DEAR ABBY: I have a friend I'll call "Tara." A few months ago, Tara gave me a puppy. She said it was for no reason other than "because we're such good friends," and she knew I had been thinking about getting one.
I told Tara that I wanted to get her a present, but she refused, saying she would not accept any of my charity. I let it go.
My birthday and Tara's are on the same day. That's how we became friends. I bought Tara a present. She did not give me one, although we usually exchange gifts. Instead, she demanded that I give her a laptop computer and several DVDs or give her back the dog!
Abby, I was astounded. I was even more astounded when Tara claimed she "knew" I had been into drugs and was a department store thief. She said if I didn't give her what she asked, she would tell my mother and the police.
I have never been into drugs. I don't steal. Should I give her what she wants? I don't want to go to jail. -- ASTOUNDED IN LOS ANGELES
DEAR ASTOUNDED: Do not return the puppy, and do not give in to her demands. However, DO cross Tara off your list of friends. Once a gift is given, it belongs to the recipient. There are names for what this manipulative "friend" is attempting to do; the terms extortion and blackmail would apply. It's important you tell your mother what's going on immediately. Then inform Tara that the friendship is over and there are severe penalties for filing a false police report.