Obese Neighbor Constantly Asks For Help
(taken from 8/5/17 "Ask Amy")
LETTER: My girlfriend and I live in a small condo building. Our neighbor is a middle-aged woman who lives by herself, and also
happens to be very overweight.
Since we moved in about a year ago, at least once a day (sometimes twice), she knocks on our door and asks for me or my girlfriend to bring her groceries up the stairs, bring up packages, take boxes to the trash or move various things around her condo. We always do these things for her. She has mobility issues due to her size, and she’s always out of breath.
She is very nice and apologetic about having to ask us to do things, and thanks us each time. But it is becoming a problem for me. I am fine being neighborly, but this seems like it’s too much.
My girlfriend nicely suggested that maybe she should look for a home health aide or that someone in her family could check in on her. Her response was “I’m not that old” and, “Why would I need that?”
I’m at the point where I just don’t want to answer the door anymore, but my girlfriend feels that our neighbor will know we are hiding from her.
What can I do here?
Amy suggested you straight-up tell her what you will and will not do, but this woman sounds able to guilt you into changing your mind even if you do go that route. You need to make her not WANT your help anymore, and here's how:
SKILLZ SAYS: You can go for the temporary but 100% guaranteed-to-work-instantly fix, or you can go with the permanent fix that will require time to "take effect".
The temporary fix is to invest in crutches and a walking boot after "knee surgery". YOU have to be the wearer, leaving your girlfriend to handle all the lugging up and down stairs. This must go on for a few days, during which time your GF must be seen struggling with everything, every day. If she can cry about it in front of your neighbor...all the more better.
Your neighbor, if she's as "nice" as you say, SHOULD have the sense not to burden her further. But if she does, your GF must snap—"I'M ALREADY HAVE TO PLAY AIDE TO ONE ADULT! YOU WANT ME TO DO IT FOR TWO!!" Naybs should not visit you for a good long while.
The other option? Whenever the neighbor knocks, make it appear as if she's interrupted sex. Every time. Come to the door with a hat covering your junk. Perch your GF visibly in the background, covering herself with her arms. If two or three instances of this don't deter your neighbor, you'll have to up the ante—answer the door holding the bizarrest sex toys or porno mags you can dredge up. If time permits, throw on a weird costume or accessory, like a toucan beak.
No sane person will continue to bother you if they're constantly distracting you from sexytime. WIN! You're welcome.
Boyfriend Regularly Tattles To Parents
(taken from 2/20/16 "Dear Abby")
LETTER: My boyfriend and I have been together for three years. We are both 29.
When we have a fight, the first thing he does is text message my parents and tell them everything. I have asked him many times to please not involve them. We are adults and we should be able to handle our problems without interference from my parents. I never have, and never would, complain to his mother about him. His response has always been, "I can involve whoever I want."
He knows I feel disrespected when he does this, and he still won't change. Is there anything else I can do?
Abby suggested you just change boyfriends, but here's some more advice in case you're unwilling to do that:
SKILLZ SAYS: Before I get started on the 29-MONTH-old you're dating, are you sure your parents aren't pulling some of your guy's strings? If you two fight a lot, it's possible your folks are placing bets on the turmoil ("Adam got new rims for his car. I got $20 says Eve goes bitchcakes on him for it") and use your guy as an unwitting insider under the guise of "being there". Don't rule it out—retirement can be boring, you know.
More likely, you're dating a turd, and you need to sink to that level to have any chance of resolution here. Your problem is you're above the childish behavior he displays—that must change. Since "he can involve whoever he wants", so can you! It's time to start calling his parents whenever he commits any embarrassing violation of any kind. For example: "Hi, Mrs. Roberts? It's me, Jane. Did Brad have a problem with skid marks growing up like he does now?"
Don't hold back. He fails to satisfy you in bed? Get on the phone. He trips over his own feet? Get on the phone. He misspells an easy word? GET ON THE FONE. Enough of this, and he'll get the message sooner or later.
If that doesn't work, you have to make your parents hate him. Casually point out how your honey blurted out your mom's name a couple nights ago while you two were gettin' busy. Think they'll still be taking his calls? WIN! You're welcome.
P.S. Bitchcakes? #NewsRadio
New Relationship, But Old Parents
(taken from 5/15/16 "Carolyn Hax")
LETTER: I’m married with two kids. I went through a lot to figure out why I can’t have a good relationship with my parents and probably never had one.
It’s clear to me now that they are trying to have a relationship with their kid, not their adult child. They get angry and afraid when I express emotion; they want me to be happy all the time. They are afraid of everything in my life — my commute, my neighbors, my lack of anything they think I should own. They take no interest in my job or friends or hobbies, but keep asking about my childhood friends and interests. They tell me to eat and sleep and they backseat drive about my house and kids. If the pictures in their home are any indication, time stopped when I was about nine. Puberty, high school, college — all dealt with on my own, with no help from them, save fretting, guilt-tripping and warnings of what could go wrong.
So, in the past 10 years, I haven’t seen them much. I’ve had three knock-down fights with them during that time. I’ve expressed my frustration at not being seen as an adult, and wanting a different kind of relationship with them. They say they’re very hurt by my words and just want us all to get along.
It’s clear they don’t take feedback. I know this needs to change, but they won’t. I am their only child; my kids are their only grandkids. (They display all the same kinds of behaviors toward my children.) If they were abusive, I would just cut them off, but I’m only just miserable, up against their alternate reality of who I am.
How can I stop expecting something so, well, normal to be expected? How do I have parents in my life who only know how to see 4th-grade me?
Carolyn suggested you treat THEM like children, and then get counseling. But I think you do the opposite...
SKILLZ SAYS: Let's take this one by one:
"They get angry and afraid when I express emotion."
Could this be because you once threw Dad down the stairs for sneezing on you? (Knock-down fights were referenced in the letter.)
"They are afraid of everything in my life — my commute, my neighbors..."
Could this be because your commute takes you through Watts, and you drive a red Prius?
"...my lack of anything they think I should own."
Like what, Facebook stock?
"They take no interest in my job or friends or hobbies, but keep asking about my childhood friends and interests."
Maybe your childhood friends and interests weren't as boring as those you have now. Just sayin'. You can't expect Mom and Dad to show much interest in you and your current friends' attempts at plankton breeding.
"They tell me to eat and sleep..."
You must be very forgetful. They deserve thanks for this.
"If the pictures in their home are any indication, time stopped when I was about nine."
Is it possible Dad pawned the camera around that time, then lost the ticket?
Now that I'm done playing devil's advocate..it seems you've done exactly what I would advise by minimizing your interaction with these debby-downer fraidy cats. But if you ever want things to change, you will have to give 'em what they want until they don't want it anymore.
It is painfully obvious what happened here—they only wanted a child until he/she stopped being "cute" and they couldn't parade it around like an accessory, or get him/her to perform on command for their friends.
I have some advice for you to counter Carolyn's—play the role of child to the extreme.
Start by making them drive YOU wherever you go together. Be unable to perform simple tasks like opening jars, using keys and lifting "heavy" items such as...gallons of milk, and make them do it all. Show up with your laundry on the weekend. If they ever question you, reply "I'm only nine..."
But this is only the beginning.
In order to really have this lesson sink in, your "regression" is going to have to cost them something. Any favors they ask you to do, you're going to have to screw up like a child would. If they ask you to mail a letter, address it to "Poo-Poo Butt Face" in Fartville, USA.
Crash a gathering of theirs for very immature purposes i.e. "MOMMMM! I WANNA GO TO THE PARK!" and erupt in an embarrassing tantrum when they say no. Have your boss call your dad to come pick you up from work because you were "misbehaving" at a time which would exact maximum inconvenience for him.
The coup de gras: if they have a wedding video somewhere, back it up digitally without telling them, then tape over it with Thomas The Tank Engine. Your reasoning? "Why would anyone want to watch a weeding video?" (See, because you're nine, your reading isn't perfect.)
If all of that doesn't get your folks to recognize how silly they're being and appreciate the adult you are...you could always shove Dad down the stairs again. WIN! You're welcome.
Wife Wonders About E-Cheating
(taken from 5/13/16 "Ask Amy")
LETTER: My husband I have been married for three years. We jumped through many hoops in order to be together.
I thought we would be totally devoted to each other until the end of our lives (we are both in our 60s).
A few months after we got married, I discovered that my husband was communicating with a “hooker” through e-mail. He was asking her to send him porn. He said he would travel to see her and was just generally flirting with her.
I found her phone number in his phone contacts. I suspect they were having phone sex and going into chat rooms together. When confronted with the evidence, he said he was just flirting with her to get porn from her. He said there was no phone sex or chatting — just the four or five e-mails that I saw.
He begged my forgiveness and promised that nothing like this would ever happen again. I have no reason to believe he has broken that promise. He is a good man and, other than this one incident, he has been a wonderful mate.
I was devastated by this breach of trust and have spent the last year trying to cope with my feelings of anger and hurt. Am I making too much out of this incident? Would you consider this cheating? That’s the way it feels to me.
Amy thinks hubby could be a serial cyber-cheater. D-Rock has this point of view:
D-ROCK SAYS: Dear Advisee,
First of all, I'm really curious what hoops you had to jump through in order to be together. Did you have trouble convincing your 90-year old parents that he is "the one"? (They probably don't want you making a hasty decision that will affect you for the rest of your life. They mean well.)
Anyway, back to the issue at hand. Seeing how you found out about this behavior of his merely months into your marriage, it's clear to me that he had this arrangement going long before your nuptials. (And while I disagree with your use of the term "hooker" in this circumstance, we can repurpose this term, as she IS hooking your husband up with porn.)
Look, men need eye candy, hence the pursuit of porn. I don't know what you look like but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that he didn't marry you for your body (per se). You're his eye broccoli. You're not someone he necessarily LIKES to look at naked but he does it anyway because it's there.
You say he is a good man and has been a wonderful mate. What more do you want from him??? The typical 60-year-old couple is worn down, and steeped in acrimony and resignation, where they actively count down the days (those Viagra commercials are a damn lie!). My point is, leave well enough alone. You have at least eight decent years left on this good Earth. Instead of fretting about your husband's extracurricular activities, why not just make the most of what you have and relish in the fact that you possess a living, breathing companion at all! ~~
Introvert Content With Being Alone
(taken from 7/28/16 "Ask Amy")
LETTER: I am an only child who was raised by parents who were approaching 50 when I was born. There were no other children on the street where we lived. I attended a tiny religious school that was several miles away from where we lived. I grew up very alone, and I learned to like being alone.
And that is my problem: I like being alone, yet everyone around me assumes that I am lonely because I’ve never been married and have no children or other social ties.
I like people only in very small doses. I can enjoy being “interested” in a new person for an hour, but then I really have no desire to ever see them again. With considerable effort I can pretend to be interested in my co-workers’ lives for 10 minutes at a time, but really all I want is to do my job and then leave so I can go do the things that make me happy.
My idea of a perfect day is to go hiking alone, and then eat solo at an ethnic restaurant that serves some type of food I’ve never tried before while socializing with the usually foreign staff, and then attending a lecture at a nearby university—or go home and read. I have done many activities with other people, but I find their company exhausting.
I also find it too stressful to lie and pretend that I have family obligations or some other made-up reason why I don’t have time to be someone’s friend.
So what do I do? Telling the truth that I’m not interested in even being social, let alone being someone’s best friend, ends up hurting people’s feelings. And telling polite lies leads people to just try harder to persuade me to socialize. How do I cope with a world that is focused on “social connection” when I am alone but not lonely?
Amy recommended some book. Skillz, on the other hand...
SKILLZ SAYS: Either you learn to stop worrying about others' feelings—which you can't control—or stop giving people a reason to want your company.
Since some (if not all) of the people whose company "exhausts" you are co-workers, you don't want to go too far in repelling them, otherwise I'd suggest a whole host of batty behavior that would get them off your back. But, obviously, anything that could get you reported and endanger your job is out of the question, so let's use another approach:
You've got to bore the s*** out of everyone.
I'm talkin' blanket-knitting for your cat, new hairs where you didn't have hairs before, a detailed analysis of who was the best Secretary Of Treasury ever. You've got to test the limits of their politeness. Under NO circumstances can you discuss anything being discussed by any co-worker.
Here's a sample conversation:
(You're gathered, against your will, with your colleagues or whoever)
COLLEAGUE 1: Oh, my kid did the cutest thing this week! He rolled over on his tummy and blew me a kiss!
COLLEAGUE 2: Awww, that's SO cute! He's got to be getting so BIG now!"
COLLEAGUE 3: My daughter wants to play with him!
YOU: I saw some kids at the store today. One was a girl. The other one wasn't.
YOU: I passed by them on my way to buy some mulch.
COLLEAGUE 1: Oh...for your yard?
YOU: I just collect mulch. It's pretty neat. Haha.
One of two things will happen: they will either deem you a total dud and never press you for company again, or they will give you a hard time for being so dull. If the latter happens, you can now claim to be "hurt" or "offended" by their teasing, thus leaving you the perfect excuse to avoid them unless required for job purposes. WIN! You're welcome.
Friend Glued To Phone Throughout Dinner
(taken from 8/23/16 "Dear Abby")
LETTER: I went out to dinner with a close friend last night. During the hour we were at the restaurant, she made and received no less than 11 cellphone calls.
These were entire conversations, not unanswered rings or a quick, "I'm busy now. Call you later." If there had been extenuating circumstances, maybe I wouldn't feel so offended. But the chats were with a co-worker, someone from church, her boyfriend, her daughter, etc. This friend does "live" on her phone, but this was excessive even for her. I thought it was ridiculous, and next time I may be "too busy" to meet her for dinner. Should I say something or just avoid or limit meals with her in the future?
Abby suggested a wussy "You hurt me" talk, which will do nothing. Go with THIS suggestion:
SKILLZ SAYS: My friend, it seems to me your companion was trying to get you to leave! NOBODY, not even the biggest big mouths get 11 calls so close together. 911 doesn't get 11 calls so close together! Your friend doesn't enjoy your company as much as you enjoy hers, it seems, so she lined up everyone she knew to disrupt the dinner and drive you away.
You didn't name the entire list of interrupters, but I'm guessing after the boyfriend and the daughter came—in no particular order:
her gynecologist, calling to ask about all her "unusual" odors down there
her exterminator, calling to ask how she wanted the giant rodents disposed of,
her infant neighbor, calling to solicit 10 solid minutes of goo-goo-ga-ga,
her niece, calling to ask for proper technique in satisfying a guy orally,
her therapist, calling to ask her to relive her worst childhood trauma, and
some random guy who wanted her to read, word-for-word, the ingredients label off a can of soup.
Basically, topics that would drive anyone within earshot out of the restaurant.
Yet you didn't take the hints and stayed put, and now you need guidance going forward.
Have one more dinner with her. Say nothing about the past incident. If she answers two phone calls, you then call her yourself from right there in the restaurant, explaining "I wanted to talk to you too. That's why I keep having meals with you. But it seems the only way to converse with you is electronically." She'll either A) realize the err of her ways and plead forgiveness, or B) throw a tantrum and call you names. Truthfully...I'd expect B. But you never know.
Your other option? Rather than dinner, have breakfasts—EARLY breakfasts—with her, offering to cover the bill to entice her out of bed. If people are still calling her over and over again when they'd ordinarily be sleeping/working, you'll then KNOW she's orchestrating the calls and you can step away for good. WIN! You're welcome.