June 15, 2004

Love, American-Style

Today's Musical Selection: "Raunchy" by Bill Justis

Hello, everybody! As promised, Uncle Millie and Aunt Beatrice are back for another round of romantic advice. They are coming to us today from Findlay, Ohio, for reasons which will undoubtedly become clear during the column. But don't let me keep you in suspense; take it away, Uncle Millie and Aunt Beatrice!

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Love Is a Wonderful Thing, But Lust Is a Pretty Good Thing, And Sometimes That's Enough, by Uncle Millie and Aunt Beatrice

UM: Hello, lads! Uncle Millie here, and my beloved Aunt Beatrice over there.

AB: Your column titles never fail to revolt me. Why haven't we ever come up with an actual name for this column?

UM: Well, I always felt our readers enjoyed that splash of creativity that I summon up on a bi-weekly basis. But perhaps you have the right of it. It may be time for a real title.

AB: Readers and fans of the column, please submit your title suggestions to Mediocre Fred, and he'll pass them on to us.

UM: The more suggestive the better. And if you wish to include any enticements, such as cash, or whiskey, or pictures of scantily-clad women-

AB: Enough, Millie!

UM: All right. We're here today at the American glory bar in Findlay, Ohio. Why Findlay? It's the Flag Capital of America! And I figure, what better place to celebrate Flag Day, one of our country's least-appreciated holidays.

AB: And as usual, Uncle Millie is "celebrating" this holiday by drinking to excess.

UM: In honor of this great land, I'm drinking one beer for every state in the Union, every star on that high-flying flag.

AB: Which is, yes, 50 beers. Somewhat incredibly, he completed this some time ago. However, he's still drinking.

UM: I have yet to commemorate the Distrtict of Columbia, or Puerto Rico, or Guam-

AB: None of those are states, dear.

UM: Well, they should be. Statehood now!

AB: It's a grand old flag, indeed. Let's look at our first letter.

Dear Uncle Millie and Aunt Beatrice,

I've been seeing my girlfriend for about two years now. We've had our ups and downs, but overall our relationship has been decent. About a month ago, we had a nasty fight, and I stormed out on her. We reconciled the next day, but in the interim I'd received "comfort" from an old friend, if you know what I mean. I didn't bring it up during the reconciliation, and she didn't ask. But now it seems that I have more than just warm memories from that night. I've contracted herpes, and it could only have come from my friend. How do I tell my girlfriend about this? Do I have to?

Eric in Charleston

AB: Hi, Eric. Sorry to hear about your condition, but it does raise some questions. For instance: You're in a long-term relationship, you have a fight, and you go running off to sleep with someone else that night? And then you think it's all right to "reconcile" without telling her about your indiscretion? I think you two are due for a long talk about your relationship, herpes or no herpes.

UM: Ah, lad, I admire your spirit! Have a falling out with your lady, walk out, and have another lass ready and waiting. That's doing your Uncle Millie proud!

AB: Ugh. From anyone else, this sentiment would be appalling. But I've come to expect it from you.

UM: Now, lad, as you know, this unfortunate incident occurred when you and your lady were not speaking. Thus it was "off the clock."

AB: Off the clock? Millie, they made up the next day!

UM: Nonetheless. Now, as far as I'm concerned, anything that happens "off the clock" should not be shared. It's no one's business but your own, and it only makes the relationship more difficult. Therefore, I commend your discretion. A lesser man would have confessed immediately. And you seem to have gotten away with it, which makes it the perfect crime. Or it would, if not for this unfortunate disease.

AB: Eric, look at it this way: At least by telling her, you'll finally be honest with her. And this will be good for your conscience. Assuming that you're young enough that your conscience hasn't eroded from years of abuse and neglect, as Uncle Millie's has. There will be short-term pain, but in the long run, you'll be better off for telling her.

UM: Nonsense, lad. You're surely not going to tell her, are you?

AB: Oh, Millie, please do not tell me that you are seriously suggesting this. How can he not tell her? She's at risk of contracting a disease!

UM: Well, it isn't fatal. And besides, you may be able to get out of it yet. Wait until she turns up with the disease. If she comes running to you demanding an explanation, you're pretty well caught. But if she's had her own extracurricular activities, then perhaps she won't suspect you.

AB: This is too appalling even for you.

UM: And once she has it, she'll have to disclose this fact to you. And then you can dump her for being unfaithful. See how easy it is?

AB: Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable.

UM: I know. The plan is almost diabolical in its cleverness, isn't it?

AB: How do you look at yourself in the mirror?

UM: Usually with my head tilted up a bit, to conceal my bald spot.

AB: I'm amazed you have a reflection.

Dear Uncle Millie and Aunt Beatrice,

I'm 37, recently divorced, and trying to make my way back into the dating scene. My marriage had been going downhill for a while, and I'm raring to go! Problem is, whenever I tell the women I'm dating that I'm divorced, it's like I just told them I have the clap. Suddenly, they break things off without a word of explanation. How can I overcome this stigma?

George in Pullman

AB: Hi, George. Sorry to hear about your run of bad luck. Divorce is so common in our society that I'm surprised there's still a stigma about it, but I suppose some people still think that way. By chance, are you dating younger women? I'd think that most of the available women in your age bracket were themselves divorced, or would at least be mature enough to see through that whole "he's The One" nonsense.

UM: Oh, here we go again. Just because a man prefers younger women, that means he's somehow defective. The same old song and dance.

AB: Millie, I didn't say that. I just said-

UM: Just because a man prefers to consort with women who are a bit younger than he is-

AB: Millie-

UM: By a couple years, maybe a decade, perhaps even flirting with illegality in certain states-

AB: Millie.

UM: That does not mean there is anything wrong with him.

AB: Millie! You didn't hear me. I did not say there was anything wrong with him, though there is clearly something wrong with you. I simply said that younger women would be more likely to frown on his being divorced. That's all.

UM: Oh. Well, carry on.

AB: George, out of curiosity, how much do you tell these women about your divorce? If you give a particularly long and bitter-sounding recitation of every way your ex-wife did you wrong, that may be what's turning them off, not the simple fact of your divorce. Nobody wants to date someone who's still nursing a grudge with his ex. So that's something you might want to think about.

UM: Alternatively, you might not mention your divorce at all.

AB: Why is that a good idea?

UM: Isn't it obvious? Think of dates as sales pitches. If some aspect of your pitch is turning off the prospective buyers, get rid of it! It's a basic verity of life.

AB: And of course, lying really turns women on.

UM: Did I say to lie? No, I did not. Lad, you needn't lie about this. You can just... leave it out. Who wants to hear an endless recitation of every little detail about you? There's simply no time. You'll have to leave a few things out.

AB: So, if you were selling a used car, and it was lacking an engine, and that was "turning off the prospective buyer," you'd think it was all right not to mention it?

UM: So you're comparing being divorced to a car without an engine? Really, you shouldn't stigmatize divorce this way.

AB: I have no problem with divorce. In fact, I'm thinking of trying it myself. George, I'll be in touch.

Dear Uncle Millie and Aunt Beatrice,

Hi, this is "Brian in Sandusky." A couple months ago, I wrote you asking what to do about the fact that my wife's journal contained fantasies about an old high-school boyfriend, with whom she'd gotten back in touch. Uncle Millie advised me to track the man down and "encourage" him to stay away from my wife. I took his advice.

Well, the beating her ex-boyfriend (who turns out to be a kickboxer) gave me seemed like the worst part at the time. Then when my wife left me, I thought that was the worst part. And then when the two of them had me arrested for harrassment, I thought that was the worst part.

But no, looking back on it, I think the worst part of it is "Jack." Jack is my cellmate. He's a big, strapping fellow, and he took one look at me and decided to make me his "bride." I didn't think much of the idea, but Jack quickly convinced me of the wisdom of acquiescence.

I convinced the guards to allow me Internet access long enough to write to you. I just wanted to say that, all things considered, I probably shouldn't have taken your advice. I'm not mad or anything, but I thought you'd like to know.

Brian in Cellblock D

UM: Oh, lad. Oh, my goodness, lad.

AB: See this, everyone. This is what happens to you when you listen to Uncle Millie's advice. I'm not sure why any reasonable person would take the advice of a crazy drunk, but so be it. So, Uncle Millie, what do you have to say for yourself?

UM: Lad, I'm terribly sorry. That's all I can say. I'm sorry.

AB: As you should be.

UM: Terribly, terribly sorry.

AB: Perhaps this will even convince you to stop giving irresponsible advice and sober up when you-

UM: Lad, it's a real shame that your wife is such an awful woman.

AB: What?

UM: When I gave my advice, I suspected that your wife was looking for an excuse to two-time you. But I never imagined what a bitter old harridan she was. Not only did she run off with another man, she had you arrested for defending what was rightfully yours. There is no justice, lad.

AB: You- but-

UM: Truly, the best-laid plans can go awry when we fail to comprehend fully the evil that opposes us.

AB: You're incredible.

UM: Thank you, dear.

AB: Aren't you going to take any responsibility for what happened?

UM: Why should I? It wasn't I who beat the poor lad up, or had him arrested.

AB: You're one of a kind, you know that?

UM: I do, my dear. I surely do.

AB: Well, I apologize on Uncle Millie's behalf, Brian. In fact, I apologize to all of America. I should have had Uncle Millie put away, somewhere where he can't do any harm.

UM: As long as that somewhere is well-fortified with adult beverages, that's fine with me. Happy hunting!

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Thank you, as always, Uncle Millie and Aunt Beatrice.

I was watching C-SPAN last night (I know, dork on parade), and I caught various members of the House offering speeches congratulating the Tampa Bay Lightning on their (shudder) Stanley Cup championship. Most of these House members were from Florida -- no surprise there -- but one was D.C.'s own Eleanor Holmes Norton, whom I had not pegged as a hockey fan. She then proceeded to prove that she was not a hockey fan by mangling the name of every player she mentioned. (To be fair, one of the Floridians referred to Nikolai Khabibulin as "Nicole.") What really struck me, though, was Norton's speaking style. She'd clearly never seen her speech before, but her odd inflections and halting pace put me in mind of a Hooked on Phonics commercial. I was stunned, since Delegate Norton has always struck me as a brght and articulate woman. Was she just having a really bad night?

Finally, I'd really rather not talk about this. It's hard enough being proud to be from Virginia under normal circumstances, but it only gets harder when you become known as "the state that decided statutory rape was such an epidemic that they had to put up billboards about it." I guess some folks are taking that "Virginia is for lovers" slogan a bit too literally. Dios mio. It's definitely time for me to move.

That's all for today. See you tomorrow!

Posted by Fred at June 15, 2004 06:49 PM
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