DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I'm afraid to go back to our lake. Last year I had an affair with a woman close by. We were crazy for each other and our clueless husbands, who drank down on the pier every night, had no idea. We never got caught -- not even a suspicion -- and we could sometimes sneak to my boat house when they were out fishing in the afternoon. In the fall, she asked me for an "important lunch" at her house, and said she was IN LOVE with me and asked me to leave my husband. I laughed out loud, out of nervousness. For me, this had just been a lot of fun and experimentation, but my "real life" is with my husband, and I said so. My laughter made her start yelling horrible things at me! Neither of us can ask our husbands to get other cottages for no reason. And, our front and back yards are visible to each other. We live mostly outside in the summer weather. So far, I have begged off going down to open the cottage but how much longer can I do that? How on earth do I handle seeing her again? -- Mean Mouthed Woman, Winnipeg
Dear Mean Mouth: You're going to have to tell your husband you fought with this lady, and aren't speaking. Otherwise, he's going to invite the couple over. You're supposedly his wife's best pal at the beach. He will want to know what you fought over that was so serious. The most courageous thing to do would be to go the total honesty route, and then get counselling with your husband (if he wants it) to see if you can work out the feelings and get past the betrayal. There's a chance he may be the type who thinks your sexual relationship isn't a threat to his relationship with you, and forgiveness won't be too difficult. Whatever you do, encourage him to keep seeing his pal on his own. It would be best to go over and talk with the wife when you are down at the lake and apologize for hurting her in the mean way you did. That doesn't mean you have to be any kind of friends, but at least you can nod at each other when you meet at the grocery store and your husbands can continue their friendship more easily.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I saw an old man in the street downtown who looked familiar. When he approached me for money, I could see he was not really old, just weathered and beaten down. I recognized the bright blue eyes and we talked for a minute or two. When I was leaving him, knowing he was an old high school classmate of mine, I gave him $20. He tapped me on the arm and gave it back. Why did he give it back when he needed it? I was being kind. -- Confused About This, River Heights
Dear Confused: He gave the money back because he was deeply embarrassed and didn't want you to be a donor when he was panhandling. He may have needed that $20 badly, but not badly enough to give away his last shred of dignity. People on the streets are still people with a full set of emotions and a history, often a history where they were not in such a compromised state. Sometimes other people forget that. He was a fellow student once, on a par with you. If he took that money, it would have taken away that feeling even more.
Questions or comments? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or send letters c/o Miss Lonelyhearts, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg R2X 3B6