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The Dawg Whisperer

In the wake of revelations about Sandra Bullock's cheating husband, I'm wondering about your take on why she's with him. She doesn't seem like the usual low self-esteem type who goes for bad boys. — In Bad Boy Recovery Myself

It seems women have a crafting gene. Martha Stewart taps into hers, and like a one-woman swarm of rickracking, sponge-painting locusts, transforms everything in her path. Other women start by perking up flowerpots and end tables and move on to unsuitable men. There's no rush like walking into a room with a changed man (even better than having much better shoes than all the other women at the party).

There's evidence this transformation is doable — at least in movies starring Jennifer Aniston. The ideal subject is the man no other woman has been able to domesticate. The woman tells herself he just hasn't met the right woman (her, of course!). With her unique brand of beauty and heart, she will do the impossible: paper-train the wolf and get him to roll over on command. It's love as brainwashing, Beauty and the Beast with a pole-dancing twist: "I'll make you forget those strippers!"

Unfortunately, like the leopard and his spots, the wolf and his big-boobed, tatted-up she-wolves are not soon parted. There's a reason Bullock's husband previously married a porn star, and it probably isn't because he thinks porn stars make the best mothers. Maybe he wanted to turn over a new leaf, and did for a while, becoming the sort of guy who rides the lawn mower into the sunset instead of the chopper into the strip club parking lot.

But, change is hard, maybe even impossible, save for the most determined and self-disciplined. Even they may have to hit bottom a few times (and, no, not the naked, tattooed kind). So, if you'd like to stay "in bad boy recovery," the most you should ever expect is to influence a man — maybe to cut back on foods labeled "screamin' hot nacho cheese-flavored" and to avoid dressing like he was naked and ran into a Salvation Army and put on whatever was closest to the door.

Look for a guy who seems together, and take a good look at his past, a pretty good key to the future. If you're jonesing for a project, see what you can do with a hot glue gun, a spray can of gold paint, and 26 packages of macaroni. Whatever you come up with, it'll at least be distracting and definitely less misery-inducing than that fun game you project daters like to play: "Spot the tall, dark, handsome captain of industry in the chronically unemployed drug user with the personality disorder."

Fuzz kill

I just started hanging out with a woman I was good friends with in high school. To my shock and dismay, she now has a mustache! She has dark hair but wears glasses — maybe she can't see it herself. I don't feel close enough to her to say something, but she's recently divorced and about to start dating, so maybe I should anyway ... but how? — Hair-ified

Maybe slip it into conversation. You know, "Why did the caterpillar cross your upper lip? Wait ... he isn't crossing ... it seems he's injured or dead!" OK, that would be mean — but nowhere near as mean as all those friends of hers refusing to endure the few moments of conversational discomfort it would take to clue her in. Sorry, make that supposed friends, because if you're actually this woman's friend ... HOW DO YOU LET HER GO AROUND WITH VISIBLE FACIAL HAIR?!

We'll assume she isn't mustachioed because waxing would kill her chances with the circus. And unless she lifted her arm and you spotted cornrows, she's probably one of those women with the unfortunate combination of fine, dark hairs and vision issues — causing her to be in the dark about her desperate need to mow. In addition to wrecking her chances with any guy whose feminine ideal isn't Tom Selleck, every single person who ever talks to her is thinking only one thing: "She's got a mustache, she's got a mustache, omigod, she's got a mustache."

It's a mission of mercy, letting a fur-lipped woman know. You could take her for a girls-getting-their-nails-done session, then suggest she join you in the two-for-one lip wax (a nonexistent special prearranged by you). There's also the gentle mention — "Did you know you have the faintest line of hair just above your lip?" (Even if it's "faint" like the African bush.) If neither of those work, there's always tricking her into it: "Let's play a game — it's called 'let's put adhesive tape on our upper lips and pull!'"

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail adviceamy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Alkon is the author of I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners into Impolite Society.

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