Editor's Note: The Dear Abby Appeals Board is a loose--one might even say "disjointed"--coalition of failed Planet advice columnists who band together periodically to revisit some of Abby's less stellar advice. (They resent her because alone among them she is paid.) The letters seeking and giving advice here are excerpted from Abby's syndicated column. The rest is, as ever, PURE PLANET!
DEAR ABBY: I grew up the third of four children. Both my older brothers chose to go into engineering (the field my father is in). I rocked the boat and opted to go into education. All during college and after, my parents continued to tell me I had chosen the wrong career and would never have any money.
Ten years later, I'm still getting constant comments about my career choice and financial status. They make little jabs like, "... but we know you can't afford it," and, "Is this too expensive for you?" which echo at family gatherings to the point that neither my husband nor I want to be there.We both work hard and, while we might struggle, we never ask for financial assistance.
How can I get my family to stop these comments? They're hurtful.
-- EDUCATOR IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR EDUCATOR: You are being picked on not only because of your career choice and its salary level, but also the fact that you didn't fall into line as your siblings did and do what your parents wanted.
Much as we might wish to, we cannot dictate the behavior of others. If you have told your family their comments bother you and they persist, you will have to focus on the importance of the field you chose and the contribution to society you are making. And attend those family gatherings less often.
The Dade Planet: Here we go again! I hate to butt in, but I can't stand it. Abby's letting the Moneybags family off far too lightly. What kind of values do these slide-ruling slobs have anyway? It's time for ....
The Dear Abby Appeals Board!
I mean, here's this sincere little woman getting up every morning to face a screaming classroom, putting up with arcane education legislation, angry parents and bullying administrators, all in the noble cause of guiding the young--and all her nasty shallow family can say is she'd have made more money as an engineer? Like money's the only consideration? You want to talk Ugly American!
Cheryl, the Goddess of Love: I think I'd say "Clueless American." At least Educator's got a job! Not everyboody's kid does, you know.
Whenever I worry I've let my family down, not having gone as far in life as they wanted me to, I remember this guy I met whose loved ones are always happiest when he's in jail, because those are the only times he can stay sober and drug-free. Mom and Dad, I think, that could have been me--or it could have been your daughter, Moneybagses!
Charlie (the "Family" Guy) Manson: Hey, Educator, I think your family is totally, like, EVIL. You know what my Family would do to your family, man? Hey! Let's drop some acid and talk further!
Sardo, Who Knows All, Tells All: Thanks for sharing, Chaz. You always provide much-needed perspective.
Moneybagses, that's another reason you should be proud of your daughter: She's not a psycho serial killer with bad hair.
But seriously, Educator, know what I'd do with your family? Every Thanksgiving, when one of them made some jab about my income, I'd ask them to front me a couple of grand until Christmas.
Charlene, the Small-Town Snoop: And don't pay 'em back, neither--the way them boys talk, I reckon they're good for it.
I agree that old Abby wasn't hard enough on your family -- though hell, at least she didn't tell you to talk to a licensed counselor the way she usually does -- but I think everybody else here is being too soft, too.
Adolph Hitler: Kill zem! Kill zem! Kill zem!
Well, almost everybody. Anyway, Educator, what you need to tell them folks of yours--and you write this down, hon, so you remember it exact--is:
K I S S M Y A S S!
I know this is supposed to be a collaborative effort, but in this case all I can add to Charlene's advice is: Right in the middle.
DEAR ABBY: For the last seven years I have been in a long-distance relationship. I see him every three months. He is divorced and a workaholic. I love him very much, and he says he also loves me.
I had put a tattoo of his name on my hip. This time when he visited, I showed it to him. When I did, he was shocked. He said he was flattered, but thought it was "a bit much." Then he said he would never tattoo someone's name on himself unless he first asked permission.
I told him that I really love him, and even if something happened and we broke up for some reason that it was all right. I said I am 60 years old, and it was my body and my decision, and that I did it for myself because I will never love another man the way I love him.
Abby, do you think I should have asked him first? Do you think maybe he doesn't love me as much as he says he does? Please help me understand this.
-- TATTOO IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR TATTOO: You are an adult, and at age 60 you should not have to ask ANYone's permission to get a tattoo. If, after seven years, you see this man only every three months, it should be plain by now that he's not interested in a closer relationship.
Most men would be flattered that you got the tattoo, unless they were afraid it might somehow reveal that you are lovers. Are you absolutely sure this man is divorced? Your situation is so peculiar that it's time you did some double-checking. Better late than never.
Peculiar indeed! For the first part of the letter, I was thinking I'd better recuse myself. When I was young, "nice girls" didn't get tattoos. Tats were only for what the Harley magazine covers referred to as "Liver-Quiverin' Biker Bitches."
But now all that's changed. All sorts of nice young women get tattoos. Recently, I even met a young doctor who had a butterfly tattoo on her upper back you could see when she took off her labcoat. It was utterly...tasteful.
Right. That's why I was thinking: What do I know? Then the letter-writer said that bit about being 60 and I'm like, eek! That's a different kettle of fish. Isn't there a cut-off date for quiverin' livers?
And she'd tattooed his name on her "hip." Is that a euphemism for "butt?" Because as I recall, that was where the liver-quiverers had theirs. I worked with this waitress once who told me, "I got my whole love life tattooed on my ass."
Like "Property of Joe" exed out and "Property of Moe" tattooed underneath? Haw haw. Hope she was sparing with her affections. Otherwise she'd run out of available space pretty quick.
Oh, she had plenty of room, hon.
Hmm. Do I detect a note of coyness there? Are you talking about yourself, Charlene? I bet you quivered a few livers in your day, and you've got a pretty generous writing surface out back there!
Kiss my writing surface, Sardo! I told you, it wasn't me, it was this waitress I knew.
And it was also rude of you to use the past tense, Sardo. I'm sure Charlene's still quiverin' livers every damn day.
Thanks, hon, though to tell the truth I take Sundays off lately. I ain't the hottie I was, and I only got one lung.
Come on, gang, let's focus. This is not really so much about quiverin' livers as it is about love. Cheryl, that's your line of country. Could you love somebody who didn't want you to tattoo his name on your ass?
Probably not, though realistically I might have an even bigger problem with somebody who did.
Anyway, you did catch the bit about her only seeing him every three months? That's four times a year.
Times seven years. So she's seen ole Luke Warm 28 times and she tattoos his name on her butt? You're right, Cheryl, that's rushing it.
So there's a minimum-use rule for butts before you get to personalize? We'll take your word for it, Charlene!
I'll personalize your butt for you, buster.
Now now. Back to work. Didn't Socrates say something famous about love?
Ο άνθρωπος μπορεί να εξελιχθεί από επιθυμώντας όμορφους ανθρώπους να αγαπούν την ίδια ομορφιά.
That's easy for you to say, Socrates, but how is a Platonic adoration of conceptualized Beauty going to help somebody 60 years old with the wrong man's name on her butt?
Well, what did Socrates have to say about people getting tattoos on their ass?
Oh? Sorry. I must have thinking about Aristophanes.
Ο Αριστοφάνης ήταν ένα τράνταγμα.
Yeah, Soc, maybe Aristophanes was a jerk, but more to the point, so is Luke Warm. Cheryl just voiced what we're all thinking, and what Abby said, too, though not forcefully enough: it's not a case of whether Tattoo should have asked Luke permission, it's a case of if he likes her as much as she likes him--or at all, really.
Right. You can think of it two ways: that it's a shame we don't get wiser as we get older, or that it's nice that affairs of the heart make us young (and stupid!) again. One way or the other, love makes fools of us all. Or should I say asses?
And one way or t'ther, it's time for poor ole Tats to move on.
Which leaves the problem of her personalized butt. Hey Charlene, I bet you can tell us: How do you remove a tattoo of somebody's name you're through quiverin' the liver of?
'Fraid I can't help you there, Sardo. Wouldn't know.
You mean you left 'em all on there? Do tell, Charlene. How many names you got listed on your fanny?
I've had about enough of this. Here, hon, see for yourself.
No, Charlene! Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo.....
Somebody help him up! I think he's gone blind.
ηθική: δεν υπάρχουν ονόματα στο γαϊδούρια.
You nailed it, Socrates. Ladies, take note: You may feel that a man's name is written in your soul or etched onto your heart--but maybe it's best to leave your butt unmonogrammed.
Add it to your Rules of Life, along with Don't eat anything bigger than your head and Never play cards with a man named Doc: Give crowns and pounds and guineas, but not your ass away.
No ma'am! Let your uninscribed buttocks shine forth to light the way to all who come behind you.
Sometimes there's nothing left to say but amen.
Doctor, take off the rest of the bandages ...