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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As usual you give really great answers. That last one is so funny. When a boy of 9 gets bathed by his mother and isn't so humiiiated that he bathes twice a day from then on something is wrong. Where does he wrestle? Don't they have showers? Perhaps he is shy around other guys but likes to be bathed by his mother. I think that is how Norman Bates started out wasn't it? ed

6:39 PM  
Blogger Stephen Rader said...

If somebody implied that I dyed my hair (if, indeed, I HAD hair), I would ask them how their impotence problem was coming along. Something. Anything that would embarrass the fuck out of this person who is obviously in need of manners, tact and a clue.

And as for the last question, you're spot on. One Karen Silkwood bathing incident and that boy will GLADLY hit the showers when he's told.

7:45 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Ed: Yes, I think this is just the type of unwholesome incident that created Mr. Bates (and, the implication was, a few extra incidents along the same lines which were never mentioned--thankfully).

Stephen: And I'll bet this lady had that sort of purply/red/magenta hair that NEVER comes care of nature. Which would make the inquirer rather thick, don't you think? And I like your answering question. I'd probably go the route of "How's that infection clearing up?" But same sentiment...

3:04 AM  

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