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Birthday Soot 

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Birthday Soot

My boyfriend's generally pretty sweet, and we're enjoying it all. On his birthdays, I buy him a present and dinner. Both years we've been together he's bought me nothing for mine, saying he didn't know what to get. The second year, I waited in vain all weekend, hoping we'd do something special (he did make me breakfast in bed on Sunday, and woke me with kisses and "Happy birthday"). My birthday was that Monday, and he only took me out as an afterthought. As I was leaving for work, he said, "I'll wait up." (I work late.) Hurt, I said, "I can't believe you aren't even taking me to dinner!" He then lost his temper. Maybe this seems silly, but I'm actually still hurt. Part of me wants to rise above this, and part wants to give him a lump of coal for his upcoming birthday.

-- Present Dilemma

For a lot of women, it's the thought that counts -- as long as the guy thinks of something a little more, well, pawnable, than a plate of eggs.

Personally, because I'm no longer 6, I mainly think of my birthday as a day to apologize to my mother. (I won some pickle company's contest for being the biggest baby born in Detroit the week of March 8.) Also, I prefer to celebrate actual accomplishments. Of course, being a year older is an accomplishment for some, but I try to set goals a bit beyond "Well, well, well, another year, and I'm still not dead from meth!"

Perhaps I'm an anomaly, because there seems to be something girly about commemorating birthdays. Sure, there are guys who acknowledge each other's, but at some point after seventh grade, birthdays seem to split off in importance along gender lines. For example, guys don't have a version of the Sweet Sixteen, with their mom wiping away tears as she gushes, "Look, my little Adam's grown an apple!" And consider how common it is for women to send their friends little cards and Hallmark desk bunnies, but when's the last time you saw Rocco down at the garage buy a card with frolicking baby raccoons on it and get all sweet about Fred's special day?

That said, your birthday's important to you, and if you're important to a guy, he'll find a way to remember it. But, wait, there's this: "He did make me breakfast in bed on Sunday, and woke me with kisses and 'Happy birthday.'" So, your boyfriend did remember your birthday -- just not in the style to which you'd like to become accustomed. Assuming he isn't a jerk the other 364 days a year, how could he not know what's expected of him? After all, you bought him presents and dinner. All he had to do was the exact same thing, kind of like a chimp imitating somebody shaving.

Unfortunately, the male brain isn't an exact replica of the female brain, just less, I dunno, lavender. Because men generally don't operate on 13 levels of intuition, if you need something from a man, you probably have to say so. In this case, tell your boyfriend what you want (a gift and dinner), why you want it (it says, "I'm thinking of you, I don't take you for granted"), and tell him a little before when you want it (meaning, give him reminders, don't haul off the morning of with "Hey, potting-soil-for-brains, guess who turned 30 today?"). Finally, let him know that whatever effort he makes will score big with you -- providing it goes beyond asking Denny's to try to get 30 candles to stand up in a Grand Slam.

Paradise Flossed

I've had some awesome dates with a guy with very bad teeth. I thought this was a cosmetic/genetic issue, but now I'm thinking it's a hygienic one. He seems clean and healthy otherwise. I lie in bed thinking about how bad I wanna get that gnarly stuff off his teeth so I can kiss him again. Suggestions?

-- Grossed Out

You really need to be honest. Well, not totally honest, like, "Kissing you is like licking a dumpster," or "Ever tried gargling with Janitor In A Drum?" Just be honest enough that he understands it's you or his plaque collection, pick one. First, cushion the blow. Tell him he's hot, sexy, funnier than Chris Rock, Einsteinish in intelligence, and by the way, has he seen a dentist recently? Then lay out the tough love. You need him to care for his teeth: Visit the dentist twice a year, brush twice a day, and floss at least once (a day, not a decade). He might get embarrassed, he might get defensive, he might even storm off to find a partner who'll accept him as he is; say, a small finch who'll perch on his lip and peck particles from between his teeth.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com)

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