DEAR JERKASS: A few years ago I met a wonderful person. I spent roughly three months with him in a budding relationship. My issue is that one night he said those three little words, and I panicked and disappeared from his life. I know it was a horrible and cowardly thing to do. I just didn't know how to handle it other than ask him why and saying, "You can't mean me, right?"
I have felt horrible that I vanished without any explanation and most likely hurt him. I really would like to apologize for my actions and immaturity. He didn't deserve that type of treatment. I recently found his address and wonder if it would be all right to send an apology, or if it would be best not to open potential wounds. -- DISAPPEARED IN ILLINOIS
DEAR GHOSTING: Let's be honest here: while you may fantasize about "the one that got away", this is really about guilt alleviation, and not about making right what once went wrong.
He deserves better than you, and he probably found someone that is better than you. You are absolutely right: he did not mean you when he said "I love you." He was talking about someone else in the bed you couldn't see. If you had gotten up to wash your face, someone else would have taken your place.
Don't write him. Don't call him. Guilt isn't evil, it's a signal telling us we did something wrong so that we can modify our behavior and prevent something from happening again.
This isn't like stealing a candy bar where you should go back to the store, confess, and pay the money owed. Let him be thankful that you were the one that"got away" and helped him avoid that drama.
DEAR JERKASS: I have been with my husband for 12 years, married for three. I had an affair a little over a year ago that he found out about. He has let me back into the house, but he demeans my character at every opportunity. I don't fight back because I know I am the cause of his pain.
We have a 3-year-old daughter, and I am now six weeks pregnant with his child. I do not want to argue with him, because if I had been a better wife, he would not be so angry. But the hurt I feel from his words over the past months is weighing heavy on me, especially with my new hormones. I'm holding it in, but should I leave? Become a single mother? How can I get him to a counselor? -- NEEDS COUNSELING
DEAR GETTING A DIVORCE: You have a three year old...the same length of time you've been married. After you got married and had the kid, then you cheated. If he hadn't found out, would you have told him? My guess is "NO".
You do not become a single mother, now.
You become a divorced mother with weekend visits.
The Dad gets primary custody.
Don't bother with the counselor, he's better off without you.
DEAR JERKASS: My son “Travis,” age 9, is computer savvy, but his “Luddite” grandparents (my in-laws) live far away from us and don’t even have Internet access. They are no longer able to travel, and our finances prohibit frequent visits to them.
Travis could be Skyping them, and they could have a vital relationship through modern technology. Instead, he will take their phone calls only occasionally, and enjoys the annual visit with them — but mainly because of the other relatives there.
If these were my parents (who are sadly long gone), I’d set them up on Skype and have them at least try. When his grandparents are no longer able to live on their own and move to assisted living, will that offer at least a hope of virtual connectivity?
Modern Man in San Diego
DEAR AUSTRALOPITHECUS: Do you have a printer? Get your son to type a (gasp!) goddamn letter, print it off, mail the fucking thing and show him something that won’t pander to instant gratification.
This is why people think kids have ADHD; parents like you who think it’s more important to have instant gratification in a relationship, than to do anything that requires work or effort.
By having your son write a letter (I’d say do it by hand, but we both know you don’t have the patience for that), you’re teaching him that one way of showing care is by devoting time and thinking about a person even when they aren’t in the same room.
After all, when the computer is turned off all that is left is a memory that can fade. A letter is something that can be reread and shared, stuffed into a box and found by future family.
But that’s just me.
DEAR JERKASS: I have an issue with my father and don't know where to turn. Dad is in his early 80s and -- aside from poor eyesight -- he's in good health. I'm concerned because he has developed an unusual habit. He likes to look through the dumpsters behind the grocery store.
Initially he told me it was to get old produce for compost in his garden. But I have learned that he eats some of the things he finds. I have tried telling him this is dangerous. He could cut himself digging through the trash or get food poisoning. He refuses to listen and insists that what he is doing is safe. (He is not forced to do this out of economic necessity. He has enough money to buy groceries.)
The situation has become critical because he is now planning to cook something he found in the dumpster for a family gathering. I told him not to do it. If he does prepare food from the trash, I told him he must let people know where it came from, so they can make an informed decision about whether to eat it. Jerkass, please help. -- GROSSED OUT
DEAR DADDY ISSUES: Your dad is near the end of his life. Eating something that will make him sick is the least of his worries. His heart will fail, his colon will blow, his liver will give out, and he will become food for worms. His eyes might still be good, but soon they won't be.
I think it's kind of funny that he's going to try to feed your family garbage. Think about that for a moment. He wants to feed his loved ones....garbage. Sounds like he doesn't really care what you think.
Go ahead and tell your family that he's doing this. You're under the impression that he hasn't done this already, so I don't think you'll "spoil" his fun any.
Do you really need to talk to an advice columnist about this? You complain about your father dumpster diving and I have to read your drivel. Guess which I think is worse?
DEAR JERKASS: I'm 13, and I'm writing you about my best friend. Her life at home has always sucked, but now it has reached a new level. Her grandmother is no longer paying for her tuition, her parents verbally abuse her and yesterday she attempted suicide. Luckily, she called me and I talked her through it.
I don't know how to help her. I can't talk to her parents because they'll be no help, but I don't know what will happen if I tell my parents. Please help me. -- NEEDS ANSWERS IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR ABOUT TO BE ALONE: I'm not even going to be sensitive about this. Why bother? To this date I have never found a decent reason for people to NOT kill themselves. Sure, it might make other people sad, and the argument exists that "you have your whole life ahead of you, think of all the things you'll miss out on", but the fact is that cognitive function ceases after death. You won't know if you'll miss anything because you'll be dead. You won't care if you "win" or "lose" at life. Hitler and Mother Theresa do not and cannot care what living people think of them, or if people miss them or hate them.
So give this little chestnut to your friend: go ahead and do it. Set a date a year from now, a Death Anniversary. But make sure she gets a bucket list going beforehand! Since she's going to kill herself and life sucks so bad, get her to work on all the things she would at least like to do and think about before she dies. Go ask out that hottie, and don't worry if they reject you because as soon as you're dead you won't feel sad anymore. Get her to tell off her parents. Give all her worldly possessions to people that actually need it (like people and teens living on the street. Like, go out into the actual street and find some homeless kids and tell them how much your life sucks while handing out your tamagotchis). Get a part time job and save up money to run away with, get as far away as you can and never call home for help. Try to make it to somewhere cool, with people different from yourself. If some things might take more than a year, push back the date if she wants. It won't matter if she fails at everything on the list, because it won't matter after she's dead. This is a free pass to try AND fail and not worry about it. Winning and losing don't matter, anymore. If she's going to die anyway, she might as well stir up some shit first. She's already tried doing nothing, might as well try something different.
If she does everything on her bucket list, and only after she has actually tried all of them, then tell her she can kill herself. Tell her she can add to the list whenever she wants, but she can't cross anything off until it's tried.
Your life is what you make it, and if you do nothing to change your circumstances, then grandma's tuition is going to do nothing except keep you alive, not help you live.
*I'm going to give an ass covering caveat here: I'm not a doctor and don't blame me if you don't like the results of my "advice". I take no responsibility for teeny-boppers killing themselves. You want to kill yourself, that's your choice, not mine. Push the button below to talk to real people who want to help you.
DEAR JERKASS: My husband of three years has visits with his son every Tuesday and Thursday evening. My mother-in-law picks up her grandson, takes him to her home and makes dinner for the three of them. I work 10-hour days Monday through Friday and am not able to attend these dinners.
My question is, isn't it proper etiquette that my mother-in-law should send a plate of food home for me with my husband? She never has, and I think this is rude and inconsiderate of her. What is your opinion? -- HUNGRY IN EL PASO
DEAR GET TAKE OUT: Get take out.
See, your husband of three years has an established routine with his son and mother that probably existed before you showed up, and will keep going after you're gone. Did it ever occur to you that he's doing this to continue a relationship for his son and his mother? That maybe it wasn't about you?
And what about the fact that you aren't mad at your husband for bringing you home something? Sounds like you just have an axe to grind with your MIL, and you're picking on the most obvious thing to get at her.
I'm not going to say your husband is a "mama's boy", but I do want to say that I think you are trying to drive a wedge between them all because you feel you aren't getting enough attention. You might get more if you renegotiate your current job so that you aren't working 50+ hours a week and can go to the occasional dinner.
And another thing: why aren't you bitching that you don't have a family dinner at your mother's house? Just another question that makes me think you're just trying to cause trouble.
DEAR JERKASS: Schoolchildren, especially middle school or high school students who may not be socially adept, often eat lunch alone because they don't know what to do when it comes to joining other kids at the lunch table. My grandson, who is on the autism spectrum, is one of them.
Classmates would be doing a great service if they said, "Hey, 'Josh.' Come sit with me." It's a small way to help others, and they could serve as examples/mentors. Kids with autism or some other challenges can learn socialization from helpful peers who are good in this arena.
It's lonely to eat lunch by yourself. Please encourage your readers to consider this. -- SOMEONE WHO CARES IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR MEDDLER: Fuck off.
Learning how to deal with awkward social situations is part of the learning curve and I'm going to tell you a little secret; many (not all) kids on the autism spectrum don't really give a fuck about other people the same way you think they should. They don't care if people like them or not, they only care about who they like.
I chose to eat alone at lunch because I hated having to choose between eating and having a conversation. I don't want to talk while I enjoy my food. I LIKE not talking while I'm eating. I don't like eating around other people. Sometimes I wear headphones that aren't plugged into anything because I don't want to have a forced and polite conversation with people I don't know or care about But apparently to someone like you that HAS to be changed because it's something YOU don't like, and if you don't like it then nobody likes it so they have to change.
Some people DON'T WANT to socialize at lunch, and it doesn't make them less of a person or lonely. There are many of us not on any kind of spectrum that just don't want to spend our whole day gabbing with people, and want to take some time to reflect and have our own thoughts.
Did you think about that? Or were you too busy being terrified because you can't stand to be alone with your own thoughts, so you projected that insecurity on others?
If someone asks you for help, or complains they have no friends, then you can offer advice.
Please consider encouraging others to throw things at you.
DEAR JERKASS: I have been with my boyfriend for two years. Until recently, we were inseparable and I loved his company. I got a job that required me to temporarily relocate and be on my own, so we saw each other only every other week. During that time, I gained a better understanding of who I am and how I want to spend my time.
Since then, I have realized that my boyfriend and I may not be as compatible as I once thought. We discussed it, and he's willing to do anything to make it work. But some things can't be changed, such as his interests and small quirks he has. I'm having a hard time because I want to break things off, but then I worry that he could be "the one that got away." Any advice would be appreciated. -- LOOKING FOR THE ONE
DEAR TRINITY: By all means keep stringing your boyfriend along until you find the Bigger Better Deal. That way if you find someone better you can just dump him. Right?
Look, every single person you have a relationship with will have small quirks you can't stand and different interests than your own. There's nothing wrong if you want to break up with him, but it's not fair to string him along because you fear you might not find someone better. That makes you a selfish person. Did you discover THAT during your solitary refinement? Did you also consider that maybe HE'S been putting up with your quirks and "forgiven" your faults?
But maybe he's just not "hittin it right" and if he was we wouldn't be here right now.
So here's the solution: Let the poor man go. He can do better than you. You suck.
DEAR JERKASS: My ex-boyfriend and I broke up two years ago. We were together for nearly three years. A year into our relationship, we rescued a puppy. We broke up when she was 2. Since then, we have shared her on and off. This arrangement worked fine because we have both been single.
I am now in a new relationship and feel that my ex and I should cut ties. We recently had a falling out, but he still wants to share the dog "until she is no longer in the picture."
Jerkass, I don't feel that it's feasible for us to continue sharing our dog for the next 12 to 15 years. My ex has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I know she helps him. However, I feel like I can provide a better home for her and give her more attention. How do we decide who gets to keep the dog? -- STILL IN THE PICTURE
DEAR NUT JOB: Have the dog put down, stuffed, cut it in half, and then you can both have it. Or you can just suck it up and let him have it. It's a dog. They're glorified hamsters. Besides, as soon as you get bored of this new guy you'll dump THAT pet on him and then in a bid at emotional dominance and a way to keep emotional ties you’ll “share” the pet until you can find a BBD*. You admitted as much sinceyou only cared about the animal and your ex while you were still single.
So save all those animals and future ex boyfriends the aggravation and don't get another pet. Go to the local SPCA and get a job putting down all the abandoned animals, instead. Might as well cut out the middlemen and go right to killing things.
*Bigger, better deal.
DEAR JERKASS: Can an atheist be a godparent? -- WONDERING IN WISCONSIN
DEAR HIGHEST DRUNK DRIVING RATE IN THE COUNTRY:
Can a gay person raise a straight kid? Can a Scientologist eat bacon?
Do you listen to yourself talk?
I know stupidity hits everyone in some way, but you can't claim intellectual superiority anymore. You've done it. You've made atheists dumb. All atheists are now dumber thanks to that question.
Now, I know at some point a thought will rattle in your head regarding the religious upbringing of the child. So this will be easy: Just mumble the words in church, then forget all about the God bit. It's Harry Potter fandom to you, so what do you care? I hate Harry Potter but I still let my kids watch the movies and we have plans to read the (terrible) books to them as they get older.
And that's kind of the fucking point! You don't have to push YOUR non existent religious beliefs on a kid while encouraging their spiritual growth. What you CAN do while the cognitive function increases in the kids noggin, is introduce them to different religious ideas and allow them to come to their own conclusions. As long as you leave out your own "Christians are dum dums and me am smart" and don't try to edit the facts to lead to your way of thinking, you should be fine. Introduce weak and strong anthropic principle. Treat it as though you are leading them to be critical thinkers.
But before all this, talk to the parents instead of asking an advice column. They'll tell you what they want for their kid and you can turn them down if you want. No advice column can give you this permission.
Judas' Advice Column
This is where I take a Dear Abby column, and add my own brand of advice. I started by calling it Dear Crabby, but that's taken and JERKASS seems more fun.