Thursday, November 4, 2010
(Photograph copyright 2010, all rights reserved.)
Hello Darlings! As you can See, I have Returned from my Summer Sojourn in the Mountains and am in the Process of Leaping into the Fall Social Season.
The Happenings of Late are Far too Numerous to mention Here. Suffice it to Say that I had Many Adventures, and a few Bad Moments this past Summer. All is Well now. Edgar and Winston (my beloved Standard Poodles) and my Dear Brother Osgood are with me and I Feel my Little Family is Complete! My Annual Halloween Ball was a Smashing Success. The Children were Adorable in their Costumes. I so Look Forward to hosting a much larger Thanksgiving Party than I did Last Year. I've been Restocking the Cellar for a Month Now.
I have been Woefully Remiss in returning Letters this Summer, but I've invited all Four of Prudie's Questioners this week. You can Find the Original Letters at Dear Prudie .
1. Darling! Do come in! What a Dreadful Wind is Blowing. Do you Think we might have a Storm later on? I was just in the Study working on some Guest Lists, Do join me there. There's a Lovely Fire going and I'm having a nice Glass of Bourbon. Will you Join Me? Good.
I Must Say, when I Read your Letter, I was Quite Inspired! You have Transcended your Mother's Neglect and Cruelty and the Young Man I see before me Now is so Very Impressive, that I Feel Compelled to Offer you my Congratulations. Raising your Younger Brother was Heroic. The way you Stepped in to Care for Him was Brave, and Never Forget that not all Siblings would have Done So. You and Your Family are doing Splendidly, my Lad. Never forget that.
You must Stop Worrying about your Mother and her Parents, though, dear. Your Grandparents sound like Simply Dreadful people to reward your Bravery as a Young Child with Cruel Remarks and Bad Treatment. After all, What were you Supposed to do? Permit your Mother and her Paramour to Continue Harming you? Your Father did an Excellent Job raising you, and you should Consider that He and your Stepmother are your Only Parents.
*Another bourbon? Of course, dear. I'll Join You.*
It Completely Escapes me why you Would Consider giving Money to your Mother. Of all people, you Know what she is Capable of, and You Know that Giving her Money is a Dreadful Mistake. Your Grandparents had no Right to Ask this of you, and well they know it.
You have no Obligation to them, or to that Dreadful Creature that Gave Birth to you. If you Doubt This, consider that your Grandparents are, at least in part, Responsible for Creating that Monster of a Human Being. They are the ones that Supported her in her Ghastly Habits. They are the ones who Failed to Step In when you were Being Maltreated. They have Terrible Gall asking you for Money at this Point!
Tell them that you have No Money to Spare. You have a Family of your Own to Take Care of, and They are your First Priority. Their Daughter will simply Have to make her Own Sacrifices to Support Herself and her Vile habit. You Must tell them this Eventually, and better Sooner than Later. Then Leave their Home with Dignity and Remember that you need Never Look Back.
*Now Osgood really! More Guests? We shall have to Rent Extra Tables and Chairs already - the Main Ballroom is to be Almost at Capacity for Dinner! *
2. Oh, hello Dear! Come and Join me for Lunch. We're having a Delicious Mushroom Bisque and I believe there are Tomato Sandwiches. How Delightful! Will you Join me in a Beer? Perhaps a Glass of Pinot Grigio?
Family Holidays can be Dreadful can't they? When I was Young, my Father's Relatives always Descended on us for Christmas and I absolutely Hated It! All they Did was Yell at Each Other and Argue all the Time. I was Forced to be Polite to my Cousin Harry the Loathsome (as I call him), even though he Pinched Me when no one was Looking. I was Always so Relieved when they were Finally Gone!
Your Problem is Similar, although it's Good to see that there's No Pinching involved! Your Husband's Cousin sounds Horribly Boorish. It's in the Worst Possible Taste to Speculate that you got your Job because of your Relationship with your Family. At Least, it's Rude to say so Out Loud. One Simply Doesn't Speak of such things at a Family Event. You may Feel Free to Tell your Husband that you are going to Handle this Problem as You see fit. He has Already Refused to Assist you, so he has No grounds to Complain!
*Still Hungry? I can Call for More Sandwiches if you like. Yes, I do Love this Kitchen. The Red and White colour scheme is so Cheerful.*
My advice is to Agree with the Boors. When next they Start Twitting you about How you Got your Job, agree with them Wholeheartedly and say this:
"It Does Pay to Have Connections, certainly. One Must be Noticed to get such an Excellent Job as I Have, of Course. I have Always Found that a Pleasant Demeanor and Kind Word are Never Misplaced."
If they Say Anything about it after that, then Change the Subject, Dear! Don't let them Control the Conversation. Oh, and Make Sure you have an Audience when you Say this. That way they're More Likely to be Embarrassed enough to Leave the Topic Alone from then on.
3. Well Hello! Do Come In! I see you brought Your Daughter..... *oh dear* .... Darling Girl, would you Like to take my Poodles for a Ramble in the Woods? They So Love to go for a Run at this Time of Day. How Lovely. Your Mother and I will be in the Conservatory. Right around the Corner, yes.
Oh dear. I See What you Mean. When did This Start? That long. Oh dear. Would you Care for a Glass of Wine? I have a Lovely Rhone open. We're Tasting new Candidates for the Cellar so Let me Know what you Think of it. You'll be Doing me an Immense Favor.
That's better. Shortbread?
Now. Your Daughter is Indeed a Lovely Creature, but Great Beauties throughout History have Always Known that they must Take Care of themselves! In this Case, a Little Soap and a Good Scrub are in Order, for Certain! I Distinctly Remember my Dear Brother Osgood being Mercilessly Scrubbed in a Horse Trough once when he Steadfastly Refused to Wash his Hands and Face for Dinner. Cook was Furious with Him! Mind You, he was only Six Years Old at the Time, so some Residual Grubbiness was to be Expected.
You can't Resort to That, though. I've found Over the Years that it Pays to be Straightforward when Confronted with Something like this. No, I Know you think it might Sound Rude, but you are Her Mother, and if Anyone has the Right to Speak, it's You. I See no Problem with Confronting This straight on and Telling your Daughter that she Smells Most Unpleasant and that her Hygiene Choices might be "Green", but they are Not Very Pleasant. You Might also Mention that she Smelled Better when she was Wearing Diapers than she does Now.
*More wine? I think I Must Order a few Cases of This One.*
There are Health Issues to Consider as well. Unwashed Bodies are Havens for Nasty Bacteria - in Fact, Bacteria are Responsible for the Unpleasant Odor that Surrounds your Daughter at Times. A Hundred and Fifty Years of Public Health considerations have gone a Long Way to Lengthening Lives and Lessening Infections. Would you want Someone who Eschews the Use of Soap to Handle Food in your Kitchen? I thought not!
Others may Indeed have Said Something to her, but it's just as Likely that They Have Not. For some Reason, Frankness and Straight Speech have Gone out of Vogue. One needn't be Crude about it, but Telling Someone that their Odour is Offensive is a Necessity rather than an Option. I'm Afraid the Job is Yours, as her Mother.
If you like, I can Leave the Two of You alone here and You can Tell her Now. Would you Like That? Good.
4. Here you Are at Last. Please Forgive me for Making our Appointment so Late in the Day. I Swear, I'm getting Too Old for some of these Complex Organizational Dilemmas! Look, Osgood has Seated Mrs. Dempsey next to Reverend Smithwick. This will Never Do. She's Hated him Ever Since he Told her Husband that he Does Not, in fact, Have to Attend her Dreary Book Club every week if he doesn't want to.
Oh my Goodness, now Look at This! Seating the Davises (Lovely young couple, very Lively.) next to Old Man Herriman? He's Deaf as a Post, and has been a Dour and Surly Individual as Long as I can Remember. Best to Move him nearer his Cronies. They can Complain about Politics all Night and no one will Disturb them. Much Better.
However, You are the one with the Dilemma Now, so please Sit Down here in the Parlour. I was Just about to Pour Myself a Glass of Sherry. Will you Join me? Delightful.
I Must Say, your University Sounds like a Rather Dreadful place to Work. Whatever Happened to Letting Students celebrate as they Will, while Faculty such as Yourself can Make your Excuses and Leave them to it? Surely New Students have Enough to be Getting On with without Wasting Time with Yelling and Chanting?
Oh dear. Well I'm afraid there's Not a Lot I can do to Help you. If these "rallies" are Command Performances, you Must Attend for the sake of your Job. Your only Recourse is to stand at the Back of the Room, Smile pleasantly, and Applaud where it Seems Appropriate. Leave as Early as you Can Escape and Say Nothing about the actual Event. You seem to have Made it Clear that you find these Events Silly in the Extreme, so there's Nothing else to do!
Now See how Easy that was? Much Simpler than trying to Plan a Seating Arrangement for over a Hundred People!
Monday, May 17, 2010
(Photograph copyright 2010, all rights reserved.)
Darlings! You have my Abject Apologies! I haven't Written to You in Three Months and I am Sorry. I have No Excuse except for Busyness. Even now, I am Called Away on an Important Errand and must Write this in Haste while Waiting for an Airplane. Find the Letters Here
1. While I Sympathize with the Boorishness that Your Father visited on you in the Past, the Present Situation does Not Apply to You. Interfering in Affairs of the Heart is Never Wise. If you Must Complain, be Anonymous. The Situation is Untenable, but no one will Thank You for being the First to Reveal it.
I prescribe a Trip to the Pub with your Colleagues, Absent the Offenders. A Strategy may yet Reveal Itself.
2. This would Not be the First Time that Dewy Youth was Gulled into Believing the False Blandishments of those More Experienced in the Art of Deceit. Take the lesson Now, before it is Too Late. You will have One More Chance to Prove Yourself, at most. Take a Lesson from an Accomplished Card Player and only reveal the Assets that will Distract the Enemy while not Revealing the Game you Play on your Own Behalf.
I prescribe a Glass of Whiskey and a Hot Bath. It is at Least Time for you to Learn to drink like an Adult, and not the Child that you Remain in your Heart.
3. Darling, you are Wasting Your Time. If the man Lacks the Ability to provide the Simple Courtesy of Granting you his Time for a Discussion, then he Lacks any Respect for You at all. This will Not Change with Marriage, and will, in my Opinion, only Worsen with Time.
I prescribe a Glass of Wine and a Cold Shower before you Confront this Bounder with Your Decision to Leave. I suspect that any Tears he Sheds will be those of Relief, rather than Sorrow.
4. We all have Family Members whose Very Existence seems a Blight on not only Our Lives, but the Very Planet we must All Share. Do Not grant This Event the Importance that you do Now. Consider it the Last Time you are Required to Tolerate the Genetically Derived Nonsense that has been Visited upon You.
Your Mother's Problems are Hers Alone. Tell her So, before you Depart for a Party with Members of Your Age Cohort. Also, Remind your Grandmother that while Fainting can Be Charming and a Good Distraction, it is Best Employed by Ingenues, who are Capable of Drooping Gracefully on Various Convenient soft Pieces of Furniture. She is No Longer Among them.
I prescribe Several Gin Cocktails and Dancing. Then Move On Forever with Grace and a Spring in Your Step.
Darlings, Again you have my Apologies. I well Attempt to Return in Two Weeks or So, Time Permitting. In the meantime, I must Wish You au revoir! My Plane is Boarding and I Must Give this Letter to the Gate Agent to drop in the Post.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
(Photograph copyright 2010, all rights reserved.)
Hello again, Darlings! I Do Hope that you are Coping Well with this horrible Cold Weather and Snow. It is Perfectly Dreadful outside today and Even my Beloved Poodles, Edgar and Winston, are Reluctant to go Outside for anything more than Necessary. It is Sunny outside, for Which I am Most Grateful. I am Sitting in the Conservatory among the Citrus Trees and enjoying the Sun as Best I Can. Usually I Enjoy Winter, but this Weather has been So Sudden and Severe that I am quite Taken Aback by the Violence of it.
I have a New Letter for you This Week! How I do Enjoy getting Letters!
Dear Aunt Messy,
I find myself in need of advice. Not just any advice, some seriously awesome, ass-kicking, solve-the-problems-of-the-world with a side of saving-the-children advice. Ok, maybe it won't have that much of a global impact, but it would certainly help me. I need relationship advice. Pretty run of the mill, really, and yet I seem to foul it up every.single.time.
I've been friends with Matt for years now. We've known each other since elementary school, run in the same circles, and are friends with each other's siblings and parents. We've been friends - not SUPERCLOSE friends, but friends- for awhile.
Two years ago, Matt decided he liked me and wanted to begin a relationship. We started hanging out a LOT more than usual and throughout the course of it all, I realized that I didn't really like him as boyfriend material. I wasn't attracted to him physically, his personality got on my nerves, and we came from a different place with regard to how we perceive life and the world in general.
I broke it off with him. He didn't really go quietly - that last conversation was LONG - but he did go. And by "go" I mean "dropped off the face of the earth." In 2 years, I heard from him twice. Both times were on my birthday. He would text me some congratulatory note and I'd read it and ignore it. I wasn't interested in giving him anything he could misconstrue as "interest".
Last December, he came back. He began to come to my family's weekly get-togethers and since he's a family friend, we welcomed him. Each time he came, I was cordial and polite, but never had a one on one conversation with him and did my best to steer clear without being obvious. He didn't seem to be showing me any favoritism, so I was starting to think everything would be fin and he was 100% truly over whatever it was he had 2 years earlier.
This past Sunday, he texted me out of the blue, asking me if I was interested in seeing Wicked. I had considered going to see it with my best friend, but her husband is taking her. I'd go with my sister, but I would have to pay her way and I can't afford to buy two tickets. After about 30 seconds of deliberation, I said yes. I said yes because I desperately want to see this musical that I love. I later asked him what day and time, because I assumed his mother had gotten a pair of free tickets. Wrong again. He told me he bought them after I said yes and then gave me a date and time.
I talked about it to some friends of mine (both genders) and they have assured me that I am not "using" him, since I was not proactive in getting him to propose the date or buy the tickets. It may be a case of "protesting too much", but I refuse to believe that by accepting something that I want from this guy that I'm obligated to give him something in return or else I'm using him. I planned on keeping the "date" confined to the musical and then informing him that I was in no way interested in any kind of relationship. It was not meant to be. He has asked me to get together for lunch sometime this week.
Aunt Messy, I have NO DESIRE to spend loads of time with him, especially now that it's clear he's still interested in me. I have no problem being his friend and hanging out, but I want to be clear to him that I don't feel obligated to him JUST because he gives me something I really want.
Does this make me a terrible person? Oh, and what should I do?
Seriously - just friends,
(Letter has been edited for length.)
Do come in! It is so Kind of you to Visit an Old Lady in this Foul Weather. I Would Not have Blamed you for an Instant if you Had Called with your Excuses. The Drive over here Must have been Most Unpleasant and the Radio Announcer said that the Roads are Icy. Come and Join Me in the Conservatory, Dear. Would you care for a Glass of Brandy? Lovely.
I Read your Letter, and I'm Certain that you Know what my Answer will Be. However, there are a few Small Details...
Matt sounds like a Decent Young Man, and it is Common for people's Feelings to Change over the course of a Long Friendship. There's nothing More Romantic than the Realization that one's True Love has been under One's Nose all along. Unless of course, one's Feelings are Not Reciprocated. I commend you Heartily for Spending Time trying to see if You could feel as He Does. I also Assure you that you Did the Right Thing by Breaking Off with him when you Realized that you Can't. It was the Only Decent thing you could have Done.
(Another brandy? Cookie? Oh Dear, it's Snowing again!)
I also Commend you for Allowing him to Attend your family's Salons. It is Kind of you to Make Sure that such an Old Friend feel Included. He and His Family are Old Friends after all, and I'm Sure that your Parents were Glad to See Him. Polite Avoidance was Exactly the Right Course to take with him.
However, your Friends have done you a Disservice regarding the Musical, and I think you Know it, too. Your Avoiding Conversations with Matt Tells Me that you Knew of His Feelings for you. The Fact that he Asked you to go in the First Place must have been a Hint that his Feelings for you have not Abated. Your Acceptance of his Invitation can only have Given him Hope that he could Convince you to Resume your Romantic Relationship with Him. Knowing this, you Know that you are Taking Advantage of his Feelings for you, and that is Never a Kind thing to do.
(Another? I will.)
Matt Regarded this as a Date, a Romantic Occasion, and no matter How Much you Protest, you Know that what you Did to him was Cruel. He fancies himself in Love with You, and Knowing That, it is Unethical and Unkind to Take Advantage of That just to see a Show. He spent Quite a Bit of Money on those Tickets, as you Found Out after he Invited you, and He didn't Do That only in the Spirit of Friendship. Of course I Agree with you that even if you Were interested in him Romantically, a Date does not Entitle him to Anything. However, you Know that the Two of You had Different Expectations in going together.
I Understand your Desire to Keep him as a Friend. It is Laudable, and the fact that Young People today Seem Able to manage this Speaks Well of your Generation. However, this is Not always Possible. It is Apparent to Me that Matt's Feelings for you are Much Stronger than yours for him. To Give him Hope by Going out with him on Occasion is only Holding him Back from Realizing that he would be Better Served searching Elsewhere for Romance.
I'm Afraid that you Must Speak to Him. Tell him that your Friendship will Never Progress beyond that, and that you Understand, but Will Never Share his feelings towards you. Acknowledge that while it may be Unpleasant for him in the Immediate Future, you are Not Interested in Having any Contact with Him, because you Know that you can Only Hurt his feelings. If you Haven't gone to the Show yet, Tell him that you Cannot Attend, because you would be Going under False Pretenses and have no Desire to Date him.
Ask him not to Contact You and Suggest that he Stop Attending your Parents Soirees for Awhile. Make it Clear that you Know that Being in Contact with You and Knowing that you have no Feelings for him Hurts Him, but to not Budge. He will be Upset, poor lad, but Young People are Resilient, and he may find that Someone has been Admiring him From Afar who would Make a Caring Partner for him. I know You don't want to Give Up this event, but I Also think you Know that its the Right Thing to do.
And of Course you are not a Horrible Person! This is at Worst an Error in Judgment and Easily Rectified.
Oh my Goodness, look at that Snow! I'm Afraid that the Road is Impassable. I Hope you Won't Mind spending the Night? The Snow Plow will be Through Early in the Morning. Good, that's Settled. The Blue guest room is Ready for you and you will find an Assortment of Pyjamas and a Bathrobe and Slippers in the Wardrobe. The Bathroom should have Everything you Need.
Now what shall we Do this Miserable afternoon..... I know! We can Watch some Movies. My Dear Brother Osgood has converted the old Screening Room to take DVDs, and I was Thinking it Might be Fun to watch Some Old Comedies! Have you Seen Pillow Talk? It's one of my Favorites. Let's See what we have, Shall We?