Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: My family, with their three teenagers, came to visit recently. I am almost certain that one of them stole some of my clothes. The girls were trying things on one day when we were playing around. I let one of them wear a jacket of mine, and another borrowed a pair of pants one day. They gave them back and I washed them, so it was clear that I wasn't giving them away. But several clothing items, things they tried on, are missing.

I have looked everywhere, and I don't know what to do. I don't want to accuse them of stealing. How can I inquire about the whereabouts of my things without causing a stir? -- Missing My Stuff, Jackson, Miss.

DEAR MISSING MY STUFF: Before you say anything, scour your home once more to see if you can find the clothing. Look under the bed, behind the sofa, near where the teenagers slept, in the back of your closet. Do a thorough search to be sure you do not have these things yourself.

If you do not, I vote for the direct question. Call the teens and explain that you cannot find the items in question anywhere. Be specific about which clothes you are missing, and remind them of the time they tried them on. Ask if they have the items. Tell them you are wondering if perhaps they inadvertently picked them up.

Speak directly to the teens, but also let their parents know of your concern. Ask the parents to follow up to see if your clothes are actually in their house.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband grew up with all boys. Ever since we first got together, I have been carefully pointing out things that girls appreciate. Among them is taking a shower before getting in bed. He is not enthusiastic about that at all. He says, "What difference does it make?"

I give him a list that ends up sounding like I am badgering him. I don't want to be a nuisance. But I do want my husband to be clean when I cuddle up next to him at night.

How can I get that across to him? He has a physically demanding job and rarely smells fresh at the end of the day. -- Looking for Mr. Clean, Atlanta

DEAR LOOKING FOR MR. CLEAN: Make the idea of taking a shower before bed more appealing by offering to share the shower! If you can spice it up by making the action seem like fun and by attaching a potential reward to the simple action, you may get much better results.

You can also gently tell him that you want to snuggle with him, and it would be so much better if he were fresh and clean for you. Ask him to rinse off the residue of the day and make himself ready. Since this is new, it may take some time to get him into a pattern of cleanliness, but it's worth the effort.