Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Take My Advice

I love advice columns.  I began reading Ann Landers, when it was Ann Landers, at an early age following in the footsteps of my mother.  She often put the paper down in the morning and exclaimed, "I just love that Ann Landers."  This being the only words she had spoken to me after, "Get up!"  No, I'm just kidding, she was a morning person.  I was not.  Later, I read Carolyn Hax's Tell Me About It column in the Washington Post when it first came out.  I returned to reading her column and the fake Dear Abby column (I'm not saying they are not good, I'm just saying they are not Abby.  I always preferred Ann, I will say) in the Philadelphia Inquirer when The New York Times wanted to charge me to read the paper online.

I especially love etiquette questions like, "We are getting married but we have everything we need, how do we ask for just money?"  or "How do I tell my daughter's boyfriend's mother that she is dressing like a slut?"  I may like these questions because I think I'm a walking faux pas and it's nice to know that there are people in this world who are more embarrassing than I am.

A very few people of course, but us social blunders do love company.

I sometimes think that I could be an advice columnist.  That is until I read superior advice like the Social Q's column in The New York Times.  Also following in my mother's footsteps, I realized that I did want access to the New York Times so I got Sunday delivery which gives me unfettered online access.  It also introduced me to the Social Q's column.  The New York Times Magazine has an Ethicist column but it's not nearly as amusing.  At least to me.  

To prove my point, here is a recent question and response.  The first paragraph of Mr. Galanes' response totally won me over.  (I highlighted it so you wouldn't miss it!)  And, in case you are intrigued, here's a link to the column.

I am on a dating site called OKCupid.com and list my age as 33, even though I am actually 43. When people meet me, they assume I am in my late 20s or early 30s. I feel fortunate to get away with looking so much younger than I am without Botox. My plan is to admit my true age on a second or third date, and hope he’ll forgive me. Or should I correct my age now?

I hate to be the bearer of hard (gravitational) truth, but no one who is 43 looks as if he or she is in the late 20s (or early 30s, either). And if people are telling you that you do, they are fibbing to make you feel better.
Correct your listed age. Better to underpromise and overdeliver on dating Web sites, and elsewhere, than to play it in reverse. There is also the small matter of honesty with potential mates. Why not be the youngest-looking 43-year-old on the Internet?
But I was not born yesterday (either): Online daters tell me that age shaving to the next-lower 9 (listing yourself as 39 when you are 43) is a common ploy. That way, we turn up as matches for folks who only want to date people under 40. That may be ageist of them, but it’s their loss. So why waste your time?
I know aging isn’t easy, especially when it feels as if everyone is looking for a 28-year-old. But look on the bright side: We’ll be taking advantage of those AARP group insurance discounts in no time.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

(no) Thanks for the Memoirs

Have you  noticed how many people have written memoirs or are in the midst of writing memoirs?  It's awe-inspiring or groan-inducing, depending on how you look at it.

I can't believe that many people had such shitty childhoods and that they feel compelled to write about them, and air all their dirty laundry.  I'm feeling rather inadequate about my own normal childhood.  Sure we had some problems but nothing to write home about....or a book about for that matter.

I've read a few of these memoirs.  Some, I couldn't get through like Don't Let the Dogs Go to Africa (or whatever the title of that book was).  Some, I managed to finish like the The Glass Castle.  That woman's  childhood makes me wonder if her editor was James Frye.  Or, how about Dave Eggers' first book about being a Heart-Breaking Genius?  I've heard a lot about Mr. Eggers through the years and he may be the greatest writer of our generation but I won't read him because that book bored me to tears.  It's like these authors had such horrible things happen to them--beyond their control of course--and yet somehow they managed to become these amazing, giving, wonderful people.  Are they blowing smoke up their own ass because no on else will?

And that just produced an image for me that I would like to forget.

This from a girl who adores biography.  I guess it's okay if someone else writes about you but when you do it yourself, I tend to wonder.  Unless of course you are David Sedaris, and throw in humour and, most likely, quite a bit of exaggeration 

I have liked some memoirs, believe it or not.  I rather enjoyed Ruth Reichl's books about learning to cook.  Although I'll admit that I only read 2 or 3 of them.  Enough Ruth!  Julia Child you are not.  Now, that's a memoir that I loved:  My Life in France.  Dude, it's Julia; how do you not want to read it?  But now, of course, everyone who has ever stepped foot into a kitchen is writing a memoir.  When you do what Julia Child did, I will read your book.

And, before you even mention it, No!  I did not read the Julie and Julia book.  This woman opens up a cookbook, follows some recipes, and people pay her tons of money.  Okay, I'll admit that maybe I'm a tad jealous that she got paid for making dinner.

I do like actors' memoirs like Sir Alec Guinness' My Name Escapes Me.  I saw him on stage once.  He was doing a play in London with Edward Herrmann (of The Lost Boys).  It was Lee Blessings' A Walk in The Woods.  It's a great play and I can attest to it because I saw it years later with regular actors in it and it was still good.  Anyway, after the show (in London) we waited by the stagedoor for the actors to come out.  It was a small crowd of only a few Americans.  Londoners don't do this, I guess.  Anyway, Edward Herrmann came out and chatted with us and walked on.  Then, And Then....Sir Alec came out.  Everyone gasped and took a step back and stared dumbfounded.  He shrugged, put his cigar in his mouth, and moseyed on down the street.  The stage manager popped out, looked at us, and said, "You have to actually talk to him if you want an autograph."  Several in the crowd ran down the street after Sir Alec.  When I told my mom this story she sighed and said, "Oh, he was smoking, I don't like to hear that."  

I cannot make this stuff up.  I'll have to put it in my memoir:  "Confessions of a Lady Curmudgeon" or "Who Took my Cocktail" or "From Vermont to Philly to Stoli" or "Stage Manage This."    These are just a few title ideas I'm throwing around.  Don't worry, I'll get Mr. Sedaris AND Mr. Frye to edit it.