Friday, March 13, 2009

Aaron's Unwanted Advice (3/13/09)

DEAR ABBY: A dear cousin let me know that she'll be coming to visit for two weeks. My problem is, she's allergic to everything and has asked me to purchase special foods for her and to board my cats for the duration of her stay.

The food and boarding fees are very expensive, and I don't earn that much. Also, my cats are my children. They won't be happy to be away from me, nor will I be happy to have them away. My cousin asked me to do these things after she informed me that she had already purchased her airline tickets. What should I do?

- BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE


THE UNWANTED ADVISOR SAYS:

Your “dear cousin” sounds like a pampered pain in the keister. She’s clearly expecting you to kiss hers, considering that she told you when she was coming, rather than asking if the dates worked for you. She was probably afraid you’d say no, and small wonder.

Tell her you can’t afford to have the cats boarded for two weeks, nor can you afford her fancy-schmantzy panty-waist allergy food. If she has a problem with that, give her a list of cheap hotels nearby or tell her she can reschedule her visit. Most airlines will give a credit for postponed trips.



DEAR ELLIE: I'm 20, living at home again with my parents and younger siblings because they're on welfare and disability and rely on my income and rent. I'm having a hard time accepting this. I can't talk about anything because my dad freaks into a rage. My mom goes along with him.

Several ailments ended his working career; my mom uses her arthritis as an excuse to not work. I dropped out of school and want to go back, but I have a really good-paying job. I'm too stressed now to take on a larger load. I'm ridiculed every day by my dad; he yells at me when I take the car out or when I need to see my horse.
He asks for my money like it's his, but when I'm short he goes into a rage. This has been going on for five years, after I dropped out. I'd had several breakdowns, so I left home, and was happy on my own.

But I get guilt-tripped into staying. They say I'd never make it, I'd have to sell my horse, the family would move into a shack. I do like the security of being here and don't want to give up my horse. How can I leave without causing a rift? And how can I make it on my own?


-TORN APART

THE UNWANTED ADVISOR SAYS:

You’re over the age of 18 now, and that means you’ve reached what we call “the age of majority.” This means you have your own individual legal rights! Ain’t that exciting? One of those rights is to choose where you live—you do not have to put up with a crazy, lazy father or a wet dishrag of a mother who abuse you or passively allow abuse.

Tell them if they don’t want to “move into a shack,” they’d better get their shit together. If you’re so important to the family’s well-being, then it behooves them to treat you better and cut the crap. If they refuse to change, tell them they can pool their disability and welfare checks together to buy Hamburger Helper.

And of course they say you’ll never make it—it’s in their own self-interest to keep you scared. Shake that shit off. You could find a friend who wants to share an apartment and enroll in school part-time. You need to do this for your own future. If you have to sell the horse, so be it—you can find it a good home somewhere. (Your family would probably eat it otherwise—this way, you know it will be cared for.)

And as far as causing a rift, I think that horsie has already jumped the starting gate. You’re conflicted and miserable. You have everything to gain by standing your ground and nothing will improve unless you do. (Be prepared for them to improve temporarily, then backslide—and be prepared to make good on your threat when that happens. You gotta let ‘em know you’re not fucking around.)




DEAR MARGO: I’ve been dating my boyfriend for eight months. Overall, things have been great. There are times we get into arguments and don’t agree, but things generally get resolved quickly. Except for one: About two months ago I answered his phone when his old girlfriend called while he was in the shower. I said he would call back and that was the end of it. My curiosity, though, got the best of me, and I went through his texts after the phone call. What I found was heartbreaking. He was basically having phone sex through text messages with his ex-girlfriend. The messages were very explicit.

I confronted him and told him that in order for us to continue our relationship he would have to stop all contact with this woman. He agreed and I forgave him. Today I found out from friends that he is still talking to her. I confronted him again. He said it was true, and that I had no right to tell him with whom he could and could not speak. He says I am controlling and worry too much that he will cheat on me. I think I have every right to tell him not to speak to this woman after what I saw on his phone. What do you think?

—TOO CONTROLLING?


THE UNWANTED ADVISOR SAYS:

I think you were right to tell him to stop speaking with this woman after you caught him “t-sexing” her (that’s my new name for "text sex"—others may use a different one—like “ewwwww!”), and if he promised to stop doing it, he should have kept his promise.

Since he hasn’t, and now is basically defying you like a surly teenager, I’d advise you to throw him, his cell phone and his jar of Vaseline out to the curb. If you’re feeling particularly generous, you can give him a roll of paper towels as a going-away present.



MORE MARGO (Just because, gosh-darnit, i love that gal!)


DEAR MARGO: For the past four years my daughter, "Miranda," has lived with her boyfriend, "Sam." My husband and I have tried to be supportive of this arrangement, but we disapprove of couples living together before marriage. When they mentioned they were considering marriage, we immediately offered to pay for the ceremony. Now the engagement is official and Miranda has started sending me her ideas for the wedding.

I hate her plans. She wants to get married in Las Vegas, as she and Sam vacation there frequently. Miranda says they have been saving reward points at their favorite casino so they can use the points to help pay for hotel rooms and meals. She also offered to pay for the rehearsal dinner and a day trip to the Grand Canyon so we can get to know our new in-laws. Her plans make some sense, as Sam’s parents and sister live in different states and it’s very easy to find direct flights to Las Vegas from almost anywhere. The ceremony itself would be held at an outdoor location outside the city.

I can tell Miranda is trying to make this as non-Vegas-like as possible, but I still disapprove of her ideas. I want her to get married in our church with all our family present. She only wants to invite parents, siblings and two very close friends to the Vegas ceremony. I think in our haste to see her married my husband and I made an offer we hadn’t thought through. I don’t want to pay for a destination wedding that will exclude most of our friends and family. Is it too late to back out of my offer to pay?

— TRADITIONAL MIDWEST MOM


THE UNWANTED ADVISOR SAYS:

Yes. You bawked and squawked about how you didn’t want your daughter to live in sin, until she probably caved in and said they'd think about marriage just to shut you up. And as soon as they announced they were considering marriage--without confirming a date or anything--you jumped in and offered to pay. That doesn’t scream “desperate” or anything. Oh, no.

Well, now it’s gonna cost you--tough shit, Mrs. Cleaver. Your chickens have come home to roost-just pray they don’t cost you $50 a plate.

Regardless of whether you offered to pay or not, it’s their wedding, and it will be on their terms. Press the issue, and they might just go back to sharing digs without rings. And what will your neighbors say then? (Because that’s what this is really all about, isn’t it: holding your head high and not hearing whispers while you’re cruising the aisles of the A&P?)

You brought this on yourself. Suck it up. And look at it this way: at least they’re offering to pay for some of the rooms and the rehearsal dinner. If I were in their shoes, I’d stick you with the whole damned thing just to teach you a lesson—and then hop a quick plane to Reno and get divorced the next day.



DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a 25-year-old living with my (usually wonderful) boyfriend of five years. He recently lost his job, and in the few days since hearing the news, he has been a little more needy. When I am home from my job, he is usually following me around the house and asking for my company, which he says comforts him.

I wish to politely remind him that while I am full of empathy for his grief and depression over losing a job (and thus losing a sense of meaning and a feeling of providing for me), I am not exactly a security blanket who is there to calm him at every moment. That I am, in fact, a partner who is dealing with issues of my own at work and does not need the added frustration of feeling that I am in charge of his every emotional need. That I am a girlfriend, not a mother.

How can I politely inform him of my feelings without seeming uncaring?


THE UNWANTED ADVISOR SAYS:

You don’t want to seem uncaring? Wow, that’s a relief! Also a surprise, given the language in the rest of your letter. You must be one of those tough Independent 20-Something Girls who Refuse to be Leaned on or Taken for a Ride. You want all the freedom of not being married, plus the cache that being “in a relationship” brings, without the messiness of dealing with your partner's crises.

You'll grow up eventually, but in the meantime, here’s a news flash for you: a partnership means that you share things, good as well as—take out your steno pad, Lois Lane—bad. That means that you might have to be a little extra sensitive to him for a while. Oh shudder, shudder.

The guy lost his job less than a week ago. Give him a break, and be grateful he even wants to spend time with you at all. Statistics show that most men become less interested in their relationships when they lose their jobs. You should thank your lucky stars your boyfriend hasn’t turned off completely. (Considering your personality, I can’t imagine why he hasn’t. In fact, once he finds a new job, don’t be surprised to find all of his stuff moved out one day when you come home from your high-powered Melanie-Griffith-Working-Girl gig.)



DEAR AMY: I read with interest and amazement the letter in your column from someone whose friend was hosting a "bidet party."

I added a bathroom to my house several years ago. I had a champagne and canapes party in this bathroom!

Afterward, we had dinner in the dining room. I do not find the bidet party "tasteless," but rather an event that the attendees will remember as something unusual and fun!

—HAPPY BATHER


THE UNWANTED ADVISOR SAYS:

Well, it certainly is unusual. And as long as you didn’t insist that your guests each—erm—“christen” the new bathroom in turn, it’s your house and your life and you can do what you want in it.

(But please tell me the dining room, where you ate afterwards, is at least more than one room away.)

4 Comments:

OpenID dirkmancuso said...

Smart.

Insightful.

Taking no shit.

You're like the gay Judge Judy of the advice set. You seriously need to look into starting a column of your own.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

My pen awaits! (I'd still keep my eyebrows better than Judge Judy's, though.) ;-)

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're not as Moody as that Judge Judy bitch either, LOL. Who pissed in her cornflakes and told her it was raining?
I almost wanted to move in with the family that makes the one child work but I hate sharing...damn, there is that! ed

12:50 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

"Who pissed in her cornflakes and told her it was raining?"

That would be her husband, Judge Jerry Sheindlin. Had his own show for awhile. Tried to be all Hardboiled and Tough like his ugly wife, but just ended up sounding remarkably like a whiny and emasculated Joe Pesci.

10:13 PM  

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