Saturday, February 27, 2010

Freaks and Geeks

This is about the umpteenth attempt Cousin Jackal is making to respond to this week's Dear Prudence, with specific regard to Letter 1.  For several days I've been writing posts and deleting them; some were too personal, others not personal enough. Ultimately "not personal enough" won, just because it probably wouldn't be interesting to read.

Letter 1 came at an odd time.  A few days ago I started reading the nonfiction Letters From Prison by the Marquis de Sade.  (I've found this is a marvelous way to keep people from crowding you on the train, by the way.)  In between describing the horrors of the Bastille and begging his mother-in-law for money to get out of debtor's prison, Sade waxes philosophic on the hypocrisy of society for pretending to be shocked by things that everyone does anyway.  This seemed particularly relevant to some of the comments made to Letter 1 on Slate.  Additionally, Letter 1 reminded me of certain events in my own life, and how destructive therapy can be when wielded as a club against a young person.  I thought about writing about all of that...and then I just said the hell with it and lost my fucking temper.  So basically it's the same as any week.

Just the responses, today; original letters can be found here.

Letter 1:
First of all, I have to give LW1 some credit for not making an outright clutch at the pearls.  The letter is written as matter-of-factly as she probably could have managed.  That said, Prudie's response is shameful.  A full psychological workup?  Therapy?  Sex abuse treatment?  (And can I smack that one commenter who kept extolling the virtues of conformity?  Please?)

I'm going to buck the trend and go with the assumption that the 13-year-old is basically okay.  Tucked in behind some of the concern voiced in this letter, I hear a parent's whimper that their pweshus widdle boy is gwowing up too fast.  I cannot articulate coherently how irksome this attitude is.  Your kid's hit puberty.  Masturbation is normal and healthy.  Sexual urges at 13 are incredibly fucking normal.  (To everyone who throws up their hands at the idea of their kid having sexual urges, let me ask this--at what age did you first masturbate?)  So he likes latex gloves, so what; at least he'll be okay with wearing a condom when he does get laid.  If he's keeping gloves lying around in piles, you can perfectly well tell him to clean up his room.  Get him a box for his gloves, with the admonishment that it's polite to keep one's toys out of sight when one lives with other people. But therapy?  Sex abuse treatment?  Do you seriously want your son to realize that you look at him and see a monster?  That you think about the grandchildren you'll never have because no good upstanding woman of values would marry The Gimp?  Horseshit.  (As an aside, please, for the fucking love of every fucking god that never fucking existed, can we all please stop using "values" as though it means anything?)   If you want to alienate your kid, then by all means chuck him into therapy.  Or, here's an idea, try actually engaging the kid in conversation like he's a human being with actual thoughts, rather than your precious widdle hothouse orchid.  Yeah, it's embarrassing.  Heaven forfend he get the idea that he can actually talk to you about the difficult stuff.  Oh, but he seems anxious?  Isn't therapy for anxiety?  No.  It isn't.  Therapy is for people who can't get past anxiety without intervention; you and Marigold Boy haven't even tried.  I'll bet he's anxious, he's 13 and terrified the kids at school are going to find out about the glove thing, and now his mom thinks he's a freak.  Here is what your kid needs to hear from you:  "Honey, there are a lot of shades of normal in the world and I don't think you're a freak.  I love you."  Just saying that will go a long way toward quelling a kid's anxiety, and if you reassure a kid he's normal it goes a long way toward helping him turn himself into a well-adjusted adult.  And that's your job, isn't it?  To build a well-adjusted adult? 

Oh, and the glove porn?  Boys look at porn.  Men look at porn.  They just do.  Good luck with that filter; he'll find the shit he wants to look at anyway.

Video Letter:
Boo-hoo-hoo, you think you're friend's hotter than you.  Try being interesting, it's a hell of a lot more attractive than being jealous.

Letter 2:
Your friend/boss can't be "easy going and mellow" and "overbearing and micromanaging" at the same time.  Those traits aren't even in the same ZIP code.  It's up to you to analyze the situation and decide whether this person is more your friend or more your boss.  If she's more your friend, perhaps you could make a few constructive managerial-strategy suggestions, in much the same way you'd suggest she not wear those paisley pants that make her ass look two miles wide.  If she's more your boss--i.e., the aforementioned suggestions would put your job in jeopardy--then hey, presto, you have to treat her like a boss and either adapt or quit.

Letter 3:
Your roommate...insults your dog...nicely.  And this is an "ethical dilemma"?   Does Roomie hit your dog?  Yell at it?  Throw things at it?  Cause it to go out of his way to avoid him?  No?  Didn't think so.  See, your dog actually IS an ugly, smelly little rat, and the fact that Roomie tells him this in babytalk says that Roomie actually likes your little smoosh-faced fleabag.  And for the record, Cousin Jackal calls one of her cats Epic Fail, Fatass, Bobblehead, Oaf, and Dipshit.  The other cat is Snotface, Fucker, or Little Shit (and I strongly suspect he thinks his name is "Get Down").  And since both are half-Siamese, Cousin Jackal gets called plenty of names by them in return.  Ahh, feel the love.

Letter 4:
Yes, it probably will be awkward, unless you can spend the evening making sure your friends all get to know one another.  If you're not willing to do this, don't throw a party.


  1. Greetings Cousin Jackal. I was going to say, "Holy fucking shit, your response to LW#1 is the bomb! Best of the week!" But then, I read your response to LW#2 and I thought, well, you can't have two responses that are the best because then one would have to be better! And then, as if that wasn't enough, your advice to LW#3! I mean, okay, LW#4, what are you going to say there, you know? Sometimes source material is what it is.

    But, holy shit, Jackal, you sort of nailed these to the wall, beat them with a baseball bat, and then knocked them out of the park--left-handed, even! Out-fucking-standing, Sister!

    Cheers! :-)

  2. Why thanks, Smag, you're way too kind! And I think your weekly smackdown is an inspiration!

  3. Cousin Jackal, I too find your response to LW1 perfect. So that kid likes latex gloves, so what! Perhaps Einstein did too, but we'll never know....
    Also liked your other responses.

    As for the Marquis de Sade's letters... you can see that even noble sadists had money problems! You know they did discover lots of mutilated human remains burried in the grounds of the Sade castle --but no gloves!

  4. Kati, do you have a source for the human remains info? I can't find anything about it anywhere, and now I'm curious!