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Dear [David and] Goblin, Almost

Dear [David and] Goblin,

Almost everyone bores me. It’s always cold and/or snowing. Somehow, a grotesque Muppet appears to have become President of the United States while I wasn’t looking. I will be 40 in a mere two years, and yet I am neither rich nor famous.

So, Goblin, my question is this–why is it that whenever anyone says “I don’t mean to be rude,” it inevitably turns out that that is exactly what he or she does mean? What’s the point of it? Why don’t those people just say “I mean to be rude, and I am reveling in my own rudeness?”

Inquiring minds want to know.

Yours sincerely,
“Mystified”

P. S. One of my great-aunts had a Boston terrier whom she trained to use the toilet. Please note that I don’t actually think that’s a good thing. The other great-aunts ran more toward Pekingese.

David responds:
I hear you, sister. I once had a business partner who began just about every sentence with “I don’t mean to be unkind, but . . .” invariably followed by some of the most unkind things ever uttered on this planet. Not that he was inherently an unkind person, although I cannot speak for those you bring to my attention.

Why do people do this? For the same reason they go on talk shows with the theme “Lesbian Threesomes with Mom” and make arrogant and hypocritical plans to attack resource-rich countries: people are animals.

(Incidentally, I do not mean to be rude, but you will find that you quickly become rich and famous if you refrain from using two spaces between your sentences. Sadly, I doubt this will not affect the grotesque muppet one way or the other; on the off chance it might give him a sty or a hangnail, I corrected this tendency in the letter you sent.)

Goblin responds:
Animals animals animals! People aren’t animals! I’m an animal and I never say anything I don’t mean! Everybody says to me “Good Goblin!” because I’m good good good! Daddy says I’m also pretty. Daddy says that I spend too much time sniffing around where other dogs went pee pee but I’m a good girl!

*lick lick lick lick lick lick lick lick lick lick*

I don’t want to use the toilet because then I won’t be able to go outside and smell everything! Here’s what I do. I run outside and go pee pee on the curb and then Daddy says go poop. Poop poop poop! And I want to go poop but I also want to find just the right spot. And the only way to find the right spot is to sniff!

*sniff sniff snork*

So I sniff sniff sniff around and find where the other dogs did their poops and pee pees. Then I find the one that smells the best and do my poop there so everyone will know that Goblin does the best poops in the city! But then Daddy takes it away! He says its better in the long run because they’re going to build a pyramid with my poops and this will attract flying saucers to come find me and take me home.

*blink*

Oh yeah. Advice. Oh wait. You didn’t ask for any. I don’t know why people do anything. As long as they feed me it doesn’t matter.

*lick*

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This is the second of

This is the second of two posts today. For the first, where Goblin and I solve important affairs of the heart, see below. We will be answering letters until they run out, so more tomorrow.

Unsolicited advice:

Gentlemen, perhaps you are aware of those flannel pants, usually plaid, that are sold in the accessories departments of men’s clothing stores. They are called “lounge pants,” according to the tag. This is a fancy term for “pajamas.”

I no longer want to see you wearing them in public. I especially do not want to hear of anyone wearing them to the office, even on casual day, and god help you if you wear them to the gym to work out in.

They are pajamas!

I do not care what kind of pockets they have.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

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We have received a letter.

We have received a letter. Actually, we have received eight of them. Perhaps we will not have to steal any more (although that was fun, too). Goblin is beside herself with glee. You like her! You really like her! She cannot wait to get her paws on the keyboard. Oh, for heaven’s sake, she licked them first.

*sigh*

She will have to wait her turn.

Dear [David and] Goblin,

I need some advice and naturally I thought of you. This July when my lease is up, my girlfriend and I will have known each other just a little over a year. Now if we were typical lesbians, we would have been living together at least the past 9 months or so, but we actually still have our own separate apartments. There are days (and even weeks) when I dream about sharing a home with her, but I worry that the differences in our ages (she is 11 years younger) and personalities would kill the romance and maybe even bring on the dreaded LBD.

I need to give my landlord 3 months’ notice soon, so this question has been weighing heavily on my mind. Should we shack up and enjoy all the benefits of cohabitation, including the not inconsiderable savings on having one and not two households? Or should we continue to pay for 2 separate apartments, with her coming over on Saturday nights to watch Trading Spaces on my TV and me going over there on Sundays so that her cat doesn’t get too lonely?

Sincerely,
Dyke with A Difficult Dilemma for You (D.A.D.D.Y.)

David responds:
You will forgive me for penciling my name in your salutation and responding first. I realize you wrote only to my dog, but just who do you think is in charge around here, anyway? (If you say Goblin, you are likely correct, but let us maintain the illusion.) Further, I have some insight into this particular situation, having been in it twice myself.

Three things strike me about your letter.

1. You fear “the differences in your ages and personalities” would harm your relationship. These differences would of course exist whether or not you move in together. I suspect you actually mean that you are afraid these differences would begin to cause problems if you saw each other more frequently and intimately, and had no place private (such as your own apartment) to retreat. But wait . . . why would you think your different ages and personalities would cause problems . . . unless they have already? Is the basis of your query not really whether cohabitation will harm a wonderful relationship, but whether it can be used as a tactic for improving a less-than-perfect one? Just wondering.

2. You note that this question has been weighing heavily on your mind, however you do not mention how your girlfriend feels about the issue. Has it come up? Did she leave it up to you? My suspicion is that, being considerably younger and more naïve about how these things work, she was the one to float the idea first, which spurred your noted reservations. If you have truly not discussed this, why not? Do you feel the decision is up to you alone, as the older partner? Just wondering.

3. Where on earth do you live that you have to give three months’ notice before moving? Just wondering.

You will notice that I have more questions than answers. Relationships by nature tend to raise more questions than they provide answers. In other words, relationships are challenges, surprises. This is a good thing. Security should come from the successful meeting of these challenges by both parties, not the stagnation of predictability (the source, incidentally, of the lesbian bed death you fear). The trick is to make sure the right questions are being raised, and to answer those questions not only with words, but also by the energy you put into your relationship and the way you interact with each other.

Only both of you together can determine satisfactory answers to these questions, but the truth is, there is not one right answer. Obviously, cohabitation can be a joy and solve many issues, but it can also cause or exacerbate many others—usually it is some combination of these. There are no guarantees. As with any relationship, you can only take things day by day.

Incidentally, two of your primary concerns, differing ages and personalities, need not be problematic. Ideally, these would be conditions to be celebrated, the diversity (or “diversification,” to use financial terms) that make your union (or “investment in each other,” to use other financial terms) stronger. (Why am I using all of these financial terms?) If you have already clashed on these matters before, only you can say whether your relationship has solid foundations despite them.

Perhaps my best advice is not to let outside matters influence you. Leases can be broken without excessive inconvenience, and public opinion is fickle. Go with your gut on this one.

My own gut feeling, to be honest, because of the way you framed your letter, is that you are not ready to move in with your girlfriend, but something is making you feel as if you should be. Perhaps you will be ready by the time your lease is up (you do not mention her lease), or perhaps it will take another year. Who knows? Hopefully, during that time, you will have mutually created an ideal vision of your relationship toward which to work. If that ideal includes living together—and there is nothing to say that it should, but if it does—then the answer should be clearer the second time around.

I wish you both the best of luck.

Goblin responds:
Daddy daddy daddy! Your name is Daddy! My daddy’s name is daddy! I love you!

*lick lick lick lick lick lick lick lick lick lick*

Daddy says I came to live with him when I was eight weeks old. I remember there was a big fat cat that Daddy said was my sister and she hissed at me and ran away. I’m scary scary scary! My sister’s name is Monster Foo Foo.

*bark snarl yip*

Monster and I didn’t always get along but sometimes we did. Now she lives far away and I miss her. My other daddy says Monster has a big butt and is a floor manatee. Butt butt butt! I like to sniff people’s butts!

*howl snork*

Oh yeah. Advice. I think you should take the plunge and move in together. You only live once. Make a special effort to keep the passion alive and go for it. If it doesn’t work out that would be sad but at least you will be out there living life to the fullest and not sitting around for a year thinking about what to do. You can always move out if you don’t like it.

*lick lick poot*

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I am a refugee. Okay,

I am a refugee.

Okay, that is not true. But I was a refugee.

All right, that is not true, either. Would it be fair to say that I now know what it feels like to be a refugee?

No, it would not. Refugees are not typically able to find their refuge in the nearby apartments of loving boyfriends.

I will just tell you what happened.

Last night, Rob came over, and we watched an old episode of “Trading Spaces.” Afterward, we turned off the television and were lying around when the lights started flickering, and we heard a commotion outside. Firetrucks were pulling up, and we heard someone say that there was some sort of electrical fire under the street. Smoke and fire were coming up through manhole covers in front of my apartment and in front of the synagogue a few doors down.

Since we had to walk Goblin anyway, Rob and I decided to go out and see what was going on. Bands of firefighters patrolled the area, and clumps of neighbors gathered to watch and gossip. The air smelled like burnt insulation. Our little trio had no sooner made it out onto the sidewalk than a terrific explosion rang out directly across the street! I saw the burst of smoke and sparks in the same instant and instinctively ducked for cover. Nobody was quite sure what had happened. The firemen began to discuss getting the onlookers off the street. Someone said that perhaps a tire on a parked car had become superheated from the fire below and exploded (there did seem to be some damage to the car; we later learned that a metal plate on the street had exploded upward and hit it).

In any case, Rob and I decided that, since my apartment is technically below street level, it would be a good idea to transfer ourselves over to his for the night. He remained on the sidewalk with Goblin while I ran inside and decided what to bring.

Here is the part that made me feel like a refugee: standing alone in middle of my home trying to figure out what I should take in case the whole place were to blow up. In the end, I just settled for my laptop computer, my wallet, and a couple of letters I had forgotten to mail earlier in the day. Even though my possessions are not insured, I do not have that many, and the most important things in my life were already out waiting for me on the sidewalk.

So out I went, unsure as to whether I would be able to return. And of course, I was. When I got back this morning, there was not the remotest amount of damage, except for some yellow “do not cross” tape where the metal cover exploded. I still do not know what the actual problem was.

The interesting thing about the whole experience was to notice how I could keep my head in a possible emergency, probably an important skill in modern-day New York City. Even during the explosion, I felt calm (I did duck because I was startled, but I did not worry for my immediate safety or that of Rob and Goblin . . . I was able to gauge even in the heat of the moment that it was not that big of an explosion). I quickly made the decision that it would be prudent to leave, and I was able to do so fairly efficiently, despite the slim possibility that my building would be destroyed.

Still, it was weird.

Goblin and I have received numerous requests for advice in the past two days, and we will be responding to them beginning tomorrow. It will be a regular advice fest. A festival of advice. A feast of wisdom. Knowledge on parade. A—

Okay, okay. Goblin is calling me to watch “All My Children.” Tune in tomorrow for a regular advice fest. A festival of—

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Last night, I went out

Last night, I went out to dinner with my friend Mark, and for some reason, we spent the entire evening discussing sadomasochism, a fascinating topic to be sure, but somehow incompatible with the risotto.

In other news, Rob is coming home today.

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Yesterday, I began to write

Yesterday, I began to write about how the impending war in Iraq and the recent Jerry Springer topic “Lesbian Threesomes with Mom” were not only symptoms of the devolution of human nature, but omens of the looming apocalypse. But then I realized that my personal political pendulum had swung so far around to the left that I ended up whacking my head against the right: I was writing like a religious fundamentalist.

At least there is a new “Trading Spaces” on tonight.

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Following is a song I

Following is a song I wrote about my favorite television show.

Yes, I need to get out more.

No, I probably will not.

When you sing along in your mind, the tune is roughly that of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” (With apologies to the Beatles for substituting one drug trip for another.)

HILDI IN THE BATHROOM WITH FLOWERS
(An ode to “Trading Spaces”)

Picture yourself in a house in the suburbs
With Mindy Paige Davis Page standing outside.
You’d never suspect you were getting a hay wall
Or the room in which Crying Pam cried.

Orthogonal nightmares and fireplace covers are
Enough to make you flip out.
But even worse is the bed that is shaped like a grave…

Hildi in the bathroom with flowers
(Stapling them up will take hours).
Watch out for Kia’s satanic powers…
AHHHHHHH!

They’ve only got two days and one thousand dollars
To transform a room for their neighbors and friends.
Nothing about it should be so dramatic,
But this is where sanity ends.

Painting upholstery and taking down fans…
My nerves are starting to fray.
Did you know a room could be based on a bowl of soup?

Vern’s sense of style always amazes.
Doug has got a fetish for glazes.
Frank’s country crap should go up in blazes.
AHHHHHHH!

Carpenter Amy Wynn’s a lumber goddess;
Ty can’t measure his way out of a paper bag.
Homeowners are worried about their “reveal”:
They’ll either be thrilled or they’ll gag.

Laurie’s fabrics bring transformation.
Genevieve has strange inspirations.
Is Edward’s presence imagination?
AHHHHHHH!

Hildi in the bathroom with flowers
(Stapling them up will take hours).
Watch out for Kia’s satanic powers…
AHHHHHHH!

Vern’s sense of style always amazes.
Doug has got a fetish for glazes.
Frank’s country crap should go up in blazes.
AHHHHHHH!

If “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” had more verses, this would have turned into a more comprehensive exposé.

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If we had not tracked

If we had not tracked sand and salt into the apartment last time it snowed, and if I had not been too busy to vacuum it up, it would not have gotten into the sheets. And if it had not gotten into the sheets, I would not have had to change them last night. And if I had not had to change the sheets last night, I would not have had to pick up Rob’s beautiful titanium laptop off the bed. And if I had not picked Rob’s beautiful titanium laptop off the bed (and if I had not earlier weakened one of my fingers by smashing it in the mechanism of a tray table), I would not have dropped Rob’s beautiful titanium laptop on the floor and wrecked its CD drive, a maneuver that will cost me hundreds of dollars I can ill afford.

He did a good job of pretending it was all right, though.

This is turning into a boring, what-I-did-today kind of blog. Tomorrow, I will post a song I am writing.

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Last night at midnight, when

Last night at midnight, when I had a craving for tortilla chips and salsa, Rob immediately pulled on his shoes and ventured through the waist-high snowdrifts to procure some. It was the most romantic gesture since Romeo and Juliet bit the big one. (He does not even like tortilla chips and salsa.)

Today is a good day to work on business plans, according to my horoscope, and so, fortified by the last of the tortilla chips and salsa, I am working on a business plan. An old episode of “ER” is on in the background, Goblin is asleep on the bed, the furnace is gurgling, and snow is piled up against the windows.

And I also just smashed my finger in the mechanism of a tray table. My horoscope did not warn me about that.

Rob goes away tomorrow.

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Saturday, Rob and I joined

Saturday, Rob and I joined the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who trooped through sub-freezing temperatures to the East Side for the protest against war in Iraq. The rally itself was centered at First Avenue and 49th Street, near the United Nations building, but we could get no closer than 65th because of the crowds and the NYPD’s labyrinthine attempts at crowd control. We were too far away to hear or see any of the official activities, but it was fascinating to be among a group of people who have all come to believe the same thing for sometimes wildly divergent reasons.

Sunday, I slept most of the day then did work.

Aside from helping Goblin navigate through snow higher than her head, today we are cocooning in my apartment.

Later, I will venture forth to spy on Joe’s first date with someone I may or may not have gone to college with.

Tomorrow, I will attempt to steer this log back to witty and interesting waters.

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I am a stah of

I am a stah of the thee-ah-tah, dahling.

Okay, so I only designed the program and ran the light board, but if it were not for me . . . why, can you imagine the chaos that might have ensued? An ignorant and unilluminated audience might have stormed the stage in uncontained frustration.

“What show are we at!?”

“What is the name of that fabulous singer, and what work has he or she done before!?”

“What is that unflattering light!?”

It was a brilliant show before I came along. The songs were brilliant. The actors were brilliant. The direction was brilliant. The theater itself was beautiful.

I suppose I was just the icing on the cake.

If you missed it, shame on you. But I will take pity and show you the image from my program design (imagine it on huge 11 x 17″ paper, folder longways):

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Anyone living in and around

Anyone living in and around New York should come to see my boyfriend Rob’s show on Wednesday and Thursday, 12 and 13 February. He is an amazing lyricist and composer, and he has lined up a cast of incredible singers to perform his work. I am very proud.
The show is called “Too Much Information.” It will be at the Ars Nova Theatre at 511 West 54th Street. Tickets are $10, and you may obtain reservations by calling 212.252.5541. Performances are: Wednesday, February 12, at 5:30 PM and Thursday, February 13, at 3:00 and 5:30 PM.

I designed the postcard (below) and the program, and I will be running the lights at all of the shows. See you there!

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“Married by America” is the

“Married by America” is the name of an upcoming reality series on-where else?-the Fox network. The premise is just as you might suspect: through a campaign of telephoned votes from viewers, two strangers are paired up and immediately wed to each other. This is the most inevitable programming decision short of “Armchair General,” a series in which we all phone in to decide which country to bomb next, although I expect that may actually be scheduled for the fall season.
The most offensive thing about “Married by America” is the presumed novelty of it. “Is this not a lark?” we are asked. “Is this not progress? Why, you anonymous American citizens will actually get to decide who marries whom!” As if this has not happened for centuries. Due to the consensus of upstanding citizens just like yourself, it was until relatively recently illegal for a person to marry anyone outside of his or her race, a practice that is frowned upon in many areas even today. Thanks to those same busybodies, it is still illegal for a person to marry anyone of his or her own sex.

Not satisfied with this traditional and more general interference, television has given us a way to directly control the lives of our fellow citizens: who dates whom, who gets married to whom, who wins a million dollars. What could be next? Who gets to commit physician-assisted suicide? Who goes to the electric chair? Who is allowed to get an abortion? Who is allowed to get a divorce? Who is allowed to buy which house?

It is a bloodcurdling trend.

In the coming weeks, as the same President who wants everyone in America to own automatic rifles begins his war to disarm a country we armed in the first place, I propose we start a new trend. Is there a network out there that will back my new series, “Mind Your Own Damned Business”? It is a reality show in which ordinary people are allowed to live their lives as they choose, under the premise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Except obviously, when I say reality, I mean utter fantasy.

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Having dispensed all of my

Having dispensed all of my allotted wisdom for the week, I will instead relate an incident that happened a couple of days ago. Joe and I were eating lunch in a restaurant near his apartment; I ordered a Cobb salad.

One never knows what one is going to get when he orders a Cobb salad. Sometimes it is made with iceberg lettuce, which I hate, and sometimes it is made with spinach, which I love. This one was a large bowl full of shredded iceberg lettuce (which I hate) with shredded bacon, tomatoes, blue cheese, and onions on top. Everything was broken into the tiniest pieces imaginable; I felt like I was eating a bowl full of granola that tasted like Cobb salad made with iceberg lettuce, which I hate. And the worst part, beyond that it cost eleven dollars, was that, in a feat of regeneration worthy of the mysterious starfish, the more I ate, the more seemed to be in the bowl. Anyway, at one point, having eaten enough, I stuck my fork deep into the bowl heaped with a metric ton of shredded Cobb salad made with iceberg lettuce, which I hate.

Then something really bad happened.

Somehow, I knocked the handle of the fork, transforming it into a miniature catapult that launched a spray of shredded Cobb salad made with iceberg lettuce, which I hate, into the air; it rained down all over me, our table, and the table of the people next to us, who looked over at me in amused consternation.

That is when Joe realized that he had gone to Harvard with the less-cute of the pair of men. The more-cute one kept pointing out how I had shredded iceberg lettuce, which I hate, stuck to my glasses and face and shirt.

How mortifying.

Next time, I will order the macaroni and cheese, which I used to hate but now love.

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There are those who no

There are those who no doubt wonder what I am doing giving other people advice when my own life is such a disaster. To them, I say: touché.

Instead, I shall turn over today’s letter to someone who is clearly doing everything right. She is always happy and has all the love she can handle; she is beautiful, heads turn as she passes, and her excrement is immediately scooped up and spirited away by her adoring minions.

Dear Goblin: I work in an office with this really really really cute guy. We’ve gotten to be pretty good friends and I want to ask him out on a date. The obstacles to this are:

1. I’m 30 and he’s 22.
2. He is technically speaking my boss (though the atmosphere is so informal that that dynamic doesn’t really come into play).
3. He has only recently come out of the closet and is still slightly spooked about the whole dating thing.

My question is: how can I ask him out without freaking him out?

I won’t be at the job much longer, by the way, if that helps.

Sincerely yours,
In Need of Guidance

Goblin responds:
Hello hello hello! I’m beautiful and my poop keeps disappearing! Poop poop poop! Daddy says they’re storing it in the planetarium and one day they’ll take it out and make a big poop pyramid with my name on it!

*lick lick lick lick lick lick lick lick lick*

Sometimes I poop twice and Daddy gets upset because he only brought one bag. Daddy says that each poop needs its own bag. Daddy said my job is eating and pooping and looking beautiful and that’s enough for any little girl. Pretty pretty pretty! It’s true that it’s very tiring but I’d like to go to an office and work with very very very cute Boston terriers. Daddy says there’s a glass ceiling for Boston terriers but I don’t know what that means.

*snork whine lick*

Oh yeah. Advice. Who cares about age? I’m two and a half years old but no one cares. Age is just a number like the number of poops waiting in the planetarium. Poop poop poop! Who cares if he’s your boss? My grandpa was my grandma’s boss before Daddy was born. Daddy says today that would be called sexual harassment but thank god for it. Maybe you should wait until you leave your job though.

*lick lick fart*

Then write him an email and casually mention that you’d like to take him on a date sometime. This gives him the option of pursing the matter or pretending you didn’t say anything. Make it seem like no big deal either way. If his reply is melodramatic just say casually that it’s something that you wanted to try out. If he says yes then ask him out between a week and two weeks later.

*twirl*

If he says no then pretend you never asked and you will be able to stay friends! Friends friends friends! I have lots of friends like Sasha and Cassidy and the very fat woman who sits on her stoop. Everyone loves me! Me me me! I’m beautiful and my poop keeps disappearing!

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Oh yes, we have done

Oh yes, we have done it again. We can stop any time, you know.

We can, too.

Dear Annie: I recently found out that my 52-year-old husband has become rather close friends with “Derek,” another man the same age. Also, our two grown children found some e-mails their father had sent to a couple of other men, and these letters could be interpreted to mean my husband is gay. The children are so upset about this that they will not speak to their father.

I have been married to this man for 27 years. When I try to discuss the issue, he becomes quite angry. My husband and Derek have been on several long trips together, but he insists they are just friends. He says there is nothing wrong with having male pals and that I am the sick one in the family.

Annie, every time I catch my husband on his computer or talking on his cellphone, he disconnects immediately and pretends nothing is going on. My friends tell me to leave him, but I know if this information came out in a divorce hearing, it would destroy his career and reputation. Please help me. — At the End of My Rope

David responds:
Your husband may indeed be secretly gay. If you cannot discover the truth via your current regime of prying into his private correspondence and eavesdropping on his private conversations, feel free to avail yourself of the following checklist:

1) Does your husband use the word fabulous more than is strictly necessary?

2) Does your husband take more than a passing interest in shoes or window treatments?

3) Does your husband have sex with men?

If you answered “yes” to any of the preceding questions, your husband is gay. So what next? I cannot bring myself to care. While it is crappy to get married and have children under pretenses (assuming he understood he was gay at the time) and crappy to sleep around on your spouse of twenty-seven years (if that is indeed what he is doing), it is also crappy to feel trapped into doing so by a rigid and unforgiving social tyranny. When we create a society that judges and limits the personal choices of others, we all suffer.

So you are both up a creek. Get a divorce, stay married . . . whatever you like. Just keep in mind that the issue is the possible infidelity, not the sex of the person with whom the infidelity allegedly took place. I am sure you, your children, and your friends would not want to contribute even more homophobia to the world, ushering yet another generation of gay men into a closet full of unhealthy marriages. Would you?

Goblin responds:
It’s me me me! I love the gays! Gay gay gay!

*snork*

Daddy says I have three daddies. Daddy says that his ex Michael is my other daddy because they bought me together and my step-daddy is Uncle Bobby. I also call Uncle Bobby the Crumb Lord because whenever he eats I get a free meal off his shirt. Crumbs crumbs crumbs! (And sometimes drops of sauce!)

*lick lick lick lick lick lick lick lick lick lick lick*

Oh yeah. Advice.

*poot*

If your husband is gay he did lie to you for twenty-seven years but he also stayed with you and tried to make the best of the situation by putting your happiness and fulfillment over his own. You can divorce him because of infidelity if he was unfaithful but don’t hold his sexual orientation against him!

*lick lick lick lick lick lick burp*

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My, my . . .

My, my . . . what have we here? A letter? For moi?

Oh, wait. No. It is addressed to Miss Manners. Miss Manners, you have mail! Miss Manners? Hallooo? Anyone home?

Hmmm.

Good heavens, the flap appears to be loose. Why, it is about to pop right open, here in my hand. They do not make envelopes the way they used to. Yessirree Bob (and I have never before in all my days written Yessirree Bob), that sure is loose. Loose and . . . wait, Goblin do not tear it! Goblin gets a little carried away sometimes. No, you cannot just rip open someone else’s mail. Just bring that steaming teakettle over here, and we will see what happens. . . .

What do you mean it is still sealed? Oh, for the love of- Gimme that!

*rip rip rip*

Dear Miss Manners: Not long ago, I was dining with a friend in a restaurant that caters mainly to a gay clientele. A gentleman of our acquaintance entered, accompanied by a much younger man. They stopped at our table briefly to exchange greetings, but our acquaintance did not introduce his companion.

Because of a combination of factors (differences in age and ethnicity, the young man’s rather provocative choice of clothing, and, above all, the lack of an introduction), my friend and I formed the opinion that our acquaintance was with a paid escort. There is nothing wrong with that, in my opinion (he was not cheating on a spouse), but not introducing him gave it away.

I think that the young man, whatever his occupation, should be entitled to the same courtesy as anyone else. (My friend and I also considered the possibility that it was us the gentleman was ashamed of and not his companion.)
When one is out on the town with someone whose company has been engaged for a monetary consideration, and one encounters acquaintances, what is the proper way of dealing with the situation? I assume one does not go into detail about finances, but for the sake of appearances, isn’t it correct to at least pretend that the companion is a friend?

David responds:
Having in my checkered past entered many an establishment on the arm of gentlemen older than myself (although not, alas, inclined to pay for my valuable time), allow me to postulate five scenarios more likely than the one you envision.

1) Your acquaintance had forgotten your name; nothing draws attention to this dilemma quite like an introduction.

2) Your acquaintance wished to make you jealous of his perfectly legitimate date, in which case, the fewer details he volunteers, the more your envious imagination needs to fill in.

3) Your acquaintance was distracted by his perfectly legitimate date, and introductions merely slipped his mind.

4) Your acquaintance’s companion was a friend or younger relative whom he assumed you knew.

5) Whoever his companion was, your acquaintance was, indeed, ashamed of you and your friend: two gossipmongering harpies of the worst order.

To deal with your actual question, about the manners of parading around town with a paid escort, allow me to wonder for a moment why you ask. Is it to take your acquaintance aside the next time you see him and inform him of his etiquette violations? Or do you not want to make the same faux pas the next time you hire companionship for the evening?

Either way, the answer is the same: nobody is required to introduce anybody to anyone in passing greetings of the sort you describe.

Goblin responds:
Hello hello hello! I’m Goblin! I love introductions!

*lick lick lick lick lick*

Sometimes I introduce myself by licking and sometimes I let the other person sniff my butt. I would wag my tail but I don’t have a tail. Daddy says that people without tails are best. I believe him because squirrels have tails and they are bad bad bad!

*lick lick lick snork*

Oh yeah. Advice: It’s none of your business who he was but if you were burning with curiosity you could’ve introduced yourself directly to the companion.

*sneeze*

delete

Two nights ago, I went

Two nights ago, I went to the movies and had to sit next to someone who smelled subtly but persistently like sour old vomit. Luckily, he kicked over my bag of popcorn as he took his seat, so my stomach was not as full-and therefore not as nauseated-as it might have been.

On the way home, there was commotion on the stairs down to the C train: a dead body lay sprawled at the bottom. (It looked dead, anyway.) A policeman was on the scene, looking irritated and apparently making no attempt to help; a couple of witnesses to the accident (the man had apparently fallen down the stairs) were upset because the officer did not want to hear their statements. As we all huddled near the top of the stairwell, wondering what to do, the “dead” man sat up and looked around, an action that heartened all of us gawking passers-by. Do not let anyone tell you that New Yorkers do not care about things. We pass dramatic and bizarre situations on the street every day without batting an eye, but if tragedy strikes, we tend to want to be a part of it, if only to be able to dine out on the story later.