Twenty-to-wife 

Q: I've been seeing a very special woman for about six months. We hit it off quickly and fell head over heels for each other. We are now seriously considering marriage. She is divorced and has three kids from two different fathers. The oldest she had with a boyfriend more than 10 years ago. She has recently rekindled a friendship with her ex-boyfriend. It has been a good thing for her son to develop a relationship with his real father. I have no problem with that. But, while I don't have any animosity toward the ex-boyfriend, I don't have warm, fuzzy feelings for him either. Would I be out of line to tell her that, as our relationship progresses, there might be a point at which I'd have a problem with her friendship with her ex (when contact with him doesn't relate specifically to her son)? This could be a touchy subject. I don't want her to think I'm coming between her son and his father. —The New Man

A: A woman who marries a man who thinks the way you do is a woman who needs a wedding cake with a file in it. Maybe being head over heels all these months has made you a little hazy on wedding protocol.

Let's do a quick review: When you want a woman to marry you, you buy her a diamond, not an electronic ankle bracelet that transmits her movements back to the nearest precinct. Next, you ask her to spend the rest of her life with you, not to do 20-to-life. Were Very Special Woman aspiring to life in lockup, she could have traded in her 9-to-5 job for an exciting life of disorganized crime ... hot-wiring cars parked in front of the police station, paying her taxes with a wad of Xeroxed dollars, growing pot on her front porch and advertising it with a flashing neon sign.

Evidently, she was shopping for a partner, not a probation officer, so she kept her nose clean and hooked up with you. Little did she know that your view of a serious relationship is pretty much jail with better furniture: Two people vow-lunteer to shut themselves off from contact with the outside universe, unless that contact is approved by their warden, uh, partner. This is a big mistake. Anybody who spends all their time with only one person is sure to become shriekingly dull. Ever see those old couple-units silently shoveling their Grand Slams down at Denny's? They could have used a few outside interests.

There is a risk in allowing outside interests — maybe getting ditched for somebody more interesting. This isn't a risk you can prevent by laying down the law about whom your girlfriend can talk to and about what.

Actually, if you tell her she can't talk to her ex, he'll instantly become more exciting; his bald spot will probably develop hair. Practically speaking, how, exactly, do you plan to police her contact with him? Follow the two of them around with a big gong and bang it every time the conversation turns from their son to the weather? A better idea is to let her be free to be friends with whomever she wants. Do tell her that you're feeling a little insecure, and ask her to open up about her ex. The truth will set you free. Try to jail her and you're likely to end up in solitary confinement, eating crow-flavored gruel out of a tin cup.

For hangover recovery, some swear by the "hair of the dog that bit you."

To recover from misadventures in dating-land, I swear by the "hair of the dog that bit somebody else." Try these hairy ones on for size ... and send me your dating hairballs.

Double Cheesy: The guy had invited her on a dinner date. He revved over to her place in his gleaming new sports car and off they went. They hadn't gone far when he pulled into a McDonald's. He hopped out of the car, then leaned back through his open window and muttered, "Oh yeah ... ya want anything?"

You've Lost That Clothing Feeling: She'd agreed to meet her blind date at a public park. Moments after they sat down at a picnic table, he began to fidget and twitch. She asked what was bothering him. He was a nudist, he confessed, and "wearing all these clothes" (shorts and a T-shirt) was "too much" for him. With that, he ripped them off and did a buck-naked rain dance around the table. She was worried that he'd scare small children playing nearby, so she convinced him to take a seat. As a public service, she waited until most of the other park visitors had departed to end her involuntary foray into the world of nude dating. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com

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