Here's What You Should Do

It is far easier to look at other people's problems and offer suggestions than to see your own issues clearly.  I am great at giving my opinion to people.  Sometimes before they even ask.  I often think I'd be good at an advice column.  As proof, I'm taking questions from a variety of these such writings and coming up with my own response:

Our first entry is from's Dear Prudence

Q.What’s the rule on a pet tombstone left on the property of my new home from the previous homeowner? I’m at least fairly certain it’s for a dog. I really hope it’s for a dog. It’s kind of wigging me out, but I also don’t want to be disrespectful. It’s a whole elaborate, poured-concrete number, like from a mold, with plastic letters for the name and numbers for the birth and death dates. It’s not unambiguously a dog name, but I’m pretty sure it is. I really don’t want to leave it there. It’s not like it’s behind the garage either, it’s in the side yard in a garden bed. I’m planning to rent the place after I move out, and I don’t want to give potential renters the wiggins either. What do I do with it?

A:  It's almost certainly a pet (or a small human).  I'd call your realtor and raise holy hell about not disclosing the Pet Cemetery in your side yard.  See if you can recoup some of your closing costs.  Then go ahead and remove the marker.  Sure, the decomposing pet (child?) will still be there, but think of all the crazy unmarked things that may be lurking under the surface of your land that weren't marked.  Ever seen Poltergeist?  Like that.  Watch your ass, Carol Ann.  P.S. Wiggins?  Not a word.  Quit trying to make fetch happen.

One from Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: I recently started dating a man who, until now, has been everything I wanted — respectful, kind, caring, funny, the list goes on.
He’s recently divorced, and from what I know, he was unfaithful to his wife with many long-term side partners. Later, he started having one-night stands. He travels a lot for work, and because I had a relationship where I was cheated on, his travel already is a concern for me.
Since we have decided to be an official couple, he has disclosed more detail about his one-night stands. They were with prostitutes. He says he has found peace with himself and knows what a poor decision it was, and how much damage he did to his wife because of it.
He claims redemption, that he has disclosed all this to his pastor and will never be that self-destructive man again. He told me because he didn’t want to have any lies of omission walking into a new relationship.
I want to believe he’s the man I thought he was and that he would never disrespect me, but this was a huge blow. Should I try to move past this by giving him credit for his honesty? 

Dear Chi-town Dummy,
First of all - a huge blow?  Perfect choice of words!  Your timeline is incredibly sketchy - he was recently divorced, and you recently started dating.  How much of those recentlys overlap?  Look, cheaters gonna cheat.  If you have a pattern of being cheated on in relationships, you might want to work with a therapist to see if there are actions you're repeating to keep yourself available for men who will ultimately betray and disappoint you.  I would appreciate his candor for the gift it was and walk away now.  Any letter that says, "He is perfect in every way, but..." means there's a potential deal-breaker than you can either overlook or not.  And typically, if you have to ask... you can't.

Miss Manners
Dear Miss Manners: My brother-in-law passed away suddenly, and his wife is planning to have a "celebration of life" memorial. That's fine.
However, she and her husband were party people, and so are their friends. The memorial she is planning is described as a "happy" party.
Most of the extended family are not drinkers and prefer not to attend an event that will consist of what we anticipate will be heavy drinking. I think we should attend, sit in the back with our sodas and remember my brother-in-law more quietly, just by being there.
Much of the rest of the family doesn't want to drive all the way there and back (six hours each way) just to sit around watching people drink. There's some discussion of having a more somber (and sober) memorial closer to home for the family.
I think this shows disrespect to our lost loved one and his wife (though I'd prefer to attend that memorial myself). Suggestions on what we should do?
Gentle Reader:  So, here's the deal, buzzkill.  It's not your decision to make.  Show up to the planned Celebration of Life and try not to have a sour look on your face as you sip your Diet Pepsi.  You need to be there for his wife.  There is no one acceptable way to say goodbye to a loved one.  She has chosen a way to honor her life mate in a way that is compatible with their lives together.  If you definitely don't want that for yourself, make it known how you want it to go down with your love ones now - because nobody gets out alive.  If you would like to have a second, quiet remembrance of Dave the Departed, you can, and you should.  Invite the wife, if you're feeling kind.  But I'm not getting that vibe from you.
Ann Landers
Dear Ann Landers: Our son and his wife have separated after two months of marriage and will be divorcing shortly. They want to know what to do about the wedding gifts. Should gifts be returned when the marriage does not last six months? Many friends have said their gifts should be kept and that my son and his wife should divide them. Gifts of money were spent already on the honeymoon and on furnishing the house. - Splitsville in Wyoming
Dear Splitsville:  I doubt that anyone wants back a toaster with two months wear and tear - they can't return it and get their money back, so, yeah.  Wedding presents are essentially tickets for admission into the reception, so if the givers had a few drinks and a spin on the dance floor, the transaction was completed.   The ill-fated couple should split them.  The bigger question is, what did they learn in two months of marriage that they failed to uncover in their time together leading up to this present-laden occasion?  Next time you need to supply more dirt, and that'll help us decide who gets the Dustbuster.  Do they still make those things?  Dirt Devil.  That's a better pun.  And a current reference.  So yeah, they can keep their presents.  This time.  Next time - try to work it out for at least a year. Because at this rate, you son is going to run out of dating prospects in Wyoming.  Unless he's into bison.  Or whatever they have up there.

Ask the Ethicist
Q:  My mother recently let slip that my father had an affair several years ago. I’m the oldest sibling in a family that I have always considered extremely close. The news was a devastating shock. Immediately after her disclosure, my mother told me that I could never tell my father that I knew. She insisted that the counseling they went through afterward resulted in a much happier marriage. Apparently, they decided to keep it a secret; only one other sibling knows.
Since I learned of his affair, my interactions with my father have felt stilted. He has always been one of the most important people in my life, but now when we talk I’m distracted by anger and distrust. My gut tells me that I should have a conversation with him about what happened in order to move on, but I also believe I have an ethical obligation to respect my mother’s wishes. My sibling’s view is that further discussion would only bring unnecessary turmoil to our conflict-averse family. Should I hope that forgiveness comes with time, or risk broaching this difficult topic with my father?
- Name Withheld

A: Oh, wow.  Ok, the one you should really be mad at is Mom.  She has no reason to be telling you this.  My guess is that she's going to go down the list of kids, one at a time, whispering this little confession in hopes that one or many of you will turn against your Dad and do some of her dirty work for her.  The fact that she broke the agreement with her husband to not tell the kids indicates that neither of them is completely faultless.  I'm not excusing your father's behavior - your anger with him is justified.  He did not cheat on you, though.  It's just that you have received information about someone close to you that is contrary to what you knew to be true, and that's unsettling.  

My feeling is that the kids need to stay out of the marital fray.  Relate to your father as a father.  He wasn't taking other kids to Chuck E Cheese on the side.  His infidelity was to your mother.  And she, my friend, is playing you like a fiddle.  I'd refuse to ever discuss it with her again.  Get a therapist, work through your anger, and realize that there are at least two sides to every story.   And both sides are pretty jacked up in this one.

New York Times  - Social Q's

Q: My boyfriend asked me to marry him (yay!). As an engagement ring he gave me this ornate diamond ring that belonged to his grandmother (who is dead).  I hate it!  Now what do I do?
- Anonymous

Dear Anon,
Here's the thing.  Engagement rings are a total ass-ache.  The diamond pushers have made us feel like the engagement ring, and in fact, the whole proposal has to be a three ring circus (if you'll forgive the pun).  It's fine to want something different.  There are a million tactful ways to ask for that.  Explain that you want something simpler, or that you're afraid of damaging this heirloom, you are afraid you won't be able to find a band that compliments it for a wedding set, or that you're allergic to yellow gold.   You're going to marry this guy - you have to find a way to ask for what you want without hurting him.  It happens in marriages every day.    It's like that old joke - what are the three rings of marriage?  The engagement ring, the wedding ring and the suffering.  Bwahahaha.  Seriously though, be gentle but direct.  And save me some cake.

Real Simple Etiquette

Q: Recently I hosted some people at my home who happen to be obese. One man sat on a delicate chair, which splintered. Another lady sat on the couch and could not get up without assistance. How do I accommodate larger guests in the future? Do I ask thinner guests to avoid sturdy seats so heavier folks can use them? Should I speak with obese guests before they arrive and ask what they would prefer to sit on? Should I put away my fragile furniture? Help!

A:  As a larger person, this question hits me right in the (massive, jiggly) gut.    If there is a chair made of paper-mache in your home that is suitable for waifs only, you may want to put a "No Fatties" bumper sticker on it.  

That should do it.

We fat people know we are fat.  We think about it all the time.  We are constantly eyeballing the booths at restaurants to see if we will squeeze in.  We dread chairs with arms on them.  Airplanes, stadiums and bathroom stalls are all adventures.  So, maybe lay off, bitch. We have enough shit going on without getting your well-meaning "concern" all up in our faces.  Buy comfortable furniture.  Some couches are hard to get off of - even if you are fit and athletic. Maybe you don't deserve friends.  Or furniture.  Maybe you should just rid the house of stuff, rid your life of people and then nothing will upset you.  Jesus.  Get over it.

So, that's my attempt at Abbying.  I think I kicked some ass and saved some bacon.



Christopher said…
"Wiggins" is a word if you're a fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer--that is to say, it's not really a word, although if anyone asked my advice I would recommend that show.
Still excellent advice all around. I'm reminded of Louie Anderson who said he had to tell fat jokes so people in the audience wouldn't think, "Does he know he's that big?"
Admittedly my advice to those people would be, assume that he knows, and accept that it's none of your business.