DEAR HARRIETTE: My next-door neighbor asked if he could borrow my brand-new lawn mower because his was in need of serious repair. In good faith, I let my neighbor use the mower. I told him that I would be out of town for a few days and would pick up my mower when I returned.
When I got back from my trip, the lawn mower was in front of my house, and I checked to see if there was any damage. I noticed the blade was broken. Should I ask my neighbor to pay for the replacement blade? -- Good Neighbor, Memphis, Tenn.
DEAR GOOD NEIGHBOR: You have every right to ask your neighbor to replace the blade.
I would start by paying him a visit and letting him know that you received the lawn mower. See if he has anything to say before you mention the blade. It could be that he will immediately tell you the blade broke and that he is ready to replace it. Since he didn't replace it already, though, chances are he will not be so forthcoming or willing to do the right thing.
If he is not, tell him that you noticed the blade was broken. Ask what happened. Prompt him to tell you his story. Ask if he would like to get the mower fixed or if he would prefer to have you bring him the bill.
It's OK to be that direct. He did not hesitate to ask to use your mower. Don't hesitate to ask him to repair what he broke.
DEAR HARRIETTE: A friend asked if I would be willing to go on a blind date for a dating column. I do not know all the details of this blind date, but I will know shortly.
Here is my dilemma/question: I became friends with a beautiful woman, and we enjoy each other's company. We have good chemistry, and I can see a relationship developing in the near future. There are no ties between us right now. She actually was in a relationship that seems to have ended, but we operate with no strings attached.
' Do I tell her about this potential blind date, or do I gracefully pass on the blind date? -- Decisions, Chicago
DEAR DECISIONS: Since you really like this woman, tell her what's going on. Ask for her advice on your next steps. The reality is that if you go on this date, you may end up being named in print as the guinea pig on the blind date. She may discover it regardless of whether you say anything.
Don't risk embarrassment or confusion. Talk about it. The conversation may help you and this woman gain insight into where the two of you stand.
Ultimately, if you are really into her, I suggest you not go on the date. Tell her why you made your decision -- and ask her out.