The Ladies' Room
This isn't so much about permission to sleep together as it is about acceptance. Claire needs to know that your love hasn't changed and is using sleeping arrangements to make you prove it. In her mind it's simple: If you love her, you'll accept her terms; if you don't, you won't. Or it may be that she's so thrilled with her new love that she can't imagine you wouldn't be thrilled for her, and she can't wait to introduce the people she loves to each other. In any case, for the sake of your friendship, maybe you could bend the rules just this once. Tell your daughters that, as Claire is an adult, she has the right to make choices that they are still too young to make. Or maybe she'll accept a compromise. Ask her to take separate rooms this year, but promise if they're still an item next year you'll put them together. Lesbians can't legally unite, you know, so holding them to the "unmarried lovers" rule is a little unfair.
As for your fear of "encouragement," keeping the gals separate won't fool anyone. Unless you've kept your daughters in solitary confinement all their lives, they know, or know about, lesbians. If Claire shows up for her annual visit looking all happy and starry-eyed with a lady friend in tow, your girls will figure it out, regardless of the sleeping arrangements. In fact, insisting upon separate rooms would draw attention to the sexual nature of their relationship. Otherwise, why would you care? And for Goddess' sake, lesbianism isn't catching. If your girls are straight, spending every waking minute with a pack of tool-belt-toting, Harley-riding diesel dykes won't change that (though it might teach them some valuable lessons about self-reliance).
Longstanding friendships are rare and precious; it would be a shame to lose one for the sake of your "rules." It also would be a sad lesson to your girls that your friendship was conditional and based at least partly on Claire's presumed heterosexuality. But if you can't give Claire's new lady love the benefit of the doubt, and can't trust that Claire would not intentionally bring anyone into your home you wouldn't be happy to know, do everyone a favor and suggest that the visit be postponed. Claire will be hurt, your friendship may be permanently damaged, but hey, you can stand tall on your principles.
Several months ago, I lent my brother $1,000 with the understanding that he would pay me back within a year. I agreed to charge him no interest, and to accept small payments, but to date he has not paid me one red cent. When I ask him, he just tells me he'll have it for me soon. The holidays are coming up, and our families will be spending Christmas together. No one else knows about the loan, but I'm afraid it will be hard to hide the tension between us if he hasn't paid me back. What can I do?
I performed in a recent production of The Winter's Tale with the Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company, which authorizes me, as a (critically acclaimed, I might modestly add) Shakespearean thespian, to quote his Bardship at will. In Hamlet, Polonius advises his son Laertes, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend." If the borrower is unable to repay, his or her initial gratitude turns to embarrassment, then resentment, which deepens with the passage of time, while the lender's benevolent glow turns red hot with anger at being so ill-used.
Money is replaceable, brothers aren't, so one thing you can do is forget the loan and make it your brother's early Christmas present. Send him a card saying so and let the matter drop. If that won't work, perhaps there's something he could give you or do for you that could be considered fair exchange for the dough, thereby enabling both of you to save face. A thousand bucks isn't enough to wreck your family over, but it should be enough to teach you not to lend him any more. In the future, remember this dictum: Never lend anyone money you can't afford to never see again.
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