Friday, January 30, 2009

Unwanted Advice - January 30, 2009 ("Ding Dong, the Pompadour's Gone") Edition

DEAR ELLIE: My partner of six years and I disagree on discipline. I have two kids, 13and 10; he has twins, 13, who live with their mother. He's too strict, I'm much more relaxed and not good on following up on "punishments."

We're both of Russian descent, and used to respect for adults. His father physically punished him till he was 16, and then it was military academy. He has high standards for everyone. He was hard on his daughters when they visited but now their mother is ill and the girls assumed more chores.

I've said, "Don't be so hard on my son." But he expects the kids to clean their rooms spotlessly. My son is not so consistent. My partner also expects them to shovel snow, but my son doesn't always do a perfect job.
Every time my partner gets angry, he wants to sell our house. Sometimes I want to stay with him; other times I want to get my own place and go on with my life.



There’s nothing wrong with being strict, but there is something wrong with someone who’s a constant “noodge” and who just can’t be satisfied. That’s what your stick-up-the-ass boyfriend sounds like. Sorry his dad was hard on him, but he should have learned from the experience that it’s not the best way to raise kids. Sadly, people whose parents didn’t show them much affection don’t learn how to show any to their own kids. I feel sorry for his daughters if something happens to their mother. (On a side note, what does being of Russian descent have to do with “respect for adults?” Are you saying somehow that some people have the ethnic right to be unlikable? I call bullshit on that one. Once you come through Ellis Island, drop that shit at the door.)

It sucks that you two own a house together, because that makes a breakup really complicated and messy (it’s probably just me, but there’s NOTHING else, at least from your letter, that would make me want to stay with such a person). And his constant threats to sell the house sound like a child’s ploy of holding his breath until he gets what he wants. Tell him to buy out your half at the original price, then he can try to sell it for today's market price. Good luck to him with that.

Your first responsibility is to your kids and you have to follow your parental instinct. You should follow through on punishments, if only to send the message that you mean what you say. But you should not be unreasonable, and if you’ve told him not to be so hard on them, and he refuses to change, it might be time to kick Krushchev to the curb.

DEAR AMY: I could not help but chuckle at the tale in your column of the grandmother who praises her other grandchildren while visiting the daughter-in-law's children.

Our grandma always did that. She had six daughters, and when she came back from visiting her other grandchildren, we always heard about how talented, attractive and brilliant our cousins were.

"Why can't you be more like them?" she would ask.

However, our mothers were close. They visited one another often, and we went along, amusing ourselves by relating the things Grandma said about the others.

It was one of the more enjoyable aspects of our childhood.

Now, we are all grandparents. I will never forget the day I called to tell my grandmother that I was a grandma.

"How does it feel to have your granddaughter be a grandmother?" I asked her.

"Don't you ever say that again!" was her reply.

Last summer we had a cousins' reunion. Many of us had not seen one another in over 50 years. We had a wonderful time, and most of our stories were about all the things that Grandma said so long ago.

We don't know why she did it, and it really does not matter. She visited with us and noticed us, in her own peculiar way.



Glad you got such a chuckle out of it, but it does matter, and it matters enormously. Parents/grandparents who compare kids unfavorably to other kids are setting them up for years of self-esteem issues, because there’s no way they’re going to be “more like their cousins.” That’s because they’re not, you know, their cousins. Every kid’s different, and while it’s OK to correct and discipline kids when it’s necessary, you’re pitting one kid against the other to compare them personally.

It's simply ducky for you and your cousins that you avoided that situation, but most kids are not that lucky and it builds family resentment. And most kids would rather not have granny visit with them at all or notice them in any way, peculiar or otherwise, if she’s gonna pull that shit.

Of course, many old people just want kids to do things in a way that meets with their rheumy approval, and they’ll use any method in their yellow, dog-eared book to achieve that end.

I wonder how much they’d like it if their grandkids said to them, “Why can’t you be more like Johnny’s grandma? She’s dead.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: We are a very noticeable family, as our children are black and my husband and I are white. As such, we draw an inordinate amount of attention.
While this was manageable when the girls were infants and couldn't really understand what was being said, now that they are getting older and are acquiring language, we are trying our best to learn how to field some of the questions that we get. While we are very happy with how we formed our family through adoption and are always happy to discuss our experience, preferably out of the girls' earshot, what leaves us stammering are questions such as "Where'd you get them?" "How much did they cost?" "Are they real siblings?" "Is their family dead?" "What'd they die of, AIDS?" "Couldn't you have your own children?"

I've tried asking with the slightest of remonstrance "Excuse me?" but, of course, that just led them to believe that I couldn't hear what was being asked, and the question was repeated even more loudly.

We want to equip our children with the tools to deal with these sorts of people, as they will be encountering them throughout their lives. And this is their story, their personal information being asked. I would never think to ask someone with a newborn, "So, how much was the hospital bill?" or "Do they all have the same father?" And, for the record, these are my own children.

On the other side of the coin are the generally very well-meaning people who say, "God bless you for saving those children," or, "They'll have such a better life now."

We merely wanted a family, we didn't adopt to "save" anyone, and I can't say that they will have a better life. Yes, there are things that we can provide that their family couldn't. But they also lost their family, their country, their language and their culture. Their life will be different, but I can't say that it will be better, and I don't ever want to dismiss what they have lost.

I also never, ever want them to feel indebted to us. They owe us nothing, or, at least, no more than any other child owes a parent, and I feel that these questions could easily make them feel like they should be grateful or thankful for being adopted.

What is the gracious way to handle these questions so that we can model for our children the appropriate responses?


You sound like you have a terrific attitude about parenting and are very patient and kind.

You’ll need to ditch those qualities temporarily while you deal with these rude and nosy bastards.

People such as the first group, who ask such shockingly offensive questions right up front, have thrown down the gauntlet and set the tone of the conversation to follow. So don’t worry about being rude when you respond by asking, "What the hell kind of a question is that," or my personal favorite, the more potent, “Were you born in a fucking cave?”

The well-meaning ones are also a little misguided, but not malicious. You can still have fun with them, though. Simply say, “Oh, we’re not saving them—we’re using them right away!”

DEAR MARGO: I’ll bet you’ve heard this before, but it’s a first for me. While putting away my husband’s laundry, I came across a packet of letters shoved into the back corner of his drawer. They were in a rubber band, without envelopes. These were definitely love letters — some with lipstick kiss prints at the bottom, but not signed with a name. Because of a few references, I know they are relatively recent. None of them, however, referred to my husband by name, merely as "Darling" or "Babycakes."

I decided against pretending I had not discovered them and handed the packet to my husband when he came home from work. He seemed quite nonplussed, then said they had nothing to do with him … that he was merely "keeping them for a friend." And I told him I was Marie of Rumania. I need to get to the bottom of this and would like your opinion as to whether I am jumping to conclusions.



First, let me ask: do you normally put away your husband’s laundry? If so, it’s reasonable for him to expect that you would find the letters in the back of that drawer, unless he keeps his underwear in the freezer. I’m guessing that he wrote those letters himself to make you jealous. Lipstick? “Babycakes?” Gag me with a spoon. This guy’s been listening to too many Connie Francis records.

You jumped to a conclusion, all right, but the wrong one. You should have asked him where he bought the lipstick and where you could get some.

(P.S. Are you Marie of Rumania?? Can you introduce me to the Ceaucescus? I’ve always wanted to have tea with dead historical figures, however despotic—minus the stench of decay, of course.)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Random Thoughts Thursday

Just read about this for the first time in Monday’s news, and have only one question: has April Fools come early?

Some things are just too disturbing to exist.

If these people can do it, then what the hell were we ever so worried about?

Jody Weis thinks it’s “unforgivable” that a 14-year-old boy walked into a Chicago Police station the other day on the South Side and impersonated an officer for five hours. Uh-oh, spooky spooky. And Mayor Daley said he's "furious" over the incident. Uh-oh, sp--oh, wait a minute. Daley's ALWAYS mad about something. He should be mad that the cameras can't erase his broken blood vessels. And if Jody Weis wants to hold a grudge, shouldn't he start with whoever did his plastic surgery didn’t leave enough slack around his eyes for him to blink?

Just a few mental flies buzzing around the garbage cans of my mind today...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama Reminds GOP Who Won--Stand By For FOX News Foot-Stamping

Obama promised to listen to GOP lawmakers' ideas for the economic stimulus package that's intended to "jerk the economy" out of a recession (which, frankly, will just need to run its course, sadly--there's no quick fix, although there might be ways to mitigate it, depending on what Americans are willing to do).

But he made it clear (see last paragraph) that he still won the election and that it's "his vision" that will guide the country.

I can just hear FOX News seizing up on that already. Bill O'Reilly's puckered, garden-gnome face will look even more sour than usual as he decries Obama's "arrogance." And is that an extra line of cocaine across Ann Coulter's make up mirror? (Or just her dessicated skin finally starting to flake off?)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Unwanted Advice - January 23, 2009 ("The World Is a New Place--It Just Smells Like the Old One") Edition

DEAR AMY: My grown son's girlfriend dresses in a very bizarre, clownish manner, layering mismatched, oversize rainbow-colored clothes over herself. Her attire is not just funky, but it is beyond the pale in terms of strangeness and embarrasses me in front of friends and family.

I understand that her manner of dress should not reflect on me, but sometimes she seems quite dirty, and I am tempted to say something to her about it.

Would it be my place to say something to this young woman, who seems to have captured my son's heart?

I believe I have made her feel welcome at family gatherings, but I feel the clothes are just too crazy for words!
Your thoughts on this, please.



Here’s an idea: worry about your own damn clothes. Do you pay for this girl’s wardrobe? Are you responsible for another grown woman’s hygiene? I believe the answer to both questions is “no.”

Mad props to you for making her feel so “welcome” at family gatherings, but that’s really the least you can do if your son really cares for this woman—and if he’s an adult, one can assume he’s able to make rational relationship choices that you should honor. If you’re so embarrassed by what she wears, then don’t dress that way yourself. Beyond that, it’s none of your freakin’ beeswax.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter and future son-in-law are being married this summer. They are both vegans, and are planning a vegan dinner for their reception. I thought it was a very cool way of showing what different types of vegan dishes could be planned, but I'm getting grief from my husband. He thinks it is "selfish" of them not to offer a meat dish. I couldn't disagree more.

I told him I think they are right, but that I'd write to you and ask your opinion. It will have no effect on their reception, but I'd like to quiet things down on the home front.



You are right, and so are they. Tell hubby to stuff a sock in it. Frankly, I think this sounds like a pretty cool idea, and while it’s normally good manners to offer an alternative for the carnivores, this is a wedding dinner, and since most people do tend to eat meat, it would probably be way too expensive to offer separate menus for that many folks.

And after all, it is supposed to be her special day, which is all about her, so she’s entitled to “showcase her beliefs” and introduce vegan dishes to her guests. (They’re surprisingly tasty.) And I don’t think it’s going to kill anybody to go for a few hours without meat.

If your husband is that bent out of shape, tell him he can stop at Burger King on the way home. He can even keep the paper crown.

DEAR ELLIE: My co-worker has two DUI charges and can't get to work. I offered to pick him up once, and when we arrived at work, he said, "I'll see you at 5 a.m. tomorrow." He took it as a long-term plan. He takes me away from family time, as I get up early to pick him up and come home late to drop him off.

At work he drives me nuts. He insults my family and makes me the butt of his jokes. He complains about the high price of gas he has to pay and drinks beer in my car against my will. I know I should stand up for myself, but he needs a ride.



So let’s recap: the guy’s had not one, but two DUIs, he drinks in your car when you’ve asked him not to, you have to get up earlier than usual to pick him up, and he insults you and your family at work.

What, exactly, do you need help with here? If you know you should stand up for yourself, then do it, and tell this loser to stick his thumb out somewhere else. And remind him that he hasn’t been paying for the “high price of gas,” you have. (And he should have been offering to share that expense all along—but you probably didn’t insist on that, either, did you, no-nuts?)

Tell him to buy a fucking bicycle. And warn him that if he keeps that shit up at work, you’re reporting it to HR and letting them deal with it—he may not need a ride anywhere soon.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Let’s say that you’re throwing an informal social gathering. You put together the guest list and invite around 20 people.

Somehow, by mistake, an additional person gets an invitation. The person is a casual acquaintance of yours. You neither like nor dislike him, it’s just “someone you know.” He has not made any unwarranted assumptions — he did get an invitation, and has contacted you back and said, “Sounds like fun, I’ll be there.”

What would you do? Would you (a) call him and civilly cancel the invitation; (b) drop hints that you didn’t really want him there (don’t return his phone calls, etc.) and hope he gets the idea; (c) put another chair by the pool and buy one extra person’s worth of food, drinks, etc.; or (d) some other option (if so, what)?

My friend who recently found herself in that situation, went for choice (b) and admitted this to me. (He did get the hint and didn’t attend.) I’ve been trying to explain to her why the correct answers are (c) and “treat him like any other guest— be friendly, thank him for coming, make him feel welcome, etc.” — and why it was rather generous of him to laugh the whole thing off and not even show a little mild annoyance.

But so far, I’ve been unable to convince her — maybe you can do better?


I doubt it, since you’ve already told this flake exactly what I would have told her, and if she didn’t listen to you, she’s sure as hell not going to listen to me.

I have to wonder why you’re friends with such a mean and stingy person. It’s not the “unwelcome guest’s” fault that she stupidly sent him an invitation when she didn’t want him there. It’s inexcusable to renege on the invitation and make him doubly uncomfortable by intimating that he’s not welcome when she’d already essentially told him he was. That makes her look both snotty and dim-witted.

Ironically, this guy most likely didn’t really want to attend, because they’re not particularly friendly, and was probably only accepting so as not to create hard feelings. He was no doubt relieved when he saw an “out” and eagerly jumped for it, which was why he wasn't at all annoyed.

This does not excuse your “friend’s” bitchiness, and I hope her party was a dud.

DEAR MARGO: When I was in college, I had a good friend, "Leslie," who flitted from one man to another, never breaking up with one until another was waiting in the wings. I knew this about her personality, but always hoped she'd find "the one."
Years ago, I went on a blind date with a guy named "Matt," and though we had a nice time, we didn't make a connection. Two weeks later Leslie came buzzing around about a new guy she just met but couldn't start dating until she'd broken up with "Steve."

She made short work of breaking up with Steve and then started dating the new guy. The guy was Matt! Fast-forward a month, and she tells me Matt proposed! She asked me to be her maid of honor for their wedding that would take place one month later. I asked what the rush was, and she said, "It just feels right." My gut told me this was wrong, so I told her I couldn't support her rushing into marriage, and asked her to wait a few months so they could get to know each other better.

As you might expect, she got angry, called me judgmental and said I was just jealous because it hadn't worked out between Matt and me. She was right about the first part, not the second. I called her many times to get her to talk to me again, but she refused.

Now, 12 years later, I run into a mutual friend who tells me Leslie and Matt are still happily married. I'd like to reach out to her and become friends again, with apologies for being so judgmental, but I fear she'd still be angry with me. Any thoughts on whether (and how) to offer the olive branch?



However her marriage has turned out, she sounds like a pretty dreadful person, although she’s apparently changed. Or might I assume “Matt” is financially secure, which is why he ended up being “the one?” No, that would be mean of me, wouldn’t it. Tough shit—I’m going to assume it anyway (it’s one thing to go from boyfriend to boyfriend, but to wait until she has Mr. Next lined up before she dumps Mr. Current? I smell a mercenary).

I’m not sure why you want to reach out to her again, but frankly I don’t give much for your chances. Granted, you and “Matt” didn’t have a serious relationship, but you were the last person to date him before she got her claws into hired the appraiser to go through his house began dating him. Therefore, as far as she’s concerned, she’s still married to The One That Got Away From You, so any overture from you would probably seem like a threat to her—and if her personality’s even remotely the same as in college, “Matt” has probably repented in plenty of leisure after his hasty marriage, and she might be feeling insecure about losing him, no matter what your “mutual friend” says.

Also, people like “Leslie” often turn out to be bitterly jealous later, realizing that, as once they did to others, so could be done to them, and the shoe could so easily fit on the other foot. It’s its own punishment, really.

On a side note, it’s heartwarming that you were so concerned about her that you “always hoped she’d find ‘the one.’” I wonder if you were as concerned with the feelings of the numerous others that she was shitting on as she dug for her pot of gold. On second thought, they all probably made very lucky escapes.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Unwanted Advisor - January 16, 2009 Edition

DEAR ELLIE: A mutual friend stayed with us for several months during a difficult time in his life. He was rude and obnoxious, and looked at pornographic sites on my computer. My boyfriend and I finally gave him a month's notice, and then had to practically drag him out. He left the room a disgusting mess, and with no thanks.
Now he's asking my boyfriend for favors and help with the move. My boyfriend agreed. I feel he's being a pushover and not standing up for us when someone's wronged us. He says it's none of my business and he'll do what he wants regardless of what I think.



It most definitely is your business, since you were sharing the house with your boyfriend when Pigpen parked his grubby gear there.

I’d tell your boyfriend that in order to keep peace in the boudoir (and you know what I mean), make it a condition of his helping his “friend” move that the “friend” clean up the mess he made in your house, or reimburse you the cost of having it done (if you haven’t already done it yourself).

And then you need to have a nice long sit-down with your boyfriend about his regard (or lack thereof) for your household rights. Tell him if he’d like to go and live with the slob in his new digs, that can be arranged.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I live in a town that bestows standing ovations as routinely as one draws breath. As a child, I was taught that one gets to one's feet when the performer is at the absolute top of his game and has moved one deeply.

Within two weeks, I attended a number of events where standing ovations occurred: choral music at an evening church service, an annual meeting in which certificates of appreciation were handed out, a concert performance by three tenors, a high school performance by students, and a bar association luncheon at which 1,000 lawyers leapt to their feet both at the appearance of the speaker (a Supreme Court Justice) at the podium and at the conclusion of his presentation.

All events were enjoyable and interesting. None qualified as "top of their game" and/or emotionally moving.

Am I hopelessly out of touch (always a possibility)? Just being a curmudgeon at my resistance to peer pressure? I do not wish to be unkind but find all this aggravating.



Oh, Jesus, are you still complaining about the standing ovation thing? Didn’t you write several months ago, all whine-assing around because you imagined people to be giving you dirty looks when you didn’t stand when they did? Here’s a hint: they still don’t care.

Yes, I, too, think people have gone a little too far in expressing their appreciation for performances by rewarding them all with the same amount of sugar, but if they get so spontaneously moved by what they see, good for them. There’s little enough joy in the world these days. It’s possible that it’s a ripple effect, caused by a small clutch of people noticing others standing to applaud, and thinking it would be rude not to. Then others. Then others, until nearly everyone is standing. But if they choose to, they can do what you do and resist peer pressure, simply remaining seated as they politely applaud.

I do think it’s odd that your entire town gets this carried away with standing ovations, but if it bothers you so much, move to another town. Although if that’s your biggest problem, I might start looking for property there myself (after you’ve moved away, of course). I could do with appreciative and joyful neighbors.

DEAR ABBY: Ever since I was a child, when my mother gave me a gift, as I opened it she would always say that she had bought a bigger, better or prettier gift for me -- but liked it so much she decided to keep it for herself.

Once she told me that she had purchased a jacket for me, but kept it even though she is several sizes smaller than I am. After wearing it a few times, she offered it to me because it was "too big for her."

My mother was the oldest of six children, and I am her only child. Why do you think she behaves as she does?



Maybe because she’s a bitch? I’m just guessing here.

Next time she tries to offer you a second-hand article of clothing because “it’s too big for her,” look her up and down and say, “That’s what you think.”

DEAR MARGO: I quit eating all meat (including fowl and seafood) about 20 years ago. People who become vegetarians do it for various reasons. We are not all animal-rights fanatics or health nuts. I have no problem with other people eating meat. (My husband eats meat.) The thing that annoys me is when people find out I'm a vegetarian, they become defensive and even hostile. My own mother can be that way. If I make a simple comment such as, "That looks like a meat-lover's delight," my mother thinks I am being sarcastic; then she starts defending the "other side." I can't help the way people react, but I am tired of the persecution just because of my dietary choices.

What is it with these people?



Get a grip, Gidget. Nobody CARES if you eat meat or not, but given the length of time since you’ve been “born again,” it’s my guess that you’ve trumpeted to all and sundry how great you feel, how your skin looks better, you feel younger—blah, blah, blah. Good for you. But not everybody is up to dancing in the meadow with you, so give it a rest. People’s lives suck sometimes, and they like a few pleasures in life—meat being one of them occasionally. The last thing they need are some McCartneys sucking even that joy out of their lives.

Since you’ve already clearly stated that you don’t eat meat, people know that you don’t like it or approve of it. So if you make a comment about a dish looking like a “meat-lover’s delight,” they take it as an all-encompassing criticism—they like meat, you’d don’t, therefore you disapprove of their dish, and by extension, of them. Crazy logic, I know, but these are the leaps our minds make sometimes.

From now on, don’t even mention that they’re eating meat—they already know how you feel. Just shut up and let them enjoy it. And can the persecution complex—that makes you doubly annoying.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Unwanted Advice - January 9, 2009 ("The Bitch Is Back") Edition

DEAR AMY: I've read letters in your column about what to do with "found money," and I thought your readers might enjoy this piece of family history.

At the height of the Depression, my mother (then a teenager) found a velvet evening bag on the street in New York.

When she opened it, there were two $100 bills inside—just the money, with no ID. She had never seen a $50 bill, much less a $100 bill! She took the purse home and with her mother (a widow with three children) took it to the parish priest, who went with them to the police station.

The police told my mother that the police would keep it for 30 days but after that it was the family's to keep. Well, 30 days passed, and the family decided this was Providence at work, so my mother used the money to enroll in secretarial school. When she graduated, it was World War II, and she got a job transcribing letters at the Office of Censorship, where she met my father.

Whenever I have lost something of value, I remember this story and think that my misfortune might be a blessing for someone else.



Yes, censorship is always a blessing. Thanks for the heartwarmer.

DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law is insisting that she have my 8-month-old daughter "Mallory's" ears pierced. I am refusing. I do not want Mallory to be uncomfortable during the procedure or afterward. I have enough to worry about without adding fears of infected earlobes or my little one choking on jewelry parts. Mallory is just a baby -- MY baby.

My mother-in-law says she will "slip off" and have Mallory's ears pierced and I won't be able to do anything about it. Furthermore, when I said I didn't feel it was necessary to explain why I was against the idea, my father-in-law stood up and told me to get out of his #@&! house. I took Mallory and left.

Two weeks later, they called my husband and asked to baby-sit. They have never apologized. I'm afraid they will pierce my baby's ears if she's left alone with them. What do I do?



First, tell your husband that the in-laws are under no circumstances to spend time alone with your baby. They sound dangerously off-kilter. Pierced ears on babies just scream “white trash,” and there’s something wrong with anybody who insists on it to the point of threatening and bullying. Have you thought of a restraining order? Consider it.

They have a lot of nerve calling your house at all after they threw you out of theirs, and asking your husband if they can babysit. This indicates that they consider you an obstacle to be skirted, rather than the child’s parent. Your husband needs to step in and remind their sorry asses that you are his wife, and an equal partner in raising the child, and demand that they apologize to you. Yesterday.

And if they refuse, pass word to Granny Gumbo that if she even thinks about having your daughter’s ears pierced, you will personally come to her lakeside shack with a staple gun and fasten her lips together. Good luck eating possum stew then.

DEAR ELLIE: My wife hates her job, is distracted with our young daughter, overwhelmed by household chores, and has withdrawn from me emotionally and physically. She didn't get a promotion she wanted, but she's lucky she didn't get laid off in a recent downsizing.
Also, she'd counted on our buying a bigger house next year, but we lost much of our savings in the market. It's a tough time for everyone, not just her, and I need my wife back!



If you want your wife back, here’s an idea, numb-nuts: try being a husband. She’s overwhelmed by household chores? Tie on an apron and pitch in, asshole. She’s distracted with your daughter? Offer to take the family out for a fun evening, douchebag. (And don’t use that stale “the-economy’s-bad” excuse—there are plenty of fun activities that don’t cost much.) She’s disappointed she didn’t get a promotion? Try giving her some encouragement, instead of Puritan sermons.

What is it about your wife that you “need back,” exactly? The sex? The free maid service? Marriage is about more than fetching your slippers and getting your rocks off, Jethro.

(Oh, and a little word of advice: nothing pisses disappointed people off more than reminders to be “grateful” for what little they have. They can hear that shit in church and on the news—they don’t need to have their supposed loved ones rub it in their face constantly. So quit telling her to “buck up.” She might just tell you to “fuck off.”)

DEAR MARGO: I am the father of a beautiful, sweet, 7-year-old biracial girl. I am an African-American, and her mother is second-generation Italian-American. We live in a predominately white neighborhood, and my daughter attends a predominately white school.

My daughter advised us that a classmate was instructed by her parents to not socialize with her. The little girl has made it known to the classroom that she will not sit or play with my daughter; she even got up and moved in the cafeteria one day because my daughter sat next to her. My daughter is colorblind and too young to know what racism is. How should I handle this matter in your opinion? And how should I deal with the parents?



Unfortunately, you’re now going to have to explain to her (gently) the ugly truth about racism. She should know that she’s a terrific kid, and the other girl’s behavior is nothing to do with her, but that some grownups still hang on to ridiculous prejudices and pass them down to their children.

Sadly, that other little girl will suffer the most, because many kids are more and more colorblind, like your daughter, and this girl’s classmates are likely to see how unreasonable her behavior is and avoid her because she’s an unpleasant little bitch.

As far as the parents, there’s very little you can do about idiots. It really is more their problem than anyone else’s, and that will become readily apparent once the rest of society spurns their daughter for being stupid. Unless she rejects her parents’ teachings (once she’s older and can make her own judgments), she will appear foolish and backwards in the eyes of the world.

Be thankful you’ll never have that problem.

DEAR ELLIE: I recently discovered, unintentionally, that my live-in boyfriend of four years has been talking online very inappropriately to a female friend ever since we'd started dating. She offered him sex regularly. They discussed moving in together before he moved in with me, how he didn't really love me, and how they were in love.

When confronted, he said it meant nothing, that these conversations were just ego strokes, that his friends knew about this woman and that he'd stop talking to her immediately. I'm trying to believe all this, and I want nothing more than to move on because I still love him despite this betrayal. However, every time he's chatting online, I get suspicious and worried. Every time he sees his friends, I wonder why they never said anything about it to me.

How should I move on?



By moving out. Even if he had no intention of dipping his wick in her paraffin, the conversations that he had with her were disrespectful of you and your relationship at the very least. And if you hadn’t “unintentionally” discovered this transgression, do you think he would have come clean on his own?

Not bloody likely.

As far as his friends, well, that’s why they’re his friends. If it comes down to it, they’re not going to squeal on him, because they were his friends before they were yours (assuming they even are now).

Go make your own friends, and tell him to stroke his own ego from now on. He can even leave the lights on if he wants to.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a sister that constantly sends birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, etc., early. By early, I mean, sometimes as much as two months in advance.

I find this rude and odd at the same time. When asking her why she does this, her answer is so that she does not forget, since she travels so often.
I personally am just as offended in this as I am in her being late or forgetting entirely. To me, it demonstrates her inconsiderate ways in not caring about the meaning behind an important event and or date. How would you propose dealing with this, and, is it “normal”?



No, it’s distinctly abnormal. It’s far more “normal” to sit around and bitch when you get presents, instead of being grateful for them and for the person who sends them. And since we live in a material world now, full of people who learned their manners at troughs and think only of their gratification, you’re in plenty of company.

Congratulations on your “normalcy.” Would you like a plaque? We promise to send it two months early.

DEAR MARGO: I work in a small cubicle office of a dozen people. One gentleman who works in the office conducts calls with his young children (two under the age of 4) every day from his desk. All other personal calls he takes to the conference room where he's able to close the door and not "include" the rest of us. So for five to 15 minutes every morning he subjects the entire office to these childish conversations. The calls are disruptive and distracting and drive us all batty. You can almost feel the collective eye roll when those conversations start -- but he is oblivious to our irritation.

What is the most polite way to curb this behavior? We really don't want to know what his 3-year-old had for breakfast or how the park was or if Mommy is having a good day. Any suggestions?



Something tells me that he’s not so “oblivious” to the effect his little pattycake matinees have on his co-workers. I’ve often found, through painful years of working in offices, that those with kids just can’t wait to rub other people’s noses in the fact that they have kids. Boy, they sure show the barren rest of us!

People are soooo proud of their children that it's inconceivable to them anybody else isn't, and every little thing they do deserves a medal in their parents’ eyes, no matter how insignificant it is in the larger scheme. Be thankful these kids aren’t potty training. (Are they?)

There’s not a whole lot that you can do, short of suggesting that he take the kiddie calls into the conference room, too, unless your office passes a policy about personal phone calls on office phones. Chances are, though, he’s likely to just make the same damn calls on a cell phone—which means he’ll only talk to Wooby and Pooby even louder, since the reception’s notoriously bad on those things.

I do have to wonder about the stability of a person who insists on having conversations with his children every day while he’s at work. Not to mention what this will mean to the kids’ future emotional functionality. They’re Federlines waiting to happen.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

"No One Saw It Coming"

Cheney Interview
Go ahead and smirk, motherfucker. You're just one nitroglycerine tablet away from playing a harp. (AP Photo by Ron Edwards.)

Lame Duck Vice President and expert marksman Dick Cheney says that nobody saw the current economic crisis coming.

Cheney says that President Bush owes no apologies to anybody (a statement that, in itself, earns a thunderbolt strike) because nobody could have predicted it would happen.

Really, Dick? Nobody? Not even you, the oldest person in the Administration? Not that we expect George W. Bush, the Alfred E. Newman of Presidents, who chose to paint a rosy face on the bleakest of current events, thereby excusing decisive action on his part (unless it benefited you and his many oil- and energy-baron cronies) to apologize--he's too arrogant and willfully dumb for that. But to say that nobody knew? Puuuuuuuhhh-leez.

In your many, many, many years on this earth (too many, actually), you've seen financial trends ebb and flow enough to realize that the fatcat real estate boom and phony sandcastle investments of the 1990s and early 2000s were bound to deflate sooner or later. And you're saying nobody could have predicted this?

Wow. One more reason for your neurologist to be worried.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Edith Prickley

Q: What happens when Edith Prickley is raped by a mountain lion?


(Thanks to Stephen from Are You There Blog? It's Me, Stephen.)

Friday, January 02, 2009

Aaron's Holiday Home Video

Here are a few clips of video I took from my various holiday gatherings, from the most frightening drive home ever, to our theatre company's holiday party the Sunday after Christmas, when I was back in Chicago. Enjoy!