Dear 7-Year-Old With A New Joke Book,

When my nephew announced he was getting married, I gave him, as an engagement gift, a valuable original painting that has been in our family for generations. While I'd intended the family heirloom be displayed in the home he would share with his fiancée, the couple broke up a few months later. Now the painting is sitting, unwrapped and unhung, against a wall in his tiny studio apartment. Frankly, I'm concerned the painting might become damaged in the bachelor pad. Would it be selfish of me to ask him to return the gift?

—Unsure In Utah

Dear Unsure,

Mom! Mom! Where are you? Mom! Oh, there you are. Hey Mom, after Cub Scouts, me and Spencer and Spencer's dad stopped at the mall and we went to Waldenbooks and I bought a book with my own money! It's called Rib Ticklers For Your Funny Bone, and it's the best book ever 'cause it's a joke book! I told a bunch on the way home and everyone laughed so hard. Wanna hear one? Here's one: Why couldn't Dracula go to the Halloween dance? Give up? Wanna know? Because his mummy wouldn't let him! Isn't that funny, Mom?

Dear 7-Year-Old With A New Joke Book,

Several months ago, my coworker Julia asked me out. I politely declined, telling her that I felt it's too risky to mix business with pleasure. As the weeks went by, I came to realize that it may have been the worst decision I've ever made! I was crushed to find out, however, that she has a new boyfriend. Should I tell Julia my feelings, or should I just leave well enough alone?

—Regretful In Racine

Dear Regretful,

Okay, here's another one. Mom? Here's another one: What's a parrot's favorite game? To get his quarter back. Oops, I meant 'hide and speak.' Isn't that a funny one? Hide and speak! Aren't these funny, Mom? Mom! How do pigs write? Mom! Did you hear me? How do pigs write? Just guess. Mom, guess. I can't guess. I have the answer. You have to guess. Ugh! It was, "How do pigs write?" No! Duh! Not with their hooves! With a pig pen! Ha ha, you got it wrong! I am right and you are wrong!

Dear 7-Year-Old With A New Joke Book,

I'm a 27-year-old female in love with a wonderful guy. Everything was going great until last week, when he revealed that he's an avid nudist! He goes to a clothing-free resort every summer and strongly urged me to come along this time around. I've never had any interest in being naked in public, but I fear that if I don't share in his passion, I might lose him. Do you think I should put my preferences aside and force myself to give it a try? Or should I stand my ground and keep my clothes on?

—Dressed Up In DeMoines

Dear Dressed Up,

Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! What did the traffic cop ticket the cow for? Mom! What did the traffic cop ticket the cow for? Come on, it's funny! I'm not yelling! I'm just asking. Give up? Give up? Mommm, aaanswer! For its mooving violations. Like a cow goes "moo." Mom, why are you going outside? Do that later! Mom, I don't have my shoes on. Mom, there's more!

Dear 7-Year-Old With A New Joke Book,

As she will readily admit, my wife has always been somewhat of a "germ freak." But now, her fear of unsanitary conditions is putting a serious cramp in our summer-vacation plans. She says that hotel-room blankets and pillows are filthy, and she'd never be able to sleep on them. Should we skip the trip? What else can we do? I'd appreciate any ideas!

—Staying Put For Now In Maryland

Dear Staying Put,

Hey Lexi, what do you call a cow who jumps up and down? Shut up. It is not me. You just said that because you don't know the answer. You don't, do you? Well, it's a milkshake! You're the world's dumbest sister, you know that? Stop it! It's mine. Stop! You're just jealous because Mom won't let you get your ears pierced but I got to buy a book with my own money. You suck. I'll go find Mom. She likes my jokes.

Dear 7-Year-Old With A New Joke Book,

Yesterday, I noticed a man with one leg standing on my crowded bus. He was supporting himself with crutches and looked very uncomfortable. When I offered him my seat, he got angry and told me to mind my own business. Well, that made me angry. I was only trying to do the right thing! Is it patronizing to assume that a disabled person is entitled a seat on a bus or train? Should I think twice about offering my seat in the future?

—Meant Well In Mechanicsburg

Dear Meant Well,

Mom, Lexi was mean to me. She said I was annoying. She tried to take my book, but it's mine. Right, Mom? Because I bought it with my own money. Lexi will be sorry when I'm telling jokes on TV. Won't she, Mom? Won't she? Mom, I got a joke for you: What has four wheels and—Mo-o-om! Turn off the vacuum cleaner! I'm trying to tell you a joke! Mom-mm, come on!

CONFIDENTIAL TO PIECING THINGS TOGETHER:

Knock knock. Mommmm, listen! Knock knock! You say "Who's there?" Tanks. Tanks! Mommmmm! C'mon! You say, "Tanks who?" Come on, Mom, pleeeease? "Tanks for the memories." Um, Mom, what does that mean? Mom?

Danny Geppert is a syndicated columnist whose weekly advice column, Ask A 7-Year-Old With A New Joke Book, appears in more than 250 papers nationwide.