Friday, September 05, 2008

Since You Asked--September 5, 2008

DEAR ABBY: I was taught that a performance receives a standing ovation when it is truly spectacular. When you are especially moved or inspired, you show your appreciation by standing. Abby, every show I go to now receives a standing ovation. I don't always join in. I feel it should mean something, not just be expected at the end of every show.

I'm tired of getting the "evil eye" from people standing around me because I didn't feel an ovation was warranted. Don't get me wrong, I'm still generous with my applause and take into consideration all the aspects of the show. (For example, I wouldn't expect a play featuring 5-year-olds to be held to the same standard as a Broadway show.)

Am I wrong? Should I stand with everyone else, and am I confused about the meaning of standing ovations? Or should I remain seated?

--RELUCTANT IN MADISON, WIS.


SYA SAYS:

God, paranoid much?! Why should the people around you care whether or not you stand? They paid to see the show, not you. I think the “evil eye” is in your own mind, my friend. Chill out.

That said, I think different people are moved by different things…sometimes, people are in a frame of mind where they incredibly moved by whatever they see on stage, and don’t have to consult the Book of What Mommy Taught Me Was Truly Spectacular (For Dummies) to determine whether or not they should stand. They just go where it takes them. Feel free to do the same. Or not. And stop bothering me with stupid shit like this. There are people needing advice on important things—like breastfeeding in public.



DEAR AMY: I am a 45-year-old man, own my own business, sit on the boards of several charities, and enjoy sports and travel.

I am also gay, and I have been in a committed relationship for more than seven years.

All of my friends, associates and family know about my personal life, with one glaring exception: my mother.

She is a healthy, vibrant woman who will turn 78 next year. She is a widow, in great health and has plenty of money. We have traveled together, and I spend all my holidays with her, my sister and my sister's family.

I am being terribly unfair to my partner who is being excluded from my family. More important, I am not being honest with my mother. This is the only aspect of my life that is making me truly unhappy.

My sister said the time has come for me to sit down and tell our mother the facts of my life. But I am afraid of letting my mother down. I have rationalized this for years by saying that she would not understand because of her religious upbringing.

My mother is not living in a cave. She has had many interactions with other gay people (including some of my friends) with traces of disapproval.

I cannot imagine why she doesn't ask me to my face why I am not married at my age or have never had a relationship with a woman since college.

Do I sit her down and tell her the truth? Or do I let her go to her grave without my "coming out" and confirming any suspicions she may have?

––OUT, BUT NOT OUT


SYA SAYS:

It’s understandable that you don’t want to upset your mother—we’ve all hedged our bets when it comes to coming out to mom. But when you have a partner, you’re playing with TWO lives, and you don’t get to play the “coy and cagey” card anymore. It’s more than unfair to sweep him under the rug, especially if you’ve been in a “committed” relationship for the better part of a decade. He didn’t sign on for the secrecy, and I doubt he agreed to be kept hidden. How do you explain him? As a “roommate?” Get real.

Besides, I’ve got news for you: Mom knows already. She knows your friends are gay, and if you don’t have a girlfriend and have never been married at 45, I think the writing on the wall is in lipstick by now. Believe me, mothers always know—I can tell you this from experience. That’s probably why she doesn’t ask. But you should still have that talk with her, because you owe it to her. As for her “traces of disapproval” and her “religious upbringing,” that’s really her problem. You’re self-supporting and you don’t rely on her for your bread and butter, so she really doesn’t have anything to hold over you, does she? Inheritance? So what--you own your own business. Love and affection? Believe me, she needs it as much as you do.

Moreover, I disagree with your priorities as you list them in your letter: the fact that you’re not being honest with your mother is NOT more important than the fact that you are being unfair to your partner. If your mother’s feelings really come first on this issue, you ain’t ready to have a partner.

Frankly, I’m not sure why he puts up with being relegated to the “closet of shame” where your family is concerned. He’s a spouse, not a dog who has to be shut in the bedroom when visitors come over. You’d better pull your head out of your ass and ‘fess up to Mommie Dearest pronto. What is she going to do, ground you?!



DEAR ELLIE: We married three months ago and my wife began working at a steel mill; after only two weeks, she began receiving calls and text messages from guys at work. She had a lock on her phone, which neither of us had before.

She says they're "friends," but I don't think it's appropriate for male friends to call her at midnight or later. She also said she was too tired to drive and would sleep on the side of the road, though her job's 10 minutes away.

Once, when she said she was working, I went looking for her asleep, only to find her in the parking lot with a bunch of intoxicated guys. I asked her nicely to unlock her phone or stop talking to those guys after work. She refused both, saying she wasn't "my prisoner."
I'm worried she might end up cheating on me if I let this continue.

--WORRIED


SYA SAYS:

“Might END UP cheating on you?” What do you think’s been going on while she cooked up that cockamamie “sleeping on the side of the road” excuse?

Grow a pair and tell Norma Rae you’re going to start picking her up after work so she doesn’t hang out with those knuckle-draggers in the parking lot. With marriage comes new responsibility and she shouldn’t be acting like some teenage tramp outside the Piggly Wiggly. If she refuses to respect your marriage, you should set her free—after all, she’s not “your prisoner,” now is she?




DEAR MISS MANNERS: In the subway I ride to work, the cars are frequently very crowded. Occasionally, I will find myself in a position where the only pole that is available for me to hold onto is being entirely occupied by one person, who is leaning against it.

As I have always understood it, leaning against a pole, rather than grasping it, is a violation of subway etiquette, at least when the car is crowded.

In the past, I have usually just grasped the pole as I could, and hoped that the feeling of my knuckles digging into the person's back would cause him or her to turn around and hold onto the pole with a hand, freeing pole space and me from the necessity of touching a stranger. However, this method often doesn't work.

Is there a polite way to confront these violators? After all, it is another breach of subway etiquette to speak to strangers (unless there is an unusual event, of course). On the occasions when I have tried a gentle request not to lean, I have usually been met with hostility.

--PRINCESS PRISSY-PANTS


SYA SAYS:

The hostility you’re encountering is because nobody likes a goody-goody, Sunshine, and even if your admonishment is “gentle,” it’s still an admonishment. Most of us don’t believe our peers have any business telling us what to do unless they’re nuns or police, even if it’s justified. Crowded trains are difficult proving grounds for etiquette. From now on, try simply asking, “Excuse me, may I hang onto this pole?”

You’d be surprised at the range of positive responses you’ll receive to that one.

If they don’t respond, then feel free to grab the pole and tough shit if your fingers dig in. They had their chance.



DEAR MARGO: I'm in an unusual (or perhaps not) situation. Some years ago, my husband had an online affair that lasted for two years. He set up an e-mail account that I did not know about and used it only to contact her. He told me he never had feelings for this woman and viewed what he was doing as a "game" rather than infidelity. He ended the affair on his own when the woman called him at work. I found out about the affair several months ago, when he began using the e-mail account again for something else entirely and left the account open on the computer. All the e-mails and pictures from six years ago were still there, so I saw everything. I confronted him and we just finished seven months of counseling.

Things seem to be better, and we are continuing to work on our marriage. My question is, those around us who know our situation seem to feel that what happened was not really an affair because there was no physical contact. They tell me I'm "lucky" because that wasn't a "real" affair! Margo, my husband received naked pictures of this tramp, and they described how they would have sex with each other. Believe me, I don't feel "lucky" at all. I think the pain I feel is as difficult to bear as if he had actually met with this woman. This is a man whom I've trusted for 20 years. How do I deal with these people who imply that an Internet affair isn't a big deal and should be easier to forgive?

--DEVASTATED WIFE


SYA SAYS:

First, I’d send naked pictures to their husbands. When confronted, I’d explain to them that since there had been no physical contact, it wasn’t really an affair, so they should consider themselves “lucky” and cool their jets.

Then I’d ask them if they’d learned the very important lesson about minding their own goddamned business and not making flippant remarks about infidelity.

But that’s just me.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As usual Aaron, all of your answers were on the mark. I especially liked the one from our world. I know a couple like them. They have been together for seven years and spend all of their holidays apart. They consider it an intrusion if I suggest it just ain't right so I keep mum. I believe they would be happier if they came out to their families. They say it is no big deal but recently a relative came to stay for several days and the other partner had to go live in a hotel. You can't tell me that is nothing. I say what the Hell will the family do if they find out? They say they won't be welcome at Holiday time anymore. I say if the family can't take it then fuck um all! ed

3:02 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Exactly...usually, it's some ball-busting woman calling those shots, who everybody can't WAIT to get away from anyhow. Who wants to spend Christmas with Mother Burnside?

3:49 PM  
OpenID dirkmancuso said...

I finally got a working computer and was thrilled to be greeted with a SYA post when I clicked over here -- hooray!!!!

As always, you're spot on with the advice, Aaron.

Perhaps my friend "Kirk" should write to you about his mother...

11:21 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

"Kirk" is most welcome to apply for advice any time he likes. I can't guarantee that the advice will be the best in the world, but I will try not to misdirect him and will take all facts into consideration...

Hooray for your new computer!

7:49 PM  

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