DEAR HARRIETTE: I borrowed money from my next-door neighbor a few months ago, and I'm supposed to pay it back right now. The thing is, I don't have it. I have been out of work for about eight months, and the little odd jobs I have gotten haven't paid enough for me to pay any bills, let alone reimburse him. But still, it's my neighbor. I can't hide out from him.
What can I do? I can't pay him back yet. -- Embarrassed, Jackson, Miss.
DEAR EMBARRASSED: You must speak to your neighbor immediately. Tell him what your situation is, and reassure him that you are doing your best to be able to pay him back. If you have even a small amount of money that you can give him as a good-faith effort, do so. Even if it's a nominal amount, by offering it you show your neighbor that you mean well.
Meanwhile, keep your head up and actively look for work. It can be so difficult to continue the search when you feel ashamed or deflated. Do your best to shed that cloak, as it will only disable you. Refresh your resume and look some more. Meanwhile, continue to perform odd jobs to put money in your pocket.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a 40-year-old single man, 6 feet 5 inches tall. Here's my dilemma: A few of my female friends have asked if I would be willing to sire a child for them. At first I was flattered by the notion of participating in making a child, but as I asked further questions, the women responded that they wanted me to participate only in producing the child, not being a part of the child's life after birth.
This has happened with 10 women over the past few years. I have a motto I live by: Marriage before carriage. I have said "no" on numerous occasions. Am I wrong? I do want to have a child, but not like this. -- Feeling Used, Queens, N.Y.
DEAR FEELING USED: Please don't lower your standards. I think it's admirable that you want to be in a committed relationship before bringing a child into the world.
These women are essentially asking for a sperm donor. It may be flattering to know that so many people think you have good genes -- good enough to belong to their children. But if I were you, I would be offended that they don't feel good enough about you to want you as part of the package. You clearly want to create a family. Keep your eyes open and look for a partner who shares your values.
I would also recommend that you do a serious self-evaluation. Why might none of these 10 women want to be with you? There may be some aspect of your personality, your lifestyle or your current circumstances that is a turnoff to these female friends.
It's worth contemplating. If there's something you need to improve about yourself to become a more attractive partner to the right woman, go for it. But I don't think you should be fishing from this current pool of 10.