Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Both Families are Turkeys

Posted By on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 at 7:54 AM

Dear Jack,

Sometimes I wish I didn't live in the same city as my parents and my fiancé's parents. When parents live in different cities, you only have to visit one of them on Thanksgiving. My fiancé and I have been engaged for a year and dating for three, so we've been through this a few times, but it doesn't get any easier. In fact, it seems to be getting worse.

My parents and my fiancé's parents hate each other. The fact that they are different races and political and social castes plays a big part. When it comes to Thanksgiving, they make no effort to time their dinners so we can attend both of them. They seem to try their best to schedule at the same time.

What makes things worse is that neither of us even wants to go. It's always tense, there's always an argument. His family is easier to get along with than mine, as they seem to like me if not my parents, but my family is just short of openly hostile towards him. After four years, you would think they would come to accept him and appreciate his many charms. The first time he met my mother she asked me if I was pregnant. Apparently that was the only way she could imagine I would bring home someone like him.

So here we are, once more trying to decide who we are going to offend, only this time we are arguing about it. I want to go to his house, he wants to try one more time to reconcile our families before the wedding.

—Sick of Pumpkin Pie

Dear Pumpkin,

So why not go away?

Seriously, hear me out. Why don't you and your fiancé go out of town for Thanksgiving? Take a trip somewhere and just be together and pretend it isn't a holiday of traditional family obligations. Have some fun for a change. When your parents file their inevitable objections, state that you've decided not to ruin their holidays again with your presence.

It has been one of my long-standing rules that past the age of majority you are under no obligation to attend family functions. Your presence should be a blessing to the event, a welcome addition to the table, like whipped topping on the pumpkin pie. If you treat it like an obligation, that's exactly what it will become. If you don't put your foot down now, these miseries will themselves become a part of the tradition.

However, if you can't be counted on to attend, then both sets of parents will be induced to provide enticements for you to join them, rather than reasons to dread the day. You just need to realize that you hold the power in this situation. They will try to guilt you, but you have no reason to feel guilt. Instead, as an adult, you have the right to start your own holiday traditions. And when you do, they will be forced to schedule around you.

Got a problem? Let Jack Waggon set you straight: jack.wagg@gmail.com

Monday, November 14, 2011

His Old Soldier Won't March on Command

Posted By on Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 8:07 PM

Dear Jack,

I recently went through a traumatic divorce. Well, not recently. When I look at the calendar, I see that it has actually been more than a year now since I signed the papers. But in some ways it feels like it still hasn't ended

Until I met Kathy. Kathy isn't her real name. She is younger than me by almost 10 years. When I first noticed her interest in me, I was shocked. She is, to be perfectly honest, the best-looking woman I've even known. I mean she is hot. Hotter than I deserve or that I ever thought possible.

Kathy is beautiful inside as well as outside. She saw something in me, something I didn't even know about myself. Because we were already acquaintances before she asked me out the first time, she was aware of the difficulties I had been going through. She's been extremely patient with me and my natural fear of getting too close to anyone.

We've been dating regularly for about a month now. It's been strange, to say the least, but in a wonderful way. It's been an amazing adventure. I feel alive again for the first time, I realize now, in years, since long before the divorce.

This past Saturday night. Kathy and I had dinner at her place. It was going to be a quiet night with wine and a movie, but it became so much more. And at the crucial moment, I failed. Big time. This has never happened to me before. She said it's ok, but it's not okay. It happens to men my age, she said. So Sunday night, I tested the machinery and it still wasn't working properly.

I haven't spoken to Kathy since. I don't want to hear her say it's okay again. I'm scared to death something is wrong with me. What if I have some disease? It would be just like God to strike me down at the moment I have finally found true happiness.

Weary Soldier

Dear Sad Sack,

First allow me to offer my congratulations and condolences on your divorce. Take it from an old campaigner, this too shall pass.

It is frustrating and frightening when that rugged old soldier, who has always done his duty so admirably, with such stiff determination, penetrating deeply into hazardous territory controlled by the enemy without fear of the consequences, suddenly fails to come to attention as expected.

At your age (which I have not disclosed), what you experienced is not uncommon, nor does it indicate a dire medical issue. A friend of mine with lower spine issues found that he was unable to perform while lying on his back. Something to do with a nerve being pinched. It could be high blood pressure or any number of other treatable medical problems. Don't be afraid to see your doctor. Or maybe you just had too much wine.

But I suspect your problem is you didn't have enough wine. You were trying too hard, my friend, trying to overcompensate for your low morale. You wanted it to be so perfect and you couldn't live up to your own expectations. One moment of doubt and suddenly your forces retreated in disarray. Try as you might to rally, you only turned retreat into rout.

My advice to you is to relax, forget about it. Don't build up huge expectations. Let things happen naturally and take your time. Don't think. Just be. Focus on your target and let the plane fly itself.

And if you're still worried, see our friend the pharmacist. He can do wonders for your morale.

Got a problem. Jack Waggon will set you straight: jack.wagg@gmail.com.

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