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Cheryl Lavin: Hair-splitting difference in how you phrase your words

Dear Cheryl: Is there a major difference between No. 1: “Somebody broke the hinge on the kitchen cabinet” versus No. 2: “Do you know what happened to the kitchen cabinet? It’s broken.”

Is one more accusatory than the other? I’m being lambasted for saying one of those statements instead of the other. HAIR SPLITTING

Dear HAIR SPLITTING

Obviously you said No. 1.

I can see that No. 2 is more neutral. What you’re basically saying there is: “The kitchen cabinet, through no fault of anyone living in this house, or even visiting it, became broken. It was probably an act of God, like a hurricane or an earthquake.”

No. 1 is probably a lot more accurate: “Somebody was a little rough with the cabinet and broke the hinge. And since it wasn’t me, it was obviously you.”

If your partner has taken offense at No. 1, I think she’s being unduly sensitive and defensive. But if that’s who she is, next time just fix the hinge.

Dear Cheryl: I’ve been dating Ellie for eight years. Last year, she called to say the car I bought her had been in an accident. An hour later she admitted she hadn’t been driving. She was very hesitant to tell me who was. She finally said it was Rusty, the drunken neighbor of her friend who had fathered three children out of wedlock and had been arrested for beating his wife. In other words, scum. I have warned her for years to stay away from him.

She knew she was never to lend the car to anyone, but she said Rusty pestered her relentlessly. The accident was his fault, but he’s out of work and has no money to repair it. I paid to have the car repaired to the tune of $2,000, since Ellie was laid off of work.

I thought the nightmare was over. Then Ellie asked me to upload some ring tones on her cellphone. I did that and backed up the phone’s stored names and phone numbers. I saw an entry that appeared odd: the initials “RB,” with a cellphone number. All the other entries had names, not initials.

Although I’ve always given her a cellphone and paid for the service, I had never looked at the detailed bill until that day. I saw RB’s number on incoming and outgoing calls, at odd hours of the day and evening. I called the number and Rusty answered.

At first Ellie said Rusty was harassing her over the accident. When I told her I knew the calls had been going on for months, she admitted she was having an affair with him. She said it was because I hadn’t paid enough attention to her. Enough attention? I remodeled her condo and paid her bills when she was out of work.

My immediate reaction was it was over. But she wants another chance. Should I take her back? BIG SPENDER

Dear BIG SPENDER,

You’re kidding, right?

She played you for a sucker, one of those giant all-day suckers. She has no morals, no principles, no character. She lent the car you bought to her boyfriend? She used the cellphone you bought to call him?

She’s a user and a taker, a low-life who deserves her drunken boyfriend. You can do so much better. But next time, keep your wallet in your pocket.

Got a problem? Send it, along with your questions and rants to cheryllavinrapp@gmail.com.

And check out my new ebook, “Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front.” COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM