I'm broke. I also seem to attract unwanted attention from time to time. Specifically, both my car mechanic and my dentist have made the kind of comments to me that women used to blush over and now they sue over. Their lame attempts at flirting--if you could call it that--don't really bother me, and I have no fears they will take advantage of me. Actually, I think they do it because they sense they can get away with it. Would it be wrong for me to wheedle discounts for what I owe them? I don't mean that I would trade sex for services, I just mean playing back to their puerile flirting and doing the eyelash-fluttering, innocent "I'm so broke" number.Broke Beauty
Oh, go for it. It's completely nonfeminist and against everything I want to believe in, but what the hell, when you're broke, you're broke. We've all done stuff we wouldn't do with cash in our pockets. And if they're willing to let you pay with a little ego stroking, they're probably getting the better end of the deal. You will have to be careful to keep it clear about just how far you're willing to go for exactly what you're getting. It's a thin line between a flirt and a cock tease, and if you cross it, you might be letting yourself in for some very uncomfortable situations.
I have a stepbrother who's 10 years younger than me. Because of our age difference we were never really close. But now he's 19 and fresh off the bus from our suburban hometown to the city where I live, and he's leaning on me a lot. He has overstayed his one-month welcome at my house and has not been trying very hard to find work. But I'm afraid he will be completely lost if I turn him out. Whenever I have brought it up with him, he makes more of an effort for a while, but then time drags on and he's still sleeping on the couch. I wish I could be hard-core with him, but I know I'm all he's got right now. What should I do?Stressed-Out Stepsis
What a neat trick. This kid, whom you don't really know all that well, has just camped out in your living room and managed to turn you into a substitute mom, complete with nagging and guilt. You're probably doing his laundry too. Harsh as this may sound (and assuming that you've done your best to help him find a job by asking your friends, etc., and that he isn't running away from an abusive situation), you're not doing him any favors by indulging him. If he's not a big enough boy to find a job and an apartment, maybe he's not as ready as he thought he was to leave home. Tell him he's got a little more time to prove himself mature enough to handle life in the big city, or your next and last gift to him will be a one-way bus ticket back to the folks.