Friday, May 29, 2009

Who Asked for My Advice?? I Give Freely...

DEAR ABBY: My mother is a wonderful person but is one of the world's worst cooks. She'll see a recipe that looks tasty, but if she doesn't have all the ingredients, she will make substitutions. If the recipe calls for uncooked shrimp, she might replace it with canned tuna. If she doesn't have bleu cheese on hand, she will use imitation cheese spread instead.

I have tried to offer her a few important guidelines. First and foremost, be sure to have all the necessary ingredients on hand before beginning to prepare a new recipe. Understand the basic techniques -- dice, shred, simmer, stir-fry. Use the recommended cooking temperatures. If the recipe says "saute," do not fry it until it's like shoe leather. Follow the proper cooking time. Fish should not be baked for 90 minutes!

Mom may not appreciate the suggestion of cooking classes, and I know about your cookbooklets. I wonder if they are simple enough for Mom to follow. What do you think?



I think you should stop bitching and cook for yourself. (Hey, you asked.)

DEAR MARGO: I am a 40-year-old college-educated business owner, wife and mother of two young boys. My mother and father live a half-hour away. I used to call once a week. If I let more than a week go by, I would get a sour greeting from my mother, such as, "Oh, about time you called," and the conversation would go downhill from there. This would get me mad, as I did not call to be scolded.

As the years went by, my phone calls became less frequent. In 10 years (I’m not exaggerating), my mother has called me maybe five times. She just expects me to call her. Why would someone act that way?



Because she can. As that stupid beer commercial once said, “Why ask why?” Some people just expect Mohammed to come to the mountain, so to speak, no matter the circumstances. Also, your mother sounds like the kind of person who doesn’t want to put much work into a relationship, but just expects that it will always continue on someone else’s impetus.

Next time you call, and she blows you shit about waiting too long between calls, tell her you can wait a whole lot longer before the next one. Then hang up and show her.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have two questions which rarely arise these days, and my own efforts to find any guidance at all have proven fruitless. I adore gloves, and have several pairs of various types, colors, materials and lengths.

First, at what age are crocheted net gloves no longer appropriate? I have a lovely pair, but I suspect the time has come to pass them on to one of my nieces.

Second, when one wears full dress (such as a dinner dress or ball gown) with full-length sleeves (to or even beyond the wrist), what length gloves should be worn? Or is this one of the few occasions when no gloves are appropriate?


There’s a reason these questions rarely arise. And you are the reason.

DEAR ELLIE: I’m 14; my mother embarrasses me every evening when telemarketers call. She yells something nasty or hangs up when they’re still talking.



At first I wondered what planet you were on. Then I reminded myself that you’re 14—the age where everything’s about you. Otherwise, I couldn’t imagine why you’d be embarrassed by something that had nothing to do with you. It’s not like your mother says to them, “My 14-year-old is sitting here smiling and nodding while I curse at you. We live at 524 Meadowlark Lane.” How would they know you exist?

Having been a telemarketer myself years ago, I can tell you that your mother is not going to be the first or last person to abuse and hang up on them, and they’re not going to consider your household unique or special in its vulgarity. So don’t get your little panties bunched.

DEAR AMY: I am a woman in my 70s, although I'm told I don't look it.

I have a very negative reaction to being greeted as "young lady."

I feel it is patronizing and demeaning and makes me want to whack the person who says it.

I'm not the only one of my friends who feels this way.

I have asked a couple of people not to call me that, and they have replied that they thought it was flattering.

Not so!

What do you think?



Well, you must admit, “young lady” is certainly more polite than “pruny old battleaxe.”

However, I agree that people who greet other people as “young lady” and “young man” are beyond patronizing—they’re almost belittling. And there’s nothing more insulting than being huffed at that “they were only trying to flatter you”—as if, on top of being annoyed by the address, you’re now supposed to feel guilty about throwing their “gift” back in their faces.

Next time they say, “I thought it was flattering,” say, “When did sarcasm become flattering, pencil-dick?” Failing that, if you don’t like being compared to a young lady, you might want to change your name to Ethel—"Jenny" just isn’t an old lady name.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Serious Concerns"

Sen. Jeff Sessions, a conservative from Alabama, says he has "serious concerns" about the judicial philosophy of Sonia Sotomayor, the recently-announced Supreme Court nominee.

Really? Well, that's what we commonly refer to as "tough shit." The rest of us had "concerns" about John Roberts back in 2005, but President Bush and his band of jug-slurping conservative cronies shoved him in there anyway. After eight years of hijacking both sides of Congress, the conservatives are now complaining about the same treatment.

Sucks when the shoe's on the other foot, doesn't it, Jeff? Well, you'll just have to suck it up, because that's the Chief Executive's prerogative: to appoint members to the Supreme Court that suit his beliefs and philosophy. Just as the Bush and his father had a penchant for conservative minority yes-men, Obama has a penchant for people with humble roots who can rise from unlikely beginnings through sheer intelligence and hard work to achieve great things. Those are the people we're going to need during times of progress. (They'll help balance out dinosaurs like Scalia.)

She will have to be confirmed by you men and women of the Senate, but I foresee little difficulty there, as the Democrats kinda, sorta, CONTROL it now. (And didn't you just lose Arlen Specter a few weeks ago? Ouch, Jeff!)

Well, take heart: as one who has lived through unpalatable federal appointments several times, I can attest that you will, likewise, live through this.

And if you don't? So what?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bad Pennies

This weekend, The Joans played a private event for an international gay sports group, held at an elegant venue downtown.

The audience, who were almost exclusively gay men--rather inebriated ones--really enjoyed the show and loved the way Jennifer and David played off of them. (Jennifer understands that "little bitch" might be an insult in most circles, but when spoken to a gay man in public, it's equal to a blessing from the Gay Pope, if such a thing existed.) David got off a good one-liner about having something in common with the the players: "We both love balls."

I fucked up a few times, since I moved my mic stand too close and inhibited my range of motion, but nobody seemed to notice (did I mention that they were very inebriated?). Besides almost getting locked into the loading dock for almost a half hour, calling security to open the door three times, nearly missing sound check because of it, and getting our bags searched like criminals on the way out (because we had to use the Associate's Entrance, and they have better security than an airport), we had a good time.

It was what happened before the show that twisted my insides.

A few years ago, I wrote about a chance street meeting with my first ex-boyfriend, "Dagwood (not his real name, although it would fit). In a two-part blog entry at the time, I described the entirety of our relationship, which, although it essentially lasted no more than three months, loomed large in my life ever after (since our acquaintance continued for two more years, and also because the initial experience has made me afraid to ever try a relationship again, hence my bitter bachelorhood).

At the time, I never heard back from him, so I assumed that it was a one-off encounter and perhaps he'd moved away from the area again.

But fate is a cruel and dessicated bitch.

Sunday started off nicely. I had a nice big breakfast and started laying out my clothes, doing last-minute ironing as needed. I picked up my drums at Taylor's and headed down to Lincoln Park to pick up Jennifer. We got to the venue right around 6:00PM and called our event contact, who was going to send a security officer down to open the loading dock door. I put my hazard blinkers on and Jen and I got out of the car to stretch our legs and wait.

I heard my named called. "Oh," I thought to myself, "are Taylor and Steve here already?" I turned around. It was not either Taylor OR Steve.

It was Dagwood.

At first, after my asshole unpuckered itself, I felt a little confused. That lasted about half a second. Then I remembered that Dagwood had, in fact, worked at this place when we were together (although I'd thought he had left there at some point). So of course, it would make sense that he would be there. If he worked there. Sadly, I did not know this beforehand, so I could not take the precaution of disguising myself--say, by donning a fake moustache or perhaps disfiguring myself with acid.

His shift was over and he was waiting for a co-worker and they were going to dinner down the street. So there I was, a duck in a gallery. Right out in the open on a brisk early evening in downtown Chicago. Wearing a white undershirt that made it amply clear just how brisk it was.

The thing that bothered me the most was that this time, another person (Jennifer) would be subjected to him. My history with him had previously been something I kept as a sort of shameful secret, like nail fungus or a past as a Mouseketeer. I introduced the two (actually, I was kind of a daze--Jen may have had to introduce herself) and she and Dagwood chatted. As our encounter entered what must have been minute five, my mind flashed over the several chance encounters I'd had with Dagwood over the years since our breakup. And they all had one thing in common: subsequent digestive upset.

Finally, after he was done pumping us for details about our gig, regaling us with tales of his current activities, and trying to impress Jennifer by dropping names, and I had drawn blood from the palms of my hands from digging in my nails, his co-worker emerged from the building and, their shifts over, they walked down the street to the restaurant they'd selected. As they walked away, I had a sense of deja vu--I remembered a time I would have longed to be part of their group and feel his approval. (Was I ever that stupid? Apparently. Jesus.) This time, I watched him leave with an enormous sense of relief, rather like the one we feel when a Jehovah's Witness has stopped banging on the door and moved to the next house and we can safely emerge from behind the couch.

By this time, Jennifer knew who he was (we'd had a murmured conversation when he'd stepped away for a moment earlier) and after he was safely out of earshot, she turned to me and said:

"I hate that creep."

That's why I love Jennifer. It took her five minutes to figure out what it took me two years to learn.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The NERVE of Some People! (Unwanted Advice, May 22, 2009)

DEAR ABBY: It's traditional in my family to celebrate birthdays with other family members. This may seem trivial, but I have an issue with the cake. Ever since I was a child, my mom has made a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for my birthday. The problem is, I don't like chocolate!

I have told this to Mom since I was a kid, but my comments seem to have been forgotten by the time the next birthday rolls around. Now that I'm older, I'm wondering if it's better to be gracious about it and just let it go. I never eat any of it and haven't in more than a decade, but nobody seems to notice.

I find it somewhat annoying to be served a birthday cake I don't even like. I try to put in perspective that it's a gift and I should be gracious for receiving it -- but it gets old. Any suggestions?



Yeah—stop whining, you spoiled little bastard. "Trivial" doesn't begin to describe you. If you still have a living mother who’s willing to bake you a birthday cake every year, you just go ahead and eat it—I don’t care if it’s manure-flavored! Do you understand me??!! And you better smile while you’re doing it!

Lots of us would gladly give our testicles for one more second eating saltines with our mothers. You have it easy, fuckface.

DEAR ELLIE: I need a good shake, because I can see what I should do, but am incapable of doing it.

I’ve been married to a good man for several years. We have our issues, but care very much for each other. He’s been very willing to attend couples counseling, and take professional advice. But I’ve been in love with another man for a year. He’s a friend who moved far away six months ago, though we’re constantly in touch. I can’t seem to get over my feelings for him, though I know I should cut contact and concentrate on my marriage.

My husband and I tried a separation for several months, to get our heads clear, but it hasn’t helped me - I want to feel more than just obligated to him. And I want not to be in love with my friend, who knows about my feelings. He doesn’t discourage them, but he’s not inviting me to where he is either.
What should I do?



Try slapping yourself, since shaking didn’t seem to work. If you know what you need to do, then just do it and stop fluttering around like a divan-collapsing diva. If your husband is such a good man, he deserves at least the effort of fixing the relationship. And quit contacting this “friend”—by “not discouraging you, yet not inviting you,” he’s playing a coy little game stringing you along. That doesn’t sound like much of a friend to me, and you shouldn’t be dumb enough to fall for it.

If you and your husband find during the course of your counseling that your marriage can’t work, well then, he can at least be free to find someone else himself. (The drama isn’t all just about you, Erica Kane.)

DEAR MARGO: I have been divorced from my first husband, "Lionel," for 13 years. He was an abusive alcoholic who (thankfully) skipped the state eight years ago to avoid paying child support for our children, "Eloise," now 21, and "Laura," 18. At last count, Lionel owes more than $60,000 in back child support and only recently re-established contact with the girls. Laura is graduating high school this year and asked her father to attend the ceremony. He said he couldn’t because he didn’t want to drive 500 miles over Memorial Day weekend, but that he would attend her celebration party three weeks later.

My current husband is furious. He’s been a big part of the girls’ lives for 10 years, and together we’ve raised two healthy, well-adjusted young ladies. He absolutely doesn’t want Lionel at the party, and frankly, neither do I — he’s extremely rude, obnoxious and inappropriate even while sober. We didn’t have any objections to her father attending the ceremony, but he is not welcome in our home. I have told him he is not to attend the party, but he states he’s going to do what he wants. If he shows up, my husband would like to have him arrested, since he has several outstanding warrants in our state. That would only hurt Laura. I’d like to try to keep the peace and encourage Lionel to leave quickly, but my normally easygoing husband is being stubborn. We’re arguing about this lout every day, and I’m at a loss on how to handle this situation.



Conventional wisdom would be to grit your teeth and put up with this skidmark just for one night for your daughter’s sake.

Fuck that. I’m with the husband on this one. You need to cut out this putrid passivity—it’s your house, and you’ve made it amply clear that “Lionel” is not welcome. Furthermore, if he’s got arrest warrants out for him, that takes the pressure off of you, because it’s actually illegal for him to be there in a way, so you need make no excuses.

Don’t worry about disappointing your daughter—she’d be much more hurt if he showed up and embarrassed her, and I’m sure she realizes that. Tell him one more time he’s not to come to your house, and if he shows up, you will call The Fuzz to have him carted away. Let’s see if he’s so cocky then.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was asked to give a toast at a military dinner party but I do not like or respect the person I am supposed to toast. As the commander of the host group, I am expected to make the toast. I do not feel right about proposing a toast that I do not agree with, but at the same time I feel it would be rude to ask someone else to make the toast. I am at a loss for what I should do. I feel like I am being rude no matter what I do. Should I not make the toast, or should I make the toast and not drink to it, or should I simply ignore my personal feelings and make the toast and deal with it?


The last one. (Seriously, you’ve been in the military HOW long and you didn’t already know that?)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Peter Pan, Naughty Pictures, and Hot Tea: Unwanted Advice (5/18/09)

DEAR ELLIE: Our son, 30, has never finished any courses he started, works only part time and relies on a modest legacy from his grandmother. His current therapist has told him to distance from us completely, without anyone caring how hurt we feel.



It sounds like your son needs to seriously grow up and learn how to follow through. Did you ever encourage him to do that? My guess is not, and it might have turned him into the spoiled little daisy that he is. Most likely, that’s what his therapist is trying to fix, and by distancing from his parents, he’s learning to rely on himself (and the shrink, of course—gotta keep that dependent relationship goin’ so those checks keep floatin’ in!). It’s not forever, just until he learns to pull his shit together.

So quit feeling sorry for yourself and think in terms of your son’s future well-being. (If it makes you feel better, I have to agree that therapists often cause as much peripheral emotional damage as they can to the families of their patients during their “cures.” Maybe that’s their way of trying to drum up more business.)

DEAR MARGO: Is looking at naughty videos on the Internet cheating? I recently caught my boyfriend viewing videos of women on a well-known user-posted video site. These were not pornographic, just scantily clad females performing stripteases, etc. I was very hurt and upset, but he promised he will not do this again, and I believe him. I forgave him and we’re going on with our relationship, but I’m torn about the situation because I know that men are going to look at other women, even when they’re in a relationship, and that it can be "just looking."

The fact that he was actively searching for other women to view, however, bothers me still. Other than this incident, he’s never given me any reason to doubt that he loves me. (And we have an incredibly good sex life.)



No, looking at naughty videos on the Internet is not cheating. It’s cheating if he starts talking dirty in a chatroom with a buxom 20-year-old named Brandy (even then, the joke will be on him, because that will almost certainly turn out to be a 54-year-old man), but looking at pictures is just looking at pictures. If there’s no sex involved, you need to stop worrying about it.

One more thing: if you truly believe that he won’t do this again, I have some land I’d like to sell you.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper way to serve hot tea in a business meeting? Yes, I sometimes feel more like a waitress than an executive assistant, not that there is a thing in the world wrong with being a waitress. I just don’t feel qualified for that position.

Do I dunk the tea bag and dispose of it before I serve our guest(s)? Do I place the unopened tea bag on the saucer next to the cup of hot water for our guest(s) to open and dunk themselves? Do I place the opened tea bag in the cup of hot water and serve it to our guest, making sure I’ve provided a saucer upon which to dispose of the tea bag? I understand this may be a very unworthy question.


Pour the hot water in their lap and let them dunk their own bag. They’ll never ask you to serve it again.

DEAR AMY: My husband and I have known couples who have elected not to have children. It seems that these couples always replace the children in their lives with a very pleasant lifestyle that includes frequent vacations, nice clothes, fine cars, above-average homes, season tickets to sporting events, plays, concerts.

All to replace the emptiness of an empty nest. This all smacks of the '60s hippie culture through the '70s "me generation."



I’m glad you’re “not buying it,” because we’re “not selling it.” In fact, nobody gives a shit what you think—whether or not people choose to have children is absolutely none of your fucking business. (For your information, it’s not like we’re going to run out of kids anytime soon.)

I’ll tell you one more thing, Mother Goose: I’ll take the emptiness of my “empty nest” over the squalor and shitty diapers that fill yours any day.

Have fun, Mama Bird!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ever Wonder What Happens When Two Fools Collide?

Friday, May 08, 2009

You Can't Pick Your Relatives Or Your In-Laws: Unwanted Advice (5/8/09)

DEAR ABBY: Most of my extended family are pleasant and enjoy each other's company when we meet at family gatherings several times a year. But three of them (all from the same side of the family) are just plain rude. Every event becomes an uncomfortable exercise in bracing oneself for the verbal attacks that come from these critical, judgmental people.

We have tried talking about it, but hear the same refrains -- "I'm not changing," "Accept me as I am," and, "You have no choice but to put up with me because we are family!"

I am a younger member of this family who occasionally spends holidays with friends or traveling. When I do, I am severely chastised by these three relatives, who say I have "no right" to skip family gatherings. If they were nicer people, I would want to spend more time with them.

I want to do the right thing, but what do people who have the same ancestry "owe" each other when there is no connection of friendship or goodwill?



Absolutely nothing.

The world has changed and people no longer put up with each other "just because they’re family”—people have access to cars and inexpensive airfare now so they can go where they want. They don’t feel obligated to suffer through gatherings of dusty, fusty, musty useless interconnected DNA. These three trolls feel threatened by that (with good reason), so they make things worse for themselves by trying to shame their relatives into accepting them (because who can resist a dose of guilt when it’s doled out by a rotten personality?). Pitiful.

The fact that these people are defiantly and proudly unpleasant should be reason enough for the hosts to stop inviting them. I hope that when you’re older and can host some gatherings of your own, you will bear that in mind.

Furthermore, you’re obviously an adult (though a young one), so they have no business correcting your behavior. Tell them to shove it up their asses.

DEAR ELLIE: My husband's family is ruining our marriage. They call repeatedly if you don't pick up. They'll leave a message that there's an emergency just to get his attention. We have a baby, 3 months, and I allow them to visit at least once a week.
Recently my mother-in-law wanted to visit on my birthday; I said I'd call her in the morning, and she could drop by. She knew I had plans to spend the day with my mother. I left three messages, didn't get a reply, so went on with my day with my mother. She called repeatedly and also got her daughter to call.

I said she could come the next day to visit, as we were going to have dinner soon and celebrate as a family (me, my husband and our two kids). She said, "I'd rather come right now." She's completely self-centered.

My father-in-law has all his mail coming to our home and gave out our home number for business. My husband gets angry with them but eventually gives in and it all starts happening again. I don't want it to ruin my marriage, as I love my husband too much.



Your in-laws are insane. The fact is, however, they’re your husband’s parents, and he’s the one who needs to set them straight. He needs to tell them not to leave “cry-wolf” messages on your machine, or you’ll start ignoring all of them, even if there’s a real emergency.

Then, you visit the post office and have their mail rerouted back to them—there’s no reason their mail should be coming to your house unless they live in a refrigerator box. Ditto for their business calls to your phone. What kind of bullshit is that?!

You need to make clear to your husband that their behavior affects you too. If he wants to stay a family, he needs to do more than “get angry”—he needs to let his sac drop and tell his parents they need to back off. Maybe you should try just not answering the phone during certain hours of the day and telling them that they can only visit certain times. If they insist on showing up anyway, guess what—you’re not home to them. Make some popcorn and sit in the basement.

DEAR MARGO: My husband and I have been married for 10 years. Seven years ago I was blessed, after many miscarriages, to have a son. My husband has three adult children from a previous marriage. The problem is, he has completely destroyed his relationship with two of his children and is on the way to obliterating his relationship with our 7-year-old. My husband believes that total humiliation is the best way to deal with children. He gets in our son’s face and screams at him about how worthless and stupid he is. I want to step in, but that causes a whole bunch of other problems.

Because of his actions we have a grandchild we never get to see, which, of course, has the ex-wife gloating. I hate to see my son be humiliated on a daily basis, and trust me, nothing is ever good enough or done correctly. I don’t know what to do.



If you really don’t know what to do, then you’re probably way too stupid to read this. There is no mystery here as to “what to do”—you dump the son of a bitch and file for sole custody.

You’re pretty vague as to the “whole bunch of other problems” that occur when you step in (or want to, or try to, or wiffle-waffle-woo), but those problems be damned, you are responsible for the well-being of your child first and foremost. Your husband should be concerned with that, too, and if he’s not, then he should be restricted to supervised visits.

If he’s fucked up his relationship with two kids already and doesn’t see the problem, somebody should have snipped his deferens long ago.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Purchasing items at stores isn't a simple transaction anymore. Upon handing the sales clerk my money (be it cash, debit or credit card), I find I am being asked more and more often for my phone number, e-mail address, etc. Even if I have chosen to sign up for that particular store's rewards program or allowed to be put on their e-mail notification list, I am still asked for my personal information at the sales desk.

What happened with simply paying for my purchase and being on my merry way? How may I respond in a tactful way that I do not wish to broadcast that information and just want to pay for my purchase?


If you’re paying cash, you are under no obligation to give them the “verification” (i.e., personal) information that would be necessary in a debit or credit card purchase. And it’s really the only instance that they can’t claim a right to this information.

You can simply say “no thanks” to any rewards program/e-mail newsletter/supercalifragilisticexpialadocius sales event, etc. If they ask again, just smile bigger (even if your cheeks ache and you end up looking like that creepy chauffeur in “Burnt Offerings”), grab your purchases (once you’re done paying, of course) and say, “No thanks, we’re done now.”

DEAR AMY: I have been happily divorced for more than 20 years.

My former husband quit his job, his marriage and all responsibility for his children.

I was able, on my own, to put my kids through college with no child support. He didn't even visit the children for a number of years (he moved to another state), nor did he attend high school or college graduations.

Now that my ex is "retired," he has moved back to the area.

I have no respect for this man. I do not like him, but one of my married sons has welcomed him back with wide-open arms.

He and his wife say that my ex-husband should be included in family celebrations.

I do not wish to associate with my ex and do not feel that I should be guilt-tripped into hosting him at my home.

At my granddaughter's softball games, my ex will move from his seat to sit next to me. I do not like this.

My son's wife thinks that it is wonderful for the "family" to be all together again.

I have been cordial. If they want him in their lives, that's fine but I shouldn't have to deal with him.

I have tried to explain my feelings but they don't "get it."

What to do?



Stop smiling and don’t try to explain this to your kids anymore. If they don’t “get it” by now, they’re never going to. Just tell them once more that this guy is not welcome in your house, and that some day when a spouse fucks them over and abandons them, they’ll understand why you’re justified in your attitude. They have a right to include him at gatherings in their own homes, but you have a right to keep your distance from him. You should not be criticized for this, and if the Brady Bunch starts giving you a hard time, tell them to stuff a jockstrap in it.

And the next time the ex tries to park it next to you at the softball game, tell him to get his ass back to his own seat or you’ll give him a fast and free trip down the bleachers. Head first.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Toxic Friends and Granny-cicles-Unwanted Advice (5/1/09)

DEAR ELLIE: A few years ago my friend began to bug me by making fun of how I do things. Then she compared things we have, hinting her house is cleaner, more organized etc. I don't feel like I'm her friend anymore, so I started to avoid her. She's fine in small doses, but annoying for more than an hour. I dislike her other friends; she and they act over the top.

She caught on that I never go with her anywhere, and now she's sulking. We've had such a long history together that I don't know how to tell her. I've tried, but she batted it away with sentimental words and I lost my nerve. I pride myself on loyalty to my friends, but I'm done with her. What should I do?



Sulking on top of gloating? Wow, how can you tear yourself away from such a prize friend?

I don’t see what the problem is. Just say, “Gee Jane, I’d love to hang around with you more, but you’re a real bitch now. And so are your other friends. Been real. See ya!”

As far as the “sentimental words,” get over ‘em. They are a commonly-used tool with fall-away friends: they try to keep you on the leash with old feelings because they can’t be bothered to spend any real time nurturing new ones. Lose her.

DEAR ABBY: My grandmother died while I was out of the country on a two-week vacation. My dad left when I was in second grade, and she raised me along with my mother. We were very close. I always took care of her and made time to spend with her.

Although she had been in poor health for two years, Grandma was not in critical condition when I left. She passed away three days before I was to return, and my family held her funeral the day before I arrived.

I had expressed my wishes that they wait if at all possible. They did not, and I feel betrayed. We have always been close, and now I am so hurt and angry that I don't even want to see them. Can you offer any advice?



Yes. Pull the stick out of your ass, dearie. When you heard that your grandmother had passed away, you should have made arrangements to IMMEDIATELY return home—THAT day—not ride your vacation out to its conclusion. That’s what we call an “emergency,” and I’m sure you could have found a plane to take you back that day.

Did you really expect the family to keep her in the freezer until you got home??

This probably sounds harsh, and I know you’re grieving right now, but your family is grieving, too, and they don’t need the extra drama. Save it for CBS—I hear “Guiding Light” is going off the air soon, and they can use it to plug the gap. Anyway, you’re going to need each other to get through this. Don’t shit where you eat.

DEAR AMY: I am 81, and my wife is 74 years old. We have been married for 29 years. This is our second marriage.

We own a home, and I maintain the house inside and outside. My wife does not do any housework or even clean her own bathroom or office.

She cooks me three suppers per week.

We have separate bank accounts and file separate income taxes.

For the last three years my wife has been baby-sitting for her son Thursday to Saturday.

This group has gone on three vacations each of the last three years. I was not invited.

My wife does not telephone me when she is baby-sitting or on vacation.

This year they went on three skiing vacations, and I was not told where they were staying.

Simple math indicates I only see or have contact with my wife two-thirds of the year.

I would appreciate your comments.



You’ve been married for 29 years and you’re complaining now? (And with a poem, no less?)

My only comment is that you should be thankful she’s not around much, because she doesn’t sound like someone worth spending all that much time with.

Clearly, you’re just a meal ticket to her. I don’t know how you can change that at this late date. But you should definitely quit cleaning her bathroom. If she refuses to take turns cleaning, the least she deserves is to shave her legs in squalor.

DEAR MARGO: I am a man in my mid-50s, happily married, with two college-age daughters. Some months ago I was traveling in an area where a woman who was once a big part of my life lives. She sent me a "Dear John" letter many years ago saying she was getting married, invited me to the wedding, and said he was a lot like me. I was devastated, but got on with my life. After my trip I sent her an innocuous birthday card. About a month later I wrote a letter saying I had been in her area, thought of calling, but held back. I explained that I was hurt by what happened, still had feelings for her, and told her a little of my life. I have been overcome with thoughts and feelings about her. Well, a week later I got a stinging certified letter. "Do not contact me! I made my choice years ago, and I have not looked back. I am VERY happy and married to a man I love. Don’t call, contact, etc. I am VERY HAPPY with my life!!!"

I was devastated all over again. Was I wrong to contact her? Obviously, I will not do that again, but I am really into healing wounds and leaving things in a good place. Her hysterical reaction made me wonder if she is OK.



Really? It made me wonder what you saw in her to begin with. She dumped you many years ago and paid you the additional insult of telling you that Schmuck #2 (assuming you were even #1) was “a lot like you.” In other words, everything about you was OK except that you were, you know, you.

You probably freaked her out by telling her you still had feelings for her (bad move and incomprehensible, frankly), but sending such a vehement letter in response (certified, no less) is over the top. Don’t be devastated, be relieved--they don’t call them “lucky escapes” for nothing. It may have been “her choice,” but it was your good fortune. Whether or not she’s happy (or even VERY HAPPY), is not your problem—she made her bed and she can lie it.