Dear Ms. Behavior:
I recently bought a piece of furniture from my friend, Sally. The bureau was beautiful, but pricey, especially because she was trying to sell it to friends during a private moving sale. But I fell in love, and had to have it.
Anyway, when my girlfriend and I got it home, we found some sex toys in the bottom drawer—really nice, expensive ones—and a bottle of lube. We put the things in the dishwasher, and took them for a spin, if you know what I mean.
The question is: Are we obligated to tell Sally she left them in the drawer? Must we return them? Or is this a finders-keepers situation?
In a way, with the dildos thrown in, the price of the bureau feels fairer. On the other hand, if she has to call and ask for them back, we’d be mortified. But we might lie and say no, too.
What’s the right thing to do?
—Guilty But Satisfied
Dear Guilty But Satisfied:
Your experience would be a great feature for Antiques Roadshow: “What happens when you think you’re buying an old bureau, but it turns out to be a treasure chest?”
If Sally forgoes her possible embarrassment, and attempts to reclaim the sex toys that unwittingly were included in her furniture sale, you’ll have many choices about how to respond:
(1) “Dildos? What dildos?”
(2) “Oh, were those sex toys? I gave them to my dog.”
(3) “Thank you so much! I have one inserted right now.”
(4) “I didn’t realize you wanted them back. I put them in the Goodwill box.”
But maybe you never will hear from her. It’s entirely possible that Sally knowingly threw in the sex toys, just to please you.
Dear Ms. Behavior:
This guy, Charlie, does yard work for my boyfriend and me. Charlie is a sweet and innocent guy—a kid, really—barely 24.
Not long ago, he told us he was “dating” Cara, a notoriously fickle lesbian in our small-town community who is in and out of relationships with women, sometimes with our lesbian friends. We hadn’t known her to date men, but she’s a wild card, so we didn’t think much of it.
Last week, Charlie asked if he could sleep in our basement, because “his girlfriend” and he broke up. When we asked him about it, he said Cara had gone back to an ex of hers, a woman. He also said that she was pregnant with triplets, and that the babies were his.
The multiple-birth information put up a red flag for us. We asked a few female friends of ours about it, and sure enough, Cara has been trying for a couple of years to get pregnant with frozen sperm and fertility drugs. She must have given up on paying for the frozen stuff, and found Charlie. Of course, the fertility drugs probably created the triplets.
How do we handle the situation?
Charlie seems so proud and distressed, so upset about his “breakup.” He thinks Cara’s lesbian relationship is a phase, and that she’ll come back to him.
Do we tell him the whole story, and let him know that he has been used? Or do we mind our own business, and just let him bunk on the mattress in our basement?
Dear Gay Gardeners:
It may be kind to tell Charlie the whole story, so that he can unhook from his fantasy that Cara just will stop all that silly lesbian nonsense, and return to him with the triplets. It doesn’t sound like she’s bisexual. It sounds like she’s a lesbian who wanted a baby (or three), and she found Charlie to be a ready fount of sperm.
Just tell him what you know to be true—e.g., Cara always has been with women, and had been on fertility treatment before—without embellishing the details, or forcing him to understand the scenario you believe is true.
While it always has been true that some women will go to any lengths to get pregnant, don’t call her a lesbian vampire, or bluntly say, “She used you for your spooge, Dude.”
Charlie may not be ready to take it in all at once, but he’ll understand what happened when he is ready. Meanwhile, be supportive, and let him sleep in your house for a while.
If he ever has sex again, remind him to use rubbers.
© 2010 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.