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Karma Cleanser

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Dear Karma Cleanser:

I broke up with a long-term girlfriend (an artist) because she did not want to get married or even live together. I began dating a new lady, also an artist. My relationship with the new lady did not work out, and after a few months, I broke up with her.

Now it looks like my previous girlfriend is willing to share a home with me, so we may get back together. My problem: While with the new lady, she painted an amazing portrait of me. I am nervous about showing this painting to my previous girlfriend. My previous girlfriend hates my new "ex" because I broke up with her to be with the new one.

My question: What should I do with this painting that I really want to keep and hang on the wall, but I worry it may create problems?

---- To Hang or Not To Hang

When is a portrait not a portrait? Easy: When it's a symbol. The artwork doesn't just give a visual representation of you, but also translates onto canvas a whole world of possibilities -- the unknown life you could have had with the woman who created it. Your new/old lover will view the work as a slap in her face if you try to hang it now, so soon after the transgression. If you feel strongly about keeping it, then for the sake of the relationship wrap it in brown paper and store it deep in the attic. Maybe 10 years from now, if the two of you are still together, you can pull it out and display it. By then it will be a memento of the flood your love crested. Not so now, when the wounds -- and the paint -- are still fresh.

Dear Karma Cleanser:

I have been reading your column semi-regularly for a year or two now. I want to know, is everyone unhappy? It seems like week after week, you get letters from people who are cheating on their wives, sleeping with their roommates, stealing from their bosses.

Do you not ever get letters from anyone who has won the lottery and then given that money to charity? Saved a dog from the pound? Adopted a foreign baby? Is there no good in the world? After reading you, I think that everyone everywhere is unhappy.

---- A Dark Spot on the Sun

Wow, do we detect a note of bitterness, or did somebody scorch the coffee this morning? Sounds like you've misunderstood what we're all about. Folks write in to confess their transgressions, not so much seeking kudos for helping old ladies cross the street. Yes, we've seen a letter or three telling happy stories about the universe rewarding random acts of kindness, but those submissions tend to be dull. Tragedy, sadly, makes for a more compelling read. How about this: We'll ask our readers to send us positive tales about karma in action. Any letters that we actually print will get a super-special karma prize from KC headquarters. How's that to refresh your faith in mankind?

Been bad? karmacleanser@gmail.com.

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