Friday, August 27, 2010

Aaron's Rotten Advice: August 27, 2010 ("Shorter Day, Shorter Entry!") Edition

DEAR AMY: My husband and I have a teenage daughter. When we go on vacation, we always allow our daughter to bring a friend. The last two years we have taken beach vacations and stayed in a condominium.

When inviting our guest, we ask nothing from them other than that they bring enough money to cover one meal a day and pay for their own towel-rental fee. We cover everything else.

These last two vacations have been exhausting for me. Both times my daughter's guest did very little, if anything, to help out. The guests left their dishes lying around, wet towels on the floor and basically acted as if I was their maid. I kept saying, "This is my vacation too," but this fell on deaf ears.

Both of these girls are from financially comfortable families. My spouse and I work multiple jobs to allow our child all the extras, vacations included. What disappoints me is that neither of these girls formally thanked us. I didn't expect a gift, but feel that a handwritten thank-you card was in order.

Am I wrong?



For expecting a thank-you note from a couple of spoiled, rich bitches? No, not wrong. Just naïve. Their parents are probably too busy lying around the country club pool or jetting off to Europe to get their eyebrows threaded to teach them how to be productive members of society. I feel sorry for their future husbands.

On second thought, no I don’t. If they’re that stupid, they get what they deserve.

Next year, tell your daughter to make new friends.


DEAR AMY: Responding to the topic of people's attachments to stuffed animals, when I was 5 years old, I saw Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop and fell in love with them.
About 20 years ago, my wife bought me a Lamb Chop puppet. Lamb Chop travels with me, and has been known to talk to people. You love what you love.

You never outgrow your need for Lamb Chop.



You must clear out a room mighty fast. Well, it’s one way of getting your own seat on the train, anyway.

DEAR MARGO: I am currently engaged to a man I love everything about (well, most everything). However, his mother, who I refer to as "monster-in-law," tries to control everything. My fiance and I have a baby together, and his mother stepped in, even before the baby was born, to tell me what I had to do. For instance, she told me I was not to potty-train my child until she was 3 because she would not be ready until then. She is constantly trying to control everything, including the job my fiance has!

This is not OK with me. We have our own life with our own home, and I would like to live it that way. I’ve tried talking to her about invading our privacy, but forget that. She even resorted to calling our daughter a "mistake," saying she was born out of sin because we were not married. We were both hurt by this. My guy has tried to talk to her, but then she won’t talk to us for weeks. She brags about her other grandchildren but not our daughter because she is ashamed that we weren’t married. I want our daughter to know her grandparents, but she doesn’t need to feel less loved.




I think your fiancé needs to step in and tell Piper Laurie to step off. Stop being polite, just tell her that she’s overstepping her boundaries and you’ve had it. I wouldn’t worry about her “not talking to you for weeks.” Just enjoy the silence. And change the locks.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: As a young child, my daughter Lauren was best friends with another little girl, Heather, and my wife and I enjoyed her parents as well, so we all socialized often.

As the girls hit middle and high school, Lauren joined the cheerleader squad and began to spend most of her time with that crowd of kids. Heather was not part of that group, and the two girls grew apart, and as that happened, we also spent very little time with her parents.

At graduation we discovered that Heather had garnered almost every award the school had to offer and also received a scholarship to a very prestigious university to study something like bioengineering. Lauren was an average student, and she will be attending a local community college next year to prepare for a future four-year school.

Some weeks after graduation, we received a card from Heather’s parents. It said: “Congratulations to Lauren on her high school graduation, and to you as her parents. It seems just a minute ago that the girls were flying up from Brownie scouts and now here they are ready to really spread their wings and fly.”

I thought the card was fine, but my wife insists that this is a real insult to how we did our job as parents. She has been furious about it and has been on the phone with friends and family planning how she should respond. She’s also angry at me because I don’t agree with her; she says if I was a woman I’d see this for what it was. So I thought I’d ask you if this was bad or good manners.



Your wife thinks the note is rude, because she’s a bitch and she’s projecting. Yep, that’s right – a bee-yotch. As your daughter “grew out” of her relationship with Heather, whose idea was it for you to “grow out” of your relationship with her parents? It was your wife’s, wasn’t it? Thought so.

The note her parents sent was clearly a kind attempt to reach out and fondly remember old times. The fact that your wife is reading more into it suggests that she’s somehow insecure over your daughter’s academic performance. Tough titty. Perhaps if she’d encouraged her to read and study instead of going shopping with the other cheerleaders and sticking her finger down her throat, she wouldn’t have anything to be insecure about. (Er, not that you do anyway—not at all. Of course not. *clearing throat and looking around uncomfortably*)

But your wife needs to stop blabbering about this to all her friends and plotting revenge before she makes an even bigger ass of herself.

The fact that she is mad at you suggests that she’s also unstable. But at least she recognizes that you’re not a woman, so you can assume she’s not blind as well.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Aaron's Rotten Advice - August 20, 2010 Edition

DEAR AMY: I am getting married next year. I am agnostic, and my fiance is a Christian, but he's going through some issues with his faith. Neither of us wants a religious ceremony.

His dad and stepmom are extremely religious, and I respect their faith. I bow my head at prayer, and I am very open to what they have to say about their beliefs. I am also very honest with them about how I feel about religion, and they have been respectful of me as well.

Unfortunately, they are not as understanding toward my fiance. They sometimes say things to him that make him very uncomfortable.

They have been asking us who will be officiating at the wedding. His stepmom told me this is the only fear they have about the wedding.

My fiance and I want a very casual wedding, and we have asked one of our friends to get ordained (online) so he can perform the ceremony. He has agreed.

This friend has many visible tattoos and will most likely be wearing a kilt to the ceremony. We think my fiance's parents will be extremely upset, and we don't know how to tell them the news.

We want to give his dad the opportunity to say something at the wedding or give a speech at the reception.

Any advice on how to handle this delicate situation?



I take it his father and stepfordmother aren’t paying anything towards this wedding? Because if not, they really have no say in how it’s conducted. In this day and age, they should be grateful you’re getting married at all, and not just shacking up.

If you think your soon-to-be minister friend will come as a shock to your in-laws, you can break the news to them beforehand and tell them that if they choose, they can bring along their family clergyman to stand beside them and translate the service from Pearl Jam-ese to regulation Connecticut English.

Tell your mother-in-law that she’d better not kneel too low in front of the minister, however, if she doesn’t want an education.

DEAR ABBY: My father is having an affair -- another one. It is not the first time I have found evidence of it.

I was using his computer to work on my grandmother's memorial and an IM popped up from a woman telling him to meet her at a family event my mother was not supposed to attend. Her message to Dad was extremely sexual and very upsetting.

The "other woman" is an old high school friend of my parents' and a friend of the family. I have confronted my father in the past and even threatened to end my relationship with him if it didn't stop.

My heart breaks for Mama, but she loves Dad so much she will stand by him through anything.

This has affected my relationship with my boyfriend because I have extreme trust issues. I find myself hating my father more and more each day. Please help me before I lose my sanity.



You’ve already confronted your father about this once, and if that wasn’t enough to keep his pickle in its jar, then I doubt you can do much more. I have a feeling Mama knows more than you think she does—you can’t live with a person for that long and not smell the stench of geriatric floozy all over him when he comes back from “business trips.”

Chances are, she’s decided to look the other way and be grateful there’s another receptacle for his unwanted desires. I hope she at least gets some real jewelry out of it.

DEAR ELLIE: My husband just told me that he sometimes pretends to be mad at me, to get me to do things around the house. He tells me everyday that I'm messy and I don't do enough.

But we have a two-year-old and I'm not very good at picking up after us right away. I try but it doesn't always happen.

It's not like I don't clean, in fact I clean all the time. He does more because he doesn't look after our son as much. If he took more time with him then I'd do more around the house. Is this marriage worth saving? I'm thinking of moving out.



Cut the histrionics. Tell him this is the reality of full-time parenting: sometimes “not filthy” is as clean as it gets. Say that it’s clean enough for you – if he wants it absolutely spotless, he can lick the floor or hire a maid.

As far as his “pretending to mad,” tell him that since you’ve been faking your orgasms since your wedding night, you’re even now.

DEAR MARGO: I am a 26-year-old man with problems in social situations due to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It is manageable except for really bad days, and I am discussing my issues with a psychiatrist.

The condition was always present, but until I graduated college two years ago and started working, it was kept under control by contact with close friends. Now I live in a different state, and all my friends are far away, so I end up spending most of my free time alone. Meeting people is not easy. Dating has always been an issue, too. I’ve been celibate for five years. This past weekend, I visited my family, and the OCD was acting up.

I need people to be careful of how they speak to me: Be attentive. Don’t baby me. Be assertive when you have to be, but it’s OK if you disagree with me; just respect my experience. One problem is that I’m compelled to balance my lack of control over my environment with an internal resolution: I just walk away and sit by myself. This is more acceptable than bouts of anger.

Recently, I met a woman I am interested in, and I plan to ask her out. But again, as with my family, I know that there are rules she needs to follow in order to get along with me. It is a struggle changing my behavior for the comfort of others, and doing so adds to my anxiety.

I accept people for who they are, but the question on my mind is: Can they accept me? How do I let my family and any potential girlfriend know to take it easy on me without making them feel like they’re walking on eggshells?



Maybe by taking it easy yourself?

You say you "accept people for who they are," but your list of instructions for dealing with you sounds like a list of no-nos at the zoo: “Be attentive, don’t baby me, don’t feed me, don’t look me in the eye, and no flash photography!”

The world isn’t going to either baby you OR coddle you, so you needn’t worry about that. But neither is it going to step out of its way to make you comfortable – I hate to break it to you, but it’s got other things to worry about besides your ego.

I’m glad you’re seeing a shrink about this, but before you begin a relationship with this lady, it would behoove you to tell her about your OCD up front, and say that it can be a pain in the ass at times, but that you’re getting help. If she’s as nice a girl as you say she is, I’m sure she’ll understand (and if she’s dated any other men, the “pain in the ass” thing won’t be anything new to her). Good luck.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I live in a small town with acrimonious politics and try to stay out of things, for the most part succeeding.

When I go to vote, however, and am waiting in line, a local woman working as an election judge, with whom I am slightly acquainted, begins skillfully peppering me with personal questions.

Would you suggest a statement that I may use to politely stand my ground and decline the questioning?



Have you tried “None of your damned business”? Usually works for me.

Bonus Friday

Today, you're getting a bonus post. Well, not much of a bonus, since I only post once a week these days, but when I do, it's gold, damn it. GOLD, I tell you! So it is kind of a bonus. So there.

Anyway, my office building is exactly diagonal from the spot where they're now filming "Transformers 3." Our office is on the 43rd floor (with windows that don't open) and we can still hear the explosions all day long. It sounds like thunder where we are. I happened to drive my car downtown yesterday (got a REAL sweet deal for $8 a day parking, and figured I'd better use it periodically so they don't cancel my card!) and it turned out that my parking deck is RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from the set they've built.

So before I drove home last night, I took a little video of the set from the 5th floor of the parking deck where my car was. Nothing much was going on, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up. I marvelled at the mundanity that surrounded this apocalyptic set. Life truly does go on--even when cars are lying on their sides.

(NOTE: "Rotten Advice" will appear in its usual time slot this afternoon.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Aaron's Rotten Advice-Friday the 13th ("My Hockey Mask is at the Cleaner's") Edition

DEAR AMY: I am a single parent of three children: one teenage boy and two adolescent girls.

My girlfriend of one year is also a single parent. When I was at her house, her 11-year-old son used the toilet without closing the door. I asked him politely if he could do me a favor when my daughters were there and just close the door.

He answered, "No. I have never closed the door, and I will not start now."
He refuses to use his seat belt in the car and refuses to do chores around the house. Both he and his older brother are very disrespectful to their mother and other authority figures.

She submits to their demands, saying she doesn't want to listen to them complain. She asks me why they don't respect her, but disregards any of my solutions.

I feel very uncomfortable trying to correct what I think is unacceptable behavior of someone else's children, and I don't want my children exposed to this.

How should I handle this?

The simple answer is to break up with the woman — or I could limit my children's contact with her children, but she wants us to vacation together with all the children along, and we are very much in love.



You’d better be REAL in love with this woman if you’re gonna let her kid stink up your house for the rest of his childhood. In fact, I don’t think that’ll be enough. So you’d better tell Nature Boy to go pitch a tent in the back yard, and he can crap outside to his heart’s content. He can also hunt for bugs and berries to eat, since you won't be buying his groceries anymore. Let's see what a "rebel" he is after a week in the sticker bushes.

And if you’re really “very much in love” with this ditz, the biggest favor you can do her is to make her kids follow your rules when they’re in your house. It may seem heavy-handed, but an ounce of discipline now is better than a pound of police record later.

DEAR ABBY: My 6-year-old daughter, “Meg,” has severe eczema. She’s highly allergic to a long list of things, including dogs.

Recently, at a basketball court and at an outdoor restaurant, we encountered some dog owners who refused to pull their dogs back after I informed them about her allergy. Both said, “It’s a public place!” as if my daughter should not be in public. One man even argued that my child “couldn’t possibly” be allergic to his poodle.

Other than avoiding public areas that are dog friendly, and pulling my daughter away, what can I do?



I would have reminded those two needle-dicks that it is, indeed, a public place, and as such, the public (as in the human beings) have as much right to it as the animals. Maybe more, since they’re paying the taxes for its upkeep. I doubt Fido can write a check. I love dogs, and well-behaved ones are a joy to be around, but if one of those slobbering gremlins steals food from my plate at an outdoor restaurant, it will be the last thing he ever does.

Bring a vacuum cleaner with you the next time. I guarantee those dogs will give you a very wide berth.

DEAR ELLIE: My boyfriend of several years and I built a relationship of love, mutual respect and trust. I have a child with whom he's formed a strong bond, and we plan to all live together.

But I'm weary from how long everything's taking, and why. He's heavily reliant on his parents. He's been poor with money in the past (has debt), and still wastes money.

As an unsupported single parent, I must be extremely careful financially; I work very hard for very little. His work is sporadic; he can go for months unemployed...times when he's even less careful with money.

He's living with his parents. They continue to help him and then grumble to me! He's helpful in many ways, but I'm scared we'll always be struggling with money.

He says I'll always be a good influence on him, which suggests I'll be worrying about money while he's spending it. I want him to sort this out prior to moving together, so I can feel secure. Should I keep waiting?



Hell, no. This guy’s never going to grow up and be responsible, because he doesn’t have to—he has everything just the way he wants it now. That “good influence” bullshit sounds nice until he’s lying in bed at noon and you’re trying to change the sheets around him.

You already have one kid—you don’t need another one moving in with you.

DEAR MARGO: I need your opinion (or help). At the beginning of last summer’s vacation, I made a small mistake in telling my wife she looked a little on the fat side, a mistake I repeated throughout that summer. To make a long story short, my wife went on a diet when we returned home, and over the course of almost a year, she has lost a tremendous amount of weight. Now the problem is that she won’t quit.

Every time I tell her she should stop and maybe put a few pounds back on, she gets angry and says, "Why? So you can call me fat again?" I admit I tease her about some of the things she eats, but it’s not meant to be mean or anything. My wife isn’t anorexic, but the way she’s going, I’m afraid she may be headed in that direction. Please tell me what to do before the weight loss escalates and becomes a problem.



Gladly: drop dead.

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s already a “problem.” And you didn’t help matters any with your diplomacy, Kissinger. Oh, and don’t think you’re bullshitting anyone with that “mistake” crap. Telling her she looked a little fat the first time was a “mistake” (and not a "small" one, as you keep deluding yourself—that was a big one—have you NEVER seen “Family Court?”); repeating it throughout the summer was deliberate and sadistic, and you’re now reaping what you've sown.

I feel sorry for your wife, and I’d love to see what you look like, Gomer. I hope she's just skinny enough to puncture your spleen with one of her bony hips some night.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: It seems I am in a constant scandalized state when I am out in public. Women of all ages and sizes seem to proudly display their bra straps or go braless. On top of all that, there seems to be no shame in displaying fat rolls and G-strings. Why aren’t they wearing body-appropriate clothing and keeping the undergarments under something? Am I in the wrong or are these “ladies” missing the boat?



I agree that people have given up on body-appropriate attire and it’s not always pleasant to be confronted with someone’s fish-belly-white muffin top over the waistband of their jeans, but this has been going on for years now. If you’re still "scandalized" by it, you must have come freshly from the Victorian era, Ebenezer.

So I have another shock for you: they have motorized carriages now. No more horsies!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Aaron's Rotten Advice: August 6, 2010 ("My Blood Sugar is Low Today, So Watch It") Edition

DEAR AMY: My daughter forces me to make an appointment to see my grandchild. Sometimes it is impossible because either she does not return the call or she says they are too busy. I babysat for three years, and now that they no longer need me I am kept at arm's length.

I have been screamed at, called names and had doors slammed in my face — all while I was doing the baby-sitting.
Now I am being pushed out of my grandchild's life because my daughter seems to have all this anger and hatred. Though her hatred is directed at me, it is really about her own unhappiness.

I was always her punching bag. I want to walk away because the hurt is destroying me, but I'm concerned about my granddaughter and her feelings.

We have been excluded from birthdays, recitals, school functions, etc. We are not allowed to take her anywhere and she is not allowed to stay at our house.
The truly sad part is that the in-laws are not treated this way. They are included in everything and my granddaughter tells me about it. I'm looking for a support group because I wonder if there are other grandparents out there with the same problem.



There most certainly are. Ungrateful brats exist in plenty, and some of them never grow up.

But when you say you were “always” her punching bag, do you mean that she treated you like this when she was a kid? Because if so, you should have beat her ass the first time. I guarantee you there wouldn’t have been a second.

As far as the grandchild goes, it’s a shame that your Bad Seed keeps her away from you, but she’ll probably turn into a nasty little heifer like her mother. And I’ll bet as soon as the prized in-laws aren’t available to babysit, your daughter will come sniveling around, asking for your help.

And that, darling, is when you tell her to shit in one hand and want in the other.

DEAR ABBY: When I went to visit my mother, I found her lying on the kitchen floor. She said the floor soothes her back.
My mother has two expensive beds in her home; there is no reason for her to lie on the floor.

It could be embarrassing if a neighbor should pop in and find her there.
How do I get her off the floor?



What’s it to you?? It’s her house and if she wants to lie on the floor, it’s her own damned business.

Besides, I’m sure you spent plenty of time on that same floor when you used to stumble in drunk as a teenager. Shut up.

DEAR ELLIE: I'm a girl, 15, going through typical teenage problems. I've known this guy for two years, but we never talked much. Now we've become pretty good friends. A few months ago, I started wishing we were more than just friends.
I feel complete when I'm with him, and empty when I'm not. I haven't seen him since school ended, and I miss him so much, I can't stand it. Time seems to fly by so quickly when I'm with him and so slowly when I'm not.

I can't imagine life without him. I really want to take our relationship to the next level, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't feel the same way. My friend asked him and he said he didn't.

I haven't told him yet, but almost everyone knows, I think he might be starting to catch on, and I want to be the one to tell him. I'm not sure how. Should I do it in person, by phone, e-mail, or through Facebook?

I don't want to lose the relationship we do have, yet I don't want to keep this from him any longer. I've never had a boyfriend before, and I feel like he's the one, I don't want to be with anyone else, yet I don't think he wants to be with me. What should I do?



Your question was answered in paragraph three. You know, the part where your “friend asked him and he said he didn’t.” Quit while you’re ahead--don’t be a glutton for punishment. I’ve been there and done that.

Keep your friendship the way it is and you’ll be a lot happier. Besides, in about 10 years, he’ll have a pot belly and live in a trailer. Think what a lucky escape you’ll have had then.

Feel better? I thought so. Now, run along and sell your Girl Scout cookies.

DEAR MARGO: I so love my fiance! He is amazing and tolerant of me (no easy task). He cleans my (our) cat’s litter box and the bunny cage and does the dishes. However, as we are to be married in fewer than three months, I am on my second round of cold feet. I want kids. Over the past five and a half years, I have managed to turn him from his idea of "oh, adoption would be good" (and I agree that adoption is the superior, selfless moral choice) to "a little being that is half-you and half-me would be cool."

My reason for writing is that he can be lazy at times. Like I said, he is really good at doing household chores that he deems important. (Did I mention he makes the bed every day? I’m so ungrateful!) But if it’s something I think is important, like dusting or wiping down the kitchen countertops, he leans toward the lazy side. And he plays video games. I wouldn’t take that away from him, but children take work, and I find myself overcome with fear about being a married single mother. Knowing that his own father wasn’t particularly hands-on, I worry about how much support I would get from him and how much labor-equity I will see in the realm of childrearing.

Since he is so amazing and I’m so happy and ridiculously lucky, should I simply forget about children and just live happily ever after as we are? How do I know now, before marriage and pregnancy, whether he will step up to the plate?



What, exactly, in the hell is your problem?? Not only do you write like a spastic hipster, but living with you must be a grating pain in the ass.

Why can’t you compromise on the household chores? Let each of you do the tasks that you deem individually important—let him clean the catbox and the bunny cage, and make the beds; you can dust and wipe the countertops, then sit around and complain, and nag him while protesting that you aren’t. (Here’s a little tip: I think “happily ever after” is probably happier for you than it is for him.)

Or would you prefer to trade places and clean the catbox yourself? I thought not.

Get your tubes tied. Now.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the correct way to stand in an elevator? It seems rude to put your back to people, but also rude to face people with your back to the wall as if you are staring at them. What is your opinion?



The correct way to stand in an elevator is on your feet—it’s much too hard on the hands. And it doesn’t matter so much which way you face, as long as you don’t fart.