DEAR AMY: Every year a friend offers her vacation cottage in a popular beach town for all of her women friends to have a gathering. We are eight women in our 50s. We provide meals and gifts for the cottage, and when we go out, we all very happily pay our friend's share. My only issue is that at the end of our four- or five-day stay, she hands us a broom and vacuum and asks us to clean the cottage. Inevitably, we are on our hands and knees, finding items under beds and dust so thick that this has to be the only cleaning of the summer. We are seven menopausal women, sweating profusely, and some of us cannot bend very easily. Meanwhile the owner is reading magazines on the couch! We obviously love the cottage and are happy to change sheets, etc., but I feel that she is taking advantage of us! Suggestions?
-- Cinderella and the Gang
DEAR CINDERELLA: Beach towns usually host a variety of professional cleaning services where you can pay for a vacation turnover. Let's say this fee is $100 to $200. Split among seven of you, this would be a bargain, and you could kick back for one last brunch during the cleaning session.
Even added to your expenses, paying for cleaning would still be much cheaper than renting a cottage on your own.
Your friend might be taking advantage of you, but I think you should let her.
DEAR AMY: "Terrified" was worried because her mother wouldn't wear a motorcycle helmet when riding. I've been riding for eight-plus years. Many more women are taking up the hobby. Some of these young riders take their cues from experienced riders like Mom. If she's willing to re-evaluate her stance on helmets, which include edgy design work that pairs nicely with the leather gear, she could be a real style ambassador as well as a safety ambassador to the rising generation of female riders.
DEAR JAMES: Great advice.