DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I'm distraught about my father's cancer, which is going to kill him in a few months. I can't talk to people without bringing it up and spoiling the whole conversation. Yesterday, on a Portage Avenue bus, a woman turned to me and said, "Long time since we've seen the sunshine." I got tears in my eyes, and told her the whole story about my father who's going to die. She looked at me with sympathy and then discomfort, and finally she moved up to the front of the bus and stood by the driver until her stop came up. I sat at the back of the bus sniffling into my Kleenex. Am I losing it, or is this natural? -- Always Close to Tears, Winnipeg
Dear Close: You're grieving your father now instead of later, knowing he is going to die. But you're over-the-top by expressing it to people you don't know. Here's a quick recovery program for you: Take a few days off from work, or designate the weekend as a cry-a-thon. Make yourself weep and wail, and write down everything you are feeling. Tire yourself out with the grief. Then set up appointments with your physician (you may need anti-depressants), a grief counsellor and anyone else who can help you work through this. Next time you feel the urge to spill everything to a stranger, just say a few words about the weather and let it go. When you get to a place where you can make a phone call, make contact with a sibling or a close friend and talk for three minutes, so you don't tire them out. Then write in a journal in your purse for five minutes, and make yourself get on with what you're doing.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I left my change of gym clothing in a fellow's bedroom when I was over for a few hours -- an impromptu tryst, if you will, after happy hour with co-workers. He plunked it on my desk this morning in a bag in front of my nose. I hid the clothes under my desk and haven't said anything. What is my next move? I really like him. -- Awkward Times At Work, Winnipeg
Dear Awkward: If this were a board game, you'd lose a turn and let him make the next move, if any. He has dropped the clothes on your desk with no attempt to be discreet or flirtatious. It may mean something negative or nothing it all. But it certainly isn't a come-on. Perhaps he wasn't happy at your leaving a trail behind, especially if he has a girlfriend. If you're going to have casual sex, the unwritten courtesy rule is you don't leave evidence for a possible girlfriend to find. It isn't considered cute.