Dear Carolyn:

I've been dating this girl for about eight months. She's really kinda hot and digs sports, so she's a keeper. Here's the catch: She borrows all my stuff. We're about the same size so she borrowed my mountain bike and trashed the thing. She even wore my shorts, which kinda grossed me out. Once she commandeered my ever-so-dear "Star Wars" card collection to show her little brother. After weeks had passed, I demanded them back. Upon close inspection I found that I was missing the "Wedge" character card -- A VALUABLE CARD TO ALL "STAR WARS" FANS. After a few more weeks I asked her brother what was up. He said he lost it, and it wasn't a big deal cause who the heck was Wedge?

Usually I'd make like a fetus and head out of this filching relationship. Here's the deal: I don't think I can get anyone hotter. I'm good from far, but far from good, if you know what I mean. Should I just let her keep trashing my stuff? Or should I put her in the hamper marked "bad love"?

Washington

Now you know why Her Hotness was available to the likes of you.

You could try to have your bike and ride it too, by teaching the minx some manners. It is just stuff, after all, and a sports-lovin', window-steamin' babe should, theoretically, take precedence.

But her brazen disrespect for "just stuff" comes across to this (relatively) impartial reader as a brazen disrespect for you and your little world. If that's true, teaching her manners would entail converting her from a self-absorbed user to a thoughtful human being. I suppose it can be done -- people do grow up sometimes -- but the brother dims the prospects a bit. Since he's a rank ingrate as well, the brazen disrespect might be a family value. In which case, good luck.

I'm afraid you might have to choose: geekorabilia, or the girl. If you're still undecided, take this quiz.

1. Which would you rather have around on a cold night?

2. Which would you rather show off to your friends?

3. Which will mean more to you 20 years from now?

4. One choice makes you studly, the other makes you craven, pathetic and strange. Which is which?

By my count, she's 0 for 4.

The ultimate question is really just a desperation check: Is heat a hotter commodity than respect for your personal space? If yes, you groveling dog, then lock up your stuff and have fun while it lasts.

Who the heck was Wedge?

Dear Carolyn:

On a number of occasions, I've found myself out to eat with friends or family, and the driver consumes alcohol. Most of the time, it seems like an affront to offer to drive, and if I've been drinking, too, it's no better solution anyway. The situation is not a matter of avoiding riding with an obvious drunk; the alcohol is consumed with food and usually is no more than two or three drinks -- but with shared wine, it's hard to tell. Arranging another way home (taxi, bus, etc.) could easily seem insulting, too. What do you suggest?

-- C.

That manners will be the least of your worries when you're on both sides of a tree. It doesn't usually come to that, but crashing is to alcohol what disease is to sex: It's a joy-killer that can be lethal to ignore.

So. If you want certainty, you have three options. You drive and don't drink; you ride with someone who doesn't drink; you take a cab and hope that driver hasn't been drinking. (Want guarantees? Stay home.)

Otherwise, you're in the gray gray world of chemistry and judgment. If the driver has a glass of wine or three with food over several hours and is accustomed to doing so and isn't on any alcohol-unfriendly medications and got enough sleep last night and weighs more than a wet Calista Flockhart, you will be in the car with an impaired but, chances are, legal driver.

But "only impaired" is hardly reassuring. The most genial solution is to suggest dessert and a leisurely walk after dinner -- or eat near a theater, then stroll over to a show. Or, on your way to the restaurant, offer to be the designated driver, Hint Hint. Or suggest at the outset that you try sharing a cab, so you can all have fun. You can also look for behavior changes in the driver -- getting loud or emotional, tripping over words -- but, unless he's sporting a lampshade, this is still a shaky call.

Make no mistake, though: As a passenger, you are fully entitled to ask the driver if that third drink is a good idea, feelings be damned. If he gets all huffy, just take the cab, feelings be damned.

Write to Tell Me About It, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or tellme@washpost.com, and join Carolyn's live discussion at noon today or at 8 p.m. Monday on The Post's Web site, www.washingtonpost.com