Dear Annie: I am a 47-year-old woman, married almost 30 years, and I have two grown sons. For the past 10 years, I have been having an affair with my 27-year-old nephew, "Steven."
It began shortly after the death of my father. In the beginning, it was a matter of seeing similarities between my father and nephew, and I was drawn to that. Now, I realize that I am in love with Steven. I also have been sending money regularly to Steven because he's had some legal problems, and I am hoping it will help him straighten out his life. My husband has no idea this has been going on.
I care deeply for my husband, but I am in love with my nephew and dream of running away with him. I have tried counseling, but it just doesn't seem to be working. I guess that's because part of me doesn't want things to change.
I don't want to give up what I have with Steven, but if I tell my husband, he'll divorce me, and I don't want that, either. Please, please help. — Aunt in Agony
Dear Aunt: Unless you truly want to get out of this mess, no counseling is going to help. You MUST break it off with Steven NOW. A sexual relationship between aunt and nephew is considered incest. Not only that, if you started this mess when he was only 17, you may be guilty of statutory rape as well. You are risking your marriage and could estrange the entire family. Steven is probably the same age as your sons, and their resentment will be enormous. There is the additional unpleasant possibility that Steven is stringing you along because you are providing him with money.
We know having a fling with a 27-year-old must make you feel young. Nonetheless, you are being unfair to your family, and also to Steven. You are preventing him from finding someone more appropriate and available. So far, you have been selfish and immature, but you need to find the strength to tell him it's over before your world comes crashing down around your ears.
Dear Annie: My husband will be retiring soon, and his staff recently threw a party for him. As a gift, they presented him with an enormous piece of artwork meant to be displayed outside. Neither of us likes it. It is definitely not our taste.
The problem is that my husband insists on displaying the piece, because he feels guilty about the cost and doesn't want to offend his staff. He accepted the gift graciously and has thanked everyone for it. Is he obligated to use it? We have had several intense arguments about this. — Desperate in Pennsylvania
Dear Desperate: No one is obligated to use a gift. The recipient can do whatever he likes with it, as long as he properly thanks the givers. Perhaps when your husband actually retires and no longer sees his staff on a regular basis, he will feel more comfortable about donating the piece to a museum or a charity. Until then, move the artwork into the backyard, and allow him to deal with it as he chooses.
Dear Annie: You recently printed a letter from Mr. Jack Custer, who thoughtfully alerted you to the error of another reader who had written the phrase "caveat lector, sapeat lector." Mr. Custer's correction, "sapiat lector," though erudite, was only partially correct. He erred in stating that "sapio" is a third conjugation verb. It is, in fact, a third conjugation "-io" stem verb.
While we Latin students were thrilled to see someone who cared about Latin grammar, we were distressed that he would shortchange the Latin language so. Please excuse our picayune pedantry. Thank you, and we love your column. — Several Vermont High School Latin Students
Dear Students: You have no idea what a kick we get out of these arcane intellectual arguments. Our Latin expertise begins and ends with "E Pluribus Unum." We'll let you know if any other scholars weigh in.
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