I just read a note on this blog from someone asking me for advice. I must say that even though I’m quite flattered, I never meant to come across as the type of person who has a handle on life. My life has been one rocky road full of trips and falls, skinned knees and black eyes, stubbed toes and swollen lips, falling down hills and running into doors, metaphorically speaking. I have pretty much done what I felt like I needed to do one minute, and then spent the next year or two trying to get untangled from the consequences. I have rarely taken anyone’s advice unless it was something I was going to do in the first place.
The problem with trying to give advice is that most people won’t listen to it, even if they’ve sought it out, and if they listen they won’t follow it, and if they follow it, they only get a 50/50 chance that it was good advice to begin with. History is full of people who took the wrong advice. Just ask the Donner family.
When I was young I wouldn’t listen to anybody. I bull-headed my know-it-all way through every foolish decision imaginable, and it took me a couple of decades to realize that I could have saved myself a lot of time and energy if I would have just listened.
I see my kids doing the same thing. I say to them, “If you get your homework done now you won’t have to worry about it all weekend.” But they always say, “There’s plenty of time, I wanna hang out with my friends.” Then late Sunday night they’re melting down, stomping around saying how stupid the teacher was for giving them so much homework.
I have a friend who is constantly complaining about her husband or kids. I see how she could fix things so easily. “Why don’t you just….” I say to her, but she has NEVER ONCE followed any of my suggestions, no matter how I liberally I dole them out. So to have someone ask me what to do is pretty amazing.
Sometimes I’ve thought about being an advice columnist, but I fear I lack tact.
Dear Suzanne: I found out my mother wants to have an affair with my boyfriend, and he’s okay with it, what should I do?
A: Get your white trash rear end off of that flea-bitten couch and walk right out the holey screen door of that rusty trailer and don’t look back at either one of them. And take their Twinkies and pork rinds with you.
Dear Suzanne: My neighbor’s dog barks all night long. Before I die from LOS (lack o’ sleep) what should I do?
A: Get a tape recorder and go to the Humane Society and find you a German shepherd or Mastiff or Rottweiler – something with a mean, fierce bark. Record about 20 minutes of it, then call your neighbor every night around 3 am and play the tape. Be sure your name is blocked on caller ID. This works – trust me, I know. I can now sleep with my windows open.
Dear Suzanne: I’m a Mac but my boyfriend is a PC. Will this relationship work?
A: Hell no.
Dear Suzanne: I am a woman in my 80’s. My husband has started using Viagra and he sleeps on his back. Our bed has now become a tent, letting the cold night air in. What can I do?
A: Bless your heart. Before you catch pneumonia, go down to the fabric store and buy you some sticky-back Velcro and lash that one-eyed stake to his belly so you can get some sleep. A day or two of peeling off that Velcro should do the trick. If not, hide the Viagra.
Well, you can see that I would not be much of an advice columnist. I lack the patience and the couth to be giving anyone direction in their lives.
Now if you want to know how to screw up. I’ve got ample expertise in that area.