My 8-year-old niece asked me last week why I don't have a girlfriend. "I don't know," I said, "I just don't." She seemed to let it drop after that, and I continued to talk to my sister.

My niece, however, was not content to let it end with that. She walked away for a couple of minutes and then returned to deposit a slip of paper on the kitchen table in front of me.

She wrote me a ticket for $1,000. The crime: "Not Having a Girlfriend".

I played along pretending to be mad for a couple of minutes and then continued once again talking to my sister.

It was a little warm in the house, and I began to fan myself absentmindedly with the "ticket". Apparently this behavior fell outside of the bounds of proper respect for the ticket because I soon found myself holding a second ticket, this one for $2,000. This crime: "Using the Other One as a Fan".

Later she was kind enough to draw me a $3,000-bill, providing me with the funds to pay my fines.