Saturday, January 26, 2008


Dear Crabby:

I am on marriage #2. First one was 17 years. He walked out on me and our 2 small boys. Three years after the divorce I fell in love and married hubby # 2. My boys are incredible (marine and diesel tech).

Hubby also has two raised by angry resentful ex-wife. Daughter, 22 just arrested for shoplifting; lives with us right now while waiting to enlist. Son, age 18, still in high school; moved out because of our rules - after he punched holes in the walls, totaled his truck (in hubby's name) this week.

Both (my husband’s kids) lived with (their) mom their entire lives. Stepson came to live with us when he turned 16. His mom literally dropped him off with his belongings in a trash bag at 9 pm one night. We picked (my husband’s daughter) up from jail and brought her home. Hubby said tops 30 days. It is going on 4 months.

I know hubby is bringing them into our lives because of guilt. Thinks he can correct twenty years of crap? Anyway, I'm the one carrying the load. I'm the one available for the transportation, doctor appointments, recruiter’s even running with SD every night so she can meet the weight requirement.

I love him dearly, I just can't imagine the next thirty years of my life (I'm 48) revolving around his kids and the ex (who calls daily) to solve their problems. There is no other man, if anything happens to this relationship, I'm done. I'll get a pet.

My sister agrees that my hubby loves me and would do anything for me he is just diluted when it comes to the trouble his past is causing our future. We are being sued by his son's friend who was in the truck at the time of the accident. But sis tells me I need to take off my own rose colored glasses.

Do I stay or do I go?

Kathy in Florida
Dear Should I Stay or Go?

It sounds to me like you stepped in a rather large pile of marital manure that oddly enough didn’t seem to bother you during the courtship phase.

I’m a firm believer in doing extensive critical analysis of all the variables in any relationship before jumping into the sack. Sometimes prospective mates will get bored and leave. Oh, well – they’re loss.

As I’ve said before on this blog, there are a lot worse things in life than remaining single!

I gather you’ve discovered this since you said ‘I do.’

You may think you’ve made some lousy choices in men (and perhaps, you have) but I don’t believe this guy is one of them. So, where do you go from here?

The answer to your question – ‘stay’ or ‘go’ is ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ I’ll explain.

You say that your stepdaughter is enlisting in the armed forces. I think that’s a step in the right direction for her. A military career will provide her with some guidance, discipline and structure; all qualities I gather were evidently lacking in her home life before she moved in with you.

Anyway, soon she’ll be off to boot camp where they don’t tolerate tarts with big mouths and bad attitudes, so it should be interesting to see how the military influence reshapes her way of thinking about life in general. As far as she goes, my advice would be a more of a ‘wait and see’ rather than laying down the law. Leave that to the drill sergeant she’s about to meet. He’s better suited for the challenge.

At 22, your stepdaughter perhaps doesn’t need any more maternal influences (not that she’s had much with her own mother by the sound of it) but she very probably could use a genuine girlfriend when reality reaches over and smacks her down. That’s where you come in. Remember that whatever her own mother’s done to her until now, very likely she’ll wake up from the stupor once real life gets a hold of her.

At that moment of vulnerability, your stepdaughter will need a real woman’s influence – someone who doesn’t judge her or hold a grudge for everything that’s gone before. Just a woman who knows the ropes and is willing to share her experiences without putting on a pair of boxing gloves.

Be that person in her life.

She may not recognize it now, but you’re her best hope for a happy tomorrow. You never know, it might turn out to be the best thing for both of you.

I’m not trying to suggest you let her walk all over you. It’s still your home. But, if at all possible, stave off the urge to stomp her silly little brain into the mush or she will hate you for it. (Aside: she probably already hates you because her mother’s filled her head with all sorts of crap about how you ruined their lives by marrying her father. Ignore the excess baggage. Life’s too short to give a damn about those who don’t give as much about you.) Take the high road and follow your heart.

As for your stepson; at 18 he’s an irresponsible kid with an attitude that needs realigning. Not that you’re the one to do it. He needs a strong male influence that’s going to steer him in the right direction. I’d like to say that male role model is you’re husband – but from what you’ve told me about his lack of stamina when push comes to shove – I don’t think he’s the guy for the job.

My advice: when sonny boy’s not home I’d have a serious chat with your guy about his son’s future. If he’s tearing up your home, wrecking vehicles and being a total ass

- he’s out!

You don’t need him and he clearly doesn’t want to be needed by you!

Tell your husband that you married him for better or worse and since his son falls under the category of ‘worse’ you would appreciate a brainstorming session on how the two of you can come to one decision on how to make him part of your ‘better’.

Now, given that your husband has a track record for caving when it comes to making practical decisions, I don’t want you to go into this conversation with him unprepared. Face facts: your husband probably won’t have any solutions to recommend. I know you’ve been the drudge on family matters thus far, so even though that hasn’t been fair to you, one more responsibility really won’t shift things that much.

I want you to take the initiative. You’re not trying to make sonny boy homeless.

But he’s definitely outstayed his welcome in your home!

So, look into programs for your husband’s son; enrollment in boot camp comes immediately to mind.

He’s old enough for a military career so give it to him if that’s what your husband agrees to. But whatever tough love the two of you decide on, make it clear that it’ll be your husband’s responsibility to lower the boom and inform his kid about the decision. At that point, you stay out of the mix. Otherwise, sonny boy will hold that decision against you.

See, my philosophy on being a stepparent while the ex of the spouse is alive is quite simple:


Rarely do the children understand the mechanics behind a marital split and/or remarriage. Heck, they’re not supposed to! They’re kids!

But since they can’t formulate an understanding on the matter it’s grossly unfair of the adults placed with the responsibility in rearing them to simply go spouse hunting with the blind ignorance and hope that everything will just work itself out in the end where the children are concerned. It won’t! It rarely – if ever – does!

In my opinion, Kathy, you’re fortunate because I feel there is a genuine love between you and your husband. He’s not an authority figure with his kids and that’s a shame. But he’s also a loving individual and that’s a definite plus. Since both his children are actually young adults – not kids - it’s time they left the nest in search of their own future.

Your stepdaughter has already taken the hint with her enlistment.

Good for her!

It will probably turn out to be good for you too.

As for sonny boy: yep – the time has come for him to discover what he’s made of: crap or credulity – we all have to come to our own realization of who we are.

One can only come to that conclusion in an absence of anger. Currently, step-boy has too much rage directed at the two of you to discover his own self worth. Help him find it. Remove yourselves from his life’s equation – at least for a time. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Get him out of your house and on a path to becoming the man he can be.

I wish you every success, Kathy. If I were you I wouldn’t leave just yet. You’ve too much invested here to simply pack up and go.

Yours truly,
The Crabby Critic

@The Crabby Critic 2008 (all rights reserved).

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Dear Crabby:

In Oct. of last year, my wife and I decided to spice up our marriage by bringing another person into our love-making. That really did the trick. In fact, we couldn’t be happier with our arrangement. Only now, our partner says she wants to bring her boyfriend in on the fun and games. I’m not really comfortable with another guy seeing me naked but I also think what’s fair is fair. I mean, my wife’s been without her clothes in front of our partner now twice a week for almost three months. Please advise.

James from Dillion

Dear Oversexed Clunk-head:

Advise and consent, no doubt.

Honestly, some people ought to be strung up by their feet and beaten with the silly stick like a piñata.

Personally, I’m a big believer in wooden planks – the sting of revelation lasts longer!

Well, where to begin? First of all, I think that you’re placing too much emphasis on this third person in your marital equation. If your love life was that dead before she came along, then you guys really had no business bringing someone else into your dysfunctional bedroom. Couples counseling would have sufficed. And, while we’re on the topic, stop calling her ‘your partner!’ You make her sound like a business associate from mergers and acquisitions.

Be honest!

This extra breast tissue you bring in for ménage a trois is just an inviting piece of skin the two of you swing around like a piñata at festival time. Only it sounds like every day’s Marti Gras at Casa Jimbo.

I’m not a Victorian prude. I can also see what the appeal has been for you up till now. But even under the most liberal definition, marriage remains a union between TWO people; not two people who invite celebrity judges and contortionist acts from Cirque du Soliel in for the high jumps when the going gets rough or dull and uninspired.

The way I see it you have two choices; one – bring Joe Studly into the mix because – as you say “fair is fair.” Just be prepared that he might be an absolute monster (both figuratively and literally) in the boudoir. My personal advice however would be to end the sham.

Oh…and the next time you want to add a little spice to your marriage – try oregano!

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

My husband broke his wrist last week when he fell off the garage trying to fix our Christmas lights. It was so embarrassing. The neighbors ran over, picked him up and brought him inside. I was on the phone long distance to my mother, but had to hang up so we could call our family doctor. Then, the neighbors drove him to the hospital. They said he really screamed when they put the pins in or whatever to fix him up. Now he’s home and behaving like a big baby.

How do you deal with a guy who needs everything handed to him all the time?

Joyce in Missouri

Dear Heartless Trophy:

You cater to his every wish until he’s able to do for himself again…and you do it with a smile. I would have added ‘sincerely,’ but after re-reading your email I must confess that I don’t think you have any concept of the meaning of that word. Frankly, you disgust me.

Your husband’s lucky he came away from the accident with only a broken wrist. He might have snapped his spine and been paralyzed or even died. Instead, all you can think about is how his mishap cut into your long distance conversation with mama. I mean, you didn’t even go to the hospital with him. That’s sick!

If your husband has any idea how much you feel you’re being put out, I’m sure he wishes he had taken the quickie header into a casket instead!

Honestly, if you’re not up to the challenge of carrying for the fellow you took a vow to love, honor and obey, then I would suggest you just march into the front room right now, tell him you’re getting a divorce, then walk out of his life forever. Trust me, Nurse Ratchet – with your bedside manner you’d be doing this man a BIG favor!

Yours truly,
The Crabby Critic

Dear Crabby:

I just confessed to my wife that I married her for her family’s money. She’s really upset. It was a huge mistake because I never loved her or was even remotely attracted to her. But I was poor. So, I figured ‘money first’ and love will follow. That was seven years ago. It hasn’t happened. What should I do?

Douglas in Barrie, On.

Dear Dough-boy:

Here’s a novel idea. When it comes to money, why not make your own? You know what you are, Douglas; a sponge and not a very convincing one either. You can’t even pick up the spills and keep the floor dry at the same time.

I don’t doubt that your wife is tear-stained and angry.

You’re lucky she didn’t cut your kibble off and feed it to the family dog.

Frankly, I hope she’s more angry than tear-stained…at least enough to kick your mooching behind to the curb – Cartier wrist watch, designer blue jeans and all!

You’re a pathetic excuse for a husband and NO great shakes as a man either. I know what you’re temptation was. I’m just trying to figure out hers. I suppose the mother instinct kicked in and she decided you were a fixer upper rather than a run-and-hide. So, I’m going to dedicate the rest of this reply to your wife and other women out there who think they’ve found a diamond in the rough.

Ladies: the men you pick up are not like that marked down handbag on special on Boxing Day.

A cheapy doesn’t become a steal!

e’re also not like vintage cheese or wine. We DON’T and WON’T improve with age. So ladies – please – do yourselves a colossal favor. Think about the man in your life as though he were a retaining wall in your basement. You don’t want your basement to get that moldy smell from too many cracks letting in the dampness, do you?

You can’t change a man, or ‘fix him up’ or make him better than he was or is. There’s no law against trying. You can knock yourself out trying. You may even get him to alter his hair style, cologne, choice of cotton knit pull over, etc. etc. etc. But in the end, you’ve only placed a superficial patch on the cracks of an otherwise leaky basement wall. The mold is going to come in and you won’t like it.

Douglas, I don’t know what crack your wife thought she was patching when she decided to hook up with you, but clearly even one as wide as the Grand Canyon at first glance was easily overlooked. Your wife must need stronger prescription eyewear. You were a red flag from a million miles away!

My suggestion to you is to economize. Now that your wife knows the truth behind your motivations, I suspect you’ll be doing a lot more shopping at the local Pick N’ Save!

Yours truly,
The Crabby Critic

Dear Crabby:

Will you marry me?

- anonymous

Dear Invisible Admirer:



Dear Crabster:

I think I must be getting old. The other day two twenty-somethings came into my coffee shop with their I-Pods blaring and I couldn’t help but give them a ‘Hey, turn that crap down’ look as I took their order. I always thought of myself as hip to the new thing but these days I feel more like a grouch than a game player. Guess I just need a sounding board.

Scott in Nova Scotia

Dear Hundred Year Old Man:

I’m kidding! Seriously, I’m 36 and the things I used to find fun and exciting in my twenties I really don’t care for at this age. Numerically, I’m aging. No question about it. But I still think I’m young enough to appreciate the fun stuff. Having said that, there’s certain things I look back on now in my own development as a human being and realize were not so much ‘fun’ as they were just ‘dumb’ and generally only appealing to somebody who didn’t have enough seniority on this planet to realize otherwise. Does that mean I’ve become an old geezer or did I just grow up?

Sounds to me like you just grew up, Scott.

Playing music loud enough to drown out everyone within a five to ten foot radius isn’t just dumb. It’s rude and dangerous to future hearing loss. Anyway, it’s your shop. Chances are if these teens were annoying you, then they were probably also ticking off your regular trade and that’s cause to stand up and request that the noise level come down or be taken somewhere else.

If it makes any difference - I don’t think you’re old, Scott. You’re just more ‘with it’ than you know, because you’ve arrived at the age where ‘making an impression’ by following the new fangled trend just to matter doesn’t really matter anymore. You’ve migrated from the importance of status symbols to being concerned with the genuine ‘here’ and ‘now.’

Bravo and keep going. Life’s a journey. You’re on a new road.

Yours truly,
The Crabby Critic


I think you blog is total crap. What you think of that?

- Joe

Dear Joe from Nowhere:

I think you’re entitled to your opinion – however misguided. What you think of that - Joe? Or maybe 'think' isn't the right word!


Dear Crabby:

I love your blog. I think it’s well written and insightful. So, please – share some of that insight with me. I’m 29 and desperately wanting to get married, only I’m a little worried that desperation has begun to show. I just graduated from university and can’t find a man that suits me. I find a lot of boys who aren’t mature enough to handle a woman or men too into themselves to even know I’m in the room. But the regular hard-working all-around good guy who just wants to find a nice girl seems to be passing me by. What am I doing wrong?

Jodie in New York

Dear Big-Apple Babe:

It’s tough being in a city of eight million plus and no beau. I sympathize. But I have to tell you, you’re not alone. I also should point out that ‘being alone’ is not the worst that could happen to you. Now, I realize that these are small comforts for someone who really wants Mr. Right at the wedding chapel. But I have to add that I admire your discerning nature – your ability to scrutinize prospective mates and weed out the flashy junk from the real collectables.

Keep in mind that in the dumpster of life there’s a lot more ‘toss away’ than rare finds. That’s why seagulls love trash. There’s just so much of it! You sound like a find. So my best advise would be that you not sell out or sell short simple because the pickin’s are slim. You don’t sound like the type that would be satisfied with second best anyway. Nor should you.

Maybe a change of venue would spice up your prospects. If you’re not a church going gal and the clubs just aren’t your scene, I would suggest that you tackle the art scene. Go to galleries, poetry readings, book signings and live theater with another single girlfriend. Be seen in some of the city’s upscale tratorias, restaurants, cafes.

Now, here’s the hard part. I want you to go to all these places without looking around at who might be looking at you. You said at the start of your email that you’re afraid desperation may be starting to show. If it is, you need to take the edge off. The most fatal thing in the world is someone who looks like a lost puppy – unless of course you’re appealing to the dog catcher in some of us.

That’s why I suggested taking a friend. Not just a good friend, but an outgoing one. Then the two of you are guaranteed to have a great time with each other. From a male perspective, there’s nothing quite as sexy as a gal who looks like she has it all. You sound like you already do, so now its time to accessorize and accentuate those positives.

Put on a bright face and a polite smile and go out on the town. All together now… “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere…it’s up to you – New York, New York!”

Yours truly
The Crabby Critic

@2008 (all rights reserved).