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Karma Cleanser

Dear Karma Cleanser:

I have an ethical dilemma. Because of the recession and 9-11, I've been slowly sinking into financial ruin. My friends are becoming generous to the point that I'm very uncomfortable. Recently, I received "anonymous" cash in my mailbox. The trouble is, although the giver clearly wished to remain anonymous, I know who sent me the money. Although I need it desperately, I'm not sure whether to acknowledge the gift. I feel that I owe this person (an ex-lover who remains a friend) my thanks, at the very least -- and repayment when I can manage it, maybe with interest. I just don't know if this is disrespectful of this person's wishes, or if I'm making a mountain out of several molehills and being ungrateful. -- Poor But Ethical

Because poverty is always awkward, and because the Karma Cleanser really sucks when it comes to money matters, we posed this question to our banker buddy, Mr. Fiscal. His response: Beware of gifts from ex-lovers, because there might be unseen strings attached. To that we would add, yes, acknowledge the gift, but don't freak out over it. Politely inform the donor that you appreciate the help and will repay the kindness after the recession.

Dear Karma Cleanser:

A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip with the wife and kids to visit her family. We have two kids, a toddler and an infant. I slept with the toddler in the guest bedroom while my wife slept on the living room couch with the infant in a playpen. On our last night there, for some reason (perhaps I'd drunk too much bottled water) I awoke around 3am while in the midst of flooding the sheets. Horrified at the potential embarrassment, I decided to frame my toddler for the incident. I used the sheets to dampen his pajama bottoms, and I hid my own pajama bottoms and drawers. I then moved my son into the wet spot. I snuck into the bathroom, finished my business, and went to bed. The next morning, I implicated my son and said it was due to a leaky diaper, which I quickly changed. Everyone bought it! But weeks later I'm still feeling guilt about lying on my son. Did I do the right thing, or will I be cursed to a prematurely loose bladder in my 40s? -- One Yellow Bastard

There's no major fault in framing the tyke; after all, he'll never remember this incident and is therefore spared from future emotional scarring. However, beware the trap of deflection; just because you saved face this time around, don't fall into the habit of blaming junior for all of your smelly accidents.

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