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Listen: My best friend and my cousin recently began sleeping together. While I think that complicates my life enough, it gets worse. Both my friend and my cousin are married and both are women. They’ve been together for about 2 months and my best friend professes herself to be completely in love with my cousin. She’s talking about leaving her husband and setting up a house in the country where she and my cousin can adopt kids together. My cousin, on the other hand, didn’t want more than a fling and has happily gone back to planning a life with her husband. Neither husband knows and I’m stuck somewhere in the middle between my lovelorn best friend, my favorite cousin, and the two men in their lives. We all used to hang out together but I’m sure those days are over. Now I’m wondering how I can bring my life as close to normal as possible Signed, Stuck in the Middle Okay: This is one of those situations where you hear words like “best friend” and “cousin” and you think, oh, this can’t end well. Not for everybody, at least. Luckily for you, you’re not really part of the problem and probably won’t bear the brunt of accusations, hurt or malice. Unluckily for you, you’re trapped in the web of your peeps’ messed up lives. So, getting back to normal ... the first thing I think you need to do is minimize the impact. If your best friend doesn’t know that your cousin doesn’t want to play house, you might want to mention it. Gently, though. Very gently. Because it really isn’t your place, but it sounds as if these two women are clueless as to what each other wants. I’m not sure where your allegiances lie, but since your friend is your best friend, it might be nice to give her a heads up. It probably won’t prevent any bitter, ugly scenes, but she’s deluding herself with the house in the country and the adopted kids. She’s not Rosie O’Donnell. But if she already knows that your cousin is no longer part of her fan club? Just continue on with your life. Since you’re just sort of trapped in their web, there’s little you can do, really. I mean, you could chastise your cousin or tell her husband, but what would be the point? After it’s all said and done, she’s not going to stay with your best friend any more than your best friend is going to stay with her husband (those two things I would bet upon). You can still hang out with your cousin and your friend, but it’ll have to be separately. Don’t even take the other’s calls on your cell phone if you’re out with one of them. They’re going to have to work this out and I’m honestly not quite sure how they’ll do that. So try to wiggle your way free of their grasp without taking sides. Like I said, this isn’t going to end well for everyone and quite possibly it won’t end well for anyone. I wouldn’t shut anyone out, but I wouldn’t be following the saga like an episode of “All my Children” either. And if it turns really ugly, you might be able to take this on Springer and at the very least get a free trip to Chicago out of the deal. I guess that’s not back to normal, per se, but in this America, it’s not that abnormal either. Listen: I have this friend ... No, really, she really is a friend, not me. Here's the deal: She likes to get naked around our other friends, who are both men and women. Sometimes they get naked too, other times she'll just walk around topless, hang out, and act normal. Most of the time it's not really sexual and I think it's fairly obvious that she enjoys the attention, but she also seems to truly like not wearing clothes. So here's the question: She's got a new fairly conservative boyfriend and he has expressed his extreme displeasure with her naked parties, so she stopped doing it. You'd think I'd be thrilled, wouldn't you? The naked parties are awkward for me (I don't want to see any of these people naked) and I think they're silly, so you'd think I'd be glad somebody has been able to make her stop. I worry, though, that she's only stopped because he told her to. Just like no one wants to see their friends dress differently and take up new hobbies just to please a mate, I worry that she's given up the naked parties for the new guy. I just don't want to see her make artificial changes that don't match her own personality. Am I worrying over nothing? Signed, The Emperor's Friend Okay, Friend: I see what you’re saying. People should never change themselves for others because sooner or later their true traits will emerge and wreak havoc on their relationships, yada, yada. However ... I know a lot of men who would prefer their girlfriends stop dressing as “sexy” after they begin dating. It’s a little territorial, but understandable, so I can certainly see a new beau -- even one who isn’t particularly conservative -- nixing the nude behavior. Maybe I’m a prude -- and I probably am -- but I’m not sure being naked around friends is a good thing to do, especially continuously. I mean, I don’t know you, I don’t know your friends, so maybe that’s just par for the course. But in my world, I’d be thinking, why does this girl persist in being naked? Even naturalists go to nudist camps and colonies; they don’t subject their nudeness to everyone. Is she damaged in some way? Why does she want this naked attention? I guess I’m thinking of her nudity as a problem, even an unhealthy manifestation of something. It might not be, but ... that’s the assumption I’m working under. So when her guy says, don’t do that, I think it’s okay. Just like if I had a friend who ate Twinkies all day, every day and then one day she stopped for some guy, I’d be happier because she’d be healthier. If he encouraged her to cut and dye her hair orange and she did it or wear a dress like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Oscar frock, that would be a serious problem. But maybe it’s not so much that she’s changing herself for him, but that she’s got some newfound respect for herself or maybe he fills a void in her that she was filling with naked stares. No more naked parties seems to me to be a reasonable request, both to make and to comply with, so I wouldn’t be all that worried. In fact, I’d be more worried about their burgeoning relationship if he didn’t ask her to keep her clothes on in front of others. Or if he asked and she said no. That’d be a problem. As it is, just be happy for her and your poor averted eyes. (Gotta problem? Wanna make it my business? Write

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