The Tucson Weekly Gets The Angries Over Internet Satire

While poking around the Facebooks this morning, I clicked on a link a friend posted to the satire website The National Report, and I’m intentionally not linking to them. Because I don’t enjoy them. It’s not that I don’t enjoy good satire or comedy, it’s…that…I don’t think they’re very good at it. Like the Daily Currant, the National Report.comes up with absurd premises, but they don’t take their articles to the point where they’re both thought-provoking enough to be relevant and outrageous enough to be clearly satirical (unless you’re completely myopic). For an outstanding example of brilliant, relevant, outrageous, thought-provoking satire, see The Onion’s article about 9/11 hijackers and their surprise to find themselves in Hell.

So I was mentally pretty open to the headline on the Tucson Weekly claiming that not everyone on the internet can write satire. Failed satire does become clutter. These articles are noise. I often find myself in the position of having to point out that something posted as an “OMG CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THIS???” article is, in fact, failed satire, false, and not part of the legitimate conversation. I really wanted to like the Tucson Weekly article, I did.

Only…dude…you sound like the nerdy kid in school who’s pissed that the smart-ass gets all the attention, so you’re taking your pen and showing ‘em all. ALL! Let ‘em have it, Holden Caulfield.

Somebody needs a nap.  CLICK THE PICTURE to see it bigger...oooooh...magic...

Somebody needs a nap. CLICK THE PICTURE to see it bigger…oooooh…magic…

♦ IF you or anyone you know has gone anywhere within the internet in the last 10 years and hasn’t figured out that Andy Borowitz and his eponymous report are satirical, then you need to get out more often. He writes like a dream come true and is always over-the-top funny.

♦ IF you’re going to talk about all the clutter and distraction on the internet, then for pity’s sake, you (or your editor) ought to have the sense not to run a link to an article (and in fact, your news organ’s own article) about the newest video featuring Keyboard Cat.

♦ IF you’re going to argue that satire that fails to launch muddies the waters of journalistic integrity, and you sniffingly look down your nose at misfired satire while you define yourself as a capital-J Journalist, then really, you ought not to end your op-ed piece by calling the writers you don’t like “dicks”. Because adolescent name-calling is the earmark of professionalism (only, opposite).

I actually checked to make sure that I wasn’t stuck in some meta-satire spiral and that this article wasn’t the culmination of some perfect storm of failed satire the likes of which the world has never before seen. But no, to the best of my ability to understand, this article is real, and the Tucson Weekly is not a wannabe-Onion-style news outlet. Students, take note: this entire article is an exercise in how to undermine your own point. What this guy does? Don’t do.

Now, here’s Keyboard Cat to play us out with his brilliant new “96 Tears“.

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Meanwhile, At The Restaurant: No, It’s To-Go

The other night, George and I were out at a local restaurant. A family of four came in; Mom, Dad, two little boys who, if I had to guess, were like 4 and 6. It was kind of late-ish for kids to be out eating (it had to be at least 8:00) so the boys were hungry and cranky. Dad was an impatient manly-man, so when the lone waiter working the entire front of the restaurant and seating new diners during this busy night didn’t attend to them in the first minute of them standing there, Dad took matters into his own hands. And sat his family down at the table next to us. Yay.

So they order, and the kids’ food comes out, and then Dad’s food comes out, but Mom’s is delayed because the kitchen was backed up. Ah, well, such is life, right? So the couple will talk and take care of the kids while they wait for Mom’s food, right? And if Dad were so hungry he had to eschew manners and eat immediately, then maybe he’d offer Mom a little bit from his plate so she could nibble too while waiting, right?  Yeah.  Only no.  Instead, Dad proceeded to pull out his goddamned phone and Facebook (or whatever) while he ate. Ignoring his entire family. Ignoring the wife who wasn’t eating yet. Leaving her to contend with two tired, squirrelly kids on her own. While he was sitting right there next to them all. And when her meal came…well, words fail. It looked a little something like this.

The only thing I've exaggerated here is the size of his brow.

The only thing I’ve exaggerated here is the size of his brow.

(Remember, WordPress screwed f*ed us with their photo editing changes, so there is no “open in new window” option.)

That’s right. HE FACEBOOKED THROUGH HIS OWN MEAL, AND THEN WOULDN’T LET HIS WIFE EAT HER DINNER.

And for the record, when the one little boy knocked his water glass over and spilled most of it into his mother, guess who got up to help her clean up, get fresh napkins for the table, and alerted the waiter there was a spill?  Most people would think, oh, it was the other adult at the table, because that’s what responsible, thinking, caring adults in a relationship do for one another, right?

BZZT. Wrong. It was me. I helped her. I helped get her table cleaned. ME.

Sigh. I don’t even know what else to say about this except: If you’re this guy and you’re reading this, then understand that I only have the best of intentions when I tell you, you are a douchebag. Only because I hope you recognize it to be true, and want to change your douchebaggy ways. Your kids deserve a father who’s present and engaged, not some…douchebag, really, it’s the word that fits…who trawls his phone during dinner, exhibits no sign of joy or interest in his own family, who shows such…you know, it’s not even disrespect, it’s total douchey disregard, for his wife. I don’t know if getting your wife’s food to go shows you’re the control freak type of douchebag, or if you’re the sort of douchebag who is douchebaggy thanks to a wretched cavern in your soul filled with cluelessness but dude, when a stranger at the next table and the waiter have more concern for your wife’s well being than you do?

You’re doing it wrong.

1984 Rebooted as Romance, and No, I’m Not Kidding

George Orwell‘s dystopian tale of the ultimate in Big Government, 1984, is apparently receiving a reboot.  Currently called Equals, this movie is set to star Nicholas Hoult (a/k/a Marcus from About A Boy, a/k/a Jennifer Lawrence’s main squeeze) as Winston Smith and the perpetually grim Kristen Stewart as Julia.

And it will be a romance.

A ROMANCE.

“I’m terrified of it,” says Kristen Stewart and I’ve gotta say, K-Stew…that makes two of us.  Because here’s the thing:

NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.   ///big gulp of air/// NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.

I mean…yes, there is sex in the book between Winston and Julia, and it’s a pivotal part of the plot, for sure.  But even in my most jaded times, I’ve never confused dingy, bleak, anti-Big-Brother-fueled hate-fucks, that lead to the ultimate in betrayals, as “romance”.  Sure, maybe they have moments of feeling tender toward one another, but when Big Brother finally catches on to their trysting, they both start checking bus schedules to figure out which one they’re throwing the other under.

I imagine it’s going to be like this:

julia cat 1

winston cat 1

winston cat 3

julia cat 3

julia cat 2

winston cat 2

*sigh*

See, the thing is, there are plenty of dystopian novels that focus on unlikely romances to work with, and that’s fine, I’m not saying it can’t or wouldn’t ever happen, and I don’t object to it as a storyline.  But the authors of these other works didn’t call them: 1984 2.0 or 1984: Reckoning or Winston (hearts) Julia: A Tale of Light in the Darkness.  No.  Because that’s not Winston and Julia’s story.  These other authors created their own stories.  They didn’t co-opt someone else’s under the guise of a “reboot”.  Because that?  Is cheating.

So I, of course, expect it to be dreadful, and I admit I’m clearly already prejudiced against it.  Though I will say this: I’m tickled by the idea of legions of Twilight fans downloading 1984 into their Kindles so they can get ready for K-Stew’s new movie.  Because in the real 1984, there’s not one sparkle to be found.

Bonus! A game of #romantic1984 started on Twitter once this was announced.  Thus far, here is my favorite Tweet.

And that, friends, is the problem with the romance of 1984, in a nutshell.

I can’t wait for the musical.

Bye, Honda Fit. Thanks for everything!

It was one of those moments, you know?  We were driving, the light was weird, the lanes kept getting lost in and out of the mist from the salty water pulled up from the blacktop and the intense bright glare of the sun.  Southbound, I-95, just past Washington DC.

Truth is, we didn’t stand a chance.

So, one person in the far left–who had lost sight of their lane in the glare–realized they had drifted out of their lane and were about to hit the construction sand barrels in the left median. They, of course, jerked their car back into the left lane.  Which caused the truck next to them to jerk into the middle lane.  Which caused me to have to swerve…and I have no idea what happened, but I lost control of the car.

Long story short, we hit the right concrete abutment, spun back into traffic, did a complete 360 and hit the same abutment again.  I do remember yanking the wheel to the right after the first hit on the right, because the last thing I wanted was a hit by oncoming traffic.  We came back to rest against that same concrete divider.

So here’s the deal: We walked away from this.  George and I opened our doors and walked away a little dented but generally, just fine.  And while we both think this sucked and wish this hadn’t happened, we also both acknowledge that it could have been much, much worse.  So we search for lessons among the wreckage.  Here’s what I’ve got so far:

We are OK, because of things like seat belts and air bags.  Thanks for doing your jobs, good people of the Honda Safety Division!

My mother was supposed to be in the car with us, then for a few different reasons decided she couldn’t make the trip.  I was mad at first, now I’m incredibly relieved she wasn’t with us because no older lady needs to spin 360s in the right lane on I-95 southbound.  I need to remember to accept situations as they are, not as I want them to be.

Regardless of what is or is not as I want things to be, 2013 can still go fuck itself.

We were helped by a string of incredibly nice people, some of whom didn’t have to help, and all of whom didn’t have to be so nice.  Faith in humanity = shored up again.

This was one of those times when it became all to clear to me that we balance on the edge of a string.  And it doesn’t take all that much to get flung off the string or have is snap beneath you and send you hurtling into the abyss.  I’ve had a few other events like this in my life (the night a heater blew in an old apartment, the day I nearly got pulled out to sea in an undertow) and…while I don’t like to contemplate the abyss, I think it’s important to recognize those times that bring you perilously close to the edge, where you’re walking away under your own power simply because of a fingernail’s breadth worth of luck.

And so.  George and I are in the market for a new car, and it sucks but it’s OK.  I loved that car, but it was a car, and it sucks that it’s gone but it’s OK.  I’ll be wearing suspiciously high-collared shirts until the abrasion from the seat belt fades, and that’s OK.  And we’ll drive off in the morning sun in a rented minivan, which–trust me–is not my dream car.  But it’s OK.

Now go hug someone.  XOXO

Donatella Versace, please stop the madness

I’ve always sort of looked at the pictures of Donatella Versace slightly at an angle.  I couldn’t look straight at them, because I always found her distorted, surgically altered features were an assault upon mine eyes.  You know what I mean?  Then I found this picture.  Behold!  Young Donatella Versace.

Found at messynessychic.com

Holy. Shit. She’s gorgeous.
Found at messynessychic.com

This is the face she could have carried forward as she aged.  This was what she would have had to work with so that she could age gracefully.  If she still had this face she would be a beautiful older woman.

Instead, howevermany surgeries/injections/nips/tucks/peels later, this is the face she has (ironically) paid a lot of money for.  Presenting, haute couture’s reigning…

…uh…

OK, seriously, she looks like a half-orc.

Half-orc. Photo taken from becauseiamfabulous.com

Looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys.
Photo taken from becauseiamfabulous.com
Quote taken from the orc Ugluk, in “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”

Ladies, please.  Please please please.  Stop the madness.  “But there’s so much pressure to look good!”, they say.  People.  Guess what?

YOU WON’T LOOK GOOD.  This doesn’t look good.  Do you want to look good?  Love yourself enough to take care of yourself and figure out what makes you happy and do it and for Chrissakes quit smoking (especially if you’re concerned about your skin!) and hydrate/moisturize/be careful in the sun.

Someone said to me a long time ago, “You earn the face you wear when you’re older.”  That idea stayed with me.  Donatella Versace (and so, so many other adherents to the elective-surgery-go-round) have earned these…bizarre…misshapen…stretched faces, from thinking they could beat the process.  How can you justify surgery that’s supposed to make you “look better” when life as an orc is the result?

Bad Fashion Ideas, Fall 2013: This Isn’t Funny Anymore, OK?

Omigod.

OK, so, I just went to the mall to check out what was happening in the anchor stores, what’s being marketed to women, what is determined by corporate buyers as completely appropriate and (at least on some level, I would hope this was a goal) aesthetically pleasing for the American woman buying clothing today.  And usually the clothes kind of suck but they’re also often a little funny and you know, even though you wouldn’t want to put this stuff on your body, maybe, at least you could kind of chuckle about it.

Today?  Not chuckling. Not even a little.

It’s rare that I leave the mall pissed off…I mean, really, really pissed about what I’ve seen in shopping land, but this trip was like a blight unto mine eyes.  For reals. I thought…whaaaaat…the fuuuuuuuuuck…are some of these midrange price point designers/buyers thinking?  If you ever need convincing there’s a secret war on women then come see me ’cause baby, I got the proof.

Usual rules apply: no clearance, all multi-state and/or national (U.S.) chain stores, so the distribution for these beauties is wide-ranging and a recipe for despair.

Let’s just start with this.  How did the conversation with the buyers go?  “Well, you know, that simple red sheath dress is so…sane, and practical.  Have you got any spare material laying around?  Because I’d really like to see this with enormously expansive side panels that add girth to the wearer, make no sense, and look like colorblocked bat wings.  Hail Satan.”

Done and done!

What. Is. This. About.

What. Is. This. About.

Though I’ll grant this: at the very least, this dress is trying.  It’s nightmarish in its efforts and the only message it would convey is that the wearer is either insane or on a mirror fast but, on some sad level, this dress attempts to define a person’s style.  Sadly, this was not the case with much of the clothing I saw in the stores this season.  There was an uncomfortable amount of pre-layered clothes, which are bad because you can never change the look of a shirt (ummmm…it’s better to let some faceless designer at a drafting table express yourself for you?) and the layers wear differently, so if one shitty, poorly constructed layer gets pilled/stained/stretched out of shape, the whole shirt becomes useless.

Though I would argue these shirts are pretty useless already.

Not even copious amounts of rum could ease the pain this shirt brings.

Not even copious amounts of rum could ease the pain this shirt brings.

For those fancy days at the office...

For those fancy days at the office…

100_7952-001

Ladies, repeat after me: NOBODY looks (or smells) good in unstructured 100% polyester.

And if a two-layered look isn’t good enough for you, then let me present you with a triple-layered shirt.  Because WTF.

Come on, seriously?

Three layers?  Seriously?

Worse: there are stacks and stacks of this crap.

Grim.

They suck your life and energy right out from under you.

Grim.  Please, buy separate pieces, people.  Because freedom, that’s why.

There was also a trend in “I Give Up” wear.  A phrase I totally stole from a beloved TV show, I Give Up wear is clothing for people who know they must adorn their bodies with fabrics in order to not get arrested, but don’t care/don’t know how to dress themselves/don’t have faith in their appearance/think for some reason they don’t deserve to look good.  Sad?  Certainly.

Nobody feels great wearing any one of these tops. Not really.

Because nobody feels great wearing any one of these tops. Not really.

And yet, I Give Up wear is alarmingly prevalent. There’s a study out there supporting the theory that zombie stories gain popularity during times of economic downturn.  It speculates about the nature of mindless consumption.  Is this a similar trend?  The economy is bad, the news is grim, we seem to be mired in endless war…just gimme a frigging shirt and STFU or I will eat your entrails off a spike.

I know I’ve talked about this before, but I have a deep and abiding hatred for seasonal applique, which is total “I’ve Given Up” wear because people misguidedly think seasonal applique allows them to opt out of thinking about their clothes.  Of course you’re appropriately dressed, right?  It’s the end of August and your boxy, shape-free T-shirt has school buses and apples stitched onto it, so that must be right, right?  Wrong.  It’s not good or whimsical or fun; it’s a hollow bill of sale that makes the buyer think they’re “having fun” without actually…you know.  Having any.  If you see anything that looks like this (or jingle cows or halloween cats or soda-drinking polar bears)…

...RUN...

…RUN…

Try and avoid anything that makes you look like the prison matron from the movie Chicago, no matter how fierce Queen Latifah is in real life. Or anything that makes you look like you’re wearing one of those decidedly un-sexy retro gym suits that were mandatory in US high schools until the 1970s.  Or something that is a combination thereof, as the poorly designed item in the center of the photo below demonstrates. Unless, of course, you have a prison-drab fetish and if so? Then you can pair this blight with the shapeless blue-grey cardigan on the right for a full-out visual declaration that you don’t like yourself even a little.

It's a pity the actual prison matron costume has the most style.

It’s a pity the actual prison matron costume has the most zazz.

Here’s some quick rules by which you should abide when shopping this season. Or any season.

When buying skin-colored leggings (and this applies not just to the Caucasian variety, as the leggings depict but rather, any woman who buys leggings that are fairly close to her skin tone), be careful about the texture.

Because ew, that's why.

Because ew, that’s why.

Exercise extreme prejudice when facing down a short-sleeved sweatshirt with a pearl-embellished closed placket.

Kill if you must.

Kill if you must.

I don’t mind plaid shirts. I don’t mind crocheted lace insets. I DO, however, mind when these elements are all part of one confused shirt, which tries and fails to be cowgirl-sexy.

Poor confused shirt.

Plaid tie front and lace epaulets = a sad and lonely shirt.

Let’s not forget…

ruffles-001

*sigh*

And then there’s…

OH COME ON.

OH COME ON.

I give up.

I mean, I really give up.

There’s no coming back from this.  I’d like to present you with a few more things, just to drive the nail in the ol’ coffin of widely available women’s clothing this season.  First, here is the ultimate “I give up” ensemble.  Oatmeal-colored pants, washed out wallpaper-print pattern.  I even found shoes to match.  Please note: the shirt and pants were merchandised BY PROFESSIONALS as a potential outfit. SOMEONE THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA, AND PUT IT ON PROMINENT DISPLAY.

This is the newest uniform for greeters in Hell.

This is the newest uniform for greeters in Hell.

Seriously. I give up.

But it does make me wonder…these clothes are so, SO bad.  How could this be?  How could one season be so horrifically, pathetically ugly?  I’d even say the clothes this season actively work to undermine women’s confidence and sense of well-being, they are that bad.  How does that happen..?

Wait…

I think it’s coming clear to me…

Do you see it?

It's right there...looking at me...

It’s right there…looking at me…

It’s not…no…it couldn’t be, could it?

As a matter of fact…

...I think it could be...

…I think it could be…

That would explain so much.  I understand now!  Dark Lord Designs for the Fall 2013 win!

Soapbox Sunday: You Do Know You’re Speaking Out Loud, Right?

I just need to vent a little spleen about a weird scene that happened when we were out to dinner last night.  George and I went to a local restaurant, and it’s a fairly small one, so bear in mind that all diners are in a roughly 25×20 foot space.  As happens in restaurants, after splitting a bottle of wine and supplementing that with a few glasses of water…ummm…nature called.  It’s not uncommon, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been there.  So.  George got up to make use of the men’s room.  He was gone no more than five seconds when he earned the ire of a popped-collar douche at a neighboring table, who stood up at about the same time George did, but was busy being all aggro-bro at his table and so did not move in any direction–towards the men’s room, towards the exit, whatever–because he had to get in a couple of manly fist-bumps.

Popped collars. Don’t let this happen to you. Image from intothisworldgame.blogspot.com

Suffice to say he did NOT call firsties and make his way to the men’s room (who knew it was a footrace?) and, once he realized George the Usurper had gone in before him, started to complain about his audacity to use the men’s room.  And he started to do so, quite loudly.

“Oh, man.  I can’t believe it.  Someone else is in the men’s room.  Hahahaha…that means I get to use the ladies’ room, right?  Isn’t that right?  I get to use the ladies’ room, since I can’t believe some other guy went into the men’s room before I got there.”

Hahaha.  OMG CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THAT THE REST OF THE WORLD DIDN’T FALL TO ONE SIDE AND LET YOU IN YOUR INFINITE GLORY PASS BY?  Clearly, by standing, he telegraphed his intentions to the universe.  WTF, George?  How could you?

Seriously, though.  These are the things I want to know:

1) Are you an infant?  Do you lack the capacity to control your bladder and need immediate access to lavatories at all times?  Have you consulted your doctor about this?  Because it should be well under your control by the time you enter school, or learn how to drive, or go out drinking with bros in public.

2) Did you eat lead paint chips as a child?

3) Do you realize that the whole world does not, in fact, revolve around you?

4) Do you realize that the term “Manifest Destiny” does not, in fact, in any way relate to your access to a public rest room?

5) You do realize it’s possible to have an internal dialogue without vocalizing the thoughts in your head, right?

6) You do realize that sometimes–oftentimes–it’s preferable for you to NOT make your internal dialogue known, right?

7) Should you choose to vocalize your inner thoughts, you do realize you are under no obligation to make sure everyone in the bar, restaurant, clothing store, or whatever establishment you are patronizing at that moment knows what thoughts have lumbered through your brain, right?

8) You’re not funny enough for comedy. Leave it to the professionals, who are way more insightful, bitter, and relevant than you.

Sad. True. All of it.

Sad. True. All of it.

9) One last thing: do you realize that every time you opened your mouth, the entire restaurant (including your friends) hoped you choked on a bag of dicks?  Next time, bro, STFU.

That is all.

What the hell, Justin Bieber?

Normally, I don’t give a shit about celebrities behaving badly.  I mean duh, of course they’re misbehaving in public.  Of course Lindsay Lohan is violating parole and going to rehab and pick-a-celeb, you’ll find a bar fight and Charlie Sheen became a celebrity anti-hero after a tiger-blood-fueled, insane ragestravaganza (and subsequent publicity tour) and Led Zeppelin are still unfortunately noted for doing unspeakable things with a fish.  And on, and on and on on on on.

Meh.  Whatever.  Celebrities.

But you know, sometimes?  There are those celebriturds who go too far.  For me, the line often gets drawn when there’s thoughtless aggression directed towards people who are just trying to do their jobs.  People who don’t exist in the rarefied circle of celebrity entitlement, who don’t have handlers and fret about health insurance and worry how to put food on the table every day.  People who may hate their jobs but show up because they don’t have the luxury to not get it done, whether “it” is taking care of their kids or making their rent or generating income while they write the Great American Novel in their spare time.

They’re people who deserve better than this.

That’s right. On leaving a nightclub and going out the back way through the kitchen, Justin Bieber thought it would be abso-fucking-lutely hilarious to piss into a mop bucket that’s supposed to be used to keep a restaurant clean and in compliance with health codes, while his professional ass-kissers cheer and his bodyguard (remember him? The guy who sat The Biebs back in his car like he was handling a 4-year-old?) benignly looks on.  Video him peeing, even, with a phone.  This of course begs the question: who’d he piss off enough that they released the video to TMZ?

See, here’s the thing: Someone’s got to clean that up.  The Maple Christ may think his piss is suitable for mass consumption (just listen to his music; it’s not far off) and that wherever it may fall, unicorns will spring forth and fart rainbows.  But to the kitchen staff making $7.25 an hour–the ones who have to empty the bucket and sterilize it before it can be used to clean, you know, a place that processes food, so they may be compliant with state and local health and sanitation standards–he’s just another rich doucheketeer looking for new lows to exploit in his pursuit of privilege.  Go, Wild Kidz!  The baddest gang to ever have a bodyguard to defend them!

Seriously, New York City, if you don’t at least issue a charge for misdemeanor public urination (because how much more public can it get than broadcast on TMZ?), you’re seriously dropping the ball, and that restaurant should consider pressing vandalism charges.

Though it will be interesting when the Bieber train wrecks, like most manufactured pop acts do.  Just look at Brittney and her extraordinary meltdown in 2007.  And Biebs is fifty times as arrogant as she was, so one can only hope that when he melts it will be fifty times as spectacular.

Maybe I should just sit back and enjoy the show, because it’s bound to happen and his behavior is increasingly erratic.  This could be fun.

But first, asshole, the least you could do is apologize.

Canada, can you please come here and take him back?

Zamboni Lady Commiserates with an Advice Seeker

DISCLAIMER: The Zamboni Lady is not a doctor, nor does she play one on TV.  She is, simply, a busybody who wants to know everyone else’s business.  The advice, while well-meant, is not meant to substitute for legal advice or protection, indicate a definitive way to live one’s life, or in any way imply that you should take her advice any more seriously than you would the advice of the bestie of your bestie, given out over a long and tear-soaked evening of nachos and margaritas.

***

Bad advice.  It’s everywhere.

Though the following isn’t bad advice so much as it is advice not to make waves and cause a potentially embarrassing family problem, which all things considered isn’t all that terrible (who needs a rift?), but then again…the family in question seems like they need a verbal kick in the ass.

I really felt like the lady who wrote this letter was looking for someone to commiserate with her.  And I?  Am just that gal.  :)

So.

Here is the letter as it appeared in an advice column:

Dear Advice People: My husband is a high-ranking officer in the military. He has worked hard to achieve his current position and is highly respected.

The problem is, his family treats him like a child. In a few months, there will be a formal ceremony to mark his change of command. My in-laws will be in attendance, and they are certain to embarrass him. They insist on calling him by his unusual childhood nickname (he cringes every time). They talk down to him and give him gifts meant for children, such as books for teen boys (last Christmas), a small child’s backpack (last birthday) and now a child’s piggy bank, which they intend to present to him in front of his unit at the ceremony. These gifts are not intended as jokes. My husband is always gracious on the outside but horrified on the inside.

Is there some way to remind his family that he is indeed an adult and has certainly earned the right to be treated like one? — Proud Military Spouse

***

And Zamboni Lady says:

Seriously???

I’ve italicized the advice this woman was given, with my responses in regular, rant-friendly font.

Dear Spouse: It is difficult to change ingrained behavior without the cooperation of all the people involved.

No kidding, it’s difficult!  Especially when the people involved are infantilizing control freaks.  Part of the process of being a relative (aunt, parent, older cousin, sibling, similarly aged cousin, childhood friend, whatever) is accepting that your relationship is going to change with taste and propriety as you both get older.  Stevie McPoopypants might gain control of his bladder and probably won’t always love dinosaurs.  Unless Tooter goes into the world of fashion design she’ll probably lose interest in Barbies.  ShellyBelly won’t want to be ShellyBelly any longer, dig?  Look…I have a niece with an embarrassing childhood nickname.  Should we slip and call her that hated name (which I think is adorable but hey, it’s her call)…even when there’s wine involved, and it’s late at night, the doors are locked and the windows shuttered…we still have to face her wrath.  And that’s OK, because her decision to not want to be called an embarrassing childhood nickname in no way reflects on me.  Unless I’m the asshole who keeps calling her a name she can’t stand.

Your husband apparently has determined that the best way to handle his parents is to leave things as they are. That is his choice.

His parents have apparently decided the best way to handle their son is to pretend he’s never grown up.  Books for teen boys?  Child-sized backpacks?  I get your anger, sister.  There’s some serious neural misfirings there.  Assuming they’re not mean, terrible people whose only joy in life is derived from humiliating their son, I have to ask: do they realize he’s an adult?  Do they know he doesn’t have the same taste in things he had twenty years ago?  Is his room still decorated in the Lone Ranger wallpaper of his youth?  Did nobody read The Dead Zone?  Don’t you people know what happened to the infantilized Frank Dodd?

While we appreciate your desire to be supportive and protective, you might also be adding to his stress because your reaction is one of anger and embarrassment.

Yeah, advice people, you’re right.  It’s not the toy piggy bank they want to give him in front of a room full of the soldiers he commands that stresses him out.  It’s the wife who wants to see his parents give him the respect they would any other adult that causes him anguish.  Yup.  You troublemaker.

Ask your husband whether he wants you to talk to his parents.

OMG, advice people!  You’re infantilizing him all over again!  This is like saying your mom should call the mean kid’s mom to talk about that unfortunate incident on the playground.  (Nuh-uh, Mom!  Don’t call!)  Honestly?  My guess is “talking” to his parents will be equally as effective as talking to the cat about learning how to drive.  I don’t think it will result in anything good.  Here’s how I picture it:

Wife: Hi, inlaws?  Yes, this is your DIL. I’m fine, thanks.  Listen, you know how you always get “Bob” gifts more suited for a nine-year-old?  And he hasn’t actually been nine in a really long time?

Inlaws: What are you talking about?

Wife: Well, you know how you get him age-inappropriate books and toys and things, right?

Inlaws: No, dear.  He’s always liked those things.

Wife: Well, actually, that’s where you’re mistaken.

Inlaws: I’m afraid I don’t understand, dear.

Wife: Some of those things are a little young for him, see?  And it’s embarrassing.  And you call him “Snoodgiepants” in public.  That’s embarrassing.

Inlaws: Do you PRESUME to tell me how to behave with my own son?

(this is where the trouble starts, because what do you say?  “Yes” = WW3 territory, and “No” = defeating the entire point of opening this dialogue)

Annnnd so on, until you’re so frustrated you hang up on them and drink gin straight from the cat’s bowl, while they call your husband behind your back to tell you what a busybody you are.  If they’re the arrested-development, controlling weirdos they seem to be, then take care that you don’t get painted as the interloper trying to ruin their happy family.  The last thing you need is for them to try and tear at your marriage, too.

If he says no, we urge you to separate their behavior from your husband’s reputation.  His patient tolerance of their inappropriateness says many positive things about the strength of his character.

I’ll give them this.  Everyone has flaky relatives they have to deal with.  Unfortunately for him, his happen to be his parents, but he seems to have grown up well despite them.  The problem is, the person who really needs to say something to his parents, is him.  It is ultimately his decision as to how he conducts his relationship with his parents.  No matter how much you may hate it (and I hear you) and no matter how much they piss you off (and I’m with you), it’s his call.  Let him be the adult in this situation, and decide how his parents are to be dealt with, without your stepping in.

Advice grade: C-.  Ultimately reasonable advice (let him conduct his own relationship with his parents), but doled out in a really dumb way

Sammy Met a Skunk

Though as skunkings go, it wasn’t super-super bad.  The smell didn’t hit me immediately when I let him in.  It was more like, five seconds after he walked in the door, and I was all, “Sammy, did you get skunked?” and he looked at me sheepishly (it’s true, cats can look sheepish) and walked into the kitchen, like he knew I would want to try and rub him down or something.

I mean, he clearly didn’t receive a direct hit and it seemed more like he was Mr. Wrong Place Wrong Time, because the smell on him was evident but not, you know, get out of the house for the next two days.  We wiped him down with wet towels to try and get some of the smell off and made him stay outside most of the next day, and it was bright and clear and windy and since exposure to oxygen is the best way to get rid of skunky smells by suppertime yesterday he was back to smelling like handsome kitty again.

Yay!

But in that day, I came up with probably five hundred new nicknames for Sammy.  They include:

-Baxter (as in, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, rock-guitarist-turned-missile-defense-consultant)

-Smellheim von Skunkelberg

-Admiral Skunkster Nimitz

-Captain Stinkard

-Little Lord Skunkleroy

(and my favorite)

-Emperor Skunkelbutt Smellbottom, Lord of Stinkopotamia

…and so on, and so on.  And I wondered just what, exactly, is wrong with me, as I have way too much fun picking on my poor stinky cat.

WHAT???

WHAT???

I tried to remind him that just because he looks like a skunk doesn’t mean he needs to smell like one.

No, really, he’s fine!  Look, he’s allowed back up on the bedding.

Poor kitty.

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