I am an avid fan of advice columns. I love the tough love approach that the writers deal out to those who are hoping against hope that common sense will not prevail and they’ll be told to continue on the path of self-delusion and (sometimes) selfishness. Here are some of my favorites from the past few weeks:
- I happened upon my boyfriend’s license and found out that he’d told me a wrong last name. What should I do?
- We live with our mother. Our grand-niece, who is allergic to cats, just had a baby and wants us to put the cats away when she brings the baby over. We’ve refused and now our mother hasn’t seen the baby. Why is everyone mad at us? Our cats are our babies and shouldn’t be penalized.
- Is it acceptable to put on an invitation, “if you did not RSVP but come anyway, please do not eat or drink anything”?
- My in-laws live in another country. Sometimes when I visit, they speak their language instead of English, which I think is rude. How can I convince them not to do that?
The answers are much as you would expect:
- Run away.
- Put your cats up.
- You’re mad because your relatives sometimes want to speak their own language in their home in their own country? How about taking some lessons in their language so you can join in?
Even assuming that some of these questions are just invented for the fun of it, there are some patterns that come through. We do obnoxious or thoughtless or stupid things. People get mad at us. We don’t want to admit or change. We seek out others to validate our choices.
There is an old saying that any lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. And sometimes when we do something and everyone is against us, we’re not a martyr. We’re just wrong. And we all need a person in our lives who will be that tough-love advice columnist.