DEAR AMY: My 18-year-old daughter "Emily" was hanging out and drinking in her friend "Laura's" dorm room before heading out downtown. (I've already given the underage drinking speech many times.)
They all went to another room, and then Emily went back to Laura's room to get her purse. She saw a bottle of unused Champagne and started to put it in Laura's fridge when it opened and sprayed the floor.
Unfortunately Laura's laptop was on the floor. Emily moved it onto a chair and wiped down whatever liquid was on the case and continued to clean the room. She says it was dry when she left. She met up with Laura and told her what had happened and that she had moved her computer out of the way.
The next morning the computer did not turn on. Emily felt terrible. The following day Laura took the case off, and the computer was wet. She then went to a computer tech, and he quoted $850 to fix it. Laura wants Emily to pay. Laura did not have an accidental coverage warranty.
Emily has $200 left over from her savings for school and offered it to Laura, but she refused to take it. Laura wants Emily to give her money from her summer job.
I feel it was an accident. I wonder why Laura didn't have a better warranty on it and why was a new computer on the floor? Is Emily responsible for the $850?
DEAR MOM: It was an accident. Accidents happen. But people still have to be responsible for the consequences when property is damaged because of accidents they caused.
It is not for you to second-guess the warranty choices "Laura" made when she purchased this computer. Nor is it appropriate for you to blame Laura for leaving her laptop on the floor in her room.
You might point out to "Emily" that one consequence of her choice to drink before she is mature enough (or legal enough) is that she literally cannot hold her Champagne.
Your daughter owes her friend $850.
DEAR AMY: I've been divorced for four years. My daughter chose to stay with me. Her friends and her school were here; she is also closer to me than her mother. She is 18 now and away at college.
She has had a close friend for three years. This friend attends college here in town. Her friend and I enjoy each other's company. The girl just turned 18 too. My daughter suggested that I ask her friend out and said that her friend would say yes.
I said, "You're my daughter, and she's your friend. Wouldn't that be weird for you?" My daughter laughed and said that she can handle it. She is mature for her age.
I'm 44 years old. I like the girl, and I certainly find her attractive. Is she off-limits?
— Divorced Dad
DEAR DAD: Yes, she is off-limits. Now that your daughter is in college, you and she should develop separate orbits where you can each grow and change and have differentiated private lives.
In addition to the yuck factor built into this cozy triangle, I believe that every 18-year-old should be off-limits to dating a 44-year-old. But that's me. (I can't imagine dating someone who thinks Mark Wahlberg is just another old guy.)
When Woody Allen dated a 17-year-old in the movie "Manhattan," he mused about his situation: "I'm dating a girl wherein I could beat up her father." (Allen's own personal relationship choices created terminal problems in his own family). The extreme age difference isn't necessarily morally wrong — it's just terminally dumb.
DEAR AMY: The woman who signed her letter "Tired," asked "Is this all there is?"
She might try looking outside herself. My parents are in their 80s. They drive for Meals on Wheels, sponsor refugees in their church, lead the Crop Walk to raise money for needy people — and more. They never ask "is this all there is" because they are too busy helping others.
— Giving Back
DEAR GIVING BACK: Many readers suggested this. However, "Tired" was leading an extremely exhausting, depleting life. My suggestion was that if she took better care of herself, she might have something left — and then she would have something to give.