Ask Amy

Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 9:00pm

DEAR AMY: My 19-year-old cousin graduated from high school this spring. She had a rough road through adolescence and a hard time with high school, but she finally graduated.

I am proud that she persevered. Her graduation party, however, was not a pleasant affair. She barely acknowledged her adult guests and left the party with her friends for a considerable amount of time to "take a walk."

What she really did was go to a park with her friends to get high.

Her mother, my aunt, not only condoned it, but was amused in relaying this news to guests at the party.

When the kids came back they were, of course, famished; inhaling all the food they could find, laughing, cursing and carrying on.

Again, her mother joked about them having "the munchies." I was disgusted by the behavior of both the parent and the child.

Should I speak to my aunt?

My gift to the graduate involved tickets to an event that I planned to take my cousin to. Now I don't even want to go with her.

Should I just give her the tickets to take someone else?

— Disappointed Cousin

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: It's pretty obvious why your cousin has struggled so much. It would be very challenging to rise above such neglectful parenting.

If you are close, you should raise this issue — not to express your disgust, but rather your concern. Be prepared that whatever you say, it might have little impact.

What I love about your gift is that gifts such as yours — gifts of experiences, rather than material goods — give you and the recipient the opportunity to share something.

By all means continue with your plans. It won't kill you to spend a few hours with your cousin, and the experience and connection might influence both of you in a positive way.


DEAR AMY: I recently went back to my college town for a wedding. At the wedding, I saw the man I was engaged to eight years ago.

We broke off the engagement because I felt we were too immature.

Seeing him last week brought back all the old feelings I had for him, and he expressed that he felt the same. We have both matured a lot. He asked me to get back together with him.

I have a live-in boyfriend I have been with for almost a year now.

I love him, but he can really get on my nerves sometimes. I asked him not to move in with me, but he moved in within weeks of meeting me, and he brought his dog just after I had gotten new carpet.

Since I have been back home, he and I have argued and I am realizing that I don't know if I love him enough to give up on my first love. Am I just finding things wrong because of what happened last week? I am having such a hard time figuring out how I really feel. How do I know which man is the right one?

— Lost in Love

DEAR LOST: Do yourself and your boyfriend a favor and stop inventing reasons to dump him that place all the burden onto him (or his dog).

Leave your current relationship if it isn't working out. Live on your own long enough to figure out who you are and what you really want. Your former love might be the right guy for you, but you might also find that your problems and annoyances follow you like a carpet-destroying dog.


DEAR AMY: Responding to the letter from "Disgusted," who hates the way Americans use their knives and forks, I have seen graceful eaters in both styles. I have seen slobs in both styles. Particularly nasty are European eaters who smear mixed food on the backs of their forks.

What really annoys me here is the assumption that all Americans are boobs and all Europeans ("others") are elegantly mannered. Anyone who thinks that hasn't traveled very widely. There are slobs everywhere.

— Regular Reader

DEAR READER: Thank you for the reminder that slobs and boobs have no nation; they're everywhere.

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