Saturday, January 8, 2011


Sometimes, during mealtimes, Gal Friday (GF...and every other day of the week)  asks me how I would answer questions submitted to "Dear Abby."  The fact that GF reads a newspaper while eating instead of engaging in sparkling conversation with her dedicated partner says a lot.  I mean folks, I sit on the edge of my rolling seat eagerly anticipating keen dialogue with her as we repast.  Does her reading the paper mean my retorts and words of wisdom may not be quite so sparkling?  I shudder at the thought.

Now that I've pretty much given up on reading the latest or stalest newspapers, I figure she thinks anything on the printed page other than "Dear Abby" would be useless to discuss with me.  The reasons I don't read the paper anymore are many.  Anything I read is second-hand; I've already seen it on the Internet.  The content of the daily news sucks.  Oh, I'm sorry, that may be somewhat harsh.  How about I just say stinks.  We, the readers, are fed a daily dose of crime and sensationalism.  We get editorializing in raw news stories.  Redundancy is now a kingpin of content; I mean how many times do we need to read about some celeb getting drunk or a politician's affairs?

During political campaigns, things get worse.  Every candidate, regardless of party, claims the same thing.  They all expound on needed change, saving the taxpayers' money, cutting government spending, etc.  This has been true since Gutenberg ran his first bulletin off his shiny new press.  Let's face it, every presidential candidate since the first one I remember, which was Ike, tells us the current election is the most important one ever.  So you know the next one will be the most important one ever as well as the one after that and the one...well, you get the picture.

Since I am far from a news junkie, about the only thing I can speak to GF about in the newspaper is "Dear Abby."  Oh, there are a few times when she reads what she considers an exceptionally interesting article to me, but generally speaking my mind stays tuned to the puzzle I'm trying so desperately to solve or the olive I'm unsuccessfully attempting to balance on my fork.  However, when she asks me how I would answer one of those idiotic questions to Abby, I listen.  I listen because they're hysterical and bring laughing tears to my dry eyes.

A recent one went something like this.  "Dear Abby, my wife's mother, Matilda, is coming to live with us.  She detests me, but loves her daughter and our children, Billie Bob and Mary Sue.  I know she hates me because she once tried to stab me with a kitchen knife but missed.  The problem is, if we don't allow her to move in, she will disinherit our children and they would suffer financially as mother-in-law is very rich; I'm talkin' boodles.  Her lawyer owes me from a football bet so I was able to make him read me her will and now I know the amount of her fortune and the will's stipulations.  She is a control freak and will ruin our family's loving household.  My wife strongly feels we should comply with her mother's wishes for the sake of the children.  This is such an important matter, we are abiding by your decision. Worried in Wilmington"

A likely Abby reply might read, "Dear Worried in Wilmington, Your mother-in-law sounds like she suffered from a dark disturbance as a child.  This may have roots in the unsolved disappearance of her late maternal grandmother's second cousin by marriage, Uncle Rudolph, on his father's side.  I suggest you seek professional help.  Many of my readers have experienced similar situations and, with professional consultation, have come to understand that compromise costs money and hair loss, but in the long run, may or may not be your resolution.  I wish you peace and tranquility."

OK, so GF reads this to me and asks, "What would your answer to Worried in Wilmington be?  I hesitate only because I can't stop my guffawing and I"m about ready to swallow a couple of pain relievers to thwart the sharp ache in my rib cage from uncontrollable laughter.

When I finally regain composure, I reply with something like this, "Dear Worried, Be thankful your mother-in-law didn't try to whack you with a machete as they have longer blades.and she may have hit the mark  Your problem can be easily eliminated.  Before she takes up residence and before she has time to change her will, have her killed.  The contract on her life may cost, but the rewards from the will will prove one hell of a return on investment.  Yours truly, KranK"

Notice my pseudonym is KranK.  I have been fooling with the idea of initiating my own personal advice column under the heading "KranK's Corner."  Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?  KranK is a cantankerous old coot who doesn't shuck and jive, but instead, gives his readers the down and dirty.  No warm and fuzzy double talk from KranK.   He tells it like it is.

Do you think Abby makes up these questions or are there real people who allow her or her daughter to determine life- altering decisions?  Could anyone actually believe a newspaper columnist can advise someone in deep trouble?  I guess a question like which side of the toilet paper should be up or down can be handled, but some letters are about real serious problems touching almost every sociological issue in our culture.  Many of her answers may affect lives for generations.  Kinda scary to think about.

As for my decision to start an advice column...well, I'm not sure.  Hey, I think I'll ask Abby.

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