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: Many of your published letters come from unhappy married women. Some of them seem unable to get objective advice that would make themselves and their marriages happier. I'm fortunate to be happily married (33 years) to a wonderful woman who has a clear perspective. Three pearls of wisdom she could share: 1. Don't sulk because your husband can't read your mind. Trust him; he'd like to help. And listen to your tone as you point out how he can. 2. The way you talk about him to your friends is an expression of your fidelity. Talk about him honestly, but with respect. If you do, he'll admire and encourage your close friendships and take a sincere interest in your friends as people. If your MO is to grouse and complain about him, in his mind and heart he will feel you're abandoning him. 3. Be clear that while your husband might say he'd like to treat you like a queen, you're both better off being equals -- partners, side-by-side. In our marriage, there is no "better half." There are two halves. It's amazing how much joy we have experienced during our years together, based on this simple foundation. My esteem for my wife only grows each year -- something that seems impossible, but then again, fantastic things usually do.
-- PETER, A GRATEFUL HUSBAND
DEAR PETER: Thank you for sharing those words of wisdom because they apply to husbands as well as wives. There's a saying: The higher the pedestal, the longer the fall. Partners who treat each other as equals and with respect -- and the key word is "respect" -- usually have long-lasting and happy unions. Those who complain behind a spouse's back, who denigrate rather than elevate, do not make themselves look better or their marriages healthier. I'm glad you wrote.
Charlene, The Small-Town Snoop: Well, I ain't sure I am, hon.
Cheryl, the Goddess of Love: Kind of wish she had, though.
Sardo, Who Knows All, Tells All: Kind of wish who had? What are you two talking about?
The Planet: The wife, of course. "Three pearls of wisdom she could share." Well, why the hell didn't she?
That's what I was thinking, Planet. Doesn't it strike Abby as creepy that Peter's speaking for his wife? Like maybe he doesn't allow her to communicate directly with the outside world in case she doesn't speak about him with enough "respect?"
Or maybe he's got little bits of her sealed in garbage bags down in the basement.
Her havin' busted into pieces when she fell off that pedestal, I reckon. Or the prissy son of a bitch pushed her...
Keep your panties on, Charlene. What have I walked into, some kind of man-bashing bitchfest?
Let''s leave my panties out of this, hon, or I'll show you 'bitchfest.'
Don't get her riled, Sardo, you know how feisty she gets after a double shift at the Huddle House. Remember the time she took out the SWAT team with the waffle iron?
I bet she wears the kind that has a kitten appliqueed over the crotch, or the day of the week, only by now she's lost everything except Tuesday...umph! That hurt!
Sorry, hon. Didn't mean to hurt nobody, just don't know my own strength
Which is exactly what she told the SWAT team.
And don't even ask why the SWAT team was there in the first place! Anyway, Sardo, can't you see why Peter's letter has our feminist glands quivering? To me, it's point 2: "The way you talk about him to your friends is an expression of your fidelity. Talk about him honestly, but with respect. If you do, he'll admire and encourage your close friendships ..."
Right. And what if she don't? He locks her in the basement and keeps her from talking to anyone from outside?
And I wonder how he knows what she says about him to her girlfriends in the first place. Does he listen at doors? Read her email? Tap her phone?
Ladies, ladies! You're overreacting. What I'm hearing is how happy his marriage is.
I'll believe it when the wife tells me. Listen to that first paragraph. "Many of your published letters come from unhappy married women. Some of them seem unable to get objective advice that would make themselves and their marriages happier."
Thank you, oh, great and wise Peter, for the "objective advice" on how we silly females could be happier. Oy! You want to talk about somebody who needs to "listen to his tone"...
Why oh why do men always feel so welcome to tell women what to do and how to do it? Did I ever tell you about the customer who told me I was refilling the ketchup bottles the wrong way?
Is this going to be the one where the SWAT team comes?
No, hon, but afterwards it kind of looked like they shoulda. It'd have been neater if he'd shot off his mouth about the salt shakers.
That reminds me, girls. Did I ever tell you the time Sardo ordered me to buy hiking boots exactly like his? Then another time, he told me to pick my feet up higher when I hiked...
Help! I'm the one fictionalized male suborned name and image in this whole alt-advice column!
And my dears, did anybody else read the male op-ed pieces after the women's marches in January? Even the guys I always thought were so smart had this patronizing sorry-little-ladies tone as they explained why we'd have been better off staying home and darning their underwear.
I thought we agreed to leave underwear out of this, little ladies...ouch! Sheesh. Can't anybody around here take a joke?
Humor, it is widely known, is largely a matter of timing.
And audience. Don't forget audience. I'm surrounded by angry insane feminists! BTW, why am I all alone on Team Testosterone? Where are Charles Manson and Hitler when a guy needs them?
Don't you read the newspapers? Charlie and Der Fuhrer are both in Washington being vetted for important Cabinet positions.
What about Socrates?
Ποτέ δεν προσεγγίσει μια γυναίκα που μεταφέρουν ένα μπουκάλι κέτσαπ.
She doesn't have a ketchup bottle this time, Soc. Couldn't you make an exception? Oh, never mind! Planet, purely for informational purposes: how would a guy go about quitting a gig as a fictional panelist in an alt-advice column?
Don't leave us, Sardo!
Of course we can all see why the new administration was so eager to snap up Charlie and Hitler, they go with the new order, they match the drapes; but losing them leaves me short-handed. I need at least one male voice on the panel that can speak something besides ancient Greek. So if you want me to stop suborning your name and image I'm afraid you're going to have to sue.
So lawyer up or quit whining. We need to get on with this.
And pick up them feet!
All right. Listen up, Peter! Here comes the advice of the Dear Abby Appeals Board:
There's an old adage that the stuff people say behind your back is none of your business. That goes double for man-woman stuff.
One of the whole purposes of having girlfriends is to complain about your man. God knows how many marriages have been saved--and murders avoided--by having a sympathetic ear to vent to.
So don't worry about what your wife says about you to her friends. Don't even think about it. Got it, hon? Because I am movin' on to point 2: If your wife is sitting on the wrong side of the car at the drive-thru window you are allowed to order her a cheeseburger, and if she's got laryngitis I reckon you can call in sick for her. Otherwise: LET HER SPEAK FOR HERSELF.
And one more thing. I know it's a small point but are we really going to let Peter get away with this crap about there being three rules to a good marriage? It reminds me of that famous French writer, I forget his name ...
Now, that's funny all by itself.
... who said, "Zair are three rules to writing zee great novel....Unfortunately, no one has evair discovered zem."
I agree. And if there are three rules to marriage, I'm pretty sure one of them isn't "Don't sulk."
Yeah, there's practically a "little lady" tacit in that one, isn't there?
Well! I'm glad we've got that sorted out! Sorry, Pete, can't help you, I'm outnumbered. Now you'd better get out of town before these little ladies rip your liver out.
Do we have time for another question?
If it's short. Next?
DEAR ABBY: I am 47 years old and date younger, usually very attractive women. I live in New York City, so they tend to be models. I haven't been married because I feel like I haven't met "the one." I have been with one or two women who could have been the one, only to find out my feelings weren't reciprocated. But more often I don't feel an emotional/intellectual connection, so I end the relationship. While I might be able to resolve that issue by dating women in their late 30s and 40s, I'm more physically attracted to younger women. Because I don't look my age, I have yet to reach the point where I look "too old" for women in their 20s to be attracted. Do I continue to follow my male instincts and date younger women, or should I date women closer to my age to whom I may not be as physically attracted, knowing there's still no guarantee I'll meet someone with whom I'll find a stronger connection?
-- LIKES 'EM YOUNGER
DEAR LIKES: Forgive me for answering your question with a question, but what do you really want in a relationship? The problem with youth is that it doesn't last. As the years go by, we get older -- if we're lucky. That's why it's time to start listing your priorities, with the help of a licensed mental health professional, if necessary. (There are many well-qualified ones in your city.) I urge you to do it soon, before you start looking like your date's rich uncle. While marriage may not be for everyone, it's a known fact that married men live longer.
Hmm. Likes, I'm going to go way out on a limb and guess that you're actually a bespectacled nerd living in your parents' basement...
...with an internet addiction, an extensive comic book collection and an active fantasy life.
But in case you ain't, all I can say is, why don't you come up and see me some time?
No offense, Char, but aren't you a little long in the tooth for Mr. Cradle Robber here?
Yeah, but I ain't too old to KICK HIS ARROGANT ASS!
Likes, it's true: you do come across as kind of a jerk, and I think all us geriatric hags would enjoy helping Charlene in the aforementioned activity--Cheryl?
On the plus side, though, recent events have demonstrated there's a market for that kind of thing. If you can't get your love life straightened out, maybe you could anyway run for president?
But right now, sonny boy, you'd better just RUN! You've got the little ladies mad and I can't hold them back much longer. Call ... the ... SWAT...team!