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FAMILY MATTERS Listen: My husband and my in-laws have been planning a family reunion for months. They’ve invited all their relatives from other states, rented hotel rooms, and planned activities for an entire weekend in September. Then my best friend called me up last week and told me that she was getting married ... in Atlanta ... that very same weekend. I’m torn. I would like for my husband and I to go to the wedding, but we seem fairly locked into the reunion. We’re having a barbecue at our house and my husband was the one who has done most of the planning. Do you think there’s any way I can convince him to go to the wedding? Signed, ?riend or Family? Okay: Even if your husband wasn’t one of the reunion’s organizers, I think it would be difficult to convince him to go to your friend’s wedding after you had already confirmed your presence at his family’s reunion. I mean, you don’t just RSVP and then back out at the last minute. And since he’s put his sweat, blood, and tears into planning, I can’t see him even considering ditching it for a wedding. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t go. I mean, just because you’re married doesn’t mean you’re attached at the hip. My gut says, if you would like to attend your best friend’s wedding, you should do so, even if it means going alone (which is probably the best plan anyway). Your husband can go to the reunion and mingle with his family and he’ll probably enjoy that. He’ll represent you two as a couple and he can explain to people where you are. Now if it was your husband’s birthday or something, I would probably tell you to stick around. But I’m assuming that you’ve met his family before (at your own wedding, perhaps?) and that you’ll probably see them again. Your best friend’s wedding, however -- if she’s not Julia Roberts or Elizabeth Taylor -- will probably only happen once. It’d be an easy choice for me: once in a lifetime event versus annual family get-together? Pretty white dress versus t-shirts with your last name printed on them? Wedding cake versus corn on the cob? And as much emphasis as we place on married relationships (maybe there should be more emphasis placed on them, really), friendships are important, too. Your best friend probably would really like you to be there for her special day; she was there for yours, wasn’t she? Sometimes we get pulled in two directions; in this case, you just have to deal with the fact that someone’s going to be upset because they were passed over, that you didn’t choose them. You can make the decision by picking the event you’d rather go to or you can decide by figuring out who will hold the grudge longest. Or you could just flip a coin. Listen: There’s this girl at my job who I think is kind of cute. We talk sometimes and I’m thinking of asking her out. She’s really smart. I know I’m not as smart as she is. Do you think she would still date me? Signed, Work Pal Okay: Are you hot? I saw this poll on Oprah once where she asked her studio audience if they would rather have looks or brains. Pretty much everyone said looks -- brains are great once you get in the door, but looks will get you there faster. So if you’re hot, don’t underestimate how far your looks will take you; I know tons of girls who have been swayed by a pretty face more than a time or two. I think -- and maybe this is a shallow, totally unromantic way of looking at it -- that everyone is sort of judged on a balance sheet: Are you attractive? Check. Are you intelligent? Check. Are you nice? Check. Are you funny? Check. And so on and so on. Everyone’s standards are different, certainly, and everyone is looking for different things on that balance sheet, so I wouldn’t worry about not being a perfect ten in a few categories. There are few who are -- even Tom Cruise went back and got braces! (really, I could see a tiny facelift at his age, but .. braces!?!) Even if you’re not hot, we all have our good points and our bad ones. I’m sure you have lots of good qualities and I wouldn’t hesitate to play those up. However, I might hesitate asking someone out who works with me. If I said it once, I’ve said it twice: dating someone from work is risky business, plain and simple. Here are the questions to ask yourself: If this girl turns me down, will I still have to work closely with her? Will this make me uncomfortable? Might I one day have to quit because the situation has become unbearable or somehow brought to the attention of my superiors? Will I be okay with that, both emotionally and financially? So tread carefully and in this case, try to be smart about it. (Gotta problem? Wanna make it my business? Write

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