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January 2007

Dear Madrone,

My husband, god bless him, puts up with a lot from everyone. The car he bought second hand from his brother Lou has bald tires, he shrugs. The postman delivers our mail looking like the FBI examined it for fingerprints, if you know what I'm saying, he smiles. He lends money with an open hand, and doesn't spend any of his precious seconds trying to get repaid. My sister hit him up for a decent amount WITHOUT TELLING ME, and it was only when I wondered to her face how she and her husband managed a vacation in Aruba when their electricity had been cut off the month before, she let it slip. I got the repayment but only because I threatened to tell our mother exactly what she'd been doing when everyone thought she was working nights at Cost Co. What can I do? I'm going crazy with the way everyone takes advantage.

Not a chump, Bemidji

Dear Not,

What kind of a name is Bemidji? If it isn't Italian, it ought to be. I'm not sure who your beef is with. Is it with your better half? Or is it with the people who are milking him? First off, if it's with your hubby, take a chill pill, the guy has been like this from the start, there's not much you can do. Either he's a doormat or a saint.. well actually, a saint is a doormat with a gracious heart, that's very rare, which is why they make such a big deal when they can actually prove that one existed. So most likely he's a doormat, and you're not. You're stuck. Because you'll have to bully him into standing up for himself, which won't solve your problem. If it's the other people driving you up a tree you may 1. Threaten your own relatives, which you already know how to do, good for you. and 2. Warn off freeloading friends that they'll have to deal with you if they don't do what's right. But where his own family is concerned, you have to zip it. That's how it is. God bless, Donna

Dear Madrone,

Can you settle an argument between me and my neighbor? We have agreed that we will bow to your say so in this matter. SHE says that wives should sit in the back, and I say that couples should sit together. We need to get this settled, because we are planning a trip together to the casino in Connecticut and we're planning to drive there.

Love my husband, Long Beach

Dear Love,

You can't settle this yourselves, and yet you plan to play the slots together? Suit yourselves, I'm not responsible when one of you borrows a quarter from the other, and it just happens to hit, and you start to wrangle over who should get the pay off. No. That's a letter I will send back with WHAT ARE YOU CRAZY? stamped on it.

As for the seating arrangements, whose car is it? That person gets to decide. The other people say thank you for the ride. Now let's say it's your car and you know what your friend likes, then divide how annoyed you'll be if you sit in the back, by how annoyed your friend will be if you don't. Then multiply that number by how much you care about your friend. If it's more than 50, then you'll know what to do. God bless, Donna

Dear Readers, You may have noticed that the above answer isn't particularly useful to the lady who asked. Well, that's because it doesn't matter what I say. This happens all the time. People think they're asking me one question, but they're asking me something all together different. In this case, what they want to know is how good a friend they actually are. I'm guessing not very. God bless, Donna

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pamela Bongiorno Monk is a full time faculty member of Penn State University, where she teaches creative writing, both fiction and non fiction. She pursues freelance writing, authoring plays and feature articles. She has broken nearly as many rules of family as she has enforced.

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