Letters, we get letters . . . .
From Daryl Peterson of Laurel: "Will you please settle an argument for me? I drink coffee with cream and sugar. My wife does, too. I put the cream in first, the sugar in second and the coffee in last. My wife puts the coffee in first, the sugar in second and the cream in third. I figure this all makes absolutely no difference -- that it all comes out the same. But my wife insists that I am killing the flavor of the cream and the sugar by pouring coffee on top of them. She also insists that her way is the way 'every President since Truman' has done it. This marriage depends on you, Bob."
Sorry, Mrs. Peterson, but science is against you. Political history, too.
I ran this compelling caffeinated conundrum past a couple of biochemists at local universities. Once they stopped laughing, they said that the order in which you mix coffee, cream and sugar doesn't change the chemical content of the brew, its wake-up power or its taste.
As for the occupants of the White House, I'm told by officials over there that no president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has taken his coffee with sugar (although all since FDR have taken it with cream). By the way, Ronald Reagan almost never drinks coffee (he is a cream-only man when he does drink it).
I don't know where you got that 'every President since Truman' business, Mrs. Peterson. In any case, stay married to Daryl. At least he has the good sense to let a newspaper columnist settle things -- a columnist who takes his coffee black.
From Dwayne Trellis of Southeast: "My daughters won't listen to me, but they read your column every day, and I figure they might listen to you. Last week, my daughters buried a doll in the back yard. After they dug it up, they made some deal where the older one got to take it to bed on Monday, then the younger on Tuesday, and so on. I said nobody takes it to bed any day because it has all kinds of diseases all over it from being buried in the ground. They said the doll looks and feels and smells just the way it did before it was buried. Please help, Bob. I'm afraid some worm is going to eat my kids while they sleep."
First, Dwayne, I'm going to assume that the kids (or their Dad) sent the doll through the washing machine a few times. If not, then I side with you all the way.
A funeral home in Prince George's County tells me that a human corpse does not begin to decompose until about two weeks after it's buried. A doll buried for one week shouldn't be infested with worms, maggots or anything else, the funeral home said.
So my answer is: Go right ahead, kids. Count me out, firmly -- but if it turns you on . . . .
From Mark Hardesty of Reston: "Did they ever trap wolves at Wolf Trap?"
No on two counts, Mark.
First, the Wolf Trap tract was a farm until it became a center for the performing arts. No trapping was allowed there because it would have interfered with farming operations.
Second, no wolves have been seen in this area (with the exception of a few Georgetown bars) since the 17th century.
From "Madame Anonymous" of Northwest: "I'm really upset about a guy at work. A few months ago, I was in a car accident, and I broke my arm. It's all healed now. But this guy will not leave me alone. All day long he comes by my desk and starts rubbing my arm for me. I keep telling him no, thanks, it's fine now, but he never listens. If it were any other guy, I'd be thinking that my arm isn't the only thing he wants to rub. But with this guy, I can't tell for sure. I think he might be genuinely concerned, and just trying to help. Have you ever heard of a situation like this? How should I handle it?"
I've never heard of a situation exactly like this, Madame A. But I have heard of people exactly like you. They bend so far backward to give coworkers the benefit of the doubt that they break their backs.
You are in the process of breaking yours -- and Mr. Concern is in the process of setting you up for bigger game.
Tell him that your arm is yours, and that he will please leave it alone from this moment forward.
If he persists, tell him that you will report him to the boss.
If he is the boss, tell him that you consider this sexual harassment.
If he says, "Hey, you never seemed to mind before," don't engage him in a great debate about how you did and how you do. Simply tell him that you started to mind as of that morning.
Yes, it is remotely possible that this guy is genuinely unaware of the implications of his touching, and genuinely concerned for your well being. I'd say the odds of that are small, however, since he repeats the same behavior over and over. I make this guy for a big fan of yours who'd like to ask you out, but doesn't know how to find the words. So he finds the arm.
Be firm, but be final. This stops. Now. Or else.