Rick's List — Is Abby Ever Wrong? Edition
We in the journalism trade know there are a few inviolate rules concerning readership. They all involve comics, word puzzles, obituaries, police logs, horoscopes and advice columns. Do NOT mess with any of these items, and any other perceived faux pas — involving sports, political or community coverage, even editorials — can be forgiven.
In that context, and as one who has proofed and formatted hundreds of Dear Abby columns for publication over the years, it finally hit me: My God, this woman is a true mage! Day after day, month after month, she dispenses wisdom to those of us chowderheads who wander the barren landscapes of our own brains, too confused to realize that, no, INDECISIVE IN IOWA'S brother-in-law should not be allowed to wear only a thong bathing suit to her daughter's funeral.
But hold on! Why do we accept that Abby is always right? After all, there's no government agency to oversee advice columnists, no Better Business Bureau watchdogs to ensure that Abby doesn't occasionally dispense ill-considered — or even HORRIBLE — advice.
What I'd like to see — assuming that, as a human being and despite the low-hanging fruit of the inane questions she gets asked, even Abby is fallible — would be a sort "Dear Abby's Bloopers" column. Like this:
1. From a November 17, 1963, response to a letter from (it was later determined) James Joseph Rowley, then-head of the U.S. Secret Service:
"Dear Puzzled in Big D: Don't worry about the angry right-wing elements in Texas. The 'open car' limo configuration in downtown Dallas should be fine — and I'm betting John and Jackie enjoy that beautiful autumn weather down there!"
2. And this "Oops" moment from those golden but naïve years when no one thought crystal meth was addictive:
"Dear Chesapeake Tweakin': Typically, you're better off mixing your dope with sterile water, but the rush you'll get when you cook speed in small-engine oil will blow your eyeballs through the back of your skull."
3. Here's a disaster from one of the many letters Abby gets from moguls and stars in the arts biz:
"Dear Hollywood Caster: You're spot on. Johnny Depp with a stuffed crow inexplicably glued to the top of his death-metal corpse-makeup'd head pretty much guarantees 'The Lone Ranger' will be a huge hit. And tell Johnny his old pal Abby says 'Hey!' and she 'definitely won't forget that night we spent together at Jim Morrison's grave. We woke up the next mornin' and got ourselves a beer!'"
4. Then there are the days when Miss A just got over-tired and counseled out-and-out violence.
"Dear No Flowers in Tacoma: Your neighbor really did that to your hydrangea?! Kill him."