[I’m a fan of newspaper/magazine (now online) advice columns, mostly because I am incredulous at both the Qs and As. Here are some recent (actual) requests for advice, the advice given by the “professionals”, and how I would have advised these idiots folks. My responses in Italian… er, italics.]
DEAR AMY: I recently received a thank-you note for a wedding gift. However, the bride thanked me for a piece of china, and I gave her a tureen! Should I try to correct this? — Confused
DEAR CONFUSED: Yes. The mix-up might have occurred at the store (if these were registry items), or the bride might have made a simple mistake and would have thanked someone else for the tureen. Let her know.
DEAR 19TH-CENTURY RESIDENT: What the fuck is a “tureen”? Who would need such a thing in today’s world? Have you ever heard of a “microwave”? That would have been an awesome gift. Or a gift card to Applebee’s so this bride could go out to dinner and not have to wash a goddam tureen afterwards.
DEAR ABBY: I am 39 and have been at my job for 15 years. I don’t enjoy it and haven’t since day one. The work is stressful and doesn’t bring me one single ounce of gratification.
I have always wanted to be an elementary school teacher, but now I’m afraid that ship has sailed. I’m currently back in college for business (my job helps to pay my tuition) and feel like I’m not being fair to myself. I don’t like finance, and I was never good at math. I get paid well and am well-invested in my retirement plan, but I’m miserable every minute I must sit in my little cubicle. I consider it my jail cell.
I need advice on where to take my career because I’m not getting any younger. Or is it too late? — OVER THE HILL IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR O.T.H.: You are not incarcerated, and you are only as trapped as you choose to make yourself. Most colleges have career counseling services, and you should avail yourself of them.
If teaching children is your heart’s desire, you will have to take the time to prepare for it, know ahead of time what opportunities are available and what the compensation is. Make it your business to find out before making any drastic changes. You’ll be glad you did.
DEAR W.T.F: Why in the hell would you want to become an elementary school teacher? Do you have any children of your own? If so, you know the answer to my previous question. (P.S. – If you’re no good at math, then how do you know you’re well-invested in your 401k?)
Dear Carolyn:
When my husband and I were dating (we did not live together before marriage) we loved being around each other so much that what we DID was less important than the fact that we were together. I think I actually remember saying, “I don’t mind if you watch SportsCenter! Just so long as I’m with you.”
Now that we’re about two years into our marriage, I am bored with just sitting around. I sit all day at work, and the last thing I want to do when I get home is plant my butt on the couch. Also I think it’s really unhealthy.
When I let him enjoy his screen time while I do constructive things around the house, or go out on my own, he is hurt that “I don’t want to spend time with him.” Do I need to redefine “quality time” to match his understanding? Or is it reasonable to make that time valuable for the both of us?
— TV Is Not Romantic
How much of “I sit all day at work” have you explained? Does he know you’re all for the together time, just not all the TV?
Ideally, you’ll both give a little on the other’s understanding of quality time. Maybe you can manage a couple of couch nights if you find a great series to follow, and maybe that will soften him to your doing your “constructive things” on others, and the mutual good will will fuel interest in going out once or twice a week.
If you can think of it roughly in thirds, his way/your way/separate ways, then you might both be able to find more satisfaction in your marriage without changing a whole lot. It all starts, though, with communicating and not judging.
.. and acknowledging that your “I love SportsCenter as long as I’m with you!” declaration was a bait-and-switch — a crime of passion, though, not premeditation.
You have cable, don’t you? There’s porn on cable. Watch some porn together. That should lead to some “healthy” activities.
Also, I also hear “Breaking Bad” is a good show, but I’ve been too busy watching porn to catch up with it.
Dear Margo: I’ve been married to my husband for eight years, and we have a lot of laughs, good sex and a happy life overall. The only thing he would like to add to our marriage is an occasional sexual threesome. I’ve replied that we can use this fantasy, but to actually do it would not work for me.
Last week, the two of us went to a business convention. In past years, there was always a big party scene in the evenings, and my husband, being by himself, always met lots of people and danced, drank and flirted until all hours of the night, and always told me about how much fun he had.
This year, while at the airport, I was helping him look through his briefcase and came upon a box of condoms. I asked him what he was thinking, and he said, “Well, if you have them, you probably won’t need them.” I was very upset at the time, and I’m finding that one week later, I’m still upset. I know my husband has forgotten all about the incident. What should I do? — Annoyed
Dear Ann: Keep saying no. And you might pose this question to your husband: Did he pack an umbrella, as well, to make sure it didn’t rain? His answer was quite lame, but the desire for a threesome is obviously still on his wish list.
The wild card, however, is you — as the third. As long as you don’t want it, it can’t happen. Do not let him make you feel square or stodgy about your decision. I’m sure some people, somewhere, are perfectly happy with threesomes, but for this to work, everyone has to be willing.
Tell him ix-nay on the three-way and that the discussion is closed. — Margo, decisively
Dear Prude: Tell your husband you’ve reconsidered and are finally in on the idea of a threesome. Then bring home another dude to join in. Problem solved.
DEAR MISS MANNERS,
A good friend invited me and a few other very close friends to a dinner party, where she said she would cook dinner for us.            
   
We were all quite excited until the day of the dinner party, when she sent us a text asking one of us to pick up something from a nearby restaurant. She asked us to order a large list of entrees and side dishes, and said we could split it up later (meaning…she did not order the food herself, but wanted one of us to do it).         
      
Obviously this is quite rude, but I do not know how to bring this up to her, as she does not see why this is a big deal since we’re all close friends anyway.
GENTLE READER,
What is a big deal here is that your friend pulled a bait-and-switch. She pretended to invite you and other friends to dinner, only to reveal that what she really planned was to have you cater a dinner at her house.    
           
Miss Manners is a great believer in the sacredness of dinner invitations which, once accepted, should not be cancelled under circumstances less than dire. But in this case, you all mistakenly accepted a different invitation from the one now offered, and would be justified in declining. 
HEY FOODIE,
Why didn’t you all just spit in the takeout containers and then make an excuse to leave before dinner was served?
DEAR E. JEAN: I can’t even be in the same room with my girlfriend without getting an erection. These past two years with her have been the best of my life. She’s tall, beautiful (on a scale of one to 10, she’s a 12, on a bad day), experienced, intelligent, and wealthy; she drives a fast car; and she makes my guy friends envious. My female friends are intimidated, and when she and I are in bed, I feel like a rock star.
We’re totally loyal to each other, I could never fall out of love with her, and I want us to spend the rest of our lives together, but there’s one catch: I’m a less-than-bottom-level banker with no money and the worst apartment in New York. She’s almost too refined, too funny, too intelligent, too established. Plus, there’s this: I’m 26, and she’s 51.
I’m constantly beaten up by my female friends, who say I should break up with her and date girls my age. That would be like going from Cristal to moonshine. However, children aren’t possible, we wouldn’t be able to grow old together, and these are becoming awkward undercurrents in our all-star relationship. So what the heck do I do? Let the good times roll? Or face that stupid thing called “reality”?
—Happiest Guy in NYC
MR. HAPPY, YOU KNAVE: Yes, hour by hour, week by week, yellow crow’s-feet will creep around the fading eyes and make them horrible. The hair will lose its brightness, the mouth will droop, as the mouths of old people do. There will be the wrinkled throat, the blue-veined hands, and the twisted body—and this, my man, is what’s in store for you as you crawl toward 50.
As for your young gal of 51? She’s obviously a member of the Genetic Marvels Corporation: Miss Julie Christie, President; Miss Tina Turner, Vice President; Miss Rita Moreno, Chief Information Officer; Miss Jane Fonda, Head of Product Development; and Miss Raquel Welch, Director of HR (the Marvels all shot past 70 at about 220 miles per hour). Going on the evidence presented in your letter, I can almost guarantee that at 75 or 80 your girl will still be just sexy as hell. After that, it gets a little chancy. Your jowls may droop, and you’ll have to consider surgery.
In other words, let the good times roll, my dear fellow! (And, yes, that was Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray I was riffing on in the opening paragraph.)
MR. DUMB, SICK BASTARD: You’re “riffing” your mother, aren’t you? That’s perverse.