03 June 2010


(Photograph copyright 2010, all rights reserved.)

Hello, hello! I'm back. I'm even posting the same day the letters came out! Yay! The Great Procrastinator manages to get something done on time. I should get a medal.

I also have news! This blog, as well as One Messy Lady can also be seen on Salon. You can get to them here at Open Salon . I freely admit to shamelessly shilling for The Fly over there because...well because why not? What this means for you is that YOU get to tell me off in two different places from now on. Think of the possibilities. You can agree with me at one location and tell me I'm full of it in the other. I know at least two, maybe even three of you that would LOVE that.

For those reading this on Salon, I also answer real letters from people who write to me randomly. You can do this by sending me an e-mail onemessylady@gmail.com any time. Beware, though. I am not now nor have I ever been a professional counselor. I have no credentials but common sense and a decidedly odd way of looking at the world. Let me know if you want a SHADDAP! or to Ask Aunt Messy. Go to http://askauntmessy.blogspot.com for a sample, if you like.

Now to work. The originals are here as always.

1. Hmm. I'm of two minds on this one, so you get two answers. Ready?

You walked in on a superior who was having a little "private time" at his desk and you're "95 percent sure" that he was indulging in the kind of "private time" that has a happy ending. Ok. Now you're pondering who to tell, or IF to tell.

A. You're wondering if you should run tattling to one of your bosses....


DINGdingdingding! Give the girl a prize!

You're right! You can't go to anyone in your office with this because the "culprit" (even though you're the boor that went into HIS office without knocking) will accuse you of lying and you will LOSE that one. As far as everyone else there is concerned, you ARE the kid and you are dispensible. In fact, infant lawyers just like you are a dime a dozen. You could be replaced in less than ten minutes, twit! He could arrange to have someone fire your ass for using too much tissue during allergy season and no one would blink.

You're itching to tell though, I can see that. Is it already on your Facebook page? Did you only tell your bestest bestest friends? Have you whispered into the ears of everyone from the janitors to the conveyancing secretary that you saw Mr. X wanking in his office before anyone else was at work? If you have, do you really think that every single person you blabbed to is going to keep the secret?


No, really. Shut up. It never happened. Duh.

Oh, I forgot. The next time you go to work very early, make noise. Lots of noise. Drop something. I'm sure you can think of something.

B. Now here I defer to Schuyler The Cat, who picked up on this part of your letter: "Unfortunately, he's not even the person who makes the pay decisions, so it's not as though I can leverage this in any lucrative way."

Here's another instance of the dumbness. Are you serious? You can't think of any way to leverage this? After all that schooling, did you learn nothing?


Yeesh. You are thinking too small, girl. A salary increase is the best you could do? Fercryinoutloud, do I have to walk you through it? Sigh.

Right. Now pay attention.

You are not going to work in that firm forever. One day, you might need someone to give you a glowing recommendation, right? If by some miracle no one finds out what a silly ass you are and you actually come up for partnership one day, do you even know that these things are decided by a GROUP of partners - just like Wankboy. Someone is going to have to nominate you. Someone is going to have to advocate for your acceptance....

Did you get any of that? No? Then I give up. If you actually need to write to the Internet lady to make this decision, you've got the worst case of cranial-rectal inversion I've seen in months.

2. You had a nasty child support battle with your ex, who has now told your 15-year-old son all sorts of nasty things about you, most of which are fiction. So far, that sounds pretty...pathetic actually, not to mention ordinary. These things happen often.

This is not your dilemma. Your dilemma is that you would never have known about this if you hadn't snooped in your son's computer. Now you feel all squicky and guilty and you can't decide whether to tell the kid how you got the information....


I thought you were the adult here? Your son - surly as most 15-year-old kids can be - is still your son. Your ex-husband is just the jerk you know he already is, which is why you're divorced, so he doesn't count as an adult... but you can't tell your son that.

I'm going to give you the advice that a LOT of people on the Fray did. Download everything you read on to a zip drive, and keep checking for more details for a full week. Then send it to your attorney and settle the child support thing once and for all. I expect your ex will be quite surprised to know that slander is actionable.

What I don't get is why the hell you can't talk to your son. Are you thick?


Prudie was right. Tell the kid that you snooped. Apologize. Apologize again. Teenagers are experts at self-righteous anger, pouting outrage, and excuse-making. You'll have to break through that before he'll be coherent. Give it a day or so. But no more.

Tell him that you read what his father said and then ASK him if he has any questions about that. Point out that he will never know the truth unless he asks YOU about your life. Also point out that you always wanted HIM. The fact that your relationship with your husband went south is no reflection on your son. Tell him this about a hundred times.

He's still your kid, and he is still a minor. You DO have the right to check up on his Internet usage, and you DO have the right to talk to him about it. Of course, if you spend ONE SECOND whining about your ex and telling his son that he's an asshole.....then you deserve whatever you get.

Don't put your kid in the middle of your divorce.

3. Having a friend die is tragic. Being the passenger in the car she was driving when she died is beyond tragic. It's awful. I can't imagine what that was like. I am so sorry this happened to you.

That's not enough though, is it? A year hasn't even passed and you have decided that you should be "...entitled to go through her possessions..." .


Idiot. I see I have to spell this out for you.

NO. You do NOT have the right to bang on the door of the grieving parents and demand to root through your dead friend's things, taking back all of the gifts you gave her. They're gifts, dippy. They stopped being yours the instant you handed them to her. What about that confuses you?

NO. Telling them that their dead daughter borrowed a book from you and you want it back now is NOT acceptable behavior. I suspect that you're trying to make this the excuse you want for pounding on the door of her grieving parents so that you can dig around in your dead friend's things.


There is no universe where anything you propose to do is acceptable. You were a friend. You are not a parent. You are not a spouse.

Geez, where in blazes did you learn your manners? You gormless twit, you have no business intruding on your friend's parents UNLESS they invite you. Since they haven't done that yet, I'm guessing that you're the last person they want to see right now.

What? You're surprised that they might not want to see you? Or do you want to look in their eyes and see the wish that you were the one that died? They can't help that, you know. It's going to run through their minds. They'll be asking themselves what YOU could have done to stop the accident from happening.

Could you have stopped their daughter from getting behind the wheel if she was drinking? Could you have been the momentary distraction that killed their little girl? Was it your music that was on so loud that their daughter didn't hear the honking horn that would have saved their life?

Leave these people alone. You have mementos enough.

4. Well, aren't you special? Oh wait....none of this is about you. So help me out, why is it that you're offended when people hug your husband and thank him for his military service again?


Now pay attention. You know that your husband lost his leg after he left the military. He knows that, too. Yes, it's also incredibly rude that strangers make the assumption that the events were reversed. I've got all that.

So why are YOU writing this letter? I didn't see anywhere that your husband finds it upsetting. Is he even offended, or do you just not want people manhandling your husband, including little old veterans?

I will grant you that having strangers walk up and talk to you is unutterably rude. On the few occasions this has happened to me, I'm hard pressed to step back without slapping their hands or something. The words "piss off, weirdo" come unbidden to my lips and I have to bite my tongue to keep them from popping out.

So. Tell your husband that this creeps you out. Perfect the blank stare, the "deafness" to the cries of the intrusive, the art of not stopping for them. Own your sidewalk. Don't step aside.

Then just...deal. If your HUSBAND has a problem with this, then HE should write to the Internet lady for advice. You don't have a dog in this fight.


  1. Thank you for pointing out the weirdness of LW4 being the wife. I intended to mention that myself, but after planning to knock this week's batch off in one hour and finding it uncompleted past the six hour mark (at least there were interruptions), I just sprinted as soon as I caught sight of the finish line.

    It's a pity LW2 didn't consult you before the divorce; that barn door might just have been closed before the horse left. Why a bitter custody fight over a 15-year-old, who would seem quite capable of expressing his own preference and being given considerable weight in the decision? What a depressing situation. It's almost reminiscent of *The Lion in Winter* with Eleanor and Henry blaming each other for how the princes turned out, only this one might have had the full benefit of parental indoctrination on both sides for long enough to make reparation lengthy and painstaking if not impossible.

  2. If the fight was only over custody, it would have been over in 15 minutes. This was about money. I get the impression that the LWs ex is one of the guys that seems to think raising children is free and all of the support money is somehow benefiting the mother.

    He got pissy because he lost and decided to take it out on his kid. What a prince.

    As for the kid. At fifteen, none of us had a brain, so what he wants is probably not what's right for him. Not to mention the fact that, as happens so often, if he DID declare that he wanted to live with dear old Dad, he'd find out that Dad doesn't a full time teenager on his hands.

    I've seen it many times. It's never pretty.

  3. My thought on LW#2 is that the divorce could have been years ago, actually! The LW only says that "Several months ago, following a fight about child support" her husband said these things. So, the boy could have been two when the divorce happened. Not to say that changes (or should change) the advice, necessarily, but, it's an important point in this discussion, yeah?

    Good stuff, Messy. :-)

  4. You're right about the length of time following the divorce. I suspect it was awhile ago. And yes, the kid is going through a rough time. The mother needs to figure out how much of his attitude is just surly teen and how much he really believes.

  5. Or goaded him into saying, or just made up wholesale. Two parents who hate each other at a particularly vulnerable time? ready prey for any 15-year-old worthy of the title. And LW2 does appear easily manipulated.

    I'd hope the divorce wasn't too long ago - it just makes both parties look worse more likely than not. True, it could all be coming from one side, but even then so many Injured Innocents are champion button-pushers that it's nearly the same thing. Maybe the kid could go live with a decent aunt if he has one. Bleah.

  6. Messy, good to read common sense spiked with a bit of humor!

    PS: I want that truck.

  7. Kati - There are dozens of trucks like that. We went wandering in Paris, got ourselves well and truly lost and found a wonderful market. The trucks were parked all over the place. They belong to the farmers and merchants.

    I don't know if they hire people to do the graffiti or just figure that if they do a good job they'll let it stand. It's very cool, though.

  8. In most states, once kids are a certain age, they can tell the judge who they want to ive with, and that's that.

    However, both sides can get pissy when it comes to the money. I worked with a woman with a son and a step-son who were the same age. She could say, with a straight face and in the same breath, "That %^&&* ex-wife of my husband's should know we can't afford that much for child support!" and "I told my %^&&* ex I didn't care if they can afford to pay more or not; this is for his SON!"

  9. CoolOne - I find that I can always depend on stupid people to be stupid. This child support crap just makes me see red. I always feel like smacking heads together and tying someone to a chair until they see sense.

    The ones that don't feel like paying (and yes, it's sexist of me, but that's mostly men) never seem to think about the KIDS in the equation, do they? It's always about them.

    Bah! To The Rock with them all!