Tuesday, December 29, 2009

LOLcat I forgotted

Dir Proody,


For Catsmas, I raps mah presents in tricky wais. Now I haz created the ultimate rapping: A metal box soddered shut. Inside iz catnip. For mai motherinlawcat to be. She hatez me. Mai girlfren sai: "I no think this a gud idea, espeshully becuz she hatez u." But I think this ultimate hilaritee. Whut sai u?


Heh heh heh


Dir Heh,

Look, u obveeussly hatez her, too, so wai u not kill her? For that matter, wai she not kill u by nao?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

From My LOLcats

Proody cat think she may owe u guyz sum moar LOLcat fun frum the past. Proody cat will get rite on it when she feel gud and reddy, 'kay?

Dir Proody,

Mai sister, I buy her gifts! She come visit all teh wai frum teh country! We haz amazing Catmas! But nao she sai she want me tu send her gifs to her by teh mailman so she no haz to carry them in her carrier. I think, 'Christ on a cracker, u du this urself!' Am I bad for that?

Big sistercat

Sistercat,

No. U r not.

Dir Proody,

I iz in luv! We dayt sereeuss for a month nao! But she get a gif from a tomcat who I know is married! She sai, 'Oh, it okay, he gif lot of munnay to church.' But I sai, 'U no church, u gif those gifs to poor kittehs!' But she be wearin' the fancy catspray he gifs her teh next week! Whut I do nao?

Whut with this church talk?

Dir Churchtalk,

I do not understand how the church is relevant to ur interests here. But please explain, why u so toar up about those gifs? They are not the ones boinking ur girlycat. That would be Mr. Churchypants. I suggest u either ask girlycat to be ur wun an ownly but for reelzies, or u find a girlycat u not be telling to gif away catspray becuz she mayk u so jealous.

Dir Proody,

I be marryin' a wunnerful girlycat! But her aunt and uncle, they no be likin' public healthcare so much they send a tackee Christmas card saying "We No Like Public Healthcare." Nao I never want to talk to them. That so bad?

They're opinionated

Dear Opinionated,

Be that as it may, u realize they is being jackasses. Why u be jackass 2? Don't u got jackass cats in ur family? U may only ignore girlycat's jackass relatives if u kill ur own, just so there not be a dubble standard.

Merry Catsmas everybody! Don't eat the poinsettias! They can be toxic!

From My Orbit

OMG it's been so long! I will try to never be away from you all that long again! Okay! Here we go!

As usual, read it all here first.

LW#1: Sister wants YOU to take time out and pay to ship her gifts? I see why you are upset. No need to pile on the "we are professionals" here, just when your sister says something patently crazy, call her out with a laugh and a "that's crazytalk." If she repeats herself, say, "Look, the post office? We'll give you a ride there on Dec. 26." Yes, they were open.

Telling her that you're willing to share the inconvenience that way is about as good as you can do, and that she's awfully demanding, isn't she?

LW#2: Well, you only started seriously dating her a month ago. Look, is this the kind of person you want to be with? And moreover, is this the kind of person you want to be? Suspicious, jealous and trying to make her give up gifts that are just lotion and perfume (hey, the fact that he knows what she likes probably means bupkis, if that means anything to you. These are superbasic gifts for chicks). Sure, she's kind of weird about these gifts, and that means, I think, more than the whole tension you're creating around them in and of themselves.

I don't get what all her church talk or "he's married" talk is about, but let's face it, you've been in this thing a month and already you sense she has checked out. Nothing at all you can do about that, dude.

LW#3: So they breached etiquette, that's what a-holes do.

Now you are both totally aware that they are big a-holes. I don't see why you need to go all crazy doubling down on the number of a-holes in the family by refusing to see them for Christmas.

Besides, these are an aunt and uncle, fairly peripheral to the people you will be seeing. And EVERYBODY has an a-hole relative they don't want to see. Just ask around the Fray.

Your best bet is to shrug your shoulders, realize that you cannot control nor reform these a-holes, and move along in your own lives with as much dignity and grace as you personally can muster and not take things so personal.

LW#4: She hates you out loud, and you act your hatred of her out passive-aggresive style. Great.

I mean, as long as you realize that what you are doing is an act of malicious spite, as long as you realize that what you are doing will do nothing to thaw out your frosty relationship with this woman and do everything to make it colder. As long as you realize that your special someone is going to have to be the filter for this negative two way hatred, a position I'm sure she'll just freaking love, then go ahead, put your feelings in that locked metal box.

I mean, don't feel obligated to be the better person just because you want to show your honey that you aren't going to let her mother hate you for foolish reasons only, and not any actual behavior on your part.

Sheesh.

I doubt you'd call this wrapping a "masterpiece" if you hadn't heard some cartoon villain use it before.

Besides, she isn't in on the longstanding years of prank wrapping.

Give people a break. They may give you one in return, awesome rich prankster dude.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

From My Orbit

As usual, read the letters here

LW#1: Oh for the love of Pete. Nothing says helicopter parent like "we're not diapering widdle baby because we read a book on how great it is not to!" I mean seriously, you have to be there all. the. time. Plus, the "most places in the world" that don't "do this" also have insane disease transmission rates, unhealthy streets and dirt floors.

Seriously, dude, I have been there. I have seen the diaper-free babies. They are not diaper-free by mom's choice. Look, I'm going to get to praising you in a minute, but I have to take a pause here to berate you a bit. Okay, back to rant:  In fact, the women have a lot less choice in a lot more things than you think, so stop fooling yourself that they're so in touch with their babies and their peeing and pooping out of something that is anything other than dire necessity.

I mean, organic reusable cotton didies won't do it for you?

But okay, praise time: You are really researching for your twins, and you're doing some very nice things for the planet by trying to go low-impact here. You are to be commended. Also, I appreciate parents who are going to make their kids learn to go diaper-free post haste, because it is good for the planet and teaches personal control and how many more anal-expulsive folks does this world need?

Oh yeah, you ever heard of something called a "baby shower registry?" Use one. Load it up so there are organic options for every budget. I mean, go nuts. People will think you're greedy, not that you are trying to save the planet. Or, worse, that you're an ingrate when they buy you bottles loaded with phthlates and you shriek in horror and pick them up with tongs and put them in the trash. You may also want to consider naming a charity (perhaps one that helps women in non-diapering countries have access to choices about their and their family's economic future) people can donate to in the babies' names.

But really, consider the reusable diaper. They not only will save any nice carpet or Pergo floors you may have (not to mention your sanity), they will probably help you in this huge adjustment you're making bringing these two bundles of joy into your lives.

I'm just saying, there is being a good citizen of the Earth, and there is realizing when you need to give yourself (and your sweet diddumses!) a break.

Oh, and please do not do the non-vaccination foolishness.

That's all.

LW#2: Your aunt did WHAT???

That is shameless, and I reckon there is not much more that you can do other than to confront her and ask her to be straight with you now. And if someone lets you know they gave money to her, you might want to tell them the truth, because it isn't fair to that person to lie to them.

While talking bad behind her back might make you feel good and might give you a little vindication, (because I am not going to say you need to continue the lie to anyone else that she has perpetrated) don't let anger and bitterness get the better of you.

Sometimes we pay a price to find out what kind of people other people are, literally.

LW#3: You'll feel uncomfortable? Huh. Imagine how the wife will feel.

You have been sucked into this man's personal drama, and you basically let it happen. When a jerk tells you: "I told her you were going so you have to know or she'll know!" those are about bad consequences happening to *him,* not her. So you are supposed to say: "Well, let her know." or just, "You'll have to tell her I had a migraine and couldn't go." I mean, reach down deep inside for some strength or something!

But since you couldn't dig then, you'll have to freaking excavate now. I mean it, get out the emotional backhoe until you find a little seam of internal iron, and tell him (face, phone, email) that you don't appreciate being his alibi and he can't rely on you to keep the truth from his wife is she asks about any lies he has dragged you into. Tell him to get his shizz together and reevaluate his life and marriage, because they are none of your beeswax anyway.

LW#4: Oh great, all the Fraystians are going to go bonkers on this one.

Look, let's take religion, which is totally fraught, out of it. Imagine if your parents were really big fishermen, and they liked to go fishing all the time, and you, you are cool with fishing because it is a family tradition, even if you'd rather not bother on your own. And, although you aren't the most faithful fisher, you find comfort in your family's fishing heritage and skill. But the boyfriend really, really, really does not like fishing and in fact disagrees with it so much as to say he doesn't want to get on your folk's boat at 5 a.m. because he'll get seasick. You tell him, geez, it's just a lake, man, you don't even have to hold a pole. And he's all, no way, I am so not in.

The thing is, we all have to do things for family's sake that we normally wouldn't choose to do and certainly don't want to do. He should be mature enough to know this, and to indulge you and your parents. Sounds like he's not. (People, going to church is not the same as torturing small animals, unless it's one of those places with speaking in tongues, and then that can be amusing and anthropological to boot!)

On the other hand, if you're concerned about your parents finding out he's an atheist because he won't go to church instead of finding out he's a boor who won't just do the bare minimum to fit in a family, you need to reconsider your own maturity levels. Growin' up, it's not about covering up who you and others are for the 'rents' sakes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Letters

Remember, the other advice columnists have too many freaks writing to them to address your issue. Me? I hardly have any! What I'm saying is, if you want some entertainment-purposes only advice, you can send it to frommyorbit at gmail.com.

I know you have some Holiday Drama, please! Do share it with the smart and sophisticated readers of From My Orbit! I will keep you completely anonymous.

Monday, December 14, 2009

FMO: Short takes

As usual, originals here.

Note: Prudie is Jewish but celebrated the secular Christmas. Nice to know. I'm christian and have celebrated the religious Hanukkah and Passover before, because there are not a lot of members of the Tribe in space, and those who are here take what aliens they can to participate.


My dog is dying and MIL says kennel him: Do what you need to do. If you are looking at anyone else to give you the permission to do what you feel is best (stay home) that's insane. I know you don't want to disappoint anyone, but c'mon, this is like your kid here, am I right?

Paper carrier crassness: I guess he couldn't tell you were a Scrooge when he asked for a tip. Jesus H., just tip the poor bastard. I can't think of a worse job than being a paper carrier — 7 days a week, hours begin at something like 5 a.m. or earlier, the pay absolutely sucks, you have to do it in all sorts of weather. These days a lot of paper carriers are grown ups, often with developmental disabilities (like my paper guy), and their earning potential is way limited. You have a nice brick house? Spread it around a little.

Surprise! Xmas at your house: This is where you (and your man) learn to say "No" and stick to it with your husband's family. They're coming anyway? Quick! To the minivan for an impromptu look at neighbor Christmas lights!

What to get my dad with the evil wife?: A gift card? A gift certificate at a restaurant? I mean, maybe enclose these in a card that says something like, "This is the gift you get when you marry a psychobitch. Wish I knew you better, but oh well it was your call and you just played through like you didn't notice lo those many years ago." Does Hallmark have a line like that?

Cinderelly: Why can't he at least stay over to wake up before you to do the dishes? He sounds like a crumb and you should have a talk with him about any other promises he can't keep before he starts making them to you.

Cheap ass tipper: What a paper carrier makes is absolutely piddling. You sound like a hard-hearted jerk. The kind who won't let his employee throw another coal on the fire. Enjoy the chains you forged in life after you die.

How to let hubby know I'm knocked up without his parents suspecting when I give him booties and a bib: Retro attitude here, with the "I'm having his baby, what a lovely gift" vibe. Just tell him. Pre-Xmas. This baby is a life-changing event, not a gift.

Why tip someone with a job?: Why are you taking the paper if your man has been out of work three months? Oh right, you're on unemployment and can afford it. I hope you're also not not-tipping when you eat out and "can't afford it." Again, DOES ANYONE HERE KNOW WHAT PAPERBOYS MAKE??? (They may make $10 an hour (not in my orbit), but they work 2-4 hours a day, generally.) And if they are developmentally disabled, as many, many of them are, they may not make more than a very, very low amount or they will be permanently disqualified from getting SSI bennies, which are absolutely critical because they cannot compete in the marketplace for actual jobs. So $20-$50 or so under the table is a huge effing deal to them. Like, HUGE.


"Sit in Santa's Lap, little girl": You can say it makes you uncomfortable, or you can cut a joke about your new entry for your sexual harrassment diary, but whatever you do, make sure you do it. Another option: email them all the website creepysanta.com and say, "This is where we'd be sending the pictures, LOL." LOLNOT also works there.

Cinderelly part duh: He sounds like a zero. A zero who lies. Call him on it, shut him down and see if he values you for more than your central location and hostess and cleaning skills.

Off the dog: Actually, this sounds about right, unless the dog is still having quality of life.

Should I feel Guilty?: Hell no, he should have. I can't believe you're worried about how YOU are perceived when HE is a MOLESTER!!!

Beauty Schooler dating richish dude: I believe Pogue Mahone said it best. The gift of BJs. Seriously, just give him the gift of you and your future together.


He cheated, and everyone knows: Well, this sounds like a recipe for something not tasty. Hopefully everyone will be civil, but it sounds like you two are in a fragile place, and some people can't help but want events to come out how THEY want them to instead of you. And you will not only have to insulate yourself from their possible aggression, but your possible defensiveness/latching on more strongly to Mr. Right. See what I'm saying?

Turkey: Yeah, might as well bring this up. Can't see how any non-jerk would object.


Getting the kids liquored up: It's up to the parents to decide for their kids (though the ones at college may balk, it's not like they should be wanting to get lit around the folks). It's up to you to say, "If I were your dad, I would totally be cool with you having a little champagne."

Cheap tippers unite!: Why is it that tipping discussions bring out everyone? If your delivery person sucks, call their boss at the paper's circulation department before Xmas! Problem solved! Then you may tip happily instead of whine about the crappy job they're doing! And you, Menlo Park, why not just move your frickin car a skoshe instead of getting dirty? No Edison are you!

People and Xmas equals hell: Don't show up, like the woman says. If you need this, you need it. And your husband needs to be at the forefront of your combined resolve.

Photo girl: Oh, that's precious.

After this chat, I will be giving my paper delivery guy a bigger tip than normal. I can afford it, and I'm proud to do it, and now I realize what hard-hearted and clueless (hellO MENLO) people there are out there.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

From My LOLcats

Dir Proody,

Mai ex-boifren who left me when I was preggers wif mai kitteh son, tell that kitteh that there is no such thing as Santa Claws. But mah kitteh, he ask me for konfurmashun. I no want kill holidae magik! But I no want heem not trusstin me, neether. Whu I do nao?

Toyland


Dir Toyland,

Ur ex-boifren, he sound not so good, laik bad tomcat. All I say is, if u kill heem, u can be tellin' ur kitteh mebbeh there ain't no daddicat neether, and then the loss of the feeling of majical goodnuss is the leest of kitteh's problems.

Dir Proody,

Mai fatcat of a boss is sayin' all us little guys haff to give heem $75 for a prezzunt and we go celebrate Catsmas at big fancy restaurant wif kaviar and kreem. But I is a poor kitteh who can barely buy a teensy bit of catnip for mommicat. Whu I do nao?

Poor widdle shnookums


Dir Widdle,

Ur boss I can get behind. Whai u not try becoming boss? Then all give tribyoot to u. To haff this, it takes skeel and a mercenary spirit. Which u no haff. Until u haz it, u r pwned.

Dir Proody,

I get mai hubbicat a gift, and he no laik! Evry tyme! Whut I get heem nao?

Gifted


Dir Gifted,

U get him a smack in the fayse, that whut u gift heem.

Dir Proody,

I haz a gay, and I iz happi wif it. Mai mommicat and teh other kittehs in mai litter not laik mah gay so much, tho. They say if I come for Catsmas, I gotta act laik I laik pussy. But pussy? DO NOT WANT. I go there or I juss chill wif mai reel frens, all teh other stray catz?

Fabyooluss cat


Dir Fabyooluss,

U gotta be u. If u got cat class and u gotz cat style, except when u iz at ur mommicat's, stay wif ur stray cat buddiez.

Proodycat owt.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

From My Orbit

As usual, original letters can be found here.

LW#1: Your ex is kind of an a-hole, I will give you that, if your version of events is correct and, totally unprompted by the child, he just decided to take a dump on the fantasy that is Santa Claus.

On the other hand, by age 8, I think it's appropriate for kids to start discovering the boundary of fantasy. That is, at some point, they can't be thinking there are fairies and unicorns and Santa and his merry band of toy-making slaves, er, elves, and flying reindeer. But that's not all! There is the dark side of fantasy! Witches, evil powers, the devil, goblins and demons. Learning that those creatures don't exist, and that mankind basically creates its own hell with no supernatural prompting, is a lesson that is important, sad and at the same time reassuring one.

Think back on your own Santa revelation time. Mine was pathetically late, as I had "heard Santa's deer" on the roof during a period of skepticism/hypothesis testing one Christmas Eve and I was good until about 11 or 12, when finally I had to face the fact that elves did not make Fisher-Price toys, Fisher-Price did. Also, the time I didn't tell my parents I lost a molar and the Tooth Fairy didn't come and I threw a fit at the breakfast table, blubbing and declaring, "YOU LIED TO ME!!!" I was the sort who was not one to let the fantasy go, you know?

The point is, we all put this in context eventually. Usually within a few hours or days. Kids are actually quite resilient, and are better at taking in news than people give them credit for. What they really want to hear is that you will protect them, that they are safe, and that their trust is not completely misplaced. And I'm pretty sure that all of us who had loving parents were able to get over the blow, especially if our parents were sensitive about it and not caustic (like your ex) or mocking.

Also, I suggest that your last q: "What's there to live for when you don't believe in all the things that make a moment special?" Needs to be readjusted. I mean, you hear it all the time: Santa is not the be all and end all of Christmas. It's about family, love, religious faith, seeing light return to the world after a dark period, knowing that the worst is over. There are so many things that make every moment special, and the more your child knows about those things, and values those things over something make-believe and materialistic, the better off he'll be.

Best of luck!

LW#2: Everyone chips in $75 to buy the boss a present? What? Isn't he the one making the bank here?

Honey, I feel your pain. This sounds like a crazy situation. I suggest you find someone more experienced who you consider reasonable at the office and say, "Here is my problem: I live paycheck to paycheck and I can't pony up $75 for the boss. I'm not even ponying up $75 for my own mother. I don't want to be looked at poorly for this, but I am, in fact, kinda poor." I mean, first, get your arms around this thing and see if you're not reading overly-dramatic expectations into it. Because Jeebus, there is a recession on and I can't imagine the boss is really such a dingleberry that this is the kind of thing he expects at such a time, especially knowing his own workers' salaries. (OTOH, he has been accepting this, so that puts him in a messed-up light, too.)

Another recommendation I'll make for you is to read Elizabeth Warren's "All Your Worth." It is a book about budgeting that makes it *real* simple. And I'd tell you to start reading Michelle Singletary's comments on the Washington Post website. She is the "Color of Money" columnist, and although her philosophies are occasionally on the religious side, she has good advice in general. Because it sounds like you need some budgeting help in general.

LW#3: Give him a gift card from here out and he can use it to buy gifts for others. He's obviously got some kind of compulsion that you can't help at all. The only thing you can do is quit giving him meaningful gifts, because it turns his rejection of them into a rejection of you. So stop making your gifts to him about you, like the charity donations Prudie talked about.

Also, maybe you could ask him to research the best couples counselor in town, because obviously there is some chip in his brain he is bypassing and he could use someone professional (of his choice) to help him access it.

LW#4: Your mom sure sounds like some shrink. One wonders about the damage she may have inflicted on her non-straight patients. In fact, the whole drama of avoiding any personal questions to you basically undermines all her claims of competency.

But back to you. I think there is nothing wrong with spending the holidays with people who accept and love you for who you are, and I think there is nothing wrong about putting it this way to your family. It sounds like they are not ones for candor, but it is badly, badly needed in this circumstance.

That said, there is no reason to stir up drama about it. In fact, approach it as a logical conclusion of their rejection of you, say that you, too, wish your relationships could be closer, but you just can't get there because they don't want the truth from you, and until they accept who you are, they'll always be at arms length. Keep it brief, then step aside and let THEM make their own choices.

You are in one sucky position, but let's be honest — you didn't ask to be put there, and the people who did can undo it.

Best of luck.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

From My LOLcats

Dir Proody,

Me an mai hubbicat be rich! We haz cheezburger, I be washin mai bras even when I not wear them, and we haz naice litterbox for which we haz a maid. But our frens, they iz poor! Mai hubbicat tell them we pay them to kleen litterbox, but I sez no, this is krazy talk! Frens do not kleen litterboxes for frens! Too much informashun! Hao I maik them not see mai poop?

Mai shizz, it akshually do stink, but I don't want frens to kno!

Dir Shizz,

If ur frens are cat, tell them they don't need money anywai, all they need is nachural-born witz. If ur frens r hyooman, wai u frens with them? They are SPOSED to be kleenin' ur litterbox. If ur frens are dawgs, they will probally eet ur poo and not change the litter. Just a warning.

Dir Proody,

Mai fren be takin' lunches owt the company fridge. Whut I do nao?

Komfuzzled

Dir Komfuzzled,

It not wrong for a cat to taik what cat want. It wrong to get caught! I recommend ninjas.

Dir Proody,

Aftur mai cowurkers use the litterbox they no lick their butt. Hao I put up with such nastiness?

Butt-slurper

Dir Butt,

Sadly, u can no maik anybody lickz their butts, and u can no lickz their butts for them or u be actin laik a dawg. I recommend bringing in a profeshunnel groomer to the office to catstigayte and shave the non-lickerz.

Dir Proody,

Mai brother, he has a schizo. I think this one tyme he kill a hitchhiker we picked up. He in group cat house nao, gettin drugs. I ask heem about this cat and whut he do to heem?

I iz faykin it


Dear Faykin,

I knos u r parrot from kompleat lakz of imaginayshun. I knos u watch a lot of "Dyagnosis Murdur" with ur old ladee keeper from ur sad sorry cage. U kan't plai a plaier, and I am ultimit CAT PLAIER.

Also, ur ISP, I haz it. I haz dispatched invizibul ninja cats to kill u, u fayk LW. I will be eetin ur wings tonite, fried, in a little cheese sauce.

U be watchin' ur back, but itz too layt for u!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Short bits

As usual, read em here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2009/11/30/DI2009113002922.html

I gave him tix and he's taking his brother, not me or the kid: P-dawg, it ain't hockey. It's the nFl. Okay, well, the damage is done. Next time give him something he has to do with you or the kid. Although the b-day thing was kind of harsh, perhaps you should have said, "We'll have such an awesome time for my b-day" for the hint he truly needs.

A parent will not attend: They're both invited, and it is their obligation to quit being so childish and start doing right by their kid. Of course, you can only explain this to a certain degree to them, because either they'll already know and behave appropriately, or they'll never understand why other people come first and they'll continue to be douches. Since we're talking a 15 year plus history of douchiness, let's just imagine that this won't work out and so sonny boy should pick his favorite. Or none.

Vegan: Okay, this is a fake question. Because #1: NOBODY asks the vegan to host a meaty holiday and #2 NOBODY asks an unmarried person to host either. I do not quite know why, but this is the breaks. Just say, "My way or the tur-kay," and they'll find someone to take on the duties. Although I think it'd be neat to experience a vegan holiday or wedding meal, not everyone is as open as I am.

Make Bake Sow or Grow gifts: I can't believe Prudie thinks these are the words being drawn from a hat, not relatives' names. Good morning!!!

I'm working in the break room: Get one of those cardboard things that the talkative kids used to have to have on their desk in class. Remember those? Like a box with one side cut out. Write, "Can't talk, I'm working" on it.

Husband wants to give nephew braces: There are few better things to have than straight teeth, but this should be something his parents deal with. This is what you do when you have a kid.

NFL not NHL: I know, right!

Celiac: Sounds simple, but it leaves Vegan eating a plate of tofurkey and nothing else.

He was married but I broke up with him: Dude, he was so unhappy he was willing to stay that way. What does this "larger estate" have to do with anything? I am confused. Besides, it was a long time ago.

I gave BIL a check: Well, she SHOULD have known as his wife, and he SHOULD have turned you down if he couldn't tell YOUR SISTER about your generosity, not matter what "your reasons" are (compulsive spending/gambling aside). But tell your triflin' family no now. Call them triflin'. You wil feel like Michelle Singletary.

They are so rude they won't eat vegan? Yeah, I know. And yes, I know about tradition. Can we quit worrying about this now? If these people are willing to tear their family apart over veganicity, they'll do it regardless.

Gifting wife demands a (whole) birthday weekend?: Hey, there! If your birthday falls on, say, a Wednesday, do you come home from work then celebrate your b-day and go back to work? OR do you wait until the weekend to do something special? It's not about taking up a whole weekend, duh. It's about planning your night out/hangover responsibly.

Elaborate diplomatic divorce maneuvers: Sheesh, it should be all about the bride. No, really, it SHOULD be after hearing about these demanding divorcees.

No "Bless Yous" here: Bless you does not mean "Jesus Bless You" or "Ganesh Bless You." It is more like, "you poor thing!" So use it freely and easily. I am worried about your exacting standards. Loosen your corset laces.

Mean Girls: Why are you bothering?

No sex, please, I'm chronically ill: This is very confusing to me. You are fine with your life, but are worried that you're upsetting men by rejecting them? Geez, it's none of their beeswax why you wouldn't want to boink them. Prudie, her secret is total lack of desperation, total lack of interest.

PEOPLE GROW UP: I am with you. Preaching to choir.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

From My Orbit

As per usual, original letters here.

LW#1: You ask if it is okay for you to hire your struggling friends to clean your beautiful home. Well, no, it's not a good idea. You were right! You win the argument!

However, the LOLcat is out of the bag because your husband is apparently not savvy about this sort of thing at all, so if the offer is rescinded, you'll both look like jackasses (and he'll probably indicate that the blame is yours, so you look like a biznatch). So now you're kind of stuck, and I guarantee you that if you don't think the regular housecleaner is the bestest in the world, a couple of kids with what you call a deficit of ambition (but likely a whole barrel full of entitlement), will probably not meet your standards either.

So I have a philosophy, and while it's not "friends and money don't mix," it is, "When a friend or family member asks for a loan, consider if you wouldn't mind losing that money with a happy heart before you pony up."

I think you're going to have to cultivate a happy heart for what is to come, though.

But while you're at it, look around for other jobs for them so they can leave off cleaning your house and do something with their time and talents.

LW#2: Sometimes people who are charming and have big, important careers have a kind of a danger-seeking streak. I think sometimes being successful in high-pressure fields almost requires a certain amount of personality disorder. A healthy amount, so to speak. I would reckon your friend has a little bit of the adrenaline rush when she's pilfering lunch, if not in some other fashion through her work (yeah, your honesty alert antennae should be perking up), or possibly a little shoplifting of minor items. The signs only make it more thrilling for her, I bet.

I've also found that people making the "best" salaries to sometimes be completely inconsiderate of other people's property. So I can't say I'm shocked or befuddled.

Obviously, the correct way to address this would have been for the discoverer to have shouted out, "YOU ARE SO BUSTED!" at the moment of discovery. That way this would have bypassed the gossip route and just come out into the open.

You might want to send her an email apprising her that she has been busted and word is getting out. This lets her get out in front of her own personal PR disaster, because let's face it, if she's talented, her career shouldn't evaporate, but her pride should. She needs help before she's after more than baby carrots and yogurt, and you might not advise her this directly, but just state how shocked you were to learn that she was responsible for such petty, malicious acts, and that seems completely out of character to you. Those are kind of buzz words she can use to guide her search for a therapist.

LW#3: Your company must be the very last one in the US that has not installed health department flyers about handwashing, cough covering (with the elbows people!) and general hygeine maneuvers to avoid the plague. I mean, flu.

So go ahead and hit up your local health department and download a couple of these handy flyers, print them out and post them yourself.

If not, encourage your HR people/boss to have a "come to Jesus talk" about handwashing and swine flu and taking time off if you feel sick plus 24 hours of non-NSAID-treated fever. (See? My company is muy on the ball! They even handed out bottles of hand sanitizer!)

If they have already done all this, then rest assured you cannot change the habits of your disgusting pig coworkers without tearing into a bathroom rant ("I AM IN THIS OTHER STALL AND I HEAR YOU NOT WASHING YOUR HANDS, PEGGY SUE! OR "PIGGY SOO-EEY!") that will humiliate everyone and ruin relationships, then just stick to food that is separated by toothpicks at buffets.

Also, whether you like it or not, every single surface is coated with contagion in this world. Most of it is benign. Every inch of your skin holds an estimated 50 million bacteria on it! In fact, fully 10 percent of your body weight is not you, it is bacteria! Millions of viruses float in a single small pitcher of water from any outdoor lake, sea, river, etc.

I just say this to give you some perspective, because you will never be able to get fully liberated from bacteria, just as you will never become fully liberated from coworkers who do not share your sense of urgency about handwashing. You shouldn't let it turn you into a full-stop jerk.

LW#4: This is the best fake letter ever. You hit a trifecta of high points: Abuse, mental illness, hitchhiking. All we need is to stick not doing it for Jesus in there and you would have had the fake LW sweepstakes all wrapped up.

Kudos.

Folks! PSA for you! Virtually no schizophrenics, even in their sickest, delusioniest states, kill or even harm other people! They are of greatest danger to themselves!

So, let's assume you are telling the truth (though you aren't, because that's what I do here). What you do is you go down to the halfway home and ask your brother what really happened to that hitchhiker. Because if there are other people around and he's on the drugs (which tend to make schizophrenics a little something more than spaced out), it's probably a good place and time to ask.

Prudie obviously has no imagination, aside from the thumb-charm. Who's to say he didn't choke out that hitcher at the park and dump him in the river? And yeah, settle down, because if your brother is the sicko you're making him out to be, he would not be able to conceal the body effectively. The crime would have been discovered. Another clue that your letter is 100 percent grade A bullpucky.

But I have to say, I am really pissed at you for this letter. You are exploiting a stereotype for your little thrill. Schizophrenia has touched my life and the lives of people I do and have loved, and a lot of people who read the Dear Prudence column. Those of us who have known schizophrenics or still know them are aware of the difficulty of treating this disease, of the extreme vulnerability our loved ones have, and their families, who suffer immensely, not because of abuse, but because of stigma, of difficulty handling the day to day of a person who is not on medication.

Schizophrenia is a terrible disease. Sure, there are violent schizophrenics, but there are many, many, many more people who are really suffering from the disease and the stigma of schizophrenia. Please, future fake LWs, try not to exploit an already over-exploited group with this sort of nonsense.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The short bits

As usual, find your originals here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2009/11/23/DI2009112302560.html

I just found out my unemployed fiance has been having gay sex so he's cheating on me: Can you save this? Why would you want to even if you could? Cut your losses and run out of there. Don't forget to make him pay child support when he finally gets a job!

My mom insists all her broke kids do secret Santa: Secretly agree to do what my brother and I do. Everyone participate by putting $20 in an envelope. Everyone participates and gets the $20 they gave away. Mom will balk, but this is the way to out passive aggressive the passive aggressive.

My husband's 12-y-o kid he has never met tried to friend him: 12-y-os aren't allowed to have FB accounts! Report her to the FB cops! But really, contact with the MOTHER about what happened would be the best way to go about this. Your husband needs to have a little talk with her. Not you or the kid, the mother, who will decide what to do.

My aunt never shuts up about her hateful politics and I want her to be civil: Slip her a roofie in her coffee. No? Okay, tell her she can talk about reindeer, toys and dry winter skin this Christmas and that is it, she doesn't get to ruin Christmas. Do this before Christmas. Then when she visits, slip a roofie in her coffee.

My husband has alcohol issues and I need a drink once in a while: Dude needs therapy, both to deal with his alleged fears of your dying in the gutter, yellow kangaroo in hand, and his being a control freak. If he won't go, you go to start.

My sister hates me because I don't want to fly out and stay at a hotel for her kid's first birthday: I can't even fathom such people. Kids that age have no memory for that sort of thing. You're in the right. Apologize, but don't be held hostage by her insanity.

Our parents want to imprint their hoarding disorder on our baby: Tell both that they need to cut back, and that anything you don't like is going to Goodwill anyway. It's your baby, and you'll do what you want. Do it now, while the baby can't see you regift its toys.

My MIL is coming to my son's two-year b-day for him and his pals and it will cramp my style: You're having THREE parties for a 2-y-o? OMG I am SO not understanding that. One for his pals?! To do what? Drool and fall down? How much of this is for the kid? Will you be doing this every year? Your husband needs to tell mom "No." And sister, you don't need to be going to such extremes in partying for this kid in the future unless you want a party animal/brat for a teenager!

We were "mostly careful," but I want her to abort: Dude, if you don't WRAP IT UP each and every time, YOU are the one not being careful enough. This is out of your hands. However, and I'm channelling Bortimus Prime's Machiavellian Advice here, if you become suddenly incredibly non-supportive you may find that the abortion you want will look better and better in her eyes. You, not so much, but you're young and can find some other girl, right?

Locavore hates gift of out-of-season apples: You're within your rights to disdain the carbon footprint, but why not call the company up and just stop the shipments?

My wife nitpicks my childcare skills: Do what Prudie says, and then say, "Plus you're screwing up the kids doing that in front of them, and undermining me, and someday they'll manipulate me to their side and it'll be (# of children plus dad) against one."

My wingnut brother is asking me for state senate campaign money: Do NOT give him money or you will never hear the end of it. Astronaut is the donor in this family, and his phone rings a bajillion times a day from campaigns, PACs and charities. Plus you think he's a freak, so don't!

GWM: You are so right, bucko.

I hate "gifting:" This is the nature of the English language. Roll with it, even though it is clunky and unnecessary.

It's called parenting: Yeah, but his wife is treating him like an incompetant babysitter, so why not take on the language of the miffed?

Got Girlfriend Pregnant defender: I'm also going to add that we can't be sure it was a "whole lotta sex."

1 in 8 ppl on Food Stamps: Damn, that's a lot. If you can afford to bitch about NZ apples, you can afford carbon credit offsets, no?

Friday, November 27, 2009

From My LOLcats

Dir Proody,


I iz in heet! But mai boifren, he no want to mate wif me no moar. He say Ceiling Cat watchin' us, tell him to stop mating wif me. But I WANT.


Whut I do nao?


-- Hot poosy

Dir Hot,

U fynd a new boifren, wun who not listen to alleged cats in ceiling.

Dir Proody,


I wurk wif a byooteeful leddicat! She yung and sweet as Fancy Feast. But she snort laik a Pug when she nervuss, which is a lotta teh tyme. Hao I tell her to stop sounding laik dawg?


-- Ticks R Bad

Dir Ticks,

U shaym her. Tell her, "U sound laik Pug! U shut up nao!" She will be too nervuss to ever speek again.

Dir Proody,


Mai daddicat he so sad! Lose his job becuz his boss eevil! EEVIL! Kreechur sent from Basement Cat fur shure! Daddicat absolootlee, positivelee had to qwit his job. Nao he pore. Pore, pore daddicat, alwais sufferin' frum the eevils of other cats.


So he ritin' a resume nao, an he sai he want me pretend to be hiz old boss. This not sound so good. But I am good kitteh. I do this for heem?


-- Good Kitteh

Dir Kitteh,

Okai, furst thing I think is, hao callz u miss not be immeedeeatly notissed as not boss's number when ur voicemail kikz in? Or duz ur daddicat think having Mr. Cat Jr. as a past boss will fly? Whut kynd of dumb sitcom iz this??? R U cat, or r u peepul?

Daddicat shud have Thunderdome-style match wif all other appli-cats fur the job. If he come owt alive and triumfant, he get job.

Hao u think I gots to be Proody?

Dir Proody,


Mai naybors, they be fighting all the time! Screaming, yowling and crashing of things coming through walls at all hours of teh nite! Also, they haz a kitteh!


If I call coppicats, will the mean tomcat next door hurt us?


-- Scaredy cat

Dir Scaredy,

Call teh coppicats. I kno, I kno, we are cat, we fight. But family cats shud get along! (see here, starting on bottom of p 95) Coppicats be coming wif ther spraybottles, mayking heem behave, and that a gud thing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

From My Orbit

As usual, original letters can be found here.

LW#1: Okay, first thing I think of when someone's behavior changes dramatically and they attribute it to God is mental illness. So you may want to get that checked out.

I understand you are looking for a rational argument to persuade him to boink you, but when God enters the picture, you are not able to get one over through reason. God is about faith, and often a person's concept of God comes down somewhere between the way they were raised and how they view themselves. That is, you can't talk back at this God character. Especially for someone who has had an intense religious experience like being saved, and uses that as the basis of his faith.

In the meantime, you're living in a place with a guy who is taking away something you consider crucial to the relationship your have and your own health. For a few minutes, stop thinking about him and start thinking about yourself. Is he (or He) going to declare new unilateral rules for you in the future? Can you live with that? Can you love with that?

Another thing: Stop saying you find his impositions "somewhat hurtful and offensive" and start owning your anger at him. How can any woman not find sexual rejection hurtful?

What I'm saying is that if he is going to be selfish and hurtful to you, you need to start protecting yourself. You need to start looking at him with open eyes and weigh him objectively instead of reflexively defending him, even if it's in the privacy of your own mind.

If your BF is sound of mind, I would start making plans to find a new place to live if I were you (and if he is in his mid-20s and is beginning to show schizophrenia, I would say you need to think long and hard about what living with someone with schizophrenia is like, and I do mean learn what it is like). His willingness to do this to you, coupled with his inflexibility, does not bode well for the future.

LW#2: OMG this little girl snorts? Like a pirate?

So what?

Okay, look, someone who actually likes this poor kid needs to step up and mention her snort to her, since obviously none of you are ever going to find it a cute little habit that an otherwise "sweet and lovely" and presumably competent, young woman has this tic.

Please, find someone in this office who is kind enough to mention this silly thing with compassion and help this poor kid find a way she can take control of her weird tic and propel herself to business success without crushing her (you know, like prompting her to do breathing exercises or visualizations or maybe do a run-through before she presents and, hey, how'd she get through her job interview?). Someone with "mentor" written all over her. And have her do it when they are alone in the bathroom or something.

LW#3: What a dumb thing to do, on your dad's part. Are you sure his griping about his boss was not somewhat unjustified by this completely unethical thing he's doing?

I mean seriously, this is the sort of thing that can be checked out and could lead to his being fired (assuming he's hired) for lying on his resume. Boom! Two burned bridges! Two bum references he can't use!

But more than that, this is not cool at all. He is risking career suicide in desperate bid for employment.

And it may be for nothing. Many, if not most, companies have a policy of not saying anything — negative or positive — to people who are asking about job candidates for fear of liability. They just confirm the dates of employment. Your dad should call his company pretending to be a person asking about his job candidacy (or have a friend do this) and see what happens. This is actually okay, because it's gathering information, even though it may also sound shady. Think of it this way: What are the repercussions if he does this? Virtually nothing. What about lying on his resume? Huge.

Or give a coworker the reference spot.

Tell him no, tell him it's wrong and tell him to look at the Internet for resources about dealing with burned bridges on his resume. Tell him about what I said above (the two references being bad if he's caught out) and tell him you're starting to think his employment problems may be self-generated and he needs to check himself before he wrecks himself.

But do it nicely. Firmly, for sure, but nicely.

LW#4: Call.

Just call.

He is a domestic abuser, and he needs to be reported before his wife or child ends up in the hospital, or worse, the morgue.

He is too chicken to mess with anyone except the woman he has trapped under his thrall. He will be terrified of you and everyone else knowing his dirty little secret, because you have open eyes, resources, and the ability to call the police (and the landlord!) on him if he so much as looks mean at you.

And he may not hit the baby now, but that baby is going to grow up in an excrutiating dynamic that will warp him or her.

A few times getting called on his crap, this man will either get the help he needs to turn over a new leaf, or his wife will get the attention and resources she needs to leave him.

People don't get involved in what goes on "behind closed doors." But they have taken their drama public and made you complicit in it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

From My LOLcats

Dir Proody,


Mah boifren haz a family, and they taykes a Christmas pitchur every year. This year, they sai, "U GET IN TEH PITCHUR." I am laik, not in teh family an I won't haz ther last naymez and in their pitchur I DO NOT WANT. So filled with angur an teh RAYG!

Whut I do nao?


Unfotojenik

Dir Unfotogenik,

Did u kno that unfotogenic meanz the camera, it duz not laik u? Did u kno ur boifren's family, u du not laik them? Becuz they are about to kno it. And mebbeh they not laik u so much when they lirn. And if boifren still poses for pitchurs, he mebbeh syde wif hiz family. Just sayin'.

Dir Proody,


I marry Mr. Rite! But I was in hiz computer, findin' pron. Of his stepdaughter from a preveyuss leddicat!!1!11! He say it okay, he taykin' secksy pitchurs for her wedding dai! I say, but teh wuns where she nekkid? He say it okay, too, she never taik her clothes off, he do that in teh Photoshop.


Everything is totally kewl nao, rite?


Mrs. Rite need aid

Dir Mrs Rite.

Look, I kno we non-purebred cats can haz some trashy family entaingullments (literallee! We maytin' by the trashcans in teh alley!), but dis wun here, dis weerd. Cats shud not be photoshoppin' owt clothes. We shud be photoshoppin' in invisibul sandwiches.

Dir Proody,


I kno a tomcat who is lookin' fur a dayt. I wantz it! He haz a cancer, though, and I kno he gonna die becuz I work where he get a treatment. But I lovez him! And love, he wantz it becuz he is on Tomcat.com (ed note: not a real site as far as I know, but I'm not checking it out!) juss laik me!



I can haz date with Pet Sematary?

Leddicat, u du whut u want, but mebbeh u consider why you want heem so bad when u kno terminal cat is terminal?

Dir Proody,


Mah boifren and I want to haz family over for Turkee Day. Hiz parents be meetin mai parents, lotsa laffs and gud fud. But hiz dad invyte Uncle Krazee (dis iz heem). He be seein' invisibul federalees, invisibul illegul aleeyens, invisibul black helikopterz and visibul black prezident. All of which skare him so he carry big gun in case he get oppurtoonitee to shoot something he think attack him. Haoever, I think mebbeh he think we attack him by tooning owt him being a wacko, or konfrunting his delooshuns, or even jus bai being neer him. I no laik guns, hao I get him not to come?


Gunshy

Dir Gunshy,

There iz no shame in being gunshy. I myself prefer ninja-style slotter. It ur rite to not haz guns around, but it naice thing to let crazy cat come around family wunce a year. Daddicat haz eye to keep on brothercat, so mebbeh you move big fancy meet-n-greet dinner to non-holiday weekend for ackchooal meeting. Dis wun, it iz a Mulligan.

Pee Ess: Sorry ur family will be learnin' ur boifren haz a crazee uncle. U mebbeh got a crazee relative u can invyte to balance everything owt?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

From My Orbit

As always, original letters and advice are here: http://www.slate.com/id/2235694/

LW#1: Dang, grouchy, why are you such a stick in the mud? This is what they've always done, it's kind of cute, and I don't think the fact that you're not changing your name to Smith (like you future BIL did? Come on!) lets you off the hook.

Families do cheesy things together. That's how they bond. Obviously, you get this, in that your "future family" will have basically this exact same cheesy portrait situation. And when the time comes, you can do this and have your own Christmas card that you write the letter for, even as you continue to pose with the in-laws. So why are you being such a bad sport now? Why is this such an anger-provoking thing for you?

I wonder if you're so sick about this because you don't want to be a part of this family. At all. Because this is not umbilical-attachment behavior on your future husband's part, this is just one of those things that comes from having obligations, respect and love to and for other people.

LW#2: This is intensely, deeply weird, and I would not consider this man Mr. Right any more. Beyond photoshopping his step/daughter to look nude ("Photoshop. Yeah, that's the ticket!"), taking lingerie pics of her in the first place, even for her wedding day, is straight up not the kind of thing people want their fathers to do/want to do for their daughters.

You know what you have to do.

LW#3: Well, if there are any professional reasons you shouldn't try to date this guy, then I would hold back. But if you're not a fake letter, and you have developed feelings for this guy, and you're willing to expose yourself to loving him, nursing him as he gets ill, and ultimately losing him, that is your business. You don't have to treat him when he comes in, right? Some other nurse could do that.

So sure, why not send him a message that says you've noticed him, and here's how and if he's uncomfortable no big deal, but you totally dig him?

But before you do that, please take a step back and ask yourself, "Why do I want to pursue a relationship with someone who I know is this ill, who stands across a HIPPA barrier from me, and who I will spend time watching die?" Are you often attracted to men who are, in some ways, doomed, or unavailable to you?

LW#4: This is a situation where the father should talk to the brother, and, if he does not get a "Yeah, I can leave the howitzer at home, and I'll be on my best behavior" answer, should disinvite the guy. And if he gets that answer and Uncle Festus comes, but has the usual behavior and is concealed-carrying, he needs to escort him away post-haste.

Also, if your BF's dad is going to not understand the purpose of getting together to meet your immediate family and strike up some friendly conversation and bonding, and is going to do the "let's invite crazy Uncle Festus" thing on a regular basis (getting married anytime soon?), he's going to have to be watched.

Not that what he did is particularly bad. In fact, it's kind of a positive sign for you as you get closer to making him your FIL. He's a compassionate guy. That sort of thing trickles down, apple-from-tree style.

I get why he feels bad for Uncle Festus. Who among us does not have some variation on an Uncle Festus in our family? Someone who is outcast from the rest and unsocializable, someone who has done something, perhaps something unforgiveable to half the family, yet because Uncle Festus is so lonely and sad-sacky, and possibly mentally ill or brain damaged, there is always a brother or something who works to include him under the rubric, "this is my brother. I have to take care of him."

Yeah, but the father will have to become his brother's keeper. And if this is going to get in the way of meeting your family, then maybe you should pick a non-holiday for a Mulligan, if that becomes necessary.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Attracting men is hard!

Hello Space Cadet!


The Fray has always been my favorite part of Dear Prudence, and I'm thrilled to see you all setting up shop for yourselves. It's nice to see a little corner of common sense on the internet.


I've been following the talk about the last week's "Plain Jane" and it's been getting me thinking. And the thinking has made me decide I could use some advice myself:


I've been single for longer than I care to admit. Since I'm writing in for advice, of course, I'll admit it: I last had a date around 2005 (it was a first date, and there wasn't a second), and the last time I had something resembling a boyfriend was in the 20th century. I've had lots of male friends, but they've never seemed interested in dating. I grew up with a brother, and I admit that most of the time when I'm hanging out with guys, I relate to them in a way that's more "one of the guys" than girl-flirty. I like to joke around, talk about music and movies and generally "hang out" rather than flirt. And I don't think I'm unattractive — I don't fit the "typical" standard (I'm a little overweight thanks to an oh-so-fun endocrine disorder, but I dress well and I'm good with grooming and stuff), but I'm not Phyllis Diller, either, and I'm a warm person who is genuinely interested in talking to people, and I have a good sense of humor (I know, self-reporting isn't terribly reliable, but let's run with it, ok?).


I'm a grad student now in a state far from home (MFA in creative writing, if that matters to anyone), and have been here for about a year. I've met wonderful people, mostly in the same program, because finding time to socialize in grad school is...well, let's go with a range somewhere between difficult and impossible. I have a good number of friends, or at least friendly acquaintances, a good number of whom are guys. I've hung out with them on various occasions, usually involving bars because there's not a whole lot else going on around here. I didn't come to grad school to find a man, but I didn't come here to take my nun's orders either.


So my question, I guess, is twofold: 1. Why don't guys find me attractive (wah wah wah, I know)? Is it that they don't see me as available or flirtatious or what have you? How on earth does one telegraph that kind of interest? 3.  How does an insanely busy grad student who is also teaching two classes get a romantic life? 


Thanks in advance!

There appears to be a crisis brewing for available women. The original Plain Jane is one of a throng of millions of competent, well-adjusted women who for some reason feel the need to find out what is wrong with their body or personality that is preventing men from swooning over them.

I am going to stipulate that you are doing everything just right. Your dress, your looks, your behavior, your non-girlyness, I'm going to say, this is you and who you are is just fine. It's not like adopting a mode of flirting that is uncomfortable for you is going to 1) look natural or 2) attract a man who will necessarily appreciate the rest of you. Right? You are who you are, at your core, and while there are parts of your personality that are probably still plastic enough to adjust to living with a partner or what have you, you are, for lack of a better term, pretty much who you're going to be at this point.

It's just about finding someone who likes and accepts you for that core "you" at this point.

And let's not forget: YOU need to find someone whose core "him" is acceptable to you.

And also: figuring out who someone really is can be easy (most people are pretty much who they are all the time at either low or high volume. People seriously will tell you who they are, it's whether you care to listen to it that matters) or hard (everyone knows someone they thought was cool who later turned out to be psycho but possibly only after painful events had transpired. Alternatively, everyone has had the experience of discovering someone they thought was kind of meh was maybe more than they thought).

So Phase one for getting a date: Put out that you are out there, looking, to the people you talk to. You say you have male friends? They aren't necessarily your main target to receive the message that they should put the moves on you, but hey, if that is what they walk away with and it's agreeable to you, gravy! Ways to do this without eyelash batting include: 1) bitching about your love life, or lack thereof. Let the person you are talking to know that you are SO on the market. 2) bitching that you don't know how to flirt (this can, in its own way, be flirty). 3) Asking to be set up, in the context that this person you are talking to knows you, your habits, your likes and dislikes, and might know someone with a meshing personality. (I think, "I didn't come here to take nuns' orders" could count as excellent flirting, BTW.)

Phase two: The Internet. I know, I know. BUT! I know a couple of Internet dating royalty. This guy, the king, I'd say, very wisely said that with the Internet, you have a lot of options to explore, can narrow those options down, and can date a bajillion people in short order. The queen said she'd look for what she found interesting — regardless of what the guy *said* he wanted (self-reporting is unreliable, right? Someone's interest is aphrodesiacal) and send men a message. While there's something to be said for an easy, committed, friend-to-lover relationship, there's also something to be said for having people want to date you, for the excitement of the new. That's why "spicing up your marriage" is in every single Redbook ever.

I suppose that prior to Phase One there has to be a kind of recognition of the desire to date. Like, with Plain Jane, she was all, "I dunno that this scene is for me." And she didn't mean flirting, she meant getting with someone. I know a lot of people like to explore thier own motives and psychological nooks and crannies — and there are cases where this is warranted. But I've spent enough time single to know that there is an unhealthy thing that can happen in your head when you are pounding away at the same questions. There is healthy self-awareness and there is unhealthy beating one's self up with questions, speculations and everything else.

In short, instead of thinking about who you are and what it is about you that is a shortcoming, focus on who and where you want to be and start acting like it. You want to be a writer? You gots to produce words. You want to be a dater? You gots to get out and do that. Both writing and dating are hard, and the real work is not the initial outlay, it's the editing and the exploration of another person, if that makes any sense.

Phase three: Project Me. You know how I said visualize who you want to be? This is part of that. You want to learn to knit or do more knitting? Join/start a stich and bitch. Go to campus events. Lots of them. Lectures, brown bags, plays, etc. Most of them are more interesting than you'd have guessed. If you want a literate guy's arm to hold, you put yourself around literate people. Capische? You find out who you are at your best, what talents you are strongest in, and you put yourself out there and do it and impress yourself.

Phase four: Actual date. Just be you. Don't oversell or undermine yourself. If you're not interested, then whatever. If he's not interested, don't worry about it reflecting on you, it's just a fact of life that some people won't click or share different dreams and it's better to recognize it early on and move along than try to make it work perfectly. If a guy won't have a second date with you, recognize it as a favor, not a black mark on you. If you're interested, make sure you communicate that: "You're pretty interesting," seems to work. Honestly, if you're getting along like hot cakes, this is the best that flirting has to offer.

Anyway, I have been yammering on a lot now. I just think the world would work a lot better if people, women mostly, would accept that they are who they are and there is only so much reinvention you can do. A pair of red heels will not fundamentally secure the kind of relationship that the discriminating dater is after (although they may be really cute!). Attention? Maybe.

I realize I have skewed my advice here, but it also applies to menfolk. No matter what your gender, it takes a little self-awareness, initiative and luck (and social skills). It takes effort. But so does getting a job, buying a car or home, travelling, saving for retirement, planning a party and having pets, so if you can do any to all of those you are way ahead of the game.

Now, mature, self-realized people of the world: Go Forth AND DATE!!! We need your genes and superior parenting skills out there!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

From My Lolcats

Dir Proody,


I iz an ugleh kitteh, but don't wurry! I likz mah butt and stayz clean. I iz not act laik purrshun kitteh! To teh menz, I iz indifferent. Hao I rate maiself so I kno hao to act?


Adequate Alsayshun

Dir Alsayshun,

Hao u act is hao you act. It iz related to ur inner byootie, not ur owtsydes. Also, ur brain wiring. Wai teh eff shud u decide hao to act based on ur looks? U R CAT U DU WHUT U WANT.

Dir Proody,


Mah Sistercat-in-law, she throw a TURRIBULL thanksgiving! She kill all the indianz! Put fud away when we want moar! Leevs the TV on and woant let nobuddy on top uv it! Hao I throw own party this year wifout her killin me?


Partycat

Dir Party,

U do it, u big dummy. Then u take pikchur and u send it wif capshun that say: "UR PARTEE, I FIXED IT."

Dir Proody,


Mah boss is so gud! But hiz wifeycat is robbin' the inshurants companeez! Whut I do nao?


Teefies r kleen

Dir Teefies,

Ur boss, he iz not so gud. U get other job, get relevant dokumenz, u tell sumboddy about dis stuff.

Dir Proody,


I go to cat funeral — lotsa howlin and wailin! So sad! We all be getting sooper crazy wif the grief! It laik Mephistopholes die! Old man cat pass owt! I iz medicalcat, I fix him! It crazy! Then on wai home, hubbicat say, "sum fyooneral, huh?" and I go, "Yes!" and I blow up wif wurds! And emoshuns! They is pouring outta me like I iz vase and I got pushed off the table! An hour layter, he say, "Batcat is up." He wuz listening to the game the hole time! Why he do this to me? Hao I kill heem?


Emoshuns, I got em

Dir Emoshuns,

Teh menz can only tayk five to ten minuts of emoshuns at a tyme. U overstayed ur limit. But if this is important to u, poison his Purina. Next tyme u go on rant, mayk shur the radio is off. Then nobuddy haz to die.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Beyond vibes

Dear Space Cadet!
I've been a fan of your "From My Orbit" columns. You have so much wisdom, and I'm confident you can help me:
I have a 16 year old daughter who dates 15 year old boy. My daugter & I have a pretty good relationship, she share things with me (something I've never done with my mom).
Well, she wrote me a note the other day telling me that she wants to have sex with this boy. Just to let you know, we've talked about sex before, I mentioned that I expect her not to have sex until she's 18 (& moves out). I presented all obvious reasons to wait - physical & emotional. This boy she's dating is very decent and intelligent, but he already had sex with his ex-girlfriend & of course, he wants more (and she wants it too now).
Please help me to present more arguments on the emotional side, why at this age they are not ready for sex.
In the meantime, I mentioned that if she wants me to schedule a visit to ob/gyn to talk about birth control options, I'll help with that. I'd rather prefer her having safe sex than me being oblivious to reality. But the truth is I want her to postpone it, she's only 16!
One more thing: I wouldn't want her to be on a pill, because we have very strong breast cancer history in our family, but you know how are teenagers and condoms...
Your advise will be very much appreciated!
 
 Oh, don't start in too early with the appreciation! Because I'm going to tell you something: Your wishes for your daughter, while they are noble, are not going to be able to dictate what she ultimately does. As soon as you present an "argument," you have essentially set yourself up against her.

And that's not what you want to do. You need to be on her side. See, boyfriends come and go, but moms are forever. You want to be in a place where, even if she does something that she knows you aren't for, she can still come to you.

You already are in a good place: You want the best for your child — safe sex over unsafe sex, if sex is what it comes down to. You're willing to make an appointment for her to talk about birth control options with a doctor, and you're willing to get her The Pill (they're a lot better these days with the low-dose hormones than they used to be when it comes to cancer — smoking is the big no-no). You are in a place where you are facing reality. That is very good. (If you think about it, if you wait until she's 18 and moves out, she will have to go through all this on her own with the Pill and the doctor appointments. I know, I know, the chorus of "she's an adult then!" will ring up, but hey, how mature are 18-y-os in general?)

I get the feeling that you have laid out for her your expectations/wishes. Have you talked, really talked with her about the emotional side? I don't think I have any more wisdom there than you do. I think we're both aware of how much more intimate a relationship gets when sex (or even nudity) comes in. I think we've both had experiences sleeping with people that maybe weren't worthy of it, and not necessarily knowing that at the time. I think we've both dealt with what it means to be a sexual woman for ourselves in an age when women are supposed to be sexual for everyone else and vice versa.
 
In sum, there is a lot of noise out there about sex, and your job as a parent is to get your daughter to tune into the signal her own body and brain are sending her.

Instead of telling her the circumstances under which her virginity may leave, ask her about what *she* wants, and what she thinks having sex will do for her. It's so uncomfortable, but she may talk herself into that signal, and realize she may be feeling like she should do it because all her friends are and she doesn't want to be left out. She may really be in love with this 15-y-o boy, and she may really feel ready, too. She may realize she's just ready for a vibrator, which, as I've pointed out before, is a lot more trustworthy than any boy.

The thing is, having sex won't automatically change her or her character. But it does put her at quite a few physical risks and in a place where she is very vulnerable to this boy. She can't just weigh the odds (teens, it has been shown in surveys, will say it is rational to play Russian Roulette for something like $2 million, even though there is no rational reason on this Earth to play it — they don't understand odds) and game theory this out. She has to know that the boy who she is going to sleep with is doing it with her for the right reasons. So you may want to ask about this ex of his and what happened with her, and where she sees herself with him.

You can also tell her that if she's not ready to buy condoms, she's probably not ready to have sex, either. It's pat, but it's true.
 
The other thing I'll say is that in this day and age, virginity is looked on as something like a stigma. There is a lot of condescension to virgins. It may be that in this day and age, there is something to be said to losing your virginity to a boyfriend you really care about rather than waiting for an arbitrary age, or worse, feeling like you have to get it over with by a certain point. Once it's gone, the pressure is off for pretty much ever after.

My next piece of advice to you is when your daughter indicates that she's sexual, you let her have that space in her life to herself. It's not an area that you're responsible for. You love her, and want the best for her, you can help her cultivate an understanding of "the sexual life" but not necessarily her sexual life. As long as the rest of her is thriving — good grades, happy, active in her school/community — there's not really a reason to freak out about that part of her life.

Good luck! And big hugs!

From My Orbit

As always, originals can be found here!

LW#1: Oh dear lord tell me you are a fake LW. Please tell me that.

I really hate people who say they aren't sure if they're attractive or not. By what standard are you measuring yourself? The standard where Megan Fox is at one end and Phyllis Diller on the other that is basically a measure of whether you are up to code in the beauty standard department or the one where personality is involved? Because those are two different things.

Also, don't take this wrong, but ugly and plain people hook up All. The. Time. I have babysat for their kids, in fact.

Even Froggy went a-courtin'.

Okay, and the other thing I object to is your thinking flirting is "wrong" for the "unattractive woman." Flirting is *human* not for a special class of beauty code compliant women and men! But I'm giving you slack because you (and maybe your friends?) seem to think all flirting entails is sexyface and leg-touching and suggestive licking of ice cream. If you do it right, winning a game of Trivial Pursuit can be flirty (well, it works for me).

So moving on, your friends tell you to telegraph your interest, but you think the plain ugly ducklings of the world should shy away from potentially appearing as if they have needs or rights to join the great game of courtship. Eff that noise.

Maybe an attitude, wardrobe, hair and makeup adjustment won't make you think you're more attractive, but I think someone needs a little perspective and maybe a brow wax when I read your letter. Oh, and there's no "objectively attractive." My husband thinks I hung the moon. He also doesn't see the appeal of Angelina Jolie. A relative of mine married her cousin, and he had worked for Greta Garbo. His comment on his wife, "Yeah, Greta was all right, but my *wife,* (insert sigh) she is really something." If you ever saw a picture of this woman, you'd not be wrong to think, "ORLY?"

I also think you need to figure out why you're so anti- putting yourself out there. Yeah, someone turning their nose up at you is not fun (it has happened to the hottest of us), but it's part of life and ultimately they're doing you a favor. You never get to fail in love with your "I'm too middling to mate," but you never get to fall in love, either.

Don't dress it up as your checking your genes out of the human swimming pool for humanity's sake. You are as deserving of love and sex as any other person out there, and quite possibly more. You don't have to act like a Stepford robot, but you do have to put yourself out there.

LW#2: Go ahead and do what you want. This woman has hosted seven *terrible* Thanksgivings by ANY standard, and you need to introduce some balance. Just tell her, "I feel bad that you do this on your own every year, and I want to give you a year off." If she objects, say, "It'll be different, sure, but there'll be a lot of fun people there, you'll have a blast."

If she's a control freak (and with the insta-clearing she sounds like one) she may feel offended. But you know what, you can't control that! And you shouldn't let that control you!

So go for it! Thanksgiving is the best of all the holidays, because although there are expectations there are no gifts and there IS stufing/dressing! There is no reason it should be awful for you! Exclamation point!

Plus, you'll be having too much fun to be worrying about her if she stays home and does her rigid thing with the weird TV-blasting in the background.

Also your husband? He needs to be the buffer of his family's wrath, if that would actually come down on your head. Just sayin' he has a role in this.

LW#3: Oooh, bind-o-rama.

This is a real problem.

Okay, first, start looking for another job. Because this is for sure going to impact your employment, either if you talk to your boss or if you send an anonymous letter to the insurance commissioner or the company.

Second, I would make sure you knew this was happening on a broad scale, and had documents xeroxed or whatever, before you acted. I mean, seriously. And I would not approach the boss about this, because you don't know what is happening with his awareness.

Third, I'm sorry this happened to you. Perhaps it's my own personal work experience, but there is not always satisfaction or justice in doing the right thing for the right reasons. And in this economy you may just want to keep your head down and do your job and get an escape hatch before you blow the roof off, because I'm telling you right now, what you're setting yourself up for is possibly a world of suck.

Oh, and forget Prudie's weird decision to drag in the healthcare debate. I'm pretty sure we won't have dental, anyway. And this isn't about "medical waste," this is about fraud.

LW#4: OMG.

Either your husband is a long time insensitive jerk and you came to a point where you had to ask the Internet Lady if this is too much, or this is a one-time thing.

Some people can't handle emotional stuff, painful emotional stuff especially, very well. The funeral was obviously a big deal, and he'd probably overloaded his circuits if he's one of those people. Your circuits were certainly fried, and the way you cope is to talk about it. The way he coped is to bury it.

Men are masters of the non-reaction reaction. They're basically told from birth to be pokerfaced at all times unless they need to bluff. Seriously.

On the other hand, if he routinely brushes you off and tunes out your coping mechanism of talking it through, he's a deeldoh, as the LOLcats would say. And, special to the Internet Lady, if he tunes you out for a ballgame during a genuine emergency, he's a vurry beeg deeldoh.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

From My Lolcats

Dir Proody,

I am a kitteh. I luv to talk to mah mommicat! We talks abowt everything! So I wanna get a jackrabbit. No, not as prey, as goodtime jiggly wiggly toy!

I tell mah mommicat dis, ryght? I needz her help in figgerin' out the ins and outs of usin dis thing, ryght?

Kitteh wants to hump, but not a boicat with a prickly pecker


Dir hump,

Teh centers of ur womanly pleshure are not that hard to find. Particularly with a jackrabbit. Mommicat and u may laik to overshare, but mebbeh u need to start keeping some things from her, for both ur saykes.

Dir Proody,

I get married soon and I wantz the kittehs! Mah boifren, he may or may not have nootikuls, he is not so shur. In theory, dis no bother me becuz I want mebbeh adopt kitteh or try a sperm bank (i.e. go to the alley). But in reality, I be telling heem, "U go to doctor! U tell me if u be havin' the nootikuls!" He say I iz crazy! Iz I crazy?

All Ball, all the time


Dir All Ball,

Chill the hell owt. Dis sort of scenario is eggzacktly why we haz the catnip. U want spend life with boifren? Do that.

Dir Proody,

I basically tryed to kill mah daddicat's second wifycat and bebbeh when I wuz a kitteh. I am getting married now and am not a psychokitteh anymore. Hao I get heem to pay fur mah wedding nao? Or just furgive me?

I seen the lyght


Dir Lyght,

U let them stay as far from u as they need to until u are proven to be a gud kitteh and not a bad kitteh. Mebbeh they come see u if u let urself get wrapped in a naice thick towel?

Dir Proody,

I wurk with a man who hayte me. He be leavin' his sox all in the litterbox and maykin' comments. I iz awesum wurker, but mah boss, he no do nothing! Whut I do?

Reddy to pop


Dir Reddy,

U pee on his sox. Spray his desk, too. Mebbeh u come up all silent behind him laik ninja and breathe a little on heem and he turn around and u go, "HISSS" wif all ur teef showing, mayk heem poop his wurkspace.

Or u kill ur boss and get hiz job and then u fire the sox-wearer fur his unspeakabul krime.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

From My Orbit

People, before we get started you have to see THIS. ALL CREDIT TO IPHEGENIA GOES SHOPPING!! MUST CREDIT IGS!!! Also give her four cheezburger.

As always, original letters here.

To the teen LW who wants to get a vibrator:

Okay, I'm going to have to assume you exist, even though that makes an ass out of me. I'm quite certain you're actually a 40-y-o man with a lot of Robotech action figures, excuse me, mecha, in your apartment, excuse me, mom's basement.

So you want to dance with the plastic paramour? Start something with the synthetic sybarite? You're only 16 and you're into advanced masturbation techniques here. Plus advanced shopping and/or mail interception skills.

I assume if you're smart enough to figure that much out and can bring one into the house and successfully sequester it, you can figure out how to use one without Prudie telling you. (P.S. ew.)

However, you want to know if you should bring your mom in on the "I'm graduating from Rosie Palms and you might hear what sounds like a hornet's nest in my room but don't come in because it's not a hornet's nest" discussion.

No.

I think it's really awesome when people are able to talk with their parents about certain things, but when it comes to sex, it's one thing to tell your mom about your emotions, hopes, expectations and ideals (or, come to think of it, problems, fears, potential pregnancies and STDS), but a certain curtain should be drawn over the actual, you know, things that happen physically. Because there are a few things parents and children should not know about each other. Girlfriends are a different story, as are the people you will eventually have sex with.

I know, you're close to mom. But you're at an age where it is natural for you to develop your own, separate identity from her. Speaking as someone who has a mother who loves her very much and knows a whole lot about her, and in moments of anger is not afraid to use her long memory to pull up some long-past situation to use against me to shut me down when we argue even if it's not relevant, having a private sexual identity can be a haven and a huge relief.

Keep the lines of communication open. But, you know, sometimes semaphore is about as much as you need to let on.

To the LW with baby fever:

I understand that you want to know if your man has swimmers or not, but if you know he is the one for you forever and ever, I'd lay off. You may be sublimating your fears of the future into this issue which, as someone who is willing to consider adoption and sperm donation, you know is somewhat moot for you anyway.

Okay, I usually don't get personal in my writing, but there was a month a while back where, while I was getting up to pee at 3 a.m. (like you don't), I'd have these horrible thoughts of death, loneliness and the nursing home. It was every night and it was awful, and it sprung from my fears about getting old, sick and feeble and, worse, knowing that I am with someone who I will watch grow old, sick and feeble IF I'm lucky! But you know what? I told Astronaut about them, and I'm late-night-worry-free now. I mean, the worries still exist, but they're conscious now.

So figure out what you're really freaking out about, then get it out in the open. Look at the wide-angle view of your relationship with your honey. Life has no guarantees in it, but it'll be a lot happier for both of you if you stop freaking out about the things you can't control.

To the LW who was a toxic teenager:


Your father hasn't seen you for half your life, an important one where you change a lot. You must have been hell on wheels.

Look, it's his privilege to decide if he can expose himself to you again, make himself vulnerable, without risking getting really hurt. The onus is on you to prove that you're in it for the right reasons.

I wouldn't expect your dad to jump at the chance to be at your wedding, but there's no reason you can't keep reaching out to him. Send him pictures, send brief notes about how you're doing, keep apologizing and reach out to your uncles and other family members who can vouch for you (but don't ask them to pressure him to see you).

You made some serious mistakes. You have to try and make good on them.

At the same time, your father may not want to reestablish contact. Keep taking heart in the fact that you were able to survive a really bad time, with really bad influences, and come out intact and with perspective. Ruminate on that as often as you need to.

To the LW with the passive aggressive sock dude:

It's not about the socks.

OMG it is SO not about the socks.

I know you recognize them as a protest against you, but you need to stop trying to get rid of the symptom. You need to cure the disease.

Let go of the dirty socks thing and the toilet seat thing. Start documenting everything he does that is not quirky but IS job related. Nasty comments go in a special diary with the time and date noted. Once you have about 10 days worth of smart remarks, you go to your boss with a copy of what you've noted down. You tell your boss you are a terrific worker, but you'd probably be better if your office mate kept his disrespect to himself. You specifically mention the words "harassment" and "hostile environment." As in, "I do not appreciate this harassment and I feel it creates a hostile work environment."

Oh, ignore Prudie's "superior attitude" comment. Sure, you've probably pissed off the boss about piddly things (yeah, I can pun too), but no one should have to put up with someone who is being a jerk at work. It's the boss's job to make sure everyone is working smoothly together, this should not be that hard for him to crack down on. You may also have an Employee Assistance Program you can call and talk about solutions to the sockman. They may have better ideas about who to go to and what to do if the boss is not doing what he's supposed to do.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

From My Lolcats

Dir Proody,

Mai boifren! He is sooper awesum! But! He hold me down and tickle me and I DUZ NOT LAIK. Maik me mizerabul. Hao I maik heem stop? Did I menchun he iz awesum?

Tikkling bad

Dir Tikkling,

He not awesum. U kill heem nao.

Dir Proody,

Mai mommicat, she soburr nao. Yay! But she not rememburr when I was kitteh. She say, "Wai we not go out? Have naice lunch at Denny's? Talk about ur high school years? Becuz I don't rememburr them? I wud laik some memoreez of those dais for mai burthdai." At furst, I think I write her about those dais, when she kuvvered in vomit and peeing on kitchen floor whyle "Uncle Festus" "axidentally" "fall asleep" in mai room, or tyme when I tell her, "U no come to school play!" but she come in haff-way thru, get on stage and drunkenly sashay and sing "I am Poor Buttercup" but we iz doin "Cats!" But nao I think, naw, don't want to go there at all. Especially in Denny's. Whut I do nao?

"Memories, all alone in the moonlight," it wuz ruined

Dir Memories,

Furst u get reservation for better restaurant. One with eggs benedict. Then u sai, "Mommicat, going there? DO NOT WANT." If she purrsist, u sai, "It was bad and will maik u cry, and this ur burfday. Aren't these eggs benedict delishuss?"


Dir Proody,


I am single. Mai frends have leddicats and boifrens who I don't know and don't particularly care to know. Hao I have dinner party for mai 10 friends only in mai small apartment and not the other cats?


Looking for etti-cat

Dir Etti-cat,

Here's whut u do: Invite everywun to the neighborhood fence and u all dig in garbage cans for dinner (yummy) and hang out on fence. Problem solved.

Dir Proody,


I haz a kitteh. She is adopted! I beleeve very strongly in open adoption, so I want her to meet with her bio family, from whom she was tayken at age 5, for her benefit. Nao, at 12, she say she no want to meet them anymore! But I say it good for her! Whut I do nao?


Did I mention I adopted a kitteh?

Dir adopted,

At 12 they stop wanting to do whut u want them to do. Normally, this is bad, but in this case, I maik exsepshun for  the kitteh. Bio family probably not lotta fun, possiblee a lot more off-kilter than she wants to be associated with. Whut can I sai? There are sum crazy cats out there.  Let her off the hook.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Special to a woman in a nuptial nightmare

Dear SpaceCadet,

I have a semi-close friend (who was once a very close friend) who recently got engaged. Before her boyfriend even proposed she asked me to be her maid of honor. I agreed and knew at the time they didn't want a long engagement. Since she's become engaged she is adamant about having an early January wedding ... like, January 2, 2010. She will be finalizing the date this weekend after visiting a few wedding venues.

When she originally told me about her choice of dates, I gently suggested that she reconsider because of difficulties with finding vendors, the inconvenience for guests, the cost of travel and lodging during the holiday season, etc. She responded to that suggestion by basically saying that she thinks most of her family can make it and that nothing else mattered. The issues for me:

1. she lives several hours away in a city with limited lodging which is likely full now because it's also a college town.
2. I don't know that I can afford to be a maid of honor that soon after the holidays, nor do I think I will have the time to perform my maid of honor duties between now and then.
3. I think she expects that I'll spend my New Year's Eve with her before the wedding, and there's nothing I'd rather do less.

I don't know if I should tell her now that I cannot be her maid of honor if she finalizes that date, or wait until she tells me that date is set in stone before I make my case. Am I being unreasonable?

For what it's worth, our friendship has been strained ever since she started dating this guy and she was a less than gracious host when I visited her (upon her request) a couple of months ago. I know that if I back out it will be the final nail in the coffin of our friendship and I am prepared for that.

What should I do?

Thanks,
Maid of Inconvenience

p.s. - I am a huge fan of your Prudie letter responses...you are so clever!


Dear Maid,

Flattery will get you EVERYWHERE, lady! I mean that!

Okay, look, I hate calling women bridezilla. I think it's degrading, sexist and gets knuckleheaded men who aren't helping plan a very stressful and elaborate life event off the hook. But then I have to get a letter like yours and I think, "Jesus Christ our Lord and Shepherd, be a credit to your pre-married woman state will ya?"

I also have to laugh at her. She "recently" became engaged and immediately fixated on a January date, which is coming up in two months. Ha ha ha! You aren't joking when you talk about accommodations, vendors and everything else! LOL to the moon and back! She is totally hosed! The Saturday, nay, the day after a holiday? Which is a holiday wherein a lot of people get married? Which is also coming up in less than four months? Within, I am sure, a budget?ROTFLMAO!

So, you see, your spending New Year's with them at all may not even be in the cards. She may fall flat on her face getting the big three (venues, catering and services) to come together, forcing her to push back the date.

The advice to glean from that last paragraph: Don't remind her how hard it's going to be or say "I told you so." Just see if she can meet the challenge of getting the basics down. And if she's a picky little lemonface, who wants Barbie's Dream Wedding with ice swan sculptures and flight harnesses so she can swoop down the aisle like Peter Pan, or just has a particular band in mind, she may back down in the face of finding Her Amazing Day impossible to get right within her limited time.

Okay, so let's assume she DOES, somehow, pull off the major players for the wedding and she's NOT picky. She still has to get her guests on board.

Of course, she's saying as long as her family can make it, nothing else matters. Uh-doy! What about HIS family? Are these guests nearby? (Update: Maid of Inconvenience says, actually, yes, the whole family is within a day's drive.)

Well, it looks like if she's not going to be too picky about the wedding and only cares if family can make it, that you may in fact be screwed into going to this wedding and hanging out with them on New Years.

See, here's the thing: You agreed to do this duty. And if she's truly going to have a very short deadline for her wedding, she will likely not have time to find someone else.

But there's an up side to all of this. Although she is taking on some ridiculous planning challenges, and although right after the holidays is kind of a sucky time to put more eating and celebrating and money spending on anyone's agenda, she seems kind of flexible in terms of what she expects out of the experience itself (like, maybe she won't expect you to spend as much as you think you'll have to). And, if you think about the New Year's holiday, it is one where people could drive out on Friday, see the wedding on Saturday and head home on Sunday without needing to take time off.

If you look at it in this light, she's actually ... kind of okay.

But what it comes down to is this: There are her problems, which are all about, "is this the wedding she wants to do?" and there are your problems, which start off sounding like, "this is a crazy idea, I'll be broke at that point" but end up sounding like, "I just don't really like her enough to do this for her."

I think your real problem is you just don't like her enough to have made a commitment that would inconvenience you. You don't even have your arms completely around the level of inconvenience it's going to be and you're already tripping balls. I mean, you are going fetal thinking about hanging out with her for New Years instead of your real friends, right? How crappy does it make you feel that there's someone relying on you for her special day, and you're upset you can't hang out with people you'd rather hang out with the day before? A lot, I bet.

So here's my advice: Figure out what the damage is likely to be before you react. How much money does it look like you're going to have to spend? How much travelling are you going to have to do? Any time off work? Because you need to know her expectations before you lay out your parameters.

See, you do have an out. And that is the incredibly short time period in which you have to prepare. You get to tell her, as soon as she has an idea where her wedding is going, and if it becomes apparent that it is too rich for your blood, that you are happy to be there for her special day, and are grateful for the special role she wants you to play (grit your teeth if you must) but you made something of a mistake when you agreed to be the maid of honor, because you thought you'd have more time to save up and plan than the two busiest and spendiest months of the year, and you're worried you can't meet her expectations. Is she willing to lower them in consideration of your circumstances?

(i.e. maybe you won't have to throw an elaborate party for her, maybe the NY bash will suffice and be kind of cheap for you because it'll be you, her, two cousins and a sister and no male stripper because they're all booked/out on break, i.e. maybe you can wear whatever dress you want or she'll have cheap ones for you, i.e. no shower possibly.)

If she's reasonable, and I really hope she is, she'll recognize this and her expectations for you will be lower than the other poor MOHs out there. If she isn't overcome with materialism and tradition (and she seems kinda free and loose there), she may be able to have her family help take on some of the roles the MOH usually fills, mostly I'm thinking of the bridal shower here.

But the most important thing to do when you talk to her is admit that you are concerned about your own limits getting in the way of her having the wedding experience she wants, and surely she's aware that her timeline is pretty much determining your limits at the moment, and surely she can work with those limits as much as she's working with a shortened timeline.

This way, (if I've been giving her too much credit and her ungracious hosting turn is her new identity and not a one-off) if she's pissed off and angry and the friendship falls apart, it's because she's being a bitch, not you. Don't you be the unreasonable one by criticizing her choices as unilaterally unreasonable and ridiculous, even if you think they are.

The idea is that she gets to make choices, and you get to make choices, about what you're willing to do for each other in your friendship, in the name of history if nothing else. Besides, breaking up a friendship because of a wedding? For either of you, that's not a good way to go. If nothing else, it's a cheesy cliche.

I'm sorry this friendship seems to be petering out, but your best bet is to let it die a natural death and not let the wedding turn into drama that stomps it flat. I know that there can be a kind of temptation to utilize the wedding as a kind of weapon that way — you sound kind of at the end of a rope here in putting up with your old pal ("I am prepared to do that" is pretty ominous backing-out talk) — but don't leave in a swirl of anger. If you are forced to back out, make sure it's a mutual thing, where both of you agree that you shouldn't be MOH. Sure, that may kill the friendship, too, but in a totally, totally different way.

Also, I hope for her sake if she does decide to hold this thing in two months that everyone who wants to book a room can book a room.

I think the takeaway advice for you, and all the other readers here too, is that in the future, "Don't agree to be the maid of honor to someone who you'd rather not spend New Years Eve with."

Sorry this was so long, but I wanted to make sure I covered what I wanted to say. You have choices and limitations, she has choices and limitations, and either you're going to be able to work around them as friends or you won't. My way, friendship gets one more shot, and stability gets a chance.

Good luck!