Q:My daughter, in her late 20s, has a same-sex partner. Most of our very large, very Catholic family knows this except my husband's parents. They have a summer home, and their rule is that nonmarried children and their opposite-sex partners may not share a bedroom. My daughter and her partner often claim a small room for two, and her grandparents regard the girls, who live together, as good friends. My younger daughter thinks it unfair that she and her boyfriend must sleep in separate rooms. We have a family reunion coming up. Should I say something to my in-laws about my older daughter?
A: It is not you but your daughter who may decide if she is to come out to her grandparents. If there were some sort of emergency that compelled this revelation - a complicated science fiction scenario in which thwarting an alien invasion demanded the intervention of some sort of heroic interstellar lesbian and your daughter were reluctant to step up, well, then perhaps you could announce, "She is gay enough to battle the slime creatures and save the planet." But you may not pre-empt so consequential and intimate a decision merely out of deference to a house rule.
Instead you should tell your daughter to adhere to that rule or find another place to stay. If her grandparents want to live a certain way in their own house, maintaining a sort of moral Colonial Williamsburg, then so be it. Your daughter should not exploit their obliviousness to cadge a free room.
UPDATE: The house was so crowded during the reunion that no young couple, wed or unwed, had its own room. The younger people bunked dormitory-style, one room assigned to boys, another to girls.
Landlady handles bike issue poorly
Q: I locked my bicycle to a fence outside the building where I live in New York Citya few times over two weeks. One morning, it was gone. My landlady had the police remove it, claiming she tried to alert the owner by letting the air out of the tires. She left no note. At the precinct, an officer said she told them the bike had been there for three months. Fortunately, I reclaimed it undamaged. Unfortunately, the police cut the locks: Replacement costs are $150. Should my landlady cover that?
A: I don't understand how flattening the tires says, "Please move your bicycle," but then I have trouble with nonverbal languages like the raised eyebrow, the crisp uppercut and the hula.
You are not entitled to store your bike on your landlady's private property. She has the legal right to ask the police to haul it off to bike jail. But ethics take a less sanguine view of her conduct. Your landlady made no meaningful effort to contact you and, if your account is accurate - hers might differ - she filed what amounts to a false police report. She should do more than contribute to your bill; she should replace the locks, apologize and maybe sew some new curtains for your apartment, to expiate her misconduct. Or do some sort of dance that would communicate remorse (to erudite Hawaiians, if not to me).
In New York City, there is no citywide policy covering situations like yours, according to the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, but Manhattan's Ninth Precinct has adopted a prudent approach. Transportation Alternatives wrote in a recent issue of its magazine that, upon receiving a complaint, the police put a note on the bike "alerting the owner that the bike will be removed after 10 days." The assumption is that if the bike belongs to someone, its owner will see the notice and remove the bike; if it's abandoned, the police will then remove it. In your case, the police should have acted similarly. Conflicts like this could be reduced if the city provided sufficient spots for cyclists to lock their bikes. Happily, the Department of Transportation is installing many more bike racks around town.
UPDATE: The cyclist asked her landlady to replace the bike locks; the landlady refused.
This column originally appeared in the New York Times Magazine. Send questions and comments by e-mail to email@example.com.