Kansas, Oklahoma, Florida and Louisana have passed or are considering atrociously restrictive anti-choice laws over the past week, and perhaps coincidentally, there were several letters in my stable of favored advice columns dealing with the difficult subject. This week, we have two Sad Bastards: "Better a baby than ... leprosy" in Dear Carolyn and "Cheryl's Fiance" in Dear Abby.
"Cheryl's Fiance" has been shut out by his lady's sister, who is angry that Cheryl got an abortion:
We've been writing quite a bit about prom lately here on HD, but we haven't really addressed that staple of the slow song yet--the high school romance. Lucky for us, one of today's letter-writers to Annie's Mailbox is an 18-year-old with a problem. Unlucky for the letter-writer, well, she's writing into an advice column because her boyfriend seems to be an immature, controlling nut. Or, you know, a teenage boy. It's one part of what seems to be the extreme in high school relationships--either one person couldn't care less while the other pines away, or the two are joined at the hip and scheduled for a serious comeuppance come college.
This week's Sad Bastard is also a whiny, whiny jerk. Because even though, as he writes into Dear Prudence, he and his girlfriend have been talking about getting a cat for ages, and he really like cats, he got a cat and now he doesn't want his cat!
Who better to ask about matters of feline import than our own Kitty Correspondent, Sake Grimes? She had a few moments to spare between licking her butt and watching the bird in the big tree out the window.
It can take a lot to get motivated to start a serious work-out schedule. There's finding the money, the time, the equipment, the know-how, and, for our Sad Bastard of the Week, there's arranging it so that a 12-year-old girl can hang out and watch you pump iron stark naked.
"Confused in Illinois" writes into Annie's Mailbox this week wondering if it isn't a little creepy that her husband refuses to wear clothing while working out in front of his adolescent daughter.
Slate's Dear Prudence is on a roll with sad bastardry, this week bringing us the predicament of a married woman who is verily tired of her husband trying to get her out of her pants. No, it's not a case of mismatched libidos--it's a case of mismatched senses of humor, and probably some serious assholery.
What do you do when your husband won't quit pantsing you? Well, first you become the sad bastard of the week.
It appears as though Dear Abby has never been on the receiving end of street harassment--or at least, she didn't realize she was when it happened to her. Because this week's Sad Bastard is from "Offended" in Gilroy, CA, and she certainly has a right to be Offended by the man in the supermarket who commanded her to "smile." A favorite tactic of creeps and street harassers, the "smile" command was brushed off by Abby as a lame pick-up attempt. But those of us who've been told to "smile" before by leering strangers know that it's often a much, much creepier experience than hearing a bumbling "Do these cucumbers look fresh to you?"
If HD seems to have gone tamp-orarily preoccupied with the monthly visitor lately, blame it on ... the fact that we bleed every month and that kind of thing is relatively difficult not to talk about every once in a while. However, I make a differentiation between ladies having conversations about menstruation and today's Sad Bastard of the Week from Dear Prudence, featuring a boyfriend who actually keeps a period diary logging all his girlfriend's moods and behaviors every single month.
Openness is one of the most important things to have in a relationship and especially a marriage--as a single lady mostly scared of commitment, I feel I am extremely qualified to say this. So, while some conversations may be hard to have with your partner, it's important to get the hard stuff out there instead of harboring secrets and secret desires. So often, as it is today, this is the stuff of Sad Bastard of the Week.
Today's Sad Bastard is an old one--and I don't mean in age. Rather, it seems to be timeless: today's Dear Abby is a collection of write-in responses to an original letter from "Yoo-Hoo, I'm Over Here!" who complained that her husband can't keep from ogling younger women when they go out in public together. Abby's original answer was that, for a young man, "boys will be boys," but for an old dude, this was creeptown (I'm paraphrasing). And her readers gave her a mouthful:
Nothing so bad about having a latex fetish, right? Yeah, well, imagine the living hell that would be having a latex fetish, being a teenage boy, and having your mom know all about it. And then imagine the living hell that is being that mother, saddled with the burden of trying to wrangle this particularly awkward and awful kind of kid-related TMI.
I think living hells deserve Sad Bastard of the Week status, which is why this installation features, well, a certain latex hell, and it's not even a Savage Love column!
The strength of the umbilical cord is mighty, and yet not. Mighty enough to do whatever it is umbilical cords do. And yet, it is swiftly snipped by a spouse, partner, doctor or midwife. But then, occasionally, it comes back from umbilical cord heaven to stretch invisibly between overbearing parents and the kids who can't or won't escape their reach.
If you want insight into the minds of parents like this, look no further than today's Sad Bastard of the Week, from a Dear Prudence live chat on the Washington Post's website. "Back of the Bus" doesn't like that her kids weren't invited to their grandparents' anniversary dinner late in the evening at a nice restaurant.
... I discovered
yesterday, six days before the event, that not only has the reservation
for this "family" event been made for 8:00 PM (bedtime), my children
(ages two and five) were explicitly not included in the head count.
husband swears he told me that we'd need to get a sitter, and he
confirms that my SIL told him over the phone a few weeks ago that the
kids weren't invited. But this is the first I've heard about it, even
though I've talked face-to-face with my SIL about it on three separate
prior occasions. My SIL has a long history of excluding my kids from
family events, and my husband has even spoken gently with her about it.
I'm deeply offended that she explicitly excluded my kids this
way. If she'd spoken to us about it and let us decide whether we wanted
to bring the children, and we'd opted to get a sitter, I'd have no
problem with it. But the fact that she decided that she didn't want the
kids there with no regard for our opinion (or my mother-in-law's, for
that matter) strikes me as incredibly selfish and deeply inconsiderate.
First: seriously, back of the bus? As in, you think you are having a similar experience to racially oppressed African-Americans who were literally not allowed to sit next to white people on buses because people were ignorant and hateful? Because your kids can't come to dinner?
It's not polite to disrespect one's elders, but since I've never met last Sunday's letter-writer to Ask Amy, I don't so much feel like I'm disrespecting my elders as I am disrespecting some old guy who thinks it's beneath him to pour a pot of tea for his family, that being wimmin's work and all.
But I get ahead of myself. Here's what "Joseph" wrote into Ask Amy on Valentine's Day, thereby making him our Sad Bastard of the Week:
Our grandson recently got married and one Sunday afternoon the newlyweds paid us an unexpected visit. After visiting for a short while, I thought my wife should have offered them some coffee or tea.
I would like to know who should take the initiative to make an offering. I feel that the wife (who is the home-maker) should have taken it upon herself (or should have asked me) to make a lunch or something to offer to our guests.
I know that we made a bad impression on the young couple. What is the correct way to handle this kind of situation?
I know we don't have to be surprised that some old guy thinks it's his wife's job to Do Everything while he sits by and watches or waits for orders. A different time, different ideals and all. But we can be amused at the mental image of Joseph struggling to stay silent in his chair while secretly seething that his wife has not yet made tea, but being so overpowered by his strong moral sense that only wives can make tea (or give their husbands permission to do so) that he cannot bring himself--nay, he just cannot do it, for the order of the universe depends upon it!--to boil some damned water himself.
Over the past week, two difficult quandaries were sent into two different advice columns, seeking counsel on what to do when you have to deal with sex offenders. And one specifically asks how to deal with that sex offender when that sex offender is oneself.
To be fair, the first letter, which was sent into Savage Love, only deals with a potential sex offender--a man who knows he is attracted to children, but who so far has managed to control his urges and has never committed an actual crime. Dude doesn't even look at kiddie porn, not even the drawn kind.
So what the fuck should I do? Chemical castration? But I haven't DONE anything, and I don't plan to. Am I obliged to tell anyone? Good way to lose friends and get the shit kicked out of me. Can I keep babysitting my friends' kids when they need a hand? After all, if I were into adult women, people wouldn't see anything wrong with leaving me alone with a couple of those. They certainly wouldn't assume I'd molest them. My sex drive was put together wrong, Dan. What the fuck do I do? Live alone and hope Japan starts producing affordable sexbots before I'm too old to care?
My first response was to count my own damned blessings. And Dan's response was, well, to be the thoughtful and controversial columnist we all know and love. He writes back:
When the stress of work and school and relationships builds up, sometimes it's nice to remind yourself that at least your son isn't a complete whackjob with his priorities completely out of order. That's what this letter from last Friday's Dear Abby could be for, featuring a woman whose adult son had a near-death experience and then decided life wasn't really worth living if his parents didn't buy him a nice car.
Hello Carolyn. A friend's wife became pregnant as a result of a sexual assault. She has decided to not have an abortion, and doesn't know yet whether she wants to give the child up for an adoption. Would the husband be a [glass bowl] for refusing to raise this child, and divorcing if necessary? Thanks.
I hate it when my wife gets raped and then I have to leave her. I clearly stated in my wedding vows: 'til death, or you get raped and pregnant as a result thereof, do us part.
My mother is a spry, 75-year-old woman who has expressed an unusual request. She has told us "kids" that when she is called by the angels, she wants to be dressed in an aqua nightgown or PJs, and to be lying on her side. She says she will be sleeping for a long time, and she wants to make sure she's comfortable. She also says if we don't carry out her wishes, she will come back and haunt us.