Friday, February 27, 2009

Unwanted Advice-Feb. 27, 2009 Edition

DEAR ABBY: Because of a medical condition, my husband of 30 years can no longer drive a car -- so now he is driving ME nuts. Not only does he tell me how to drive ("You're too far to the right," or "Watch out for that car!" or " I'd go this way," etc.), but he feels it is his responsibility to remotely lock/unlock the car doors, remotely start the car -- anything having to do with the car but drive it. We end up "cancelling" each other out when I try to start the car or lock it.

Please tell me how to solve the dilemma about who should control the functions of the car.



So let him lock/unlock the car doors, for piss sakes—he’s not able to drive and this loss of independence is probably an injury to his dignity, so let him have at least that. (I don’t necessarily think it’s wise to start a car remotely, however—I think it presents too great a risk of theft, depending on how far away you are when you start it.)

The criticism, of course, is another matter. It gets to be too much after a while. I like the way my mother used to handle the family’s habitual back seat drivers. After she’d put up with as much as she could, she’d pull the car over and say, “Shut the fuck up or get out.”

Passive-aggressive, perhaps, but the same people seldom criticized her driving again.

DEAR AMY: My boyfriend of less than a year has decided to quit smoking, mostly because I hate it. He went on a prescription pill that cuts the craving. It's been a two weeks and it's working to cut his craving, but a side effect is that he is constantly angry at me.

When I try to cheer him up and tell him how proud I am of him, he seems to get mad at that!

This is hard. For one thing, it's a new relationship and I haven't seen him angry with me before. And although I don't like this new behavior, I still want him to quit smoking.

This also comes at a time when I am having some family issues, and I really want my boyfriend to be there for me emotionally, but he has been withdrawn.

I want to be sympathetic to what either this pill or the nicotine withdrawal is doing to him, but it's hard for me to be 100 percent supportive when I'm not feeling support from him, though we have both made it clear that we want to keep our relationship going. How should I handle this?



First, are you so sure it’s the pills that are making him crabby? Can I tell you how irritating it is when a partner nags you to quit smoking, then constantly chirps at you to be happy all the fucking time when you’ve given up something that you enjoyed doing (however unhealthy)? Basically, he’s just ceded some control to you which, in his eyes, opens the door for you to make other intrusive changes in his lifestyle. (And don’t try to kid him that you won’t do that—it comes with the territory, and therefore, so does the crankiness. Suck it up, girlfriend.)

Second, it sounds like you’ve made this relationship kinda all about you—he had to quit smoking because you hate it, he has to be there for you because you’re going through family issues. You, you, you. What about him? I’m sure he’s asking himself that (when he’s not biting his nails or chowing down from withdrawal). Grow up, Princess.

Maybe you should try to meet him halfway by doing something to improve yourself. How about toning those bulgy thighs?

(See? Not so nice, is it?)

DEAR MISS MANNERS: There’s this very good close friend of mine who will be due to have her baby soon. A couple of months ago, we discussed baby names. As I knew she’s having a girl, I asked if they had yet to pick a name for the baby. She told me her list of girl names she really liked.

So we went out for supper and I asked her if they finally decided on a name. She still had her little list, but one of the names had changed to the one I had shared with her.

I immediately confronted her about it, but she brushed me off by saying she had heard the name only a couple of weeks ago from someone else.
I was furious, and it ruined the rest of my night with my girlfriends. I couldn’t believe she would betray my trust. I want to know if I’m overreacting. And should I confront her with this?


Let’s recap: you talked about baby names with a pregnant friend and mentioned a name you really liked. Now you’re pissed off that she’s shown enough good taste to like it also?

Yes, you are overreacting, and you’re a bit of a dipshit, too. (I know you didn’t ask that question, but I’ll throw that one in as a freebie.)

What did you think was going to happen when you talked about baby names with a pregnant woman? Furthermore, who gave you a copyright on this particular name?
Granted, she sounds like a spineless liar, claiming to have heard the name somewhere else (unless it’s very common, in which case you shouldn’t assume she got it from you). But if she really has that kind of personality, rather than feel anger, you should feel pity—for the girl whom she’ll be raising. She’ll be doing everything the neighbor kids do that catches her mother's fancy, whether she wants to or not. (Hellooooo, violin lessons!)

DEAR MARGO: Around January 2008, my mother started hanging around with a 48-year-old man who has no job and lives with his parents. After a few months my dad couldn’t tolerate her late-night absences and moved in with his brother in a neighboring city. My younger siblings have suffered the most. My mom is still frequently gone after work until late and is never home on the weekends. I’m concerned for the mental health of my brother and sister, who only see my dad on the weekends because they live with my mother.

There hasn’t been an official custody hearing yet, and my dad has taken them on the weekends to spend time with them, something my mother has never volunteered to do since this started. There have only been two weekends when my dad was unable to take them, and my mom was still gone for the entire weekend both times. I don’t know what to do for my siblings. My sister has stopped eating nutritious foods altogether, and my mom is never around to make dinner or breakfast. Sugarcoated cereal and no parental supervision are driving my brother and sister into a reclusive state. Please help.



Back up for a second: your father got pissed at your mom for staying out late all the time, so he moved out on his kids?? Forget that “weekend” crap—you guys need a parent at all times, and there’s no reason that this should fall on you. You don’t say how old you are, but from what I can gather, you’re somewhere in your teens. You shouldn’t have to raise your younger brother and sister.

On a side note, there’s never any excuse for your father being “unable” to take his kids—absent a legal custody agreement, he’s your father and responsible for you at all times when the other Kramer flakes out. The court doesn’t care about his “wounded ego.” He needs to man up and be a parent, and shove all that sensitive Lord Byron shit somewhere else for now.

I don’t know what disease your mother has caught (I suspect she can look forward to a few more in her future), but if she’s too busy looking for her (long-)lost adolescence to be a parent, then maybe you should confide in an adult you trust, who can then call Daddy No-Nuts and get his ass back in that house where he belongs – not for your mom, but at least to be there for his children.

If it makes him feel better, he can change the locks. Good luck to The World’s Oldest Cheerleader explaining to the neighbors why she’s trying to shove her pom-poms in the window at 3:00 AM.

DEAR ELLIE: My spouse and I separated; he moved in with his brother. After six months, I discovered he'd been living with another woman from the day he left, not his brother. We chose to work on our relationship and he returned home.

Two years ago, a new child at my son's school said his grandparent knew me -- it was the other woman. She moved to the street behind us and brought her grandson to live with her. Every time I see her it upsets me. I've been in counseling. My husband says he wishes it wouldn't bother me, and if I can't get over it, maybe we shouldn't be together.

It's also upset my children when they realized who the woman was, because they'd also been lied to. I don't feel I should have this rubbed in my face. Am I wrong to be affected this way? My healing is regressed by the other woman's presence. I'm trying to trust my husband and our relationship, but she's not helping, nor is the way he's defending her choice to live so close to us.



You took him back only after you’d found out that he was living with another woman instead of his brother?! Boy, are you dumb! What, did that somehow increase his attractiveness, knowing that some other old desp wanted him?

And he’s got a lot of nerve, saying that “if you can’t get over it, you shouldn’t be together.” Someone ought to explain to him that he’s the asshole in this predicament. That means he doesn’t get to decide who should get over what, or when. It’s also no accident that The Skank moved so close to you guys, and if your husband is OK with this, that’s a big red flag. And exactly why does she have the grandson living with her? Your letter makes me think that he didn’t used to, until she moved near you, which in turn makes me think she’s using him to get close to your family. Yuck. And that’s the woman that your husband shacked up with? Doesn’t say much for his judgment.

Maybe you shouldn’t be together, but take a few days to think about it. This exercise might help: each night, sleep with a big-ass frying pan and smack the son of a bitch over the head every time you wake up. Accidentally-on-purpose like. That should provide some clarity and help your “healing” come along nicely.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

OK--Just One More Person Get Sick--PLEASE! Just One!

This number speaks for itself.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Unwanted Advice-Feb. 20, 2009 Edition

DEAR ELLIE: Well, Valentine's Day is approaching once again, and I find myself alone. Once again. I am a woman in my mid-30s, was briefly married many years ago and have had few relationships ever since. I feel as if I've tried absolutely everything to find a mate, and the results are, well, not great. Lots of dates, lots of duds.

I can't believe I have to suffer through another Valentine's Day with this feeling of loneliness deep in my heart. Any ideas?



Yes. Put a sock in it.

“Oh, *sigh*, I’m lonely…oh, *sigh*, I can’t find the right guy…” “Oh, *sigh*, none of them are good enough for me.” “Oh, *sigh*, this is nothing like those cheap paperbacks said it would be.”

You were married only “briefly,” and have had “few relationships?” Fancy that.

Stop emoting as if Valentine’s Day was a personal affront to you, and only you. It’s just another excuse for Hallmark to make money, and that's all. You don’t even enter the picture, unless you’re stupid enough to gobble up the mainstream cheese.

Do some volunteer work and stop self-obsessing. Maybe a few days scrubbing toilets in a homeless shelter will help adjust your attitude.

DEAR AMY: I started coloring my hair again after a four-year hiatus. I've begun having my hair highlighted in a salon, and I'm appalled at the number of people who make comments such as, "Did you dye your hair?" or "I believe we met last summer but your hair was a different color."

This may be the sensitive and old-fashioned Southern girl in me, but I was taught never to publicly mention cosmetic aids of any sort. Instead, I think if you want to make a comment, the only acceptable, unsolicited comment is a clearly positive one, such as "Your hair looks great" or "I love what you've done to your hair."

Just as I would never ask a small-breasted woman whether she is wearing a push-up bra, I feel put on the spot to have someone ask me about hair dye.

My mother turns an uncomfortable situation like this around on the transgressor by very casually replying, "Oh, why do you ask?" This forces people to either embarrass themselves with a nuts and bolts explanation of how your roots used to look gray—or else they will fall into step with the appropriate, "Oh because your hair looks great" compliment.

I have used this technique, but think it is manipulative and as off-putting as the hair dye questions.

Am I out of step with modern life?



I don’t know about “out of step,” but you sure are long-winded! You don’t like it when people ask about your dye job—got it! You can stop now—no, really—shut up!

And what’s wrong with your mother’s method? Who cares if it is manipulative? If people are being rude by asking, they deserve to be manipulated, and this is at least direct. Besides, people are used to tetchy, sensitive reactions these days, so they probably figure they’ll get one no matter what they ask. If they were to say, “I love what you’ve done to your hair,” they can no doubt picture your back going up and your replying, “And just what do you think I have done to my hair?!”

It’s a no-win situation. If you don’t want intrusive questions, just go grey and shut the hell up.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My spouse is an employee for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. As someone who works for the organization, he feels that he is morally bound to notify every smoker we meet that smoking is dangerous to one's health. It doesn't matter how well he knows the individuals, or the nature of the situation.

My perspective is that at this point in time, all smokers are well aware of the dangers of smoking and that pointing out such dangers to them is rude and annoying.

I have asked him to stop doing this when I am with him because of the reaction I have seen on the faces of those he has reminded. He says that if someone else brings it up first, he has every right to throw in his 2 cents on the matter.


Two cents is more than it’s worth to state the obvious. Smoking is a pretty awful habit, but so is talking on a cell phone while driving (and is your husband going to gallop alongside motorists on the street, exhorting them to hang up? My guess is not).

You are correct that all smokers are well aware of the dangers of their habit, and that if he really wants people to quit, the one thing he should not do is to launch into an obnoxious and repetitive diatribe. That only pisses people off and puts them in a rebellious mood, making them smoke more, preferably where the “preachers” can see (because I can tell you from experience, there’s nothing more satisfying than spiting the self-righteous—and don’t bother with that “you’re only hurting yourself” jazz—believe me, it stings them just as much to be disregarded, so it’s not “just ourselves”).

I suppose I shouldn’t be too hard on the healthniks, because deep down, I’m sure they mean well. But many insufferable people mean well, and that doesn’t make them any more sufferable, now, does it? Besides, there’s something perversely off-putting about people who have such a dogmatic world view that they insist everybody share it—ironically, the rest of the world sees “health utopians” as a step away from fascists, because they seek to limit or control other people’s every action. We’re already close enough to a nanny state. Let’s not put the diapers all the way on, huh?

Tell him to let people live their own lives, as long as they’re not blowing it in his face. And if he can’t save everyone, oh well, they would have died eventually, anyway. We all will, including him, whether or not he realizes it.

DEAR ABBY: I am at my wits' end with my 9-year-old son, "Zane." After his wrestling practice I tell him to take a shower. He either flat-out refuses or makes excuses to prolong not taking one and then refuses. A few times I have had to personally bathe him. Zane doesn't brush his teeth regularly and barely changes his underwear. I don't know what to do to get him to take care of his personal hygiene. Please give me some advice.



Personally bathe him, my ass. Tell him he’s got a choice: he can either take the damn shower or you can hose him down in the front yard in front of all the neighbors and scrub him with an SOS pad. And tell him he can either brush his own teeth like he’s supposed to, or you can wash his mouth out with soap.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Aaron's Unwanted Advice-Feb. 13, 2009 ("All This Pink and Red Gives Me the Hives") Edition

DEAR MARGO: My husband has a twin brother, "Mark," who lives in an apartment without heat or electricity. No, he’s not destitute; he’s actually a millionaire. He lives that way because his gas and electric were shut off last year when he went on an extended vacation and didn’t bother to forward his mail, including bills. Everything remains off because he "just doesn’t want to deal with" the gas and electric companies — they annoy him.

Now, all that would be fine with me (it is his life, after all) but for the fact that he keeps asking to come to our house to warm up, shower and sleep in a clean bed. I guess he "doesn’t want to deal with" basic housekeeping, either. His place is a mess — he never cleans up after himself. He also breaks things in our house, which he never takes responsibility for or offers to replace. And the guy has more money than I’ll probably ever see. The thing is: He is my husband’s twin, and he loves him and worries about him. I don’t ever want to come between my husband and "poor Mark," but I don’t want to be a victim of an unspeakably lazy nut-job who hasn’t found a "hobby" yet. What do you advise?



Normally, I would make a joke about coming between a husband and his twin and being the “meat in the sandwich,” but this slob sounds gross. There’s no such thing as “poor Mark,” because if he just can’t stand doing housework, he’s practically shitting nickels and can afford to hire a cleaning person. In the meantime, you need to assert your rights in your house (yes, it's your house too!) and explain to both hubby and “Mark” that if he’s going to stay with you (don’t start by banning him—at least right away—because that really will cause immediate problems), he needs to treat your property with respect. Start casually mentioning the irreplaceability of the things he’s broken—really punch up the “dead person” quotient (“My aunt Grace’s teapot, God rest her soul”). If he’s too obtuse to take the hint, hand him a bill for everything he breaks.

Don’t expect this message to sink in right away. He’s probably used to his status as Eccentric Millionaire and just takes for granted that he will not be held accountable for his damage—he takes it as his Divine Right, like Marie Antionette or something. Bear in mind how she ended up.

If your husband can’t grow a pair and help you enforce the rules, then he’s not much of a husband, is he? Tell him you hope he’s very happy living alone with “Mark” and that you hear there’s a big market for “twin porn” out there. Just sayin’.

DEAR ELLIE: I'm 40, male, divorcing from my wife of 14 years. Last May, I started dating a co-worker, 27; we both expressed love and discussed marriage and children. I introduced her to my two children as a friend. She claimed to love them and couldn't wait to take them out once my divorce is finalized. I felt reborn.

Eventually her parents learned we were dating and wanted her to stop because I was going through a divorce with children. They're Catholic like myself; one from Europe and the other from Mexico. She didn't want to leave me; we agreed to date secretly. However, the day after Thanksgiving she ended it.

She claims that her father threatened he'd disown her. But she once confided she'd used her parents to break up with a former boyfriend. What's the truth? She doesn't want any contact at all.



Oh, give it a rest with the “hurt” crap. What did you think was going to happen when you started dating a co-worker? I’m going to be generous and assume that you started dating this lady AFTER you started divorce proceedings. If not, then you deserve whatever the hell you get.

As to “truth” about the reasons for the breakup, there’s only one you need to concern yourself with, and that’s this: if a 27-year-old woman is still letting Mommy and Daddy run her life, you’re better off walking away. Can you imagine that in-law nightmare? They’d be standing over your bed during conception, tucking pillows under her ass to make sure the grandbaby would be the gender they wanted (Catholics of both ethnicities you mentioned are notoriously superstitious). They sound pushy as hell and would meddle in every aspect of your lives. Think “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

Feel better yet? I thought so.

DEAR AMY: I am one of seven children, all of whom are over the age of 40.

My older brother sexually molested me as a child over a long period. I really want to have nothing to do with this brother. I am polite when forced into a meeting with him (at family gatherings, etc.) but have no wish to have any relationship with him beyond that. When he calls, I don't answer the phone, and when he's in town, I make excuses not to see him.

Besides my feelings about the past, he is continually trying to borrow money from me, and I really don't have the desire or energy to deal with him. The rest of my family insists that I should just get over the past and learn to relate to him as an adult (although none of them is fond of him, either).

I always respond that I will think about it, and then I put it out of my mind until someone brings it up again.

My position is that I was the victim and I get to chose how to deal with this brother. My counselor agrees and has told me I am dealing with this appropriately. The rest of my family has no need to know I'm in counseling, but they sure are pushy in telling me how to deal with my brother. How do I get them off this subject?



It sounds like you’ve already “related to him as an adult,” before you were an adult, and against your will, no less. I agree with your counselor. I would go a step further and tell the rest of your family that you’ll “think about it” once he’s molested them. Until then, they can shut their faces. (Frankly, I can't believe that they would try to force a reconciliation after something like this--they don't sound like much of a family. Flush them.)

Don’t bother “making excuses” not to see him. Answer the phone to him once, and once only, explaining why you don't want to see him again, in no uncertain terms. If he persists in trying to contact you, notify the police—that’s harassment.
Some things just don’t get to be “bygones.” And again, the rest of your siblings should have no say in this, so put the smack down on them.

BONUS AMY (Aaron-style, in case you like your advice crude and profane, but without the dose of self-righteous arrogance):

DEAR AMY: I just found out that a sixth friend is pregnant and due around the date of my wedding! I've never known six people to be pregnant at the same time in my life, and this wonderful coincidence happens now! Please tell me how I can be happy for these people because right now I'm just furious.



Count backwards nine months from the date of this wedding on your Hello Kitty calendar. We’ll wait.

Finished? Now, circle that month—it’s popular for having sex!

Maybe next time you get married (because this won’t be the last one, if your personality is any indication), you should plan the wedding for the circled month, because it’s a lot easier to put on a bridesmaid’s dress (and listen to some spoiled bitch gassing about her wedding arrangements) if they're looking forward to some "bliss" of their own later on, than it is while they’re giving birth.

And if that doesn’t help, think of it this way: while you’re getting rice thrown at you (because nothing heavier was available), they’re going through intense labor pain. Some day it will be your turn (and I hope the baby has a watermelon-sized head).

DEAR MISS MANNERS: At a condo association meeting consisting of about 60 people, there was a head table with six people, facing about six rows of tables, about 5 feet away. In the front row were two ladies — not sitting next to each other — doing their needlework.

Is it proper to do needlework while at an event such as this? I noticed that the speakers were distracted (and so was I) by their movements. With them reading the directions and rearranging their work, we couldn’t help but turn their way to see what was going on. I say it is rude.


Proper or not, I say that you were lucky to get them there at all. Having attended more than my share of condo association meetings (even serving on the board at one point), I can say with complete authority that the meetings are deadly goddamned dull, and it’s like pulling teeth to get people there. 60 people? We were lucky to get 20!! People repeat themselves and ask insane, obtuse questions. I’d have killed to have a needle at the time, so I could shove it into my ear.

And frankly, if your speakers and attendees are so distracted by a couple of ladies doing needlework, then the subject matter must not be very compelling, must it? Try starting with a floor show next time.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Miserable?" I Don't Think So.

Chicago Miserable

No, I'm not miserable living in Chicago. Not any more miserable than I'd be living anywhere else. Every city has its problems and those that don't, soon will, as everyone flocks like lemmings to live there.

High taxes? You'll have 'em too, soon enough.

Crime? Been to any other big city lately? That's the nature of the urban environment. It ain't Mayberry, folks. That's life--we've accepted it, and so have the thousands of others who come to live here every year, just as I did 12 years ago (granted, my father was born here and my grandmother grew up in the south side, but I had no experience with this city until I moved here myself). Sure, there are things we'd like to change, but I'm sure that the folks who put together that "Forbes"-cited study would like to change things about where they live, too. It's the human condition, discontent. That hardly qualifies as "misery."

I'm not usually a big Neil Steinberg fan, but I liked this paragraph in his column today (to go with the kick-ass front page photo):

"What the Forbes study overlooks is that Chicago is not populated by Manhattan scribes nor Boulder mountain climbers, but Chicagoans. We are a hearty tribe, made of stronger stuff, and delight in challenges that only seem miserable to those who don't know any better. Calling our city miserable is like an agoraphobic calling baseball awful because it takes place outside. It says a lot more about the complainer than the thing being complained about. We love it here, and pity those whose appreciation of life is so constricted that they fail to see why."

For all its corruption, Chicago used to be a whole lot dirtier and more corrupt. And still people loved it. They loved it for the people it produced (Walter Payton, Dorothy Hamill, Mike Ditka, Jack Benny, Benny Goodman, Bill Murray, John Belushi, Patti Smith, Billy Corgan, Bo Diddley, Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan-this is just a very short list), and the heartiness of its inhabitants.

Maybe the difference is that, during those bad-and-dirty times, Chicago was a stand-alone city, signifying something that was unique to its geographic location. It's become a lot more cosmopolitan over the last few decades, so maybe the people who are really miserable are the folks who came from other regions to live here, and simply weren't expecting the physical and political climate that greeted them.

They'll learn. Just like the rest of us did. And they'll find reasons to make this city their own--things that they feel belong to them, that speak to them. There's a reason over 3 million people live here.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Drop It, Already!

USA Swimming has suspended Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps for three months over taking a bong hit during a house party in South Carolina in November.

There. He got punished. OK? All right? Happy? Now shut up. Zip it. Stifle it, Edith.

So he took a hit of doobie—so what? Small potatoes, in the bigger picture. Ty Cobb was the biggest racist asshole in our proud nation (until Archie Bunker), and people still lionize him. He has a salad named after him, for Christ’s sakes. And let’s not even get started on Jew-basher Charles Lindbergh. But some things get a free skate.

Throughout history, we've idealized our national icons, turning them into santized versions of who we want them to be, forgetting, or perhaps ignoring, that that's not who they really are. This is especially true of athletes, whose ability to inspire us is based solely on their physical prowess. What else goes on in their lives or minds? Well, we don't care and we don't want to know. We just want them to go win for us. Then, once we've used them up and they display their clay feet, we knock them off their pedestals and demand fresh blood from the next unlucky host. There’s just no pleasing us, is there?

Kellogg foods says that it will not renew its endorsement deal with Phelps when it expires at the end of February, citing that Michael’s actions are “not consistent with the image of Kellogg.” They do have a point: when we think of Kellogg’s, we should think of chemicals, food additives and mouse droppings, not some kid taking a hit of Mary Jane. What will the children think?

I think my favorite part of the story was his coach Bob Bowman’s quote that Phelps is “certainly not in very good shape.”

Yeah. I’d hate to be in that lousy a shape.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Aaron's Unwanted Advice-February 6, 2009 Edition

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A friend I see a few times a month insists on telling me that I look "tired" whenever she sees me.

It may be that I am tired on occasion, but even so, the comment irritates me. I'm in good health, and she has no reason to be concerned for my well-being. I realize this isn't a big deal in the scheme of things, but can you suggest a response for me the next time she tells me how tired I look?


“Maybe I’m just tired of you.”

DEAR MARGO: I had a seven-year affair with a former co-worker. It ended a year ago. Some weeks ago his wife discovered our extramarital activities via an anonymous letter (not sent by me). Our children go to school together, and his wife approached my 9-year-old daughter and shared her newfound revelations with her. As a result, I have taken her to court and filed a restraining order against her.

Here’s my dilemma: I want to make her fully aware of the depth of my involvement with her husband. He apparently has portrayed me as a stalker and told her the affair was a figment of my imagination. I have plenty of e-mail correspondence to prove otherwise. Basically, he is trying to save his marriage because without her he would be homeless. However, I am not sure whether I should pursue this matter or just let it go.



OK, well, boo on you for having an affair, first of all. Bad. Bad, bad, bad. But his wife sounds demented. I can understand telling you off, because you were kind of a skank. But to approach your daughter, who was an innocent in this? WAY out of line.

It’s good that you filed a restraining order, because that should be your official “last word” on the subject. I would have no further contact with this whack-ass about her husband’s initiation of the affair, because she’s not likely to believe you, and it will only make things worse. And if she chooses to believe his portrayal of you as the “stalker,” then she’s wilfully ignorant, and she'll look even more foolish when he strays again, won’t she? (And you KNOW he’ll do it again, unless she cuts his pecker off.)

However, if she violates the order by approaching your daughter again, you should approach her daughter at school and tell her that her father is lousy in the sack.

Do not be surprised when she tells you she already knows this.

DEAR ELLIE: I'm a mid-40s female with a problem mother-in-law; she has a weird habit of coming up behind me in my tiny galley kitchen and pinching my sides, patting my rear end or groping me in some other way.

My husband tells me to tell her to stop if it bothers me, but I'm not sure she consciously realizes what she's doing and how strange and inappropriate this is. I guess she thinks she's being affectionate, but frankly, I mostly feel molested.

I was molested as a child, and she knows that. Whenever she does this, I get really upset and have a panic attack. She knows I don't like it!

I've been sorely tempted to reach around and stab her with a kitchen knife. I feel sick and angry. She only visits a few times a year, but one of these times, I'm going to flip out.



Geez, what is this, crazy bitch day?! You don’t define what “groping you in some other way” is, but after the pinching and patting, I shudder to imagine where else she sticks her paws.

Your husband is making excuses, and feeble ones at that. There are many ways of “showing affection” besides patting your ass. (What happened to an arm around the shoulder or a kiss on the cheek?) If she knows you don’t like it and continues to do it anyway, then she’s certainly doing it consciously, and has accepted the consequences. So the next time it happens, pour a little boiling hot water on her crummy, roving mitts.

She’ll think twice before the next time she grabs your moneymaker.

DEAR ABBY: I disagree with your advice to "Short and Trendy in West Texas" (Nov. 17), whose husband thinks she went against him by cutting her long hair short. I, too, like my wife's hair long, and I see nothing wrong with urging her to keep it that way. Personally, I hate shaving and have suggested to my wife that I might like to grow a beard. She said, "No way," so I keep shaving.

If keeping her hair long is such a burden for "Short and Trendy," I would suggest a better alternative might be to explain to her husband how much time it takes to care for long hair (and three kids), and see if he would be willing to take on more chores so she will have time to care for longer tresses.



Normally, I disagree with Abby, too (“How many clichés can we cram in one column? Let’s find out!”), but this time she was right, telling the woman that it’s her hair and she can do what she wants with it. This isn’t feudal England, where women were considered chattel—they have individual rights here and self-determination. If hubby is so hung up on long hair, he can buy a wig and roll around naked on it. (You’re welcome for the visual.)

And what the hell is it with you people who have to ask your spouse before you do everything? Don’t you have minds of your own?! Must you check in with Mommy (or Daddy) all the time? If your wife wants short hair, it’s hers, and she can cut it if she wants. Likewise, if you wanna grow a beard, go for it. Who’s she to tell you “No way?” Does she hold the keys to your scrotum? Tell her that soon enough, she’ll have her own facial hair and you two will match. And won’t that be cute? Especially after she cuts her upper hair short.

DEAR AMY: Is it possible for a single woman and a married man to be "just friends?"

I work with a woman who has two young children and was recently widowed. Since then she has developed a friendship with another co-worker, a man who is older than she. He is married.

She says they are just friends, and I know they sometimes have lunch or coffee together, but they were also seen once outside of work together.

I am very uncomfortable with this information because I also know this man's wife, and I don't think she is aware of their relationship, which seems very close to cheating. This is really bothering me.

Should I express my disapproval to her or to him? Should I say something to his wife? Or should I stay out of it and hope that they really are just friends?



Glad you asked. Yes, it is possible for a single woman and married man (or vice versa) to be just friends. I’m betting that don’t have very many, so I’ll excuse the first question. As for your other questions, no you should not tell his wife, nor should you “express your disapproval.” Nobody asked for your input, so you have no standing to express any opinion whatever. You’re not “stuck in the middle” at all. The only thing that might be “stuck” is your nose—but that’s what you get for shoving it where it doesn’t belong.

You didn’t say what they were seen doing “once outside of work together,” but unless they choose to share, it’s really none of your damned beeswax. The fact you’re bothered by this indicates that you have a nasty mind and you need a more wholesome hobby.

Put away the binoculars, granny, and try some needlepoint.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Closing the Barn Door When the Horse Has Escaped

Springfield-area Republican state senator Larry Bomke wants to have William Ayers fired from his job at University of IL at Chicago.

Ayers, along with his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, were radicals with the 1960s subversive group The Weather Underground, which was responsible for plotting to bomb government buildings and also partly responsible for the riots surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Ayers and Dohrn lived underground during the 1970s, on the run from the government, before turning themselves in in 1980. They served their jail time (some would say it wasn't enough, but it was the time sentenced), and have since been workers toward legal reform for children and families within the court systems. Dohrn works for Northwestern University's Child and Family Justice Center (she attended University of Chicago Law School, graduating in 1965, but cannot practice law because of character-and-fitness issues related to her time with WU).

Now, here's the thing: both Ayers and Dohrn have lived their civilian lives since they "came aboveground." Ayers earned his Educational Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction in 1987, and began teaching at UIC soon after. Dohrn has worked for Northwestern nearly as long, at least.

Ayers and Dohrn have called the call for his dismissal "patently, obviously insane." (And if anybody should know "insane," it's Dohrn.)

But my question is this: why the hue-and-cry NOW? These people have been in the public eye for over 20 years, and nobody has had any complaints about their work (legally, anyway) thus far. In fact, both of them have been sought out internationally for their wisdom and experience on the topic of justice and kids. Why is this small-fry senator looking to get Ayers fired almost 30 years after the fact? Is it sour grapes over the Obama association (which wasn't even a close one)? Is he just trying to make a name for himself by causing a big ruckus?

Aren't there bigger threats to worry about right now? There are big, bad terrorists who are still trying get us. Maybe we should stop worrying about the Bogeymen of Yesterday.

Crazy Old Lady Alert! Crazy Old Lady Alert!

I'm really hoping that Etta James was speaking tongue-in-cheekly when she made these remarks. I don't care whom she voted for (obviously, they lost, whoever it was), but the threats are just way over the top.

I'm not a huge fan of Beyonce, either, and always liked Etta more, but what the hell makes her think she owns this song? She didn't write it, after all.

Hopefully, she was joking and this candy-rag took her out of context. It's not unheard of.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Still Think He's Cute?

This is the kind of shit that happens when we coddle our celebrities until they develop a sense of entitlement. Maybe they need to turn him out on his ass for a day, so he can be a "regular guy" again, making "regular guy" shitty money. He could fend for himself and have a little Rome Adventure of his very own.

I've never been a big fan of Bales, never was impressed with his "acting" (I think it's on a par with Tom Cruise, really), and I'd hate to be in his family. I just can't believe they didn't press charges. He probably would have thrown them out of their house if they had. What a prick.

(AUTHOR'S NOTE: Yeah, yeah, I know, it happened last summer. But do you really think he's changed since then? Here's a hint: not for the better! People with lousy tempers are like bananas--they ripen with age, and you don't want them around anymore.)

Monday, February 02, 2009

"Sorry, My Brain Was Late to the Party"

"It was all a big stunt."

Gee, ya think?

Although if it had been an honest relationship, it would have proven that love is, indeed, blind.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

I Liked the Brunette, Too...

Last night, I went to Circle Theatre in Forest Park to see friend and fellow Handbagger Brigitte Ditmars in Circle's production of the flapper era musical comedy "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." I'd been meaning to go see it forever (it's been running since before Christmas), but what with one thing and another, you know...I procrastinated! But it was closing weekend, so I knew it was now or never.

Brigitte played brunette Dorothy, the man-loving, libidinous, less class-conscious of the two (Jane Russell in the movie version), and Rachel Quinn played the titular, gold-digging blonde, Lorelei. Both ladies did a superb job and the choreography and use of stage space were remarkable. (Circle has a stage that's laterally narrow, but quite deep, and they make the most of every square foot!)

The seating is very close together, and the median age of the Forest Park resident, appears to be about 85. So there was lots of gingerly stepping around, and many of the chair seats near the front were reserved for specific parties of folks. It wasn't until the play actually started that I realized that the seat I was sitting in was reserved also, the fourth in a series of four. But the rest of the party had arrived by then, and the fourth member was an apparent cancellation, so fortunately nobody else was using it. So, to the fourth member of the Hagen party, whoever you are, thanks for not coming!

I enjoyed the show a lot and am hoping to get to see "Tommy" when they do it later this year, as well as "The Pajama Game."

Thanks Brigitte! Nicely done.