Dear Amy:

I am a 17-year-old girl. About six months ago my aunt held a retirement party and invited a lot of her friends and my family. The rest of my family couldn't make it to the party, so I went alone, thinking that it would be fun to be with my cousins (who are all around my age).

I also decided to bring a little alcohol with me.

When I first got there we all had a lot of fun. I took out some of the alcohol and offered it around. Nobody wanted any, but they didn't object to me drinking it. I only drank a little (believe me, I was not drunk) and then threw it out because I thought it was kind of stupid to be drinking alone.

The next day my aunt told my father that I "brought a lot of alcohol to her party," and that my cousins accused me of being blatantly drunk and embarrassing them in front of their friends.

When my parents confronted me, I told them that I didn't bring any alcohol.

My parents believed me, and my aunt and uncle believed my cousins.

Fast-forward to now and my families aren't talking to each other. My parents are furious at my relatives for thinking I would bring alcohol, and my relatives are mad at me and at my family for not believing it.

This is really horrible because my family has always been very close, but now they won't acknowledge each other.

I feel horrible for lying to my family and causing this, but at the same time I'm furious at my cousins for telling their parents.

I know now that if I tell the truth, then my family will mend, but then I'll be in trouble.

This is tearing me apart.

What should I do?

Confused in Calif.

A significant part of being a teen is to have confusing and confounding lapses of judgment, followed by mopping up after yourself. If you think of your life as a supermarket shelf full of choices, think of this as a "cleanup in Aisle 3."

You blew it big-time, and I'm not going to spend more time beating up on you when it's clear that you've already got that covered.

Stop blaming your cousins. They didn't bring the alcohol. They didn't consume the alcohol. They didn't lie about it. They did what kids are supposed to do, which is to tell an adult when things happen that make them uncomfortable.

Don't get all dramatic like a character on "The O.C" about this. Just fess up to your parents. Tell them the whole truth. This isn't about taking the blame, but taking responsibility. When you're done with your mop-up, you'll understand the difference.

Dear Amy:

Regarding love at first sight -- in 1964 at the ball the city of New York gave for the Tall Ships of "Operation Sail," I met a very handsome Spanish officer. We talked, we danced the night away, we saw each other again the next day for lunch, after lunch he asked me to marry him, and I said, "Yes!"

Today we are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary.

It can happen and it can work, I assure you.

Still Happy

You are so fortunate to have found a first mate to sail away into the sunset with! Congratulations.

Dear Amy:

God bless the dear man who wrote to you, signing off as "Happy in Love."

He has it EXACTLY right.

I have always maintained that women need three things from their men: Flowers, "I love you" and "You're beautiful." His addition of cheerfully doing tasks soon after being asked is now on my list.

I say this as a woman who will overlook much when my husband is wise enough to do the above.

Also Happy

Let me get this straight. All that men have to do is everything that women tell them to do, while telling them that they love them, giving them flowers and declaring them beautiful.

I'd love to hear from women on what it takes to make men happy.

(c)2005 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.