the celebrant, I understand your feelings. This little performance might be really fun for everyone, but if it's painful for you, you shouldn't have to do it. It's time we let go of the notion that the bride is a dictator whose every whim must be indulged by her subjects. You can tell your cousin you're sure the dance will be fabulous, all the more so if you don't stumble through it. Say you'd be happy to stand by and clap or bang a tambourine, but you don't want to turn this show into a slapstick. Then don't be bullied into having "fun."
Q. RE: One-Night Stand Story: If someone is intoxicated to the point where they are not able to remember their actions, or if they are stumbling around drunk, then they are not capable to consenting to sexual relations, and the friend may very well have been raped without having been given date-rape drugs ... Of course, I am not certain how this works if BOTH parties are falling down drunk ...
A: This is why it's a really good idea not to get so drunk you are no longer responsible for your actions. Presumably the guy was drinking, too. So two drunk people voluntarily stumble off to bed, then later she realizes that she actually wasn't in a condition to give consent, even though she may have appeared to be consenting. I take rape very, very seriously, but as we've seen in high-profile cases, many women get slammed with the notion that they've consented when they've truly been assaulted. If this case is as the friend describes, I think it's a big mistake for a woman to turn her mistake into a criminal matter.
Q. Only in New York: Have you heard of the pop culture "tradition" where couples have a list of a few celebrities they're allowed to hook up with if the opportunity ever presents itself? Such lists are a common trope among my generation, and of course it's generally a total joke as the odds of Zooey Deschanel ever talking to me, let alone bedding me, are non-existent. My girlfriend of 2+ years recently mentioned a B-List celebrity (handsome, single, extremely rich, a face you'd almost certainly recognize) that she'd want to add on hers. She said it in a conversation with friends about such lists, but here's the catch—she works on this celebrity's TV show! It's not an enormous staff and he knows her by name. I took some offense at all this and she said it's just a celebrity crush no different than one of mine. I say this is her co-worker, not some abstract celebrity. Am I off base to be opposed to this guy's presence on her list? I'm happy to remove Zooey from mine.
A: This seems like a fun game to play when girls are doing each other's hair or boys are hanging out by their locker, but there's something rather juvenile about adults announcing who is on their celebrity crush list. (Darling, Daniel Craig and Clive Owen are on mine, but you know I have a thing for rugged Brits. I'm also not expecting either will call and interrupt this chat.) Your girlfriend works for a celebrity who turns her on. For the celebrity's part, having sex with willing females is one of those opportunities that frequently arises more for handsome, rich, famous men. The question here is whether your girlfriend is pursuing a fling with her boss. If she's not, then accept she, like many other women, find him appealing. Your offer to drop a celebrity from your list of women you're never going to meet is irrelevant.
Q. Asking for Return of Gifts—When Is It Ever OK?: A few months ago I gave away all my baby clothes, furniture, car seat, pram, etc. to various friends and family. I thought I was finished with having any more kids, but then I discovered I'm pregnant with my fourth! It was unplanned and we feel a mixture of shock, happiness, excitement, and trepidation. It's going to be difficult financially to re-purchase all the things I gave away. Do you think it's okay to ask people to have them back? I feel bad asking for gifts back, but we're going to struggle spending thousands of dollars buying everything again for our fourth baby.