What Happened To Quiet Libraries?
(taken from 3/13/15 "Ask Amy")
LETTER: When I was in school, libraries were places where people went to read and study in a quiet environment. Librarians quickly squelched noisemakers with a "shush" and stern gaze.
I have recently begun frequenting local city and university libraries, as I am researching various issues related to starting a company. However, the noise level at these libraries, without exception, makes it virtually impossible for me to concentrate.
I'm sitting at a local branch of a city library. Children are running around talking loudly, and their parents respond in kind.
Staff members speak at a normal volume, making no effort to set an example for patrons. Other patrons answer cellphones at a normal volume. Not 10 feet from me, two people are talking loudly while using a public computer.
I recently went to a multistory library at a local university. Two floors were designated "Quiet Zones." The entire library should be a quiet zone!
Whenever I ask people to please be quiet, they react like I am crazy to expect quiet in a library. Am I crazy?
Amy suggested earphones, but Skillz can do you one better.
SKILLZ SAYS: Not hard to see why you're upset. Just wait until you see what teen girls are wearing now—those shorts have to be at least four inches above their knees! Plus, there was a music video on TV recently where a guy said the f-word (thank God it was bleeped out.)
And don't even think about going to the movies; just two weeks ago, I saw a black man and white woman holding hands in the theatre!
Things are spiraling out of control, and it's going to take people like you to bring back the America of 1965. It's going to take courage, though. I was once reluctant to confront rude people, but now I don't hesitate to do so—and neither should you.
The next time you find yourself frustrated by a noisy library, simply walk up to every party guilty of unacceptable noise levels and tell them how you feel. Something along the lines of "Hey, turdface? If you don't shut your trap right this second, there's gonna be trouble." Rude people only respond to this sort of brazen confrontation—in fact, this works best with urban teens and large tattooed men (who are used to others fearing them and may not even know they're being rude.)
I can guarantee you, if you use this method, you will not be hearing a single sound for quite some time.* WIN! You're welcome.
* or making one
Is Pretending Santa Is Real Damaging The Kids?
(taken from 12/16/14 "Dear Prudence")
LETTER: My husband and I are parents to a 3-year-old girl. We are divided on the subject of Santa. Right now, our daughter believes in Santa and hasn’t asked any questions about his special brand of magic. I think that once she does start asking questions, we should tell her the truth in a kind way, i.e. “The idea of Santa—of loving and giving—is very real, but he’s not a real person. But now you get to be part of the idea of Santa.”
My husband thinks we should keep the story going with creative answers until our daughter is old enough to just come out and say, “I know Santa isn’t real, you guys, cut it out.” I feel very dishonest about this and worry that our daughter would feel hurt by the extreme steps we took to keep her in the dark just so we could enjoy the innocence and magic for a little while longer. What are your thoughts on this?
Prudence suggested nothing particularly useful—basically saying you can tell her or not tell her. Here's Skillz's view:
SKILLZ SAYS: At this time, I'd like to run off a list of people who found out their parents were lying to them about Santa Claus, and how their lives turned out:
Barack Obama - constantly seeking approval he doesn't get
Leonardo DiCaprio - drowned in the ocean
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson - punched, stomped and knocked down for years
Kate Gosselin - has eight kids and no husband
Martin Lawrence - regularly filmed dressed in drag
Tony Stewart - ran over a guy and drove away
Derek Jeter - 40, and still unmarried
Seth Macfarlane - stuck in the same job for years, with no chance of advancement
Nicki Minaj - never seems to have enough clothing
Based on that, you're probably right to tell your daughter the truth now. And while you're at it—so there's no risk of future hurt—fill her in about the Easter Bunny, too. And how sex leads to babies. Don't forget to have a frank discussion about curbstomping and drive-bys, too, lest she throw that back in your face come third grade! WIN! You're welcome.
(Note: if it turns out any of those people didn't celebrate Christmas as a child...oops. Must be a typo.)
Wife In A Pickle Packing Lunch For Choosy Husband
(taken from 12/14/14 "Dear Abby")
LETTER: My husband works, but I do not. I stay very busy, but he expects me to pack him a lunch every day. It must include a breakfast item and a lunch item, as he is starving by the time he arrives at work, even if he ate at home.
My problem is, he has a huge list of "do not pack" preferences because he's so picky. It changes randomly. His list includes "Don't pack so many carbs; I want protein. No sandwiches. No spaghetti leftovers using twisted noodles -- only regular noodles. Don't use too many peppers; use more bell peppers and tomatoes." The list goes on and on.
I have told him he needs to eat what I give him since he expects a completely different lunch than our son, but he constantly complains about the lunches. However, if I don't pack his lunch, he refuses to pack one and then overspends on takeout. One man shouldn't spend $20 at Taco Bell in a single meal. I'm getting frustrated and don't know how to get this list to stop expanding.
Abby suggested having him tag along with you on your shopping trips...humiliating, but not enough. Try this:
D-ROCK SAYS: You mention that he is very specific in his food requests. You'll have to go full-on kid-logic and use his own specificity against him. He asks for low carbs and lots of protein? Then make him a peanut butter sandwich. But instead of sliced bread, use fish fillets. You don't even have to cook the darn things...remember, it's a peanut butter sandwich. No cooking required. He didn't say NOT to use raw fish filets, did he?
If he doesn't get the message and doesn't change his ways then he'll confront you about this. How you respond will be very important for you to get your point across. When he fights you on this, tell him it was a joke and offer him the sincerest apology you can muster. Assure him it won't happen again. You have successfully executed your decoy move, or what is known in the chess world as a gambit.
To get his defenses down again, you should go back to your disgustingly obedient ways and follow his requests to a "T". Once he is lulled into a false sense of security you can then enact your coup de grâce. Take a bottle of douche and include it with his sandwich or whatever you pack for him that day. If he asks, tell him it's vitamin water.
When he pulls out that bottle of Summer's Eve from his lunch bag at work and drinks from it, he'll be the laughing-stock of the office. Your loser husband will be given some douche-related moniker at work and he will have no choice but to skip lunches for the remainder of his time at his company. He may kill himself or divorce you due to all of the shame that you've brought upon him, but at least you won't have to make him lunches anymore.
Apartment Life And The Stomp Of Little Feet
(taken from 1/8/15 "Ask Amy")
LETTER: My husband and I have been living in our apartment for the past three years and generally enjoy it. However, the couple that lives in the apartment directly above us have custody of the husband's two children (elementary age) every other weekend.
I know this not because they have told me, but because without fail on these mornings we wake up to the shrill screams of the daughter while the son antagonizes her. This quickly leads to the father bellowing and general chaos for several minutes.
If we do manage to fall back asleep we will be awakened again when the children come barreling down the staircase, yelling and pushing one another.
I am a teacher; I truly and honestly understand that children are not and should not be placid all the time. But am I wrong to think that the adults should have more control over the situation?
The children scream and carry on at other times of the day as well, but I can choose not to care about that because it's during my waking hours.
Is there any way that I can leave a self-help book about parenting while sharing custody at their front door without looking passive-aggressive?
Kids in a classroom benefit from structure and classroom management, so how do I gently suggest these parents try the same?
Amy suggested a far-fetched idea—actually TALKING to the folks like an adult. Since that thought never crossed your mind...
SKILLZ SAYS: Your letter says you're in Baltimore. I'm guessing you are in one of the better neighborhoods because only a suicidal person would consider leaving a book at the doorstep in the ghetto. You do that in my hometown of Vallejo, you'll be lucky to escape without bruises.
Now to address your questions: these kids are not in a damn classroom. You do not "structure" or "manage" a bi-weekly visit with Dad. As a parent in a similar situation, I can tell you when my kid comes over, there is excitement and fun. True, we try not to disturb our neighbors. But if we honestly try and they're still bothered...oh f----n well. Go buy a house.
Back to your genius book idea.
Tell me, how would you feel if you opened your door one day to find a self-help book on fashion in the '10's, or makeup application, or even weight loss? Crap like that will have the exact opposite effect you seek—your neighbor, if he's anything like me, will start inviting neighborhood kids to play at his place 24-7 just to piss you off. And when the kids aren't over he'll jump up and down and run around himself. His floors will suddenly need daily buffing. He might take up the drums. You'll wish you'd never interfered.
Since you won't sack up and deal with two noisy days out of every 14, the only real choice you've got—besides moving—is to have Dad's kids taken away entirely, which would make you a wicked whore as opposed to the petty shrew you already seem to be. WIN! You're welcome.
(BTW, I'm willing to bet the noise isn't as bad as you're suggesting.)
Wheelchair-Bound Fiance Can Do More Than He Can't
(taken from 1/5/15 "Dear Abby")
LETTER: I am engaged to the father of my son. We have been together for five years. He's in a wheelchair and has been since he was a child. I love him very much and am ready to be his wife.
Every time I would tell my mother we planned to be married, she'd give me a thousand reasons why marrying the man I love would be stupid. We are now at a point in our lives where we are financially stable and are finally ready. When I told Mom, she called me selfish and said she won't be there. I am heartbroken.
Am I a horrible person for marrying the man I love despite the fact that my family can't accept his disability? They keep asking if I understand the responsibility that comes with being with a person in a wheelchair. I know I can't change other people's minds, but do people really think it's bad for a walking person to marry a person in a wheelchair?
Abby suggested, in essence, focus on your happiness regardless of your mom. But she didn't do so harshly enough.
D-ROCK SAYS: Dear Advisee,
Are you really that dumb that you have to ask whether you're horrible or not for wanting to marry the one you love? Or did you ask that to be a drama queen? Part of me is thinking that the reason you're marrying a handicapped person is to get attention. Most women, in an attempt to be rebellious and get attention, will bring home a troublemaker who rides a motorcycle. Well, I gotta give you credit for being original. Instead of a troublemaker, you brought home a paraplegic, and instead of him rockin' a Harley, he's rockin' a custom, full-sized Chevy van, complete with a Tommy Lift.
You might be wondering why I'm taking a harsh tone with you. It's because you are bogus. Allow me to spell it out for you. Your mother (and close family) are bigoted towards the handicapped. That right there is some high-level stupid. Since you are the spawn of such stupidity, I classify you the same level of stupid. Some may say that's an unfair assumption to make. To them I would like to point out further evidence.
First of all, I again reference you questioning your horrible-ness for wanting to marry the one you love. If you really did love the guy, you would give no credence to your family's bigotry, and focus on changing their minds about the situation rather than questioning if they are right in discouraging you. Secondly, you referred to a human that isn't paraplegic as a 'walking person'. That you would make a clear distinction between 'walkers' and 'non-walkers' rather than human being and human being shows me that you too see him (and others like him) as a different class of people.
And thirdly, you ask at the end of your letter if people really think it's bad for an able-bodied person to marry a handicapped person. Uh, yeah! You just got through saying in your letter that your family is against it! I'm assuming your family is comprised of PEOPLE, therefore SOME PEOPLE think it's bad. Do you get it now?
In conclusion, instead of wasting time and effort trying to get people that really don't belong at your wedding to come to your wedding, just marry the damn guy already! Or else he might wise up, hop into his Chevy (and by 'hop' I mean carefully wheel himself onto his van's lift, and methodically situate himself properly onto the driver's seat), and leave you and your wretched family.
P.S. You mentioned you two have a kid together, and I'm trying to wrap my head around the logistics of how you consummated your love.
Is it like when you try to put your shoelace back in the hole when it doesn't have the aglet?
New Desk Comes With An Unpleasant View
(taken from 1/23/15 "Dear Abby")
LETTER: I like my job a lot, but I have recently been assigned a different desk. I now sit next to someone who regularly draws his blood with a lancet and gives himself a shot for his diabetes just a foot away from me.
I am extremely uncomfortable around blood and needles. I don't want to make waves because this person has been here a lot longer than I have, and apparently, no one has ever been bothered by it.
Am I being silly? Would it be improper to ask my supervisor to move me? Moving desks is a big enough deal that I will have to give a reason. Help.
Abby suggested you go to management, which if you were going to do you would have done already. Try this:
SKILLZ SAYS: Since you apparently work for the Khmer Rouge and something as minor as asking a colleague to turn his body or shoot up in the bathroom—or even asking the boss for a re-seating—is "making waves", you'll have to think a bit more diabolically. (No, I'm not suggesting you replace his diabetes medicine with a placebo...or worse. TSR is not in the business of murder. Not yet, anyway.)
What you must do is fight fire with fire. You can start small by clipping your toenails at your desk and leaving the trimmings in his line of vision. Gradually up the ante to flossing, being sure to "accidentally" fling that day's bass onto his shirt. (If you happen to be pregnant, have morning sickness in your wastebasket. If you just had a baby, pump milk at your desk.)
If that doesn't get him to A) change desks, or B) get the manager to move you, we'll have to go even further by finding the shadiest character you can to show up at the office and loudly announce in front of everyone "Hey, dawg, I got yo' diabetes needles!" With the word diabetes in flagrant air quotes. Once your guy adds "Sorry bout last time, the muhfu--in police confiscated that sh--", your problem will be solved one way or the other. WIN! You're welcome.
P.S. By the way, if a masked man breaks into your house and tries to rob, rape, beat and/or kill you, IT IS OKAY to ask him to stop. Don't worry about offending him or coming off as rude. Trust me, no one will judge you if you speak up.
Introvert Tries To Help Daughter Make Friends
(taken from 1/26/15 "Dear Prudence")
LETTER: My 9-year-old daughter is having a difficult time in school. She says she has no friends and cries before and after school. Her grades are good, and she has no behavioral issues. She simply has a difficult time making friends. Her teacher says my daughter is liked by all of her classmates but seems to drift from group to group without any good friends. Play dates are seldom if ever reciprocated, and extracurricular activities have not resulted in friendships either. Unfortunately, I am not much help here since I have never had a gregarious social life and as a happy introvert have never had more than a good friend or two. Ditto for Dad. How do you teach the art of making friends to your child when you have never been much good at it yourself?
Prudence said nothing useful, basically advising you to do everything that has already failed and appealing to her readers for help. Here's some good advice:
SKILLZ SAYS: You don't really teach someone how to be a friend, per se. You teach them how to be a decent human being and if they follow those lessons properly, friendships should come naturally. If they don't, then obviously your daughter is a snoozefest (like her parents seem to be) or hygenically challenged. For the latter, I advise soap, shampoo and changing clothes daily. As for the former...
Your daughter is a tad young for smoking and sex, which would skyrocket her popularity, so let's go this route: Instead of getting good grades (dork) and behaving (teacher's pet), she's going to have to try the opposite—appealing to the popular kids. You know, the ones who don't learn and goof off all the time. She'll have to start making fun of other students and the teacher with no regard for the consequences.
She also needs to astronomically fail a couple of tests. I don't mean just getting wrong answers—I mean obscenely wrong answers that question her sobriety (i.e. the President who abolished slavery was Richie Cunningham. The capital of California is Wrestlemania. 9 x 4=1. Stuff like that.)
Another option: nothing bonds kids better than mischief, so yank her out of those "extracurricular activities" (which I'm positive are cello lessons, entomology and church cleaning) and plant her in front of The Tom Green Show reruns. (Boy, did I just date myself there.) Or the more contemporary Ridiculousness.
If your daughter can master the art of making a fool of herself and others, she'll never lack for buddies again. WIN! You're welcome.
Note: I know several teachers; you can't automatically go by their word when they say your kid is universally liked—if they say otherwise in this day and age, they risk a tongue-lashing by numbskull parents. It IS possible the class can't stand her. Just sayin'.
Visitors Snooping Around Host's House
(taken from 2/2/15 "Ask Amy")
LETTER: I am bothered when first-time visitors scout inside my home without my permission — whether it be looking around and beyond me while "talking" with me or actually going so far as to take a personal tour during a dinner party. (The bathroom is on the second floor and they comment on some aspect of the house that clearly is not the bathroom when they get back to the party).
My house isn't unusual — it's 75 years old and is a comfortable, tastefully decorated home.
I would never explore someone's home without an invitation (e.g., "would you like to see the house?").
Am I being overly sensitive, or what can I say to these people when I feel they have overstepped their bounds as guests?
Amy came up with a simple response, but since those don't always resonate...
D-ROCK SAYS: I understand being apprehensive about people being in your home for the first time. It's natural to be defensive when people are perceived to be encroaching on your personal space. But it's also natural to be curious and to observe new surroundings. These natural responses go all the way back to our caveman days, and have been ingrained in our DNA.
The issue you bring up can be separated into two issues: the more passive "looking around/observing immediate surroundings", and the more active "snooping around property without authorization".
The "looking around/observing" issue is too innocuous for you to be wasting your emotions on. As I mentioned earlier, observing new surroundings is an instinctual response that is ingrained into our being. Our ancestors used it to make sure there was no immediate threat in the area, like wolves...or cougars (or in the case of modern day homes: leather-clad burly-men with ball gags in their mouth looking to play rough...or cougars).
As far as the "snooping around property without authorization" issue goes, that is a reasonable concern. Some people just don't understand boundaries, and unfortunately it is up to the rest of us to police their trespasses.
The easy fix is to put up those removable gates that people use to keep babies/pets from accessing certain parts of the house. When someone asks what it's there for you can simply say, "for safety purposes." When they prod some more by asking, "Safety? From what?" You can then reply (with tongue in cheek), "The last person that went into that part of the house without my permission was bludgeoned to death." 99% of the people you say this to will get the point. The 1% that don't? They need a bludgeoning of their own.
Or, if you want to be creative, you can grab paint cans, marbles, and blow torches and booby trap the sacred parts of your house a la Kevin from Home Alone**. You may lose friends this way, but did you really want them in your life to begin with?
**Documenting the hi jinx and forwarding the video(s) to TSR for our enjoyment is all that we ask in return for our sage advice. Please note: we at TSR are not responsible for any injuries or lawsuits that occur due to Home Alone-type shenanigans.