Chess and Bathroom Manners

A close friend came to my apartment for a game of chess. I got a beautiful new board and was excited to inaugurate it. Midway through the game, he excused himself to the bathroom. I heard the toilet flush, but nothing from the faucet. He hadn’t washed his hands. (I’d noted this before.) And now he was putting his grimy paws all over my board! After he left, I polished his pieces with Clorox wipes. We play regularly, but I’d rather he not touch anything anymore. May I confront him?

ANONYMOUS, BROOKLYN

Q.E.D.: Ignorance is, indeed, bliss. But now that you’ve been expelled from the Garden, like Adam and Eve before you, the question is: What to make of your knowledge? Surely, you don’t think your friend’s nasty habit is the filthiest one you encounter on any given day. (Hello, subway poles!) Try to keep quiet about other people’s hygiene. We are all filthy beasts.

Still, if silence will inhibit chess dates, try: “Let’s respect the new board and wash our hands before we play.” He may think you’re weird, but as long as you both do it, you save him the indignity of knowing that you’ve been monitoring his bathroom habits. You can even toss in a humorous: “Hands?” when he returns from a midgame break. (And keep your fingers out of your mouth when he’s around, O.K.?)

Should I Share a Traumatic Story?

When I was 21, I was raped. I resolved the resulting PTSD with six years of hard work in therapy, and I have been emotionally healthy for seven years. I am now dating someone new, and I’m on the fence about telling him. Getting well was a big achievement. But rape is an awkward subject, and I’m not sure that dragging up a long-resolved trauma is necessary. Thoughts?

SOPHIA

You don’t owe your boyfriend — or anyone — this story. It is yours to share only if you feel comfortable. But each of us has a handful of experiences, both positive and brutally negative, that create us. It is unfathomable to me that being the victim of a violent crime and logging six hard years to make yourself well again is not an essential story about you to those you most trust. But again, my fathoming is irrelevant. Your vote and your comfort are the only ones that count. (P.S.: huge respect for your hard work and resilience.)

Scheduling Issues

It annoys me when friends say, “Let’s get together! Throw out some dates that work for you” — particularly after they have recently canceled plans. My husband travels for work, and we have two busy, young children. Finding free dates is a bigger task than most people assume. Is there a polite way to say, “If you want to get together so bad, you do the scheduling”?

C.Z.

I get your righteous fury, which seems to be verging on Code Red. But given your hectic life, people would have to propose 37 dates before they hit on one that works for you. Here’s a compromise: With friends you care about (and who respect your time), respond with three possible dates. With luck, one will work. With all others, say: “Absolutely!” And put the request for dates out of your mind for the next 15 years.

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