Saturday, August 18, 2007


Dear Crabby:

I’m in love with my sister.

Let me explain. When I was six years old my mother left the continental U.S. to get away from a bad marriage. We eventually settled in Australia where my mother met and married the man whom I consider to be my father. He has a daughter. I’ll call her Carol. Anyway, for some time now I’ve been developing feelings for Carol that I’ve been finding difficult to control.

Anyway, the other night mom and dad went out and Carol and I stayed home with a rented movie when suddenly, at one point Carol leaned in to me and kissed me – not one the forehead, but full on the lips. I was shocked but willing. We made out and then just as suddenly felt we were doing something terribly wrong and separated. I didn’t know Carol had these same feelings but obviously she does. Now neither one of us knows what we should say to our folks. I’m twenty-two and Carol’s just turned twenty.

I think it’ll kill my parents to know that we’re in love. I have to say that I have mixed emotions about it too and so does Carol. What should we do?

Joel in Bundaberg Australia

Dear Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place:

I think you have to step back a moment and look at this romance a bit more clearly than you have been. First of all, Carol is not your biological sister – so, the question of family incest doesn’t exist.

You’re not related!

You’ve fallen in love with someone who shares your interests and tastes and – guess what – you didn’t even have to go looking for her – she came to you.

Legally, I don’t know what sort of leg you have to stand on. If you two are serious about pursuing an emotional/sexual/long term relationship then you’ll have to consult the statutes on how your legal system deals with such matters. The last thing we want is for you and Carol to set up house and then discover that some archaic law from 1812 considers the two of you blasphemous deviants and sentences you both to life in prison. With all due respect to archaic laws – I don’t think this will be an issue either.

Okay, on a more serious note – you’re both still young. A lot can happen between twenty and thirty. I wouldn’t advise taking your relationship to the next level yet. One point of contention I am adamant about –


That’s non-negotiable.

Now…how to tell them without starting WWIII at Casa Joel. There’s no point in beating about the bush, meaning scoping out the parents for opinions on hypothetical scenarios. That’s just a big waste of time because the reality is that you and Carol are in love. I think part of your anxiety stems from the common nervousness all guys have when they first meet the father of the girl they want to date. The problem for you is that her father also happens to be yours!

If Carol is in agreement, I think the four of you should sit down calmly with you being the man in this equation and starting off the conversation with something like: “Mom, Dad. We (meaning you and Carol) have something to tell you…” then ease into the conversation slowly. FYI – I wouldn’t mention the kiss you shared.

I would just say something like ‘you’ve grown attached to Carol and have started to regard her as more than a sister and it scares you because you value and respect the family and feel this is some sort of terrible thing you’ve been hiding. Carol has to come in here and state her case too. It’s no good if you state it for her. She has to reciprocate your sentiments and stand firm and by you on this issue. Make sure you have Carol’s full backing otherwise the conversation has the potential to turn ugly.

It sounds to me like the man that had the guts, courage and commitment to raise you after your dad bolted is good people. Don’t be so quick to judge and discount his thoughts on this matter. You may be surprised. Since you and Carol are both being up front and honest about what’s going on I can’t see either parent shipping you off to Siberia until the home fires cool.

Yours truly
The crabby critic

Hey Crabby:

You’re a guy. I’m a guy. Will you please tell my girlfriend that she’s way out of line asking me to curb my workouts and personal grooming to spend more time with her! See, Sarah thinks I spend way too much time in the bathroom getting ready and way too much time pumping up in the gym.

Just so we’re clear – I’m usually not in the can for any more than an hour and a half each morning and a couple of fifteen to twenty minute breaks spread throughout the day. I workout Mon. – Fri.; a couple of hours in the am and pm, and, like to run about an hour every other day.

I’m not a bodybuilder or anything, but I’m focusing on getting and staying huge and that takes time and effort. But lately she thinks I’m too into myself. Set her straight.

Zack in Waterbury Connecticut

Dear Muscle-Head Narcissist:

I sure wish someone would love me the way you love you!

Just so we’re clear – I like to look my best too. But if I’m in ‘the can’ – as you say – in the am. it’s for a maximum stretch of ten to fifteen minutes – TOPS!

Most of that is for shaving, running a comb through the ol’ mop, brushing teeth and using the facilities. I don’t know what you’re doing in there for an hour and a half each morning, plus two to four twenty minute sessions throughout the day.

I think there’s only been four times in my life that I ever went to the bathroom in the middle of the day to see what I looked like and each time it was to freshen up with some deodorant and/or re-brush my teeth. Neither exercise took more than 30 seconds of my time.

Moving on: I work out too, but unlike yourself I have zero interest in maximizing my girth. I do it strictly to maintain my weight, stay trim and feel good – both on the inside and out. I space my exercise so that it doesn’t interfere with my extracurricular activities, so our interests in physical fitness diverge.

However, the fact that you’re not in training or competition for Mr. O but still want to look as though you might jump up on stage at any moment and do a pose down to I’m Too Sexy’ suggests some deeper need you have about building an intimidating physique that at least 70% of women polled in a recent survey said they find ‘unattractive.

If your girlfriend falls into that 70% let’s put aside that you’re beefing up for the good of her and get real. This is all about you!

Now, I haven’t fallen on my head and developed amnesia yet. I’m fully acquainted with the new narcissism sweeping the nation. Some trendy marketer has labeled it ‘metrosexualism.’

I don’t like the term because minus the ‘metro’ prefix, it suggests a pre-programmed biological necessity built into the male animal for wanting to preen and primp like a Jim Dandy 24/7. Self worship of the variety and color we’re talking about in your case has already tipped the scales of vanity. You like yourself too much and that’s creating a problem you’ll have to remedy.

If you love your girlfriend, then maybe you can do your training after she goes to bed or work so that she’s not aware it’s being done. Out of sight, out of mind. But the frequent flyer miles you’ve been racking up in ‘the can’ have to stop!

Make it a personal challenge. Make a conscious effort to gradually reduce the time you spend in their by fifteen minutes a day until you’re down to a running time of say, thirty minutes max. Economize. And those twenty minute ‘touch ups’ you referred to? Gone! Right now.

Here’s the thing, Zack. Unless your girlfriend is as wrapped up in herself as you are in yourself, she will love you whether hair 1,176 is in or out of place!

Just in case you’re wondering - there’s no denying that past cultures – from the Egyptian to the Roman to 16th century Frenchmen relished putting on the dog with varying accoutrements – wigs, earrings, metal bands across the bicep and calf, painting their eyes, cheeks, applying white powder and makeup etc. So, there’s really nothing new to what you’re doing.

But if it’s damaging your relationship with your girlfriend then you have to decide what’s more important to you...

...your relationship with her, or your love affair with yourself.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

My cousin Ralph says because I masturbate I’m going straight to hell. Is this true?

Chuck in Richland North Dakota

Dear Whack-Master:

Yes. Absolutely. Start picking out your pitchfork now!

I’m kidding!!!

You can tell your cousin, Ralph from me that he’s a hypocrite and a moron. Not that you require any data to back that up, but self pleasure is as old as The Bible. It’s a natural part of experimentation and growing up.

Somewhere along the way, religion and well intentioned, though thoroughly misguided health practitioners of the early 1900s became involved in suggesting that masturbation was responsible for everything from male pattern baldness to insanity. Guess what?

There’s absolutely NO truth to these rumors.

But here’s a thought – I wouldn’t share your backstage practices with Ralph any more. Your own satisfaction is your own business. You don’t need masturbation by committee…uh…unless that’s your thing.

As long as you’re not inflicting physical torture or pain on yourself with weird and wonderful implements I can’t see why you shouldn’t grow up healthy, happy and normal and without the gates of hell yawning before you for all eternity.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

Two years ago my best friend, Erica’s four year old daughter drowned in their backyard pool. It was a devastating experience to say the least.

After the funeral, Erica immediately had her husband Bob fill in the pool with a backhoe. It’s a garden now. Anyway, she’s never been to my house since I moved away and I’m afraid to tell her about the pool before she comes. We just finished putting it in last month. I’m afraid if I tell Erica this she won’t come for a visit. What should I do?

Melanie in Bluffton South Carolina

Dear Mel’:

You have to tell her.

She’ll fee hurt and betrayed if you don’t. You mentioned only Erica and Bob so I’ll assume there are no children coming down for this visit. Either way, the fact that Erica had Bob landfill her pool after their tragedy suggests an obvious regard for all swimming pools as a death hazard. If you’re worried about Erica not coming for a visit because of the pool I would suggest that after you tell her about the pool you also offer to put Erica and her husband up in a hotel instead – one that doesn’t have a pool – or suggest that if it’s going to be a problem you could go and visit her instead.

If Erica and Bob decide to come down anyway, I would spend as little time around the pool as possible – even, maybe going so far as to draw the drapes on the windows overlooking your backyard while they’re in your home. That’s just out of courtesy and respect for Erica’s feelings – something you seem to care very much and deeply about. Also, after you mention that you have a pool on the phone, I wouldn’t bring up the topic again – ever!

I wouldn’t make an issue out of ignoring the pool either. I just would pretend like you don’t have it. You didn’t until this past year, so faking absence of memory on this matter shouldn’t be too hard.

Finally, if Erica comes down and asks to see the pool I would show it to her. Do whatever it is she wants. She’s a guest in your home. If she’s receptive to getting her feet wet again, you go along for the dip. This is your best friend. She knows you didn’t put a pool in your yard out of lack of sensitivity for her loss. If she respects your wish to own a pool as much as you seem to treasure the concern that it might ruin her visit with you then it sounds to me like the two of you will have a cherished time together – one that may help heal old wounds.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

@The Crabby Critic 2007 (all rights reserved).

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Dear Crabby:

My girlfriend says my mother is the problem but my mother says my girlfriend is the problem and my ex wife says I am the problem. What’s a guy to do?

- George in Fenton New Jersey

Dear Georgie Porgy:

You’re the one who kissed the girls and made them cry...

Now that you’ve decided you don’t like the sound of incessant whining you’ve also decided you want to roll back the hands of time and live a quiet life.

Tragically, it can’t be done!

But I do think the most telling part of your rather inarticulate sentence (i.e. you don’t tell me exactly what the problem is) is that your ex-wife thinks you were the problem! Taking into account that your ex is not a total write off and hell bent on making your life miserable, perhaps she has something there.

There’s an old saying:
in order to be fit company for somebody else you have to first be relatively pleased with yourself.

It sounds to me like a little personal housekeeping is in order in Fenton New Jersey.

You haven’t mentioned children in this equation. One can only pray that you don’t have any because kids should never have to cope with the fallout of adult stupidity.
My best advice to you would be to abstain from male/female relationships while you take that much needed moment to reconsider what’s truly important in your own life and get your head screwed on correctly – the other one!

Yours truly,
The Crabby Critic

Dear Crabby:

My sister Tina thinks she’s God’s gift to guys. Her boyfriend, Mark gets treated like crap all the time. I feel so bad for him cuz he really likes her a lot and she knows it. How can I get him to see he’s being used.

Sandra in Dempsey

Dear Man-Trap:

You’ve just given away the goods on where your own loyalties lay...lay being the operative word!

The question you should have asked was ‘how can I get my sister to treat her boyfriend more like a man than a mouse.' Instead, you want to know what is the best way to get down his pants by spiking Mark full of your own contempt for your sister.

For shame, trollop!

Mark clearly doesn’t have a problem with your sister’s behavior. If he does and continues to be used, then he’s a doormat. Either way, it’s none of your affair…and that’s the problem.

What’s troubling you is that Mark doesn’t even know you’re alive.

Get a clue, Nancy Drew.

Then get your own stud and leave your sister’s alone.

You’ll get more mileage out of life if you’re not slashing everyone else’s tires along the way.

Yours truly,
The Crabby Critic

Dear Crabby:

The couple next door to us recently decided to come out of the closet. For years they told everyone in the neighborhood that they were two sisters living together after a pair of messy marriages. We, the rest of the neighbors and I, had our children play together. I went over there for a Tupperware party two weeks ago! But last week, at a block party, they announced to the crowd that in fact they’re lesbians! I don’t know what to do. We’re a respectable small community and frankly, I don’t know how to handle this revelation. Please advise.

Marcelina in Buckton

Dear neighborhood blockhead:

I don’t understand your predicament. What’s changed since the block party?

If the answer is ‘nothing’ then I suggest you go about respecting the sexual preferences of others without totting a closet-full of your own misperceptions and hang-ups about lesbianism.

You state that you and the other neighbors let your kids play at this couple’s house. You also state that you attended a social gathering over plastic dishes and flatware. Clearly, the two ladies in question were highly regarded by you and the rest of the neighborhood until this ‘revelation’ occurred.

If you had said that since their ‘coming out’ at the block party these two women were engaging in lewd acts in their back and front yards; if you had suggested they were attempting to solicit either you or the neighbors, and/or the children to partake in wild kinky parties of a sexual nature; if you had told me that these women had embarked upon a campaign of vial and socially unacceptable behavior that was not only dangerous, but damaging to the moral fiber of your ‘little community’ – then I would have suggested to you that you had every right for a cause to action by the police over public disturbances.

But these gals have not changed their social habits one bit since the block party. The only difference is that before the party you didn’t know what went on behind those walls next door and now you do. To me, that clearly demarcates that your neighborhood has thus far fostered a healthy communication where all opinions and preferences have seemed valid, embraced and accepted.

It isn’t up to you to change that communal dynamic now just because you’ve your Calvin’s in a ball over the L-word. If you can’t get over having a pair of respectful woman of a varying sexual preference to your own living next to you, there are only two choices left for you to consider: 1) curtail your involvement with the neighbors or (2) move – not them…YOU!

Everyone’s entitled to their own space and happiness. These women have found their Shangri-La. Isn’t it about time you discovered yours?

Yours truly,
The Crabby Critic

Dear Crabby:

I hate my life. It’s not just one thing. It’s everything. I get so discouraged I could just scream. My friend who reads you all the time says you fix other people’s problems. Fix mine, please.

Jodie in Saratoga

Dear Jodie:

With all due respect to your friend, I don’t fix other people’s problems. I try, superficially at best, to provide advice that makes the person writing in think differently about their problem.

It’s just my opinion that I’m offering. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But miracles are beyond my control. What with magic wands being is such short supply these days it’s no wonder.

However, since you said ‘please’ – I’ll do my best to provide you with some options that may help you stop hating your life in totem. First, nobody hates everything about their life. There’s always some bit of good in all that bad. So, for starters, how about searching within yourself to find out what that bit is? I guarantee that it’s in there. You just might have to look harder than most – certainly, harder than you have been.

A wise old sage living close to our family when I was a child used to say that

some people grow up, while others just grow old:

time to decide which one you are.

I have faith in you, Jodie. So, for argument’s sake – let us assume you’re a grown up.

The first thing a grown up does with dissatisfaction is to assess the areas where improvement is required. For starters – sit down and make a list of what it is particularly that you ‘hate’ about your life. When you tell me that it’s everything you’re not being very clear, fair or honest with yourself. You need to put down in black and white on paper – so that it becomes clear to you where the problems are. Even if it’s something as silly as, “I hate my nose” or “My teeth are crooked” I need you to write it down.

Acknowledge and document all your woes for posterity.

Then, get off your posterior and start making the necessary changes.

Self improvement can be daunting. But it’s not about doing everything all at once, rather, about doing something for a change. Wallowing in self pity and regret gets you nowhere fast! Consider the statue of ‘the thinker.’ He’s still thinking! You haven’t his luxury of being cast in marble. Life is moving in a forward direction – you either catch up or give up trying. Just in case you’re wondering – giving up is not an option!

So, if you need to lose weight – lose it!
Want a better job? – Find one!
Thinking about going back to school – get registered!

Is it easy to get motivated. Not at all.

Is it essential to your well being.

Absolutely - yes!

I don’t want you to look at the big picture – because I get the sense that when you do you’re simply overwhelmed by the model of inefficiency you see staring back at you.

After you’ve made your list, I want you to take the thing on it that bugs you the most and make a concerted effort to change the circumstances creating that one problem. Put blinders on like a pony in training and concentrate only on that one facet of your life that you’re determined to improve.

You’ll be amazed how much you’ll accomplish if you only invest and focus on that one problem instead of your top 50! When you feel you have a handle on your first problem, you may want to challenge yourself by taking on another problem area from your list.

But here’s the wrinkle: as you conquer your dislikes (and conquer them you will!) I want you to take a big red marker and cross them from your list – to illustrate for yourself what you’ve accomplished and how much more there is left to do. Three final bits of advice for you to remember:

1) Think positive!
2) Stay strong (emotionally and physically)
3) Never be disheartened!

I’m expecting great things from you! It’s time for you to start expecting them from yourself.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

Would you date someone who was considerably younger than you?

Debbie in Fresno

Dear Toddler:

Define ‘considerably.’

I’m serious. People in love are always quick to say that age is just a number and a relatively inconsequential variable when choosing a soul mate. I beg to differ. I’ve heard too many men and women during the courtship stage make the argument that ‘Oh, he/she is very mature for their age’ only to marry that person and then discover that ‘whoops! - actually, they’re not’ or just think that they are and that pomposity begins to grate on the other person’s psyche and nerves.

At the age of 36, I’ve developed a scale for myself that is fairly limiting. I wouldn’t even consider dating someone more than five years younger or two years older than myself. That’s a personal preference. I have friends and colleagues who have chosen to discard this advice. Only some are living to regret their decision.

I’m not saying that all May/December romances are doomed from the start. Goodness knows, there are quite a few that do more than just survive – they thrive! But it takes an exceptional couple to make the rift in age work…or, conversely speaking - a lot of money so that the younger of the two can be occupied as the older person in the equation enters their emeritus years.

I’ll use myself as an example again, this time with an 11 year discrepancy between me and my prospective mate. That means that if I’m 36, my imaginary partner would be 25. She’s very mature for her age. She just likes to kick it at the clubs until two in the morning while I’m thinking about buying my first home and going on a really nice three week vacation to the Bahamas.

Okay, fast forward 20 years. I’m 56 – a scary thought. My significant other is only 45. She’s in her prime and wanting to experience travel and great sex revisited. I’m getting close to retirement. Now let’s tack on another 20 years. I’m 76. She’s 65. She’s just retired. I’m already on my third round of Ovalteen.

The point to this exercise was to illustrate that tastes and preferences come suitable to the time. I don’t think it’s a particularly fair level of expectation for me to want my 25 year old mate to give up her clubbing standards to stay at home and paint cupboards and hang wallpaper simply because she’s with a guy who wants to settle down and build a home. I also don’t think that my 65 year old wife should have to run out to buy me Depends and massage bed sores from my feet when she’d rather be playing with grand kids in the backyard or planning a restful cruise.

Life is hard enough when you find someone who thinks and acts similarly to your own likes and dislikes. But introducing a rift of 10 years or more creates a whole new set of variables. Some people cope with this discrepancy. Some don’t.

I’m not clever enough to try.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

I was a bad father to my children. I divorced their mother when they were nine and seven and with very few exceptions, pretty much stopped seeing them all together once my ex remarried. That was seventeen years ago. Last week I discovered I’m dying of cancer and I wanted to get in touch with them and let them know before it’s too late. My father thinks this is a bad idea. What do you think?

James in San Bernadino

Dear James:

I stand with your father on this one. You did a terrible thing seventeen years ago. You cut out a piece of your life that desperately needed a father figure. You didn’t just ignore your past – you obliterated it, and you did it remorselessly until now. But you haven’t learned your lesson yet. You’re still thinking only of yourself.

You’re dying and so you want the children you cast off to run to your side, embrace you and ease your conscience into the great beyond. But you don’t want these things for the sake of your kids. It won’t ease their lives to be reintroduced to you now – especially since any reunion with their estranged sperm donor can only be short term.

You want your kids back because it suits your agenda best; because your conscience is gnawing at you and you fear the repercussions you’re facing for your own actions in the after life.

It’s ironic that as human beings we only tend to think of the pain and suffering we’ve managed to inflict on others – either deliberately or by accident – when similar peril is staring us down.

I’ll go this far – no one should have to suffer through cancer alone. But you won’t be alone. You’ll have your father by your bedside which is more than your own children have had next to theirs for the past seventeen years!

Leave them alone, James. Your ex gave them what you couldn’t – a stable two parent home with a guy who at least attempted to coddle their joys, support their ambitions and quell their fears. That man is their father.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

@Crabby Critic 2007 (all rights reserved).