Friday, December 19, 2008

Unwanted Advice - December 19, 2008


What does one say to a friend who offers to sell one back one's wedding present? I gave her the gift some time before the wedding, which I was unable to attend. After the wedding, she approached me, said that she was unable to use my gift, and offered to sell it back to me. Suggestions for a civilized response would be appreciated.



Tell them you already paid for it once and don’t intend to pay for it again. If she really can’t find any use for it, tell her to donate it to a charity—surely somebody needs it. Too bad she can’t trade it for some social skills, because that’s what she’s really lacking.

DEAR ABBY: I'm not sure how to react to something a friend of mine recently told me. We have known "Lois" and her husband for more than 30 years. They no longer live in this city, but visit occasionally. When they do, we always invite them to stay in our home.

On their last visit, Lois was talking about her only child, "Deidre," whom I have always liked. Lois, out of the blue, began chuckling and then told me that Deidre does a good imitation of me. Lois sat there giggling for a few minutes, then said that Deidre sounded almost as much like me as I do. I made no comment.

Frankly, I was taken aback that someone would do an imitation of me. I got the impression that Deidre has been doing my "act" for a while, and I found it disturbing. My husband says it's a form of flattery, but I think it's demeaning. I also think impersonating someone for the amusement of others -- especially if the person is not around -- is rude. What do you think?



I think “Lois” is a bitch and she seems to have raised one, too. But that’s not what you wanted to know, was it?

Since she seems to get such a kick out of mimicry, tell her that your dog does a great impression of her, especially after it eats any table scraps containing garlic.

(Oh, and once this merry madcap leaves town, make up the spare bedroom for your husband. Tell him it’s a “form of flattery” that you value his good night’s sleep so much that you’ll let him spend it all by himself without disturbance from now on.)

My husband and I have built and begun using a second home. We have entertained some wonderful houseguests here.

Last weekend, a couple of longtime friends, "Shirley" and "Arnold," came to stay for three days. They were the most miserable three days I can remember, mostly because of Arnold.

He dominated all conversation, expected all his food to be served to him -- even though the dessert course was explicitly buffet-style -- made noises while eating and never once offered to prepare any food.

The final straw came during the last night of their stay. Arnold came into the living room in his pajamas, lay down on the couch and, when he saw what we were already watching on TV, said, "I prefer the History Channel." I was so dumbfounded I could only laugh.

Needless to say, we are not planning to invite Arnold and Shirley back (which creates some other problems). What, if anything, should I say to this couple? And are there any books or other resources on "how to be a good houseguest" that I can send him anonymously?



Be grateful—you only had him for three days. Imagine poor Shirley, who has to live with the bastard every day.

It would be a waste to send Arnold a book on guest etiquette, because he sounds like the type of person who is unashamedly selfish and piggy, and it would be lost on him. It also wouldn’t be very anonymous, since he’s unlikely to have any other friends, and so who would send him that kind of thing except you? Also, you’re likely to piss Shirley off, because no matter how big an asshole a guy is, there’s always a devoted mate who’s blind to his faults, or overprotective because of them.

The best advice I can give is that you just don’t invite them any more. To be a “good host,” you’re really expected to kiss your guests’ asses, and most of them were raised in barns these days, sadly, so they’re too ignorant to accept your hospitality in a civilized way.

Get dogs—they’re better company, and at least when they piss on the floor, it’s usually an accident.

DEAR MARGO: I have been dating a guy for two years, and when we met, everything was perfection. We have had ups and downs, of course, but I feel there's one thing that is always putting a strain on our life: My boyfriend is totally obsessed with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Everything he does revolves around them, from the clothes he wears each day (always a Penguins hat and/or shirt) to the car he drives (his license plate boasts the name of his favorite player) to his room, which is covered floor to ceiling with 8 by 10 pictures, jerseys in cases, pucks, sticks, game-used skates and hockey cards.

He needs to go to all the home games (42-plus over eight months), and he goes alone because he only has one ticket. His hockey mania takes a huge toll on our relationship because it involves a large chunk of time away from "us." We both work and go to school, so our time is limited, but the Penguin season in the mix makes it much worse. I end up feeling unimportant to him -- almost as if he has a second girlfriend and he's cheating on me with "her."

Please help me find a way to make him understand my feelings and to lessen the strain on our relationship.



And let me guess—you don’t even live in Pittsburgh! Unfortunately, once a guy has this disease, it’s rarely cured. I’ve heard of ardent fans who collect their favorite sports team memorabilia, but that whole license plate thing puts it over the top.

Frankly, he sounds dull and annoying. And consider this: any guy who’s so obsessed with a sports team that he has to wear its logo every day and has another man’s name on his license plate sounds a little suspect. Do you really want that sleeping next to you?

DEAR ELLIE: My wife loves me but isn't "in love"; she left last month. We're sharing custody of our kids. There's no other man.

Her adoptive parents divorced when she was 10. She never again saw that "father," and her "mother" died when she was 17. I was her only relative. I think she's having a mid-life crisis (she's 38), so I'm not dating, divorcing, nor pressuring her to come back yet.



Oh, brother, the old “I love you but I’m not in love with you” line. Sorry to sound stingy, but I can’t stand people who use childhood traumas to justify craven, gutless behavior in the now. What, her parents disappeared, so now she’s going to disappear from her family’s life?

What a gal. She’s probably mad as hell that you haven’t begged her to come back, too. Wouldn’t it be funny if you were all better-adjusted without having to worry about her emotional drama? Somebody needs to tell Joanna Kramer that taking care of her kids comes before “getting her head together and doing her thing” (insert feathered headband and fringe vest here) and that abandonment is not a smart way to treat her “only relatives.”

DEAR AMY: My eldest son entered high school this year, so now I wake up rather early to get him up and drive him to school.

Due to my schedule change, I have noticed my next door neighbor's routine. Every morning she irons her clothes in front of her window in the nude. I discovered this one morning when I was coming back into the house after taking out the trash. At first, I didn't believe what I saw.

There have been a couple of times I thought she saw me and darted out of the room. The next day the blinds would be closed. I have had this unfortunate experience four or five times now, and it happened again today. I am furious.

My husband says I should talk with her and act as if she must not be aware of her visibility. I don't believe she is unaware, and I am not sure I can do it nicely.

We both worry if it isn't handled well there could be backlash against us in the neighborhood as she tries to cover up her behavior. We have two teenage sons to worry about being exposed to this situation, not to mention the fact that some of the neighbors down the street must see this, as well. Until this situation is resolved, I feel I have to change my morning routine to try to avoid her. This is hard to do because my kitchen is alongside her window.

Please help me handle this situation with grace.



Frankly, I’m more worried about the fact that you drive your teenage son to school. Is he too precious to take the bus?! Cut the cord, lady.

As far as the neighbor, the fact that you never really noticed this until you started waking The Little Prince up for school suggests to me that it’s not really been an issue until now. It’s annoying, but if it chaps your ass so much, you could ask that she please close her blinds each time she’s going to iron au naturel. Beyond that, there’s not much you can do—it’s her house, and unless she comes in your kitchen and waves her tits in your face, it’s sorta not in your jurisdiction.

You mention that she’s also in the sightline of other neighbors. Maybe one of them could take it up with her. There’s no reason for you to be the spokesperson for the whole neighborhood (unless you feel the need to micromanage everyone the way you do your perfectly capable teenage sons). The fact that you say you might not be able to manage such a conversation with tact is another good reason to let someone else be the ambassador (God, it must be magic living with you).

If all else fails, try closing your own blinds.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh wonderful advice twice in the same week. I so enjoy your point of view. One letter reminded me of my Uncle Tom who writes a newsletter every other week to several of his relatives. When Tom and his wife came to visit my parents for a week he seemed to enjoy himself. When he returned home he put into his newsletter how he hated casseroles which my mother fixed one day, and how he hated Turkey which my mother fixed another day. When my Uncle Bill went to stay with Uncle Tom for a week Uncle Tom said both fish and guests stink after three days. Then he wondered why my parents never came to stay with him.
Enjoy the weekend Aaron. I know your weather isn't that great even though southern Indiana had a temperature of 57 degrees today. ed

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great stuff. Can only hope these people get your advice somehow. I was thinking the same thing about the mom driving her teenage son to school... poor guy probably doesn't even realize he's scarred for life. andyw

11:06 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

There's nothing more stupid than bashing one relative to another relative. Did he REALLY think it wouldn't get back to your parents? What an ultra-maroon! Although, it COULD have been his way of ensuring that your mother didn't fix those dishes during his next visit. It probably didn't occur to him that he wouldn't be invited again because of it!

You have a great Christmas, too, Ed! I have the Queen Mother of all flus and just spent 17 hours in bed...I'm venturing out into the world again, slowly, doing laundry, and have put off my remaining shopping until tomorrow. But I'll pull it off yet!

11:18 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Hey Andy! I'm sure once the original advice hags come after me for some copyright infringement, perhaps the advice-seekers might see my snotty answers. :-) I've noticed that the same folks write to different columnists. I've seen "Dear Abby" letters appear in "Dear Ellie" two weeks later. (The similarities are too many for it to be a coincidence.) If they need to ask more than once, that's DOUBLE stupid!

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Winning back the love of a guy who dumped you isn't easy. It's not enough to just want him back, you've actually got to make him want you as well. Getting his attention might be easier than you think, but it also may involve moves you never really considered. I have gone through the process and was were i got the chance to win my guy back and i would recommend his services to you all..........Malanie

5:36 AM  

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