OH My goodness it's working!!!
So excited! Thanks for your help! I'm not syncing anything automatically... (again - control freak) I'm just right clicking and send to... BUT IT WORKS!!!
Sending a playlist to the iPod from MM works great... the playlist displays (and plays) correctly on the device. The only thing that doesn't seem to work (in my 5 min of testing) is navigating to the device in MM and looking at playlists... it gets stuck on Reading files. Music shows up fine - but playlists don't. But I don't care! I can clear those on the device itself!
THANKS so much for the help!!! Guess all I needed was a little hand holding! Thanks for being nice!