You Need an Intern to Mind Your Manners for You

Dear Uptight Seattleite,Me and Kyle and the dogs took a walk Saturday and stopped at several yard sales. As we walked past one sale, with items piled on the planting strip right up to the sidewalk, Prince peed on two large, wedge-shaped foam pillows when I wasn't looking. Pee was dripping down both. No one saw it happen and we could have kept walking, but we wanted to do the right thing.We called over the woman selling the items, explained what happened, and offered to buy them (and then she could dispose of them, we assumed). She said they were 10 years old, and she'd used them while caring for someone who had died. I'm thinking, OK, maybe two for $5? WRONG! She asked for $10! We paid rather than bargained, because it seemed like the right thing to do. But we walked away feeling really ripped off. I'm tempted to go back and see if she cleaned them up and put them back on the market.Lorraine

Dear Lorraine,Who's right and who's been wronged? The trail zigs and zags, but finally ends in your favor. Let's see if we can follow it.Zig: You seem to marginalize the sentimental value of the pillows, but for this woman, it was as though your dog had urinated on the memory of her dead friend. So I don't see how you can protest the higher price.Zag: But would the woman have mentioned the association with her friend to someone whose dog hadn't just urinated on the pillows? "Someone recently died on these" isn't a very compelling sales point. Therefore she was clearly taking advantage of the situation.Zig: Still, it's reasonable for her to expect some sort of disposal fee. I say this as someone who always takes responsibility for Georgina's products. I have one of those poop-bag dispensers that attaches to the leash, though I occasionally use a plastic shopping bag. There's a stash of them under the sink, stuffed inside another bag, with an explanatory sign taped to the outside ("They're not single-use if you reuse them!") so that any guest who happens to see them doesn't get the wrong idea. Of course I voted to tax those things out of existence, but I sometimes run into Safeway for a few quick items, and they always hand you a plastic bag so fast there's no time to say anything.Zag: I don't remember what the final zag was. I do remember that there was one, though, so congratulations! You're right (which is what you wanted, right?), and you learned something about your neighbor in the process.Dear Uptight Seattleite,I wrote to you a few months ago. And never heard back. How you could ignore a woman who feels she is your Soulmate is confusing and hurtful. Now your raving on about this "intern" Debbie just twists the knife. Does the e-mail revolution mean that we are allowed to behave callously toward our admirers? I think not. Maybe you couldn't tell, but that letter (and this one too) was composed by hand on a pad of paper first, and only then typed into my BlackBerry. I think YOU, Uptight Seattleite, need a second intern—one to mind your manners for you.Your Gracious Soulmate

Dear Soulmate,There was blood in my stool the other day. I know that's a jarring note to start on, especially when we've just been dwelling on the waste matter of dogs, but there's no shame in bodily functions. I'm not implying you think there is. As much as anything, I'm giving myself permission to talk about this, since I'm as susceptible as anyone to being sucked into the great Western tradition of body shame. I hope you're not surprised that I too need reminders. Because I certainly do!Now, I started with that little detail from my toilet as a way to honor your bravery. You really put yourself out there when you shared your feelings so honestly just now, and I thought it would only be fair of me also to share something uncomfortably intimate about myself. And there's nothing more intimate than the slow breakdown of one's own body. Some days one feels more fragile and mortal than others, like when a Web site finishes loading and the browser says "Done, but with errors on the page." It's not an excuse, of course, but in this state of mind, one may become neglectful of the feelings of others.What I'm really trying to say is that I apologize for not responding to your letter. You're absolutely right that this was rude. Also, I apologize to Deb for mentioning her. It turns out she'd rather not be part of the column, and I should respect that. I do have one bit of good news, though: It wasn't blood in my stool at all, it was Sriracha! Did you know that the word "blessing" comes from a root that means "blood"? Looked at that way, I feel pretty darn lucky not to have been blessed, let me tell you what!Questions? Write

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