Saturday, November 22, 2008

Since You Asked: Advice the Columnists Won't Dare Give (Nov. 22, 2008)

DEAR ELLIE: I'm a man, age 40, recently divorced and living with my girlfriend, who's 30, in school with limited income. I've been covering expenses for several months but recently discovered she's not been forthcoming and has more income than she's indicated.

She's also stayed in touch with previous lovers but lies about it because she knows I dislike it. How do I get her to come clean without her thinking I'm snooping?
I'm on the verge of bailing before going bankrupt, but this could destroy her career plans. I hope I can say no to paying for everything, but I find it hard to say no.



If she’s lying to you about her income, soaking you for money and talking to old lovers behind your back, and you still find it hard to say no to her, you’re too stupid to take any advice you get. I’m surprised you could pick the pen up to write this letter. Forget about getting her to “come clean.” I doubt she even remembers what that word means. Break it off. Now.

And I’ve got news for you: she already has a “career.” It’s the oldest one in the world.

DEAR MARGO: I have been married to my husband for 12 years. He is supportive and loving, totally devoted to me, and the best father I could imagine for our children. My sisters, however, keep telling me I am wasting my time with him and that I could "do better." Their main issue with my husband is that he isn't "successful." We'd both like to be more financially stable, but employment-wise he's had a rough road, and for many years I was the breadwinner. He is currently earning all the money in the family, and we are finally doing better financially, but this isn't good enough for my sisters. Neither of them is in a happy marriage, but they both have the luxury of plenty of money, even though they pace the halls of their large houses wondering where their husbands are sleeping at night. How can I get my sisters to see there's more to a man than what's in his wallet?



You can’t. To them, there is nothing more to a man than what's in his wallet. They've both measured their husbands exclusively by their bank accounts and they've been paid back accordingly, only to find that the view from the country club terrace isn't exciting anymore. Oops. And their husbands are unfaithful? Shocking.

So the next time they start ragging at you, say, “We’re doing well financially, AND I know where he is every night. Can you say the same?” Then ask them to send you a postcard sometime from that place where they’re “doing better.”

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I moved to the South and enrolled our son in a private Christian school. Many times when meeting other parents I am asked, "What service do you attend?" The truth is, my husband and I are not particularly religious, and we don't attend church.

How should I respond without feeling like a bad person or a bad parent?



"The valet service."

DEAR MARGO: I am 34 and have been dating a man, 42, for two years. We've both been married and divorced twice. He has a 7-year-old from his second marriage. When we first started seeing each other it was just for fun. Neither of us thought it would go anywhere. But now, two years later, I am in love and he says he has no intention of ever getting remarried -- even though he has "feelings" for me. He won't come out and say he loves me. His wife cheated on him, and he says he never wants anything more than what we have now.

From the beginning he said he wouldn't let my dog come over (she does now) or let me spend the night (I do all the time now, except when his son is there). We save money together for vacations, and when we attend marriages or funerals we always sign the tags as a couple. We also go to church together. I have done my best to be patient, but I have to think about my future. I want to be able to start a family and a future with the man I love. Some friends say two years is too long for him not to say "I love you."

As for me, I believe he shows it every day just by giving all that he has -- when he said from the beginning that he wasn't going to give at all. Should I stay in the relationship or just move on?



Listen to your heart. This guy sounds like a husband in everything but name. Don’t throw away a great gift because of the wrapping paper. Of course you have to think about your future, but there’s no reason that it can’t include him—you said yourself he’s doing many of the things he said he’d never do. Obviously, he's not in the same frame of mind that he was at the very beginning, so you've made lots of progress already. Give it more time—you might just get a ring yet.

And don't listen to your friends about this. Best friends are wonderful for advice unless it’s about marriage—they never want to see anyone happier than they are.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nostalgia Wednesday

I'm posting this a little early, because I had the extra time...which I won't have later!

Sometimes I think back on the things that shaped and influenced me as a youngster; that provided the firmament of my deeply-held beliefs; and reinforced my steadfast convictions. I thought about this little ditty recently, and how much I made brushing a part of my daily ritual (sometimes several times) as a result of it.

The Answer, My Friend, Is Blowin' In the Wind (But Thankfully, Not the Snow...)

UPDATE: I split the movie into two parts, and it's now up on YouTube. I've replaced the MySpace clip below with the embedded YouTube videos. Enjoy!

This past Saturday, I went to the Proposition 8 protest rally in downtown Chicago. It was pretty chilly, and you can hear the wind through the camera's microphone, but there were LOTS of bodies, so we stayed nice and warm, and at least there was no precipitation!

While I was there, I ran into Stephen and Eric and we enjoyed the signs and speeches. (Sorry, because of the wind and traffic, you couldn't really hear the speeches, but I know you'll enjoy the signs--I know we did!)

Part 1:

Part 2:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Since You Asked: Advice the Columnists Don't Dare Give-Nov. 14, 2008 Edition

DEAR MARGO: I'm 28 and have been dating a guy for six months. He is absolutely crazy about me and spoils me rotten. I love him, but the problem is that he isn't "tall, dark and handsome" -- that silly fantasy of every woman. I wish he were more attractive and find myself trying to balance his "vice" (not handsome enough) with his virtues. I also find myself looking at attractive guys and wishing I were with them. He has noticed and kids me gently about it. I'm trying to tell myself that it's better to be with a good man who treats you right than with a good-looking one who treats you like rubbish. Am I right, or am I just consoling myself?



Oh, Jesus. Do this guy a favor and break it off so he can find someone who deserves him. If your heart’s not in it, you’re wasting his time and yours. (In your case, I’d say that’s less of a loss, because I imagine you have very little to do with your time besides ogle men who don’t belong to you.) If you really “loved him” as you claimed to, you wouldn’t be living in this ridiculous media-fed fantasy world where every guy looks like Brad Pitt. (Hell, even Brad Pitt doesn’t look that much like Brad Pitt anymore.)

And while we’re at it, what exactly do you look like, Cinderella? Have you considered that maybe the guy you’re dating is more than good enough for you? Go to the mirror and count your noses and chins. Are you really all that? Even if you are now, do you think you’ll stay that way forever, without major cosmetic surgery that leaves you without facial expression, a lá Joan Rivers? These cogitations may keep you occupied until you come to your senses.

I have a news flash for you: not being “handsome enough” isn’t really considered a “vice.” Vanity, however, is. Think about it.

DEAR ELLIE: My three grown daughters all became vegans in their mid-teens. They're also animal-rights activists -- I think they're fanatics, refusing to celebrate Thanksgiving with us, with a "dead bird" (turkey) in our home, though I've prepared a "tofu turkey" for them.

My husband and I try to accommodate their diet and are sensitive to their activities, but they're rude and ugly, condemning everything we eat, and that we kill flies and earwigs in our home. One daughter has gone into debt having her aged, pet rats treated for acute illnesses.

They make time each week to feed feral cats, but cannot drop into their grandfather's nearby nursing home or visit other elderly relatives. They exhibit rising hostility to our family but it doesn't bother them. How do I remain civil, as I'm disliking them?



Why bother? I’ve met too many “animal rights” people who have nothing but disdain for their fellow human beings. I personally know some who are very nice people, but there’s a real misanthropic trend among the most fanatical of them. It sounds like these three are the biggest nuts in the loaf.

I sincerely doubt you’ll be able to find any middle ground with them, since you’ve already made efforts to accommodate, and they won’t acknowledge it. They have a right to their beliefs, but it sounds as if they don’t respect yours, nor your right to observe the holiday as you see fit. Write them off. It’s fortunate that they enjoy the company of flies and earwigs so much, as they shall soon have little else for company, once the pet rats die off.

DEAR ABBY: I read about your booklet "How to Write Letters for All Occasions" a few years ago, and I want to let you know how much it helped me recently in writing to my aunt.

You see, my aunt's beloved cat, "Mouser," passed away. Although I didn't know Mouser very well, I did know how much her cat meant to her.

Knowing how much she was hurting, I felt I had to say something -- but what? Then I remembered that your booklet had a section on how to write a condolence letter.

You said: "When writing a condolence letter ... if you come up with a specific memory that you have cherished, relate it. Believe it or not, a humorous incident will be appreciated."

So I sent my aunt a funny incident I remembered about Mouser. She wrote me back a month later thanking me for "moving her thoughts from a very sad place and making her smile." She said my story made her remember other antics she hadn't thought of in a long time.

I know I'm not the only person who has trouble putting feelings down on paper. Please mention your booklet again so your readers will know this invaluable resource is available.



What day is it again? Oh yes, Wednesday—that’s the day that Abby decides to take the easy way out and, rather than run a letter that might be relevant or important, instead runs a lame letter (that she probably wrote herself) extolling the virtues of one of her fritzy-shitzy pamphlets so that “other readers will know how invaluable it is,” and she can make a few bucks into the bargain.

But just in case you ARE a real person, I’m going to give you the benefit of my own experience, and you can save yourself $4.00 in wasted postage ordering that antiquated rag. Tell your aunt you’re sorry that her cat died, but that it wasn’t in vain—he was delicious!

Just kidding, of course—but honestly, what’s so tough about writing to your aunt that you had to order a pamphlet to do it? I mean, all you have to say is, “I’m sorry for your loss.” How hard is that? If it’s too hard to string the words together yourself, you can send a card. I hear you saying, “But cards are reserved for the death of family members, not pets.” Well, to many old people, pets ARE their family, since you ungrateful bastards never visit.

There. See? Didn’t cost you a dime, did it?

Bonus Ellie (since hers are the most in need of real advice):

DEAR ELLIE: I asked my best friend last spring to be my maid of honor. She wants to participate in a two-day bike ride to conquer cancer five days before my wedding. She'd be missing dinners and bridal party get-togethers while she's gone.
I'm terribly afraid that she'll come to my wedding exhausted and unable to help as she'd promised. She just lost someone to cancer, but there are tons of other fund-raisers she could go to.

Am I being unreasonable to ask that she not participate in this ride?



Yes. She’s doing something very important to her by participating in this bike ride, honoring somebody she’s lost. What life-and-death task will she be accomplishing glued to your side for those two days, besides reassuring you every five minutes that the dress doesn’t make you look fat? If you’re so desperate to hear it, have your mother stand in.

Get over yourself, Precious. This may come as a shock, but the world already has an axis to revolve around, and it ain’t you. But no matter what happens beforehand, rest assured that on Your Special Day, people will still come up and tell you how radiant you are, that they’ve never seen a prettier bride (whether or not it's true), and ask “Are you pregnant?” Believe me, your friend’s absence for those two days will be the least of your concerns.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Transition" Jitters

In the news, Brer Fox was asked to closely guard the chicken coop, and The Queen of East Nutsack, recently returned home, has urged the plunderers to beware being plundered. (Sucks to have to watch your back, don't it, Elly May? We know--we did it for eight years. Suck it up.)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Since You Asked--Advice the Columnists Wouldn't Dare Give! (Nov. 7, 2008 "America Chooses Correctly" Edition)

DEAR AMY: What do you think of a woman in her 40s who uses the word "whores" to describe 7th-grade girls? The girls in question are schoolmates of this woman's daughter and have limited to no experience with boys. One of them is my daughter.

The woman considers herself to be a good Christian, and she attends church regularly. I am just astounded by this behavior.

What do you think?



I think somebody ought to wash her mouth out with soap. I also think she needs to be reminded that it “takes one to know one” and ask her if there’s something she needs to get off her chest (besides 50 pounds of silicone).

Perhaps her minister should take her aside and tell her that it takes more than coming to church every Sunday and wearing a goofy hat to be a “good Christian.” But make sure he does so in the presence of at least a deacon—if they were alone, this bitch sounds like the type who would accuse him of coming on to her just to be spiteful.

DEAR MARGO: My husband and I have been married for three years. We are both military and in the same field. We have the same exact argument at least twice a month because he does not do his part at home. He is always "tired" from his long workday -- the same one I have. I am also experiencing a high-risk pregnancy and was told by my doctor, in front of my husband, that I should cut back on my daily routine so as not to risk losing this baby -- as I did our first one at 22 weeks.
It has been difficult because if I don't do everything it doesn't get done. This includes bills, housework, cooking, the dog, and I also go to school. All he does after work is play video games and sleep. I can't even get him to look after his own dog. I feel like I am raising him instead of being married to him, and it's wearing me down. After every argument he tells me, "I really am going to start helping out, babe." I even tried doing nothing to see if he would take the hint, but things just started to pile up and it got really gross.

I'm afraid that after the baby comes, if I still feel like I'm doing everything alone, I might as well be alone.



Frankly, I think you might as well be alone now. It’s not like you’re getting any companionship or help from the hubby, and he keeps trying to mollify you with empty promises of helping out.

I know it sucks being a single parent, especially with a new baby, but look at it this way: if you ditch Gomer, you at least won’t have the burden of looking after two kids.

DEAR ELLIE: I recently broke up with my girlfriend of five months because I felt we had few common interests and we're from different backgrounds culturally. Also, she grew up in the city and wants to live there close to her friends and family. I grew up in the country and would like to live there someday.

We're both early 30s. I felt that if we were to marry, I'd have to compromise too much just to be with her, which would create unhappiness and resentment for both.
I feel terrible about ending it and have thought about getting back together. She thought we could work things out. We both like each other a lot and I still have strong feelings for her. Would it be a mistake to get back together, or should I find someone else?



Are you shitting me? You broke up over that? Have you ever heard of suburbs?? This isn’t the Wild, Wild West—you can live close to a city without living in a city.

As young as you are (and not very bright, obviously), you should know that priorities and needs change as life goes on. What’s important to you right now might change in a few years, and compromise is something that both parties do in a relationship.

If she’s willing to try again, I’d advise you NOT to be an idiot this time and to try to work through it. Seriously. Find a little place near a train route. Moron.

DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law, "Madge," lives 1,400 miles away, and my husband and I rarely see her. Because of issues in the past, I do not care for her company -- and that's putting it mildly.

Yesterday, Madge called my husband and invited herself and my sister-in-law to Thanksgiving dinner with MY family! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I look forward to spending the time with my family, especially those I only get to see a few times a year. How can I tell Madge that they can't come without making them angry?



So what’s the problem? Stick them at one of those kiddie card tables in another room and turn the “Wizard of Oz” on, like my grandma used to do with us at Easter. That should keep them busy and you won’t even have to look at them.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Screw California (Oh, Wait--Your Governor's Already Doing That. My Bad.)

I don't hate California. It's a lovely state with lovely people. I do, however, have to wonder about a state that elected Arnold Schwartzenegger as its governor, thereby indicating that it values image over substance (unless they can abuse those substances).

And also about its sense of priorities. Yes, Proposition 8, the hateful divisive doctrine that targeted gay marriage, passed soundly in California on Tuesday, the same day we celebrated returning sanity (and just plain literacy) to the Free World's highest office. To me, the Obama election overshadows the bad news, because I still think the bigoted Proposition 8 supporters are holdovers from a hostile and paranoid right-wing regime that will slowly find its traces scrubbed away until nobody remembers the words "Dan Quayle," and the road will once again be cleared for introducing more inclusive legislation. But it's disheartening nonetheless.

My favorite anecdote in the story was the one about the Pattersons, a "Mormon couple of modest means" in Sacramento, who withdrew $50,000 of their savings and gave it to the Proposition 8 campaign. Pam Patterson, the wife (well, at least one of the wives) said, "It was a decision we made very prayerfully."

Well, obviously, Pam. Only through prayer could you come up with the idea of squandering a large chunk of your family's nest egg so that in ten years, you can tell your kids:

"You can't go to college honey, because we used the money to save you from seeing two men in tuxedoes on top of a cake. But you can always get a job with one of your fifteen fathers-in-law."

I'm sure they'll appreciate it while they shove tacoes and salsa packets into a paper bag and wait for the next car to pull up to the window.

Meanwhile, sanity will ultimately prevail. The world will look past self-destructively sacrificing Mormon fanatics to realize that whether or not we marry has no impact on their so-called "family values" at all.

Nobody expected it to happen overnight.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Barack Obama

Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

Thank you, God.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Since You Asked: Advice the Columnists Won't Give--Nov. 3, 2008 (Late) Edition

Yes, it's late...enjoy this installment of Since You Asked, but don't pig out--there'll be another one on Friday!


DEAR MARGO: My husband and I have been married for 12 years. Things were fine until 10 years ago, when he started to have erectile dysfunction problems. Then he had a heart attack in 2000. Since then our life has been more like roommates despite all of my talks, pleas and anger about trying to get him to do something. Now he tells me to either get a lover or learn to live without. His parts are working, after getting Viagra from his doctor, but now he won't try. I am very upset. I love my husband and want to grow old with him. We are both in our 50s and still have a lot of life ahead of us. I have no idea where else to turn or what to do next.



Well, if you really want to grow old with him, try backing off of constantly pressuring him for sex, or he might not LIVE to be old. Geez, I thought men were the ones who were oversexed. What caused that heart attack in 2000? Bet I can guess.

Viagra’s real groovy and everything, but it has been linked to circulatory problems if it’s overused, so I hope you’re not encouraging him to pop those things like M&Ms.

DEAR ELLIE: This year, I lost a good friend, my grandmother and my mother. And the love of my life left me. After 10 years married (I'm 32), I want a child, she doesn't. I filed for the big "D" as she requested. I've been in marriage counseling by myself, as she thought it was a waste of time and money.

You learn a lot about yourself and what kind of person you want to be. I'm a new man now, yet feel like an old shoe. Your advice?



Crack open a bottle of wine and celebrate. Any partner who ditches you during all this is no loss at all, and you’re well rid of her. Kudos to you for attending marriage counseling, which will give you better insight into the things you want in your next partner.

The reason you feel like an “old shoe” is because you feel discarded. Don’t worry—what goes around comes around. I have a feeling that ex-wifey will be entering a certain “leather purse” phase herself in a few years. Mmm-mmm-mmm, won’t she be a catch then?

DEAR ABBY: I work for a small, family-owned business. The owner has strong political views and insists on listening to a political talk show during the afternoon, with the volume turned up quite loud.

My boss assumes that his views are everyone else's and talks to customers as if his opinion is gospel. I have watched them roll their eyes and try to get away. I have worked here for three years, and I can't take it anymore. My co-workers say I can't say anything because he owns the business, and he can do whatever he wants. I have looked for another job, but this is a small town and jobs are scarce.

I think it's inappropriate to force one's political views on anyone, especially employees and customers. What's your take on this?



Yep, it’s pretty obnoxious, but I’ve noticed that people of the particular political stripe that I’m guessing he belongs to spend lots of time pontificating to others about their views. Mainly because they sense (rightly so) that those others don’t share the same views, which leads them to a sense of angry desperation that everyone should be “converted.” Thus is born the O’Reillys, the Limbaughs and the Hannitys—a bunch of angry, ugly white guys who’re all vying for the mantle of Howard Beale. You remember him? He was the old white newscaster in that movie "Network" who went around yelling "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" Yeah. All these hacks now think they identify with him now, because they're old and white, and they're always pissed off, even when government's been going their way for eight years (and they still can't get what they want?? Feeble).

However, since he owns the business, there’s nothing anyone can really do to make him stop. My guess is that it will probably slack off a bit after the election, since the official “pontification season” will be over then, for good or bad (depending on whom you support). If it doesn’t, and you can’t take it anymore, then you really need to look for another job, even if it’s outside your small town.

Which is probably a good idea anyway, since it’s unlikely this guy’s going to hang onto too many customers if they’re already rolling their eyes at him. Small-town business loyalty ain’t what it used to be—we have strip malls and cars now, and it’s impossible to resist the siren song of Wal-Mart and Target. He might be preaching to his four empty walls soon.

DEAR AMY: I am 20 years old and gay. I met a guy more than two years ago. We became friends and started hanging out. Within six months, we were living together—but not as a couple. I told him early on that I had feelings for him, and he shot me down. He made it clear that he was straight. After that, my feelings for him only grew. Now I really do believe that I am in love with him.

I've had crushes and obsessions before, but none of them compare to this.

He once sent me an e-mail saying that if he were gay, I would be his soul mate.

Recently, I told him that I was in love with him, and he told me that he isn't into guys, but then he started talking about us buying a house together, going on vacation to Hawaii together, getting a car together, etc.

In the time we've lived together, he hasn't had romantic relationships with females. My feelings for him are screwing up my life. I moved from a different state for him. I gave up my job, my school, the Marine Corps, my close friends and family for him.

I have never been this infatuated with any guy, nor have I received so many mixed signals in which to fuel my infatuation.

Should I cut off all ties to him and go back home or what?



It sounds like the Clue Train is pulling into the station, and you should definitely throw your bags on board and go home. This fuckwad sounds like he wants to string you along on hopes of some kind of future together, but doesn’t have enough decency to even define what that is—leaving you in a special kind of limbo, since he’s ruled out romantic partnership. Where exactly does that leave you? Tied up in a chaste, platonic relationship with all the responsibility of a partnership, but none of the reward? What the hell are you, a TeleTubby??

And yes, you should cut off all ties with him, if only because that’s all you can cut off without being prosecuted.

(Since you’re gay, however, I wouldn’t suggest going back to the Marines.)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

My First Solo Effort

Because of my hectic, end-of-week schedule, Since You Asked will return tomorrow morning, once I finish editing my answers and making them sound more like rational human being and less like Hungover Middle-Aged Guy Who Spent His Two Days Off Shopping For Halloween Costume Materials.

In the meantime, as this was my very first time carving a pumpkin by myself, I decided to ease into it--you know, accessorize and use artistry more than actual carving. After all, I'm no fucking sculptor, am I?

Turns out I'm not much of an artist, either. Nevertheless, there must be a first time for everything, and I heard testimony from friends who actually...erm...enjoy this pastime (as, indeed, I used to when I was a kid, and my father was holding the knife--something that wouldn't have been so comforting in hindsight, I suppose). So, as a product of my maiden Halloween carving voyage, I give you:

Tina Tuber 2008

Tina Tuber!

(Yeah. This is why I don't carve pumpkins.)

(And yeah, I know pumpkins aren't really tubers. So what? I'm taking license here!)