Ask Amy

Monday, August 24, 2009 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: This year my cucumber plants produced more cukes than I could eat myself, so I brought some to work to share.

My e-mail to the group said, "help yourself."

There were enough cucumbers for everyone if each person took only one.

However, some people took more than one — one person took four; another took three.

I was surprised because it seemed obvious to me that a person shouldn't take that many.

I'd like to be able to do this again, but I already feel bad that some people didn't get any cucumbers.

Should I ask around and see if I can bring more for those who were deprived?

Should I specify in the future that people should take only one cucumber until everyone has had a chance to take one?

This has taken some of the fun out of sharing with people, and I'd appreciate your guidance.

— Confused Co-worker

DEAR CONFUSED: My colleague Randy's wife provides delicious baked goods for everyone in our department to share; these are placed in a common area along with a sign inviting people to help themselves. The understanding is that this is a "first come, first serve" situation; lucky people get there early, and dieters give the table a wide berth.

Don't overthink this, and don't police your colleagues. Bring in your cukes, send out the e-mail, and if you are concerned about some people hogging more than their share of the produce, post a sign saying, "Please limit yourself to two." (No one can eat just one.)

Fortunately for your colleagues, tomato season is just around the corner.

DEAR AMY: I recently met a boy, "Frederick."

He is 16, and I am 15.

Two weeks after I met him, I learned he had a little crush on me and thought I was cute, which I thought was very sweet of him.

He seemed to be a nice guy, so I gave him my cell phone number, and we began to talk and got to know each other.

After talking to him for a little while, I thought I liked him too, but then I realized my feelings were short-lived.

I backed off and tried to guide him away from any topics, conversations or actions that would give him any idea that I was interested in a romantic relationship.

This did not work. In fact, he began to like me even more.

He asked me out on a date, and out of guilt I said yes, which I now regret.

I know I'm going to have to tell him the truth, but he's a sweet guy, and I don't want to hurt or embarrass him.

How can I tell him that I like him only as a friend, without being too blunt, but still get the message across clearly?

— Not Interested

DEAR NOT: Young people have an idea that they can somehow let someone down easily, but I've never seen this work. To be let down easily is to be let down.

I hope you've learned from this that you really shouldn't agree to go out with someone unless you know you are really interested in him. The fact that you couldn't figure this out means you might not be old enough or mature enough to date.

This could be your opening to Frederick: "I'm embarrassed because I agreed to go out with you, but I'm not really ready to do that. I'd like to be friends with you, but not more than that." Don't lead him on — this just leads to magnified hurt feelings later.

DEAR AMY: You've run some letters about adults heckling young sports umpires. I've been there.

When I was a young softball umpire, I took a strikeout pitch straight to the groin while standing behind the plate.

As I was doubled over in pain, I saw an adult rush from the stands and come straight at me. I straightened and drew in a breath to assure him that I was OK, just as he indignantly declared, "No way was that a strike! It was low and inside!"

And that's the story of how I perfected my icy stare.

— G

DEAR G: Without making the obvious pun — thank you for letting us in on the secret behind so many icy stares.

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