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Ask An Upscale Gift Catalog

Dear Upscale Gift Catalog,

My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year, and I think he could be The One. But there's one thing about him that drives me nuts: Whenever we eat out, he always insists on ordering for me. He says he's just being chivalrous, but I feel like it's his way of showing he's the one "wearing the pants" in the relationship. Am I overreacting, or is he showing signs of chauvinism that may rear its ugly head later?

—Capable In Cape May

Dear Capable,

It's three o'clock in the morning on a moonless night. Your wife is sound asleep. You suddenly have a million-dollar idea. The light is not an option. Your wife, the light sleeper, would surely be awakened. The pen and paper you keep on your nightstand seem a thousand miles away. Then you remember the Lexmore Lumiwriter. With a twist of the wrist, this remarkable pen emits a readable glow from its mushroom-like base, enabling one to write discreetly in complete darkness. Even in daylight, this sleek, ultra-modern tool is built for maximum function and beauty. Hand-crafted from a stunning mix of aluminum and mahogany and engraved with designs inspired by Aztec craftsmen, each pen is equipped with the patented Lexmore Ink-Flo distribution system and a lifetime guarantee. So you can go to sleep knowing that your idea is safely on the page and that your wife will wake up the next morning none the wiser.

Dear Upscale Gift Catalog,

My birthday is coming up, and every year, my mother-in-law insists on giving me some horrible outfit I would never, ever wear. Then, the next time my husband and I go out with her, she expects me to wear the thing. Is there an easy way to let her know I don't want to receive clothes from her anymore? Her heart is in the right place, but her fashion sense is all wrong.?

—Fashion Victim In Farmington

Dear Fashion Victim,

A solitary backpacker in Milan. A sudden downpour. You seek shelter from the rain in a charming little café. You order a cup of the local blend and sit on the aged leather furniture. You look for something to read while you wait out the storm. Then you notice the bookcase. Sturdy. Handsome. Classic. The honey-stained oak lovingly lacquered by hand and covered in embossed leather. The Italian craftsmen who passed down this design for generations reveled in the beauty of the simple, strong lines that catch the eye but don't stand out. From the Italian countryside to the den, this bookcase exudes the wisdom of a man well-read and well-traveled. Also available in natural or chocolate.

Dear Upscale Gift Catalog,

When I'm at work, I'm constantly being bugged by coworkers to fix every little mechanical problem that arises. I was hired to be a data technician, but I spend most of my time fixing paper jams and replacing toner cartridges. I hate to tell my fellow employees to buzz off, but I need to do the work I'm being paid to do. Help!?

—Used In Utica

Dear Used,

A Moroccan bazaar. The aroma of exotic spices fills your nose. The clangor of a thousand voices rattles your ears. You brush past vendors vainly trying to get your attention. You duck into a back alley to catch your breath. Away from the chaos of the street, you spy an entrance to a lonely shop. You walk in. Immediately, you are drawn to the bundle in the corner. Unfurling it, you realize it's a Kashan-style Persian rug. You run your hands across its surface, knowing each thread was painstakingly woven by master craftsmen. The simple, muted earthtones belie a complex design unique to the region. Each rug is hand-knotted from 100 percent wool using only vegetable dyes. Equally at home on marble or hardwood floors, this rug takes center stage in any room. This one-of-a-kind rug won't last. It cannot possibly. Persian Rug #PR50035.....................$5,740

Dakota, Spring 2001 is a nationally syndicated advice columnist whose weekly column, Ask An Upscale Gift Catalog, appears in more than 250 newspapers nationwide.

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