Serfing lessons 

Q: I have a twentysomething friend who needs to have some sense knocked into her. She has this thing for geezers old enough to be her father who take complete advantage of her. The latest guy is no exception. She painted his house and goes to watch him play sports, while he never picks her up for dates, never takes her out on the town and ditches her whenever his teenage daughter is in town. She's just a lackey that he beds when it suits him. His only redeeming feature is that he is under 50. —Hating Her Grumpy Old Men

A: Early on in a relationship, it's the little things that count, like when a man offers to help you slide the drop cloth around to the backyard after you've been painting his house for 12 hours. You can try to tell that to your doormat-impersonating pal until the paramedics bring you oxygen, but it isn't going to get her off the geezer train. In her own time (which could be months, years, or decades), Snow White semigloss will shake herself awake, look around, and realize that she's nothing more than the help. When she sees that there's no handsome prince in attendance — only an old user guy with a lot of household chores — she's sure to jump out of her stupor and run away as fast as her little doormat legs can carry her.

Q: My boyfriend and I have been living together for three months. The focal point of our relationship is sex. Things were going swell between us ... until yesterday. During a cleaning frenzy, I discovered a microcassette recorder tucked between the mattress and the box spring. I struggled for 15 minutes before pushing the play button, considering whether doing so was an invasion of privacy. Now, I am one of those people who cringes at the sound of her own voice on an answering machine, so imagine my horror upon discovering that my boyfriend has been recording my moans and groans during the throes of passion — without my consent. I have not yet confronted him, as I am trying to sift through a whirlpool of emotions, the most prominent being betrayal, humiliation, and disgust. Half of me wants to throw the recorder through the picture window as he is walking up the sidewalk, and the other half is trying to come up with a rational, adult way to confront him. (And yes, I was kind enough to rewind.) Any suggestions? —Duped

A: First, check the potted palm and do a body-cavity search for hidden cameras. Next, page through Billboard Magazine to see if "Woohoo Baby" has made the top-40 (in which case, you could be due a pretty penny in royalties). Finally, take a break from giving yourself a swirly in the "whirlpool of emotions," find your sense of humor, and turn it on. So your boyfriend immortalized on hidden microcassette your impression of small woodland animals being tortured. This is funny. This is very funny. Repeat after me: "Ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha." Were you "betrayed?" Well, yeah. But on the betray-o-meter, the guy isn't exactly Judas Iscariot ... or even Wyle E. Coyote. (You certainly won't be putting in your application for a gold forehead star anytime soon; not after listening to what could have been his private audio diary.) Lack of consent aside, what Mr. Microphone did is actually rather endearing. Weird, but endearing. While the rest of the world makes do with Madonna at drive-time, your boyfriend gets his listening pleasure from reliving yours. Other girls worry that their boyfriends fantasize about other women while they're having sex; your boyfriend fantasizes about you in stereo when you're not even around. (Uh, you are sure that you're the woman on the tape?) Even if you're sure of that, with sex as the focal point of your relationship, you can't be sure of much about him, or vice versa. Maybe this adventure in audio-eroticism will be your mutual inspiration to get out of bed for 20 minutes and lay the groundwork for a relationship — one based upon respect and trust, instead of on being privy to the location of each others' hidden birthmarks. The rational, adult way to confront him is coolly, calmly and in person. The less adult approach would be recording hog calls over your own. The even less adult approach would be enlisting a small crowd of his closest friends to record what sounds like a nude crowd scene: "Oooh, Janet, you are like sooo totally hot naked." "Oh, yessss ... do that again." "Hey, me too!" Unfortunately, this option is likely to embarrass him or lead him to do something rash. And, you're much too mature to want revenge, aren't you, Janet? Janet? Janet? Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com

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