Monday, July 02, 2012

Changes In Dear Abby

It's good to keep the local paper in the basket of reading material in the bathroom.

I'm sorry? You don't have a basket with two books, five magazines, two newspapers, and four charity or health newsletters in your bathroom?

Anyway. You get to read things you don't otherwise. Like Dear Abby. The letter was from a woman with two small children, married seven years, who no longer had the same feelings for her husband and had an ex-fiance show up, with whom she had already slept with once.

I won't comment on her and what any decent sensible person might say to her - it's fun, and even though it's obvious and easy I want to give my readers first shot. What surprised me was Abby's answer. She encouraged the woman to contemplate, or even find out, whether this old flame was even interested in marrying her and supporting her and the children.

I cannot imagine that being the answer fifty years ago. In the 1960's Abby would have asked questions similar to the ones that my readers are surely coming up with now. I wish I could believe that this was tactical, that the intent was to find the right note to strike to talk her out of it, but I am certain that isn't true.


bs king said...

Carolyn Hax for the Washington Post is much better. Also, her questions sound more like real people than Abby's, which always sound generated by an intern to me.

Even still, sad advice.

Here's the link to the original:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I always liked Judith Martin, Miss Manners. Sound advice delivered with wit.

W Baker said...

The iPad now saves a lot of room in my bathroom... No more bookshelf.

james said...

Since the conversation with the culprit is limited to one message each (problem, answer), the answer can't be tactical, but must be the final suggestion. Discouraging.

Some advice columnists maintain longer conversations with their audience at large, but I didn't think Abby was one of them.

karrde said...

The response seen in the link provided does seem to discourage the pursuit.

But "Dear Abby" asks Ms. Unhappy to check if she can get support from the ex-fiancé, even as she encourages some sort of re-awakening of the old love with the current husband.

Still, the assumption appears to be that if the ex is able/willing to support Ms. Unhappy, than she should take him up on the offer.

I don't know which response I would give.

Public morality seems to have forgotten the advice of sticking together for the children. Is there no way to sneak that advice back into the public consciousness, through columns like "Dear Abby"?

Public morality also seems to have mistaken the high emotions of romance for the happiness of married life. Or is it the emotional roller-coaster of a romance movie?

(I'm single, but my observation of married couples convinces me of this. Plus, of the people my age who I've seen marry...the correlation between dating-life-like-that-in-a-romance-story and stable-happy-marriage is negative. But the first data-set of marriages I'm familiar with is all anecdote; the data-set of date-life-like-a-romance-story has a very small sample-size.)

Sam L. said...

Are you NUTS!!!!!?? Would you like to jump off a bridge, taking your children with you? This is much like what you have proposed. Your husband sounds like a saint, and a martyr to your lust and insanity. Both he and the children may be better off without you. Sheeeeesh!

(I'll never be Abby.)

Texan99 said...

By all means, toots, teach your captive underaged children that the important goal of their mother is to follow her bliss. Apparently neither the mother nor Abby is interested in whether the children still have "the same feelings" about their father?

Anonymous said...

Go ahead and indulge selfish and irresponsible behavior to the detriment of people who love you, especially your children...because it's "empowering" or something. I think that's the message.

David Foster said...

An advice columnist in 1898

Assistant Village Idiot said...

That was poignant.

Sam L. said...


Suzi said...

Years ago, when they were changing writers, Dear Abby answered a column from a male reader who had a gay customer who wanted to hold hands with him. DA's answer was that it wasn't a big deal.

I wrote back and asked if sexual harassment would be okay if the person writing the letter had been a woman. I don't think so. So why a double standard?

That ended my enjoyment of DA.

Cheongsam said...

Such was the prevailing scenario within the ancient Chinese civilization. The effect was also noticed on the ancient Chinese clothing with the common man.