Friday, September 17, 2010

Advice for the Thick-Skinned

I’ve never understood the allure of advice columns. People anonymously posing questions to so-called “experts” with the hope that these experts can help lead them down the right path. And the experts in turn give advice that’s just generic and ambiguous enough to apply to the lives of all the people who read their column, not just the people posing questions. The whole thing seems pretty lame if you ask me. That being said I decided to try my hand at being an advice columnist. What follows is a recent column from “Dear Abby” (arguably the most famous advice column in existence) with her actual responses to (3) reader’s questions followed by my responses in italics. I think that you’ll find my advice to be neither generic nor ambiguous. I haven’t quite settled on a name for my column but I’m thinking “Advice for the Thick-Skinned” might be appropriate. Enjoy.

DEAR ABBY: My husband, son and I live next door to my in-laws. My mother-in-law, "Hazel," has a set of keys to our house for emergency purposes. For some time she has been using the key to come and go as she pleases, "borrowing" food, dishes and toiletries when we're not home. When we discover the items missing, she usually confesses.

I am really irritated about it and have frequent fights with my husband over this and other privacy issues. How can I talk to Hazel in a way that won't hurt her feelings? She is very sensitive, and I don't know how to confront her since my husband refuses to do so. -- MISSING MY PRIVACY IN SAN JOSE, CALIF.

DEAR MISSING: Try this: Take your mother-in-law to lunch and over a nice, leisurely meal say (slowly and quietly), "Hazel, honey, I have a problem I need your help with. (Breathe.) When you come into the house and take things without asking, it makes me feel violated. (Pause.) Do you think you could please refrain from doing that anymore? (Smile.) I'd really appreciate it."

And if any more items turn up missing, quietly change the locks.

DEAR MISSING: Here’s the deal. Your mother-in-law is clearly an evil woman and needs to be stopped. She doesn’t respect you or your belongings, and if your ball-less excuse for a husband refuses to stand up to “Mommy”, then you need to take matters into your own hands. Try this: Bake up a nice, big batch of her favorite dessert (“Hazel” sounds like a fat person’s name so I’m guessing she likes dessert). When you’re baking up the brownies, cookies, cakes, or whatever the bitch likes to eat most, add two large boxes of Ex-Lax to the recipe. After she’s ingested the Ex-Lax laden delicacies and subsequently emptied her bowels in a violent and painful manner, head over to her house for a little one-on-one time. Look her straight in the eyes and say: “Bitch, the next time you enter my house without asking I’m using poison instead of Ex-Lax.” I guarantee this will solve your problem immediately and she’ll never come over to your house again uninvited or otherwise. It might even get you a divorce from that spineless piece of shit you call a husband.

DEAR ABBY: I am being married soon and my father will be providing the alcohol for our reception. We plan to serve beer, wine and champagne for the toast. Because I will be wearing an ivory gown, I am opting to drink only champagne. I have a favorite brand, but because of our modest budget, Dad cannot provide it for everyone to drink.

I was going to buy a couple of bottles to have at our table for my wedding party, but Dad feels it would be in poor taste and thinks our guests may feel slighted in some way. My feeling is that it's our special day and people will understand. Am I wrong for wanting a nicer champagne than we can provide for our guests? -- BUBBLY BRIDE IN PISMO BEACH, CALIF.

DEAR BUBBLY: Let me put it this way -- if there is a chance that your guests would feel slighted if you get caught, then drink what they're drinking at the reception. Afterward, have a bottle of your preferred brand waiting in an ice bucket by your "wedding bed" so you can enjoy a special toast with your new husband.

DEAR BUBBLY: Go ahead and supply the wedding party with Dom Perignon and give the rest of your guests whatever cheap swill is on sale at Walmart. And while you’re at it why not serve Chateaubriand and lobster tails to the wedding party and give everyone else dog meat? Are you fucking serious? How selfish and self-centered are you, anyway? Maybe your guests should all give you crappy gifts with cards that read: “I would have bought you a nice gift but I couldn’t afford to get us both something nice so I decided to get something nice for myself and buy you this worthless piece of crap.” Note to Bubbly’s future husband – if you’re reading this get out while you still can – divorce is expensive and there’s no way you’ll end up staying married to this selfish bitch.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a high school freshman with a dilemma. I'm a good student and get A's in all my classes. I'm also an athlete. I play year-round softball and have started playing soccer for the high school team.
My problem is I took a debate class over the summer and really liked it. I want to join the debate team, but I am unsure if it would be piling too much on my plate for my first year.

I'll be carrying one honors class in addition to two above-grade-level classes. Debate practices are held after sports practices two days a week for one to two hours, so they wouldn't directly conflict with anything except homework time.
Do you think I'm overestimating how much I can handle in extracurricular activities this year? -- TOO AMBITIOUS? IN OREGON

DEAR TOO AMBITIOUS: The fact that this is causing you concern could be an indicator that it is too much. That's why before making up your mind you should discuss this with your parents as well as your guidance counselor at school.

DEAR TOO AMBITIOUS: Let me put it this way – who the fuck cares? You’re a freshman in high school so the things you choose to do in your life right now couldn’t matter any less. Experiment with recreational drugs, get an asshole boyfriend who makes you feel fat, and dream the big dreams that will inevitably be squashed out soon after you enter the festering, soul-crushing pit known as the real world. Trust me, any perceived “dilemmas” you’re facing now are nothing compared to the whoppers you’ll face in your twenties and thirties. Any other questions?

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