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This time last year, in fits of wintertime blues, we here at Daybreak decided to give "Dear Abby" the day off. Now, we feel Abigail van Buren does an excellent job at advice-dispensing - in fact, we're amazed that Abby usually remains kind, thorough and wise in her correspondence to befuddled readers. But, inspired by some of Abby's more tough-love-driven responses to some of her readers' more ... unusual ... queries, we thought we might give the old advice game a shot. What with all the vitriol we have to spare, coupled with the fact that we know everything, we felt it our duty to join Abby in her crusade to advise the masses.
Using real letters sent to "Dear Abby's" syndicated column, we, as "Dear Crabby," answered them in more blunt terms.
DEAR CRABBY: I am 36. My husband is 60. We have been together for 10 years. During the first four years we got along great, but he now says he wants to have affairs.
He texts women and tries to hide it from me. I found out he was texting his first ex-wife. It made me uncomfortable, so I asked him to stop. He didn't. When I realized he hadn't, I told him I would leave if it happens again. This kind of behavior has been going on for more than half our marriage.
I am at the point where I don't want to cuddle or be affectionate with him at all. He commented the other day that he should be allowed to have an affair because I mentioned that I find Hemingway interesting. (He was known for affairs.)
I'm at a loss. I care for my husband and don't want to hurt him. But I'm also scared that I can't afford to be on my own. A little advice?
- Unsure in Washington
For whom does the bell toll? It tolls for your wrinkly husband! The fact that he was almost twice your age when you got together should have set some warning lights flashing then, but, hey, better late than never. Boot him to the curb. Better yet, shove him out on the water in a tiny, leaky boat - and bellow after him, "Have fun, old man, in the sea!"
DEAR CRABBY: More and more I receive emails from people using the closing salutation "Best." I feel this must be incorrect. Shouldn't it be "Best Regards" or "Best Wishes"? To say simply "Best" seems somehow lacking. Best what? What is accurate?
- Tandi in New Haven
DEAR TANDI: You're serious, aren't you? THIS is what would cause you to write to an advice columnist?! You don't have a boyfriend who manages a strip club and never comes home anymore?! Your parents didn't borrow $200,000 from you for a kidney dialysis machine - and then you found out they blew it all on PCP?! You don't have a co-worker "Bill" who shares a cubicle with you and clips his toenails in your trash can and smells like old cheese PLUS he insists on using quotation marks around his name?! I feel like punching you in the face. Best ...
DEAR CRABBY: Our 13-year-old is addicted to her phone. She stays on it for hours, and it's affecting the time she goes to bed. She's now starting to oversleep the alarm in the morning before school.
She's spoiled, and I'm afraid that removing or limiting phone privileges will lead to major problems with her protesting it. I don't want truant officers or social workers coming to my house because my wife and I can't discipline our kid.
How do you handle a spoiled brat without involving outside agencies? She's nice to people in school, but is lazy at home and totally self-centered.
- Frustrated, exhausted dad
DEAR LOSER - ER, DAD: You're "afraid" that disciplining your little creep of a daughter will cause "major problems"?! Where do you think Miley Cyrus got the idea to sniff a fake bear's rear-end during the VMA awards? She got it talking on her cell phone - to her OWN father. In Miley's case, at least Billy Ray had the excuse that he hopes to bleed his daughter's earnings since his own career is so sucky. You, on the other hand, are a spineless rodent. Take a lesson from Ivan IV of Russia, who is said to have nailed the French ambassador's hat to his head in the 1600s. Show your daughter her cell phone and a spot welder - and tell her the choice is hers. She can use it as per your instructions, or it can be permanently fastened to her ear.
DEAR CRABBY: I hope you can help with this etiquette question. My son and his wife believe that when you finish a good meal, you toss your napkin on the now-empty plate. They say this sends a message that the food was great.
I do not agree. Is placing a grubby napkin on the plate inappropriate behavior or is this legit?
- Not a napkin-tossing dad
DEAR DAD: Silly people. No, the correct way to send the message that the food was great was: Pat your bloated belly. Undo the top button of your pants. And then belch. Loudly.
DEAR CRABBY: I am an 80-year-old woman, happily married for 51 years. The other day, my hairdresser (in her 20s) asked me about my sex life with my husband! I feel this is a private matter and none of her business, but I didn't want to sound rude. Can you think of a snappy answer to such a personal question?
- Still In Love With My Husband
DEAR STILL IN LOVE: Yes I can, although you might want to have a cocktail first: answer her question. In detail.
DEAR CRABBY: My husband "Zak" and I have been married five years. His brother "Tom" has never liked me. In fact, he went out of his way to ruin our wedding. Just before the ceremony he feigned a dramatic illness, yelled obscenities at my aunt for taking pictures and refused to wear his dress shirt or tie. Abby, he was a groomsman.
Tom is being married this spring to a woman who likes me even less than he does. I want no part of their wedding, nor do I even want to attend. Zak insists that I go and be "civil." Is my husband right? Should I swallow my feelings and go to the wedding, or am I justified in sitting this one out?
- The "Black Sheep" in-law
DEAR BLACK SHEEP: You have two options for dealing with these fools (counting your husband). First, you can go and do your damndest to top Tom's shenanigans at your wedding. Make a drunken toast, complete with slideshow of embarrassing photos, perhaps? Do the Elaine from "Seinfeld" dance at the reception? (All night long, obviously.) Mail a nice, "civil" fruitcake from 1976 as a wedding gift? You get the idea.
Or, you shout your intention to Tom, his twit fiancee and Zak that you plan to stay the hell away from this unholy ceremony - ideally on Facebook for all the world to read - then book yourself a spa day and grow to love your inner black sheep.
But I must ask, why doesn't anybody like you, anyway?
DEAR CRABBY: I am a 27-year-old woman who lives alone in a house I own. Sometimes strangers come to the house for various reasons - plumbers, electricians, etc.
One question I am frequently asked is, "Do you live alone?" I just don't know how to answer that question without feeling like someone might take advantage of me. Can you help me and other single women by providing an appropriate response?
- Cautious bachelorette, Huntsville, Ala.
DEAR CAUTIOUS: What's with all the strangers coming over? The answer is simple: Put on your big-girl pants and tell these nosey nudniks that the details of your household are none of their bloody business. Then call their supervisor and demand satisfaction.
Option 2: assure them that your ex-Navy SEAL significant other keeps the house fully covered in surveillance equipment just in case things get weird on the homefront.
Option 3: get/borrow a big, big, big dog who specializes in drooling and staring. Reward said dog with bacon and peanut butter for its services.
DEAR CRABBY: Recently my mother and I got into an argument on a four-hour road trip. She didn't like my opinions or my answers, so she kicked my 17-year-old daughter and me out of her vehicle and abandoned us in an unsafe neighborhood two hours from our home. She has done it twice before, and I have yet to hear an apology from her for dumping us on the curb.
Luckily, my son was able to come and retrieve us. Most people would have cut her off the first time she pulled this stunt, but I'm a "three-strikes-you're-out" kind of person. I have given my mother many opportunities to apologize for her behavior, but she refuses to acknowledge her own wrongdoing.
I have decided this is the last time this will happen to me. I no longer speak to her and won't allow my daughter to go anywhere with her for fear she will be dumped somewhere unsafe. My other kids - ages 21 and 22 - say I should get over it. Was cutting her off a reasonable response?
- Thumbin' for a ride
DEAR THUMBIN': You're clearly argumentative and hard to get along with. Call your sweet mother immediately and offer to take her out to dinner as a way to apologize. But just don't take her to any restaurant - one about four miles from your home would be perfect. When you get close, stop the car and literally kick dear old mom to the curb. Make sure you take the kids with you so they can waive goodbye to grandma through the rear window.