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Mug is all you need

I'm a girl, 23, dating a girl, 34, who's usually very mature. We spend pleasant mornings having coffee except for one thing: I'm not allowed to use her yellow mug. I discovered this one day after I'd already poured my coffee into it, and was told, "Hey, that's my favorite cup, can you use this one?" Shocked, I emptied the contents of her "favorite cup" into one of supposedly lesser value, and drank it down angrily. I have a favorite cup at my house, too (also her favorite), and I always give it to her. Am I immature for being annoyed, or is she for being so petty? -- Little Big Deal

"My darling, my beloved, light of my life ... touch my mug again, and I'll break off all your fingers and feed them to the cat." (Not exactly one of those General Foods International Coffee moments, huh?)

It might have been easier on the ego if she'd confessed she wasn't over her ex. But no, lucky you, it seems she isn't over her cup. Even worse, the thing probably is more Pier 1 than 12th Dynasty. What's next, Magic Marker-ing her initials on food in her refrigerator, college roommate-style? You'll turn around some morning and find her advancing on you with a cheese grater, snarling, "Drop the muffin, dirtbag!"

You can't really put a price on love, but if you were going to estimate based on this little scenario, it would probably come to something like $5.99, or four for $20. Then again, are you sure this is about you? It's a rare person who doesn't have a crazy zone -- some area of their life devoted to making up for how Mommy burned their blankie (fearing they'd become a 45-year-old business exec dragging around a raggedy strip of flannel). Maybe your girlfriend's into routine; maybe change makes her itch. Maybe instead of a security blanket, she has security crockery.

When she pointed out her attachment to the mug, you could have said to yourself, "Hmm, she's kinda weird about her cup; I think I'll take the blue one." Instead, you got tweaked and launched into an analysis of equality in cup allocation: "Well, I always offer her my favorite cup." Oh, because you say she can have yours, she has to say you can have hers? Look closely. Is she green and feathered? Does she drink from her mug with a hooked black beak? If not, odds are good you're dating a woman, not a parrot.

And what's with watching her drink from the same mug every day, then, one morning, deciding to colonize it? Perhaps this was a purely innocent move on your part, or perhaps it was a game of ceramic chicken, with you demanding, "How deep is our love?" and daring her to come back, "Not quite 8 fluid ounces -- if you leave room for cream."

Maybe a cup is a cup is a cup -- or maybe it's a glazed, microwavable relationship scoreboard. Decide whether she has some incurable intimacy allergy, or whether she's simply angling for more space between you just as you're angling for less. If your relationship is basically good, you might try to laugh off her need to build this tiny, yellow Berlin Wall -- which might make her feel less compelled to build it. In time, there's a good chance "those three little words" you hear from her will be something a bit mushier than, "Hey, that's mine!"

Booty is in the eye of the beholder

My boyfriend of three years broke up with me six months ago. We vowed to stay friends, but then he said he still loved me and wanted to get back together. I liked his attention, flirted, and even hooked up with him now and then for old time's sake, but I was honest, telling him I didn't want him back. For a month, I've been dating someone new. We'll see my ex at a mutual friend's party next weekend. When and how should I say something? -- Moved On

How does one chart the exact moment love turns to hate? I think you're onto something, lady. When somebody you aren't interested in is interested in you, the right time to snuff their flickering hope is immediately, and the right way is one that communicates better than, "I want nothing to do with you, wanna see me naked?" Tragically, this probably will eliminate the possibility of "friendship with benefits," or in your case, "benefits without friendship." Call the guy this minute, pull the hook out of his mouth, and throw him back. As your first act of real friendship, let him have the party in the divorce. Showing him the light at this late date will go over like a crack on the skull with a lamp, but it's still an improvement on publicly slapping him upside the head with his replacement.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, No. 280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com).

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