I have trouble making a good impression on new people. I cannot engage in an intelligent conversation for more than five minutes before I am suddenly, unnaturally aware that I am communicating and am doing it badly. How can I be more likable?
Why do you want to be liked, Sue? You know who was liked? Adolf Hitler. One of Jessica Mitford’s sisters even called him “sweet.” And yet.
But if you still want to be liked, Sue, I would recommend that when meeting a new person, try to maintain eye contact. And never, ever say anything stupid. Good luck!
This year I will be turning twenty-seven, which as we all know is the ripest age for suicide. Several of my friends have gone before me—to the age of twenty-seven, not suicide—and my time is fast approaching. I can’t help but feel despair. Do you have any advice on how to cope with the post-twenty-seven, suicide-free, life-after-death lifestyle?
There’s no way to make it past twenty-seven without committing suicide and not feel somewhat a failure. After that magical age, one risks ending a life no longer worth living, undermining the romance of it all. Hemingway blew his brains out at sixty-one, depriving the world of what? A thousand-page, slightly more pornographic Garden of Eden?
Wendi, you are right to stick with your plan. Your post-suicidal friends will try to talk you out of it, but in the end they will admire your gumption, so tragically self-snuffed.
My white-ass friend and my own white ass were walking by the lake the other day, and after I told her a joke she screamed, “You a jive-ass turkey!” Loudly. A black guy that I hadn’t noticed jogging in front of us turned around abruptly with a really weird look on his face. Should I try to make my friend feel bad about that or was this man just being oversensitive?
White and Uptight
Dear White and Uptight,
I’m afraid you lost me at “my white-ass friend.” This kind of indecorous anatomical reference I would expect from an Urban Person, not a Minnesotan.
I’m one of those naïve young people who still dreams of writing the Great American Novel. Am I wasting my time? Is the novel dead, as so many of my peers have told me, or is there still hope that I might become an acclaimed and award-winning author?
Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.
Yes, D.R., the Great American Novel lives. It exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Not believe in the Great American Novel! You might as well not believe in short stories or writers’ retreats!
I had insomnia a few nights ago and I ended up watching the “Sixth Finger” episode of The Outer Limits. It occurred to me that this episode is a perfect metaphor for anti-intellectualism. Is this how people in the red states look at the rest of us, as translucent aliens with huge brains?
I am not allowed in red states, so I cannot answer your question knowledgeably, but I’m happy to speculate on what other people think. I doubt that they view you as a more highly “evolved” species, though I’m sure that watching something in black and white, even on TV, makes you suspect. Meanwhile, watching television, even ironically, makes you unfit to walk among your own. You are a man without a half-a-country.
I have a mole on my cheek with irregular edges that my husband thinks might be melanoma. But I’m afraid of going to a dermatologist and letting him hack it off, because my mole is one of the most interesting things about my face. Isn’t being unique worth a little skin cancer?
Of course. However, you may want to consider how interesting your face will look with a big hole in it.
All of us up here in Canada are a little nervous about what you guys in the United States are up to. You’re not planning to invade us anytime soon, are you? Just give us a heads-up, that’s all we’re asking.
No, not at all. Please continue disarming your populace and emasculating your men with draconian pornography laws.