Friday, March 28, 2008

Good Advice Is Almost Certain To Be Ignored...So I'm Not Giving Any

I'm feeling more pithy (yeth, I have a lithp) and less amusing this week than usual. Take this with a spoonful of sugar (or morphine--whatever you've got) and glean from it what you may...


DEAR AMY: Often, when the topic of eating out arises, my wife makes the comment that we should try new places. She has a digestive disorder that requires her to eat gluten-free foods. My wife knows what she can eat but often wants me to choose a restaurant.

The other day I was out of town. I called my wife and mentioned we could go out to eat when I get back. I asked her to suggest a place or two. I got an e-mail from her containing a "laundry list" of main courses she would like to see on a menu.

She wants me to decide where we can go, but the restaurant must have items on her "list" to choose from.

Here's a lady who bemoans that we should try different eateries, yet she won't help with suggestions and doesn't like mine.

When I told her how I felt, she called me a "smart#$%&." I tried to explain my point of view, which is, if I'm spending $75 to $100 on dinner, I want be certain we go somewhere she likes.

How do I steer out of this tailspin?



Boy, after reading this, I’ve got a digestive disorder, too. And it has nothing to do with gluten. But I have to say, in the hierarchy of social annoyances, picky eaters and those with “allergies” are right near the top. Not if they take responsibility for their own diets, mind you, but when they expect the Big Strong Man to do it for them so they can be show dogs, they're a special kind of burden.

You’ve got more patience than I do, that’s for damned sure. I think you should take her on a little “snipe hunt.” Know what that is? Let’s just say it involves a car ride with two passengers setting out and only one returning. Let her find her own goddamn way home, and maybe she can find a gluten-free restaurant while she’s hitchhiking.

Seriously, she sounds like a game-playing, high-maintenance pain in the ass who likes to have you make the suggestions just so she can shoot them down and demoralize you. Is her mother like this, too? I’ll bet she is—she must have learned this behavior somewhere. Tell wifey to go stay with her for a week and maybe they’ll kill each other. Then you can eat anywhere you want in peace—and you won’t have to share! Ta-dah! Hey, everybody wins.

And really: “smart-ass?” There’s no reason to resort to name-calling in a healthy marriage, and I hope you told the bitch so.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife and I have been divorced for 10 years. I have family members who seem to enjoy telling me how much they disliked her.

My former spouse and I are not friends, but we were married a long time, and at one point we did love/like each other very much. I consider my family's put-downs as a personal attack on me. What can I finally say to stop this rudeness once and for all?



Try “There’s a big spider on your back.” That usually shuts people up for at least a few seconds while they run around like idiots slapping themselves.

Seriously, maybe some people feel that they’re being supportive when they mention their dislike of your ex-spouse, because they figure since you're divorced, you must not like 'em either. They forget about the years you DID spend liking them. Or maybe it has to do with a lack of tact, because most people don’t learn that anymore—their parents were too busy sitting on the toilet, chuckling at the joke book that hangs on the hook next to the commode, to teach them the finer subtleties of human interaction.

But to be charitable, let’s assume the former reason. In any event, don’t introduce your next wife to your family—that should solve the problem in the future.

DEAR MARGO: I have a 26-year-old sister who was halfway through medical school before she decided to drop out and have two children. Initially, my family was shocked and angry, as she did not reveal her pregnancy until her first baby was born -- but like most families, we've come to respect and support her decision. I, however, am still puzzled over why she did such an unimaginable thing. My sister graduated at the top of her class from a top-tier college and aspired to be a neurosurgeon. We occasionally talk about her decision to drop out, and my sister's response is always, "I'm happier being a mom. I did what made me happy." She says she feels more successful being a stay-at-home mom and raising two kids, but I think a successful person is someone who's able to balance their professional career and personal life. Am I right?



Dear String Bean String Pianist Whatever the Hell Your Name Is,

You “occasionally” talk about her decision? Is that “occasionally,” as in, “I bring it up every time I open my fucking mouth?” Is that how you “respect and support her decision?” Seriously, what the hell does it have to do with you? Are you the dean of the school, or her guidance counselor or something? Shut up.

I can understand your being upset over her not telling you she was pregnant until the first baby was born, but it was probably because she feared you would be as judgmental as you-say-you’re-not-being-now-but-kinda-are. Let it go.

And who cares what your definition of “successful” is? Are Merriam and Webster frantically calling you in to help meet the deadline for their next edition? Well, here’s another one for the book: she’s a grown woman and she did what made her happy, and now YOU can do the same.

In fact, if you want to go that extra mile, you can do something that will make us ALL happy – go soak your head in the toilet.

DEAR ELLIE: My mother-in-law is an overbearing control freak; she tried telling us who should be in our wedding party and how we should do things. When I disagreed with her, she called me selfish and unappreciative and told the whole family, so they think the same of my family and I.

My husband thinks I'm overreacting; he gets defensive whenever I mention his mother or family. He won't speak up to his mother unless she really crosses the line.

I'm afraid he'll not take my side even though he says he always will. I am afraid this'll divide us and he'll choose his mother, whom I dislike more every day.

I've tried speaking to her but she thinks she does nothing wrong and that I'm being ridiculous. She won't listen to me and doesn't get it.



While it’s never a good idea to goad your husband on the subject of his family (honey-chile, if you keep at it, you’ll FORCE him to choose), I agree that your MIL is a “what” with a cup of tea. Excuse me, she called you “selfish” because you disagreed with her re: the wedding party? Um, doesn’t the bride’s family pay for the fucking thing? She should be grateful she got to sit in the church. If it were my wedding, she’d have her big ass parked in the car with the windows rolled up.

But that’s beside the point, which is this: didn’t you ever MEET this woman before you agreed to marry her son? If so, you had to know what a bee-yotch she was—behavior like this doesn’t spring up overnight. If you chose to marry her son anyway, you’ve sorta gotta suck it up now and learn to ignore her. Conversely, when your first child is born, you could try doing what Baby Doc Duvalier’s wife did with her mynah bird: teach it swear words then send it to the MIL’s house for frequent visits.

And I wouldn’t worry about his family—if they’re stupid enough to believe everything she says, the law of natural selection will take care of their lineage very shortly. At least he married out of it.


Blogger American Girl said...

Michelle Duwalier taught her kids to swear at Mrs. Papa Doc. That is so fucking ballsy! Previously, my favorite Mrs. Baby Doc story was of when the country was falling down around them she went running about the manse trying to jam artwork into suitcases like a mad woman in heels. Sarah

11:33 AM  
Blogger American Girl said...

Um...I was using the German version of Duvalier in my previous comment. D'oh plus head slap. Sarah

11:34 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

No problem, Sarah, I knew who you meant! Actually, though, it was a bird that she was giving to Papa Doc's wife as a present...she taught it to swear at her in an attempt to drive her away.

She was a clever mare, I'll give her that. (And she looked just like Diahann Carroll, too, which sort of made me like her more.)

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aaron, you've truly found your calling. Although I've grown tired of reading Dear Abby et al I would read your column every day. You know about Snipe hunting? You must be a Hoosier at heart.
Topic change: My dad's cousin, Paul Waggoner was found dead in his apartment after he had been deceased for 3 weeks. You think maybe the neighbors begin to smell something? He lived in Chicago and ran Paul Waggoner art gallery. Since you are a Chicagoan I'm sure you knew him, right? He was considered a loner here and everytime he visited the family Matriarch and her kin would attack him with kind words such as "You're going to Hell!" I can't understand why he stopped coming around. I always thought he might be gay. If my family found that out they would indeed predict his burning in the pits of hell for eternity. Family, do I really have to love them? Ed

12:16 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Ed, I have heard of the Paul Waggoner art gallery (although I've never been in there--me + art gallery = BIG insurance risk)...I also heard about his passing, though I didn't know you were related!

To answer your question, no, you do NOT have to love them. In fact, you're allowed to despise them if it's appropriate. I know it's not always possible to keep your distance, but as long as you have "your own space" at the end of the day, you can work on flushing their messages out (I was lucky with my family--I get along great with them--but I've had some former acquaintances that were hard to get rid of).

12:46 PM  
Blogger American Girl said...

Mynah Bird. Kids. Whatever. They both have a 'd' in them. Anyone could make that mistake. D'oh plus double head slap. Sarah

12:52 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Not a problem, Sarah. It might have been another kind of bird, actually, which is my big "d'oh!" I just remembered reading that it was a bird and it made me laugh a LOT.

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After I commented here I went to and found the story. It was in the March 22nd paper. It sounds like you should have attended one of his galleries. They had a lot of hard drinking but it said people came for a show and stayed as a friend. It seems he didn't take any shit from anybody. He was a great cook and he new how to through a party. I only met him a few times. When my Grandfather poured the cement for a chicken house, "Ikey" as he was called by all of us, carved his name and date. Now it is my parents screened building used for storage in winter and a place for picnics in summer but the same cement floor is still there. I wish the religious fanatics in my family had left him alone. The story said he had a large following of dedicated fans but it left out the part where he was dead three weeks before anybody found out. He lived in a Rogers Park apartment. The story ends by saying there were no other immediate survivors but he has a lot of cousins and relatives here. Ed

2:23 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

After hearing the story about what your mom said, I'm not terribly surprised he didn't come home often! :-)

Sometimes, people who are really "social" go for stretches where they don't contact anyone--it's their way of "recharging," kind of. His friends probably thought that's what was happening when they didn't hear from him...

Rogers Park means that he was probably within only a several block radius of me (I live in RP, too).

4:03 PM  
Blogger Stephen Rader said...

With regards to the first question, I believe it was George Carlin who said, "'Fussy Eater" is a euphemism for "Big Pain in the Ass."

Your advice is spot on as always. And I love a man who can bring up LAVERNE & SHIRLEY's Rhonda in casual conversation!

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aaron, you totally need a regular gig doing this. I laughed so hard at this particular installment -- you truly let your inner bitch shine today.

And we love that.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh and would you look at that -- Stephen Rader is on top of me. Hee hee.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Stephen--I agree with George Carlin! it's OK to be a little picky (I realize people DO have food sensitivities and allergies), but in those cases, they should be responsible for choosing their own feedbags--don't leave it to hubby, then bitch about it! That's asking for trouble. And as always, thank you for the kind words.

Dirk--I'm happy to return the favor. I regularly crack up when I read your recaps and anecdotes. Sometimes embarrassing myself at work (which is no more than I deserve--I should be WORKING, shouldn't I? :-))

And your last comment has left me craving a sandwich. With myself included, somewhere...

3:13 AM  

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