I have always been interested in writing an advice column, because I like to propagate my opinions and it’s much more fun to talk about other people’s problems than to put your own ass in the spotlight.
Unfortunately it’s very difficult to get people to write for you for general life advice, and I really don’t have the life experience to be giving people advice because they’ve gone through shit I haven’t. When a fella talks about stuff he doesn’t know about to someone who already knows more about it than he does, it goes by the name of “mansplaining,” and I’m doing it right now to some of you who this better than I do.
Luckily there’s a group of people who know even less about life than I do: even younger cisgender heterosexual men, and luckily a lot of these guys wrote in to an advice column that my mom tried to get me to read when I was growing up. I dug up some old columns from the late 90s and answered some questions, using my vast experience as a man and a fool to explain stuff to ‘em from the future.
The column went by the name of “Tell Me About It: Advice for the Under 30 Crowd,” and it was written by Carolyn Hax and ran in the Washington Post (which at the time wasn’t owned by a hundred-billionaire best known for innovations in exploitative labor). She already had pretty good answers, to be fair, but if this wasn’t an unnecessary additional opinion it wouldn’t be…
First Addition [sic]
I am a 21-year-old man, and I just graduated from college and moved to start a new job. Accordingly, I know very few people in town. I don't drink (hate the taste), smoke (cough and get headaches at the scent), like loud music (prefer to talk without screaming) or believe in God. The impression I've gotten recently is this combination does not bode well for meeting women, since it rules out bars, dance clubs and churches. I have tried bookstores, and never fail to get the sense that I am the only one looking for anything other than books. I spent an evening at the local ballroom dancing club and met wonderful, interesting, married 50-year-old women.
I know I am worth meeting -- no weak ego here. Nor am I a prude. But I'm running out of ideas. Is there some avenue I've missed but is obvious to the hordes of nonsmoking women who like to talk instead of bellow over the bass? -- A.G.
First, don’t call me dear. You don’t know me. Second, don’t call me Carolyn. Not my name.
To answer your question, is there some avenue you’ve missed but is obvious to the hordes of nonsmoking women who like to talk instead of bellow over the bass?
But I don’t care about your problem, man. Women are not hard to meet. They’re about half of the people and most of them aren’t in bars, dance clubs, cigar clubs? (where do you need to smoke to meet people?), and churches most of the time. Live your life and there will be some women in it and you’ll meet them. If they want to date you they’ll probably find a way to let you know, and all you have to do is not ignore more than three very clear signals in a row. I’m not worried about this for you. It happens to me because I doubt myself constantly with dating, whereas you openly describe yourself as “worth meeting.” Nobody’s worth meeting, dude, it’s a hassle, sometimes people need to do it for whatever reason but usually they’re just trying to chill, which is why they gather in “hordes” that you can’t find probably. You need to be less confident and set fewer goals.
Anyway, since you say you’re “running out of ideas,” here’s an idea: go fuck yourself. Literally, just take care of that need on your own until someone else wants to get involved. I don’t like you and I don’t like the idea of you getting laid but you’re probably capable of being a decent enough person to be of use to someone, so I won’t tell you it won’t happen, just that I don’t care. It’s 1998 and there’s gonna be some technology coming down the way that makes it easier to meet people to date but it doesn’t really solve any of the essential problems so don’t even worry about it.
Do you have any advice for a guy who is never taken seriously because he is supposedly "too nice"? I'm 27, have a lot of friends, a good job, and I have been told I look like Jim Carrey, though I'm not sure if that's good or not. I know I have my bad points, but I don't think being nice should be one of them. Especially when the women who say that to me still want to be friends, and end up talking to me about how badly the guys they're going out with treat them. -- Confused (a lot!) in Va.
First, are you sure they’re saying “Jim Carrey” and not “Jim Carey”? You’re in the D.C. area and it’s 1997, Jim Carey is the star goalie of the Capitals, and he (a) has a unibrow and (b) wears a goalie mask most of the time you see him, but he’s probably in good shape on account of being a professional athlete so I dunno you’re probably fine.
Left to right: Jim Carey, Jim Carrey, Jim Carey in a mask, Jim Carrey in The Mask
Anyway, there’s a whole dissection of the “nice guy” phenomenon that’ll unfold over the next couple decades, so watch out for that but it’s not my spiel really. My take is just that being nice can be good or bad, but if you’re “too nice” maybe they mean you’re doing it in the bad way. Focus on being kind - thinking about what people are going through, doing things that are good and helpful - but not on placating people. Figure out what you stand for, stand for it, and accept that people will or won’t like you. If what you stand for is genuinely bad, notice that and change it. Probably if you’re “too nice” it means what you stand for isn’t really clear.
This isn’t all about you getting laid. Nothing is about you getting laid, nobody cares about that except you, and by the way it’s fine to have friends you don’t fuck, I’d venture to guess you never fucked most of your guy friends and you feel fine about it, so get used to it.
No, not being too nice is about Nazis. Believe it or not, there will be a big uprising of Nazis a couple decades from now and people will be too nice to them and they’ll get a Nazi-sympathizing president who many people will be too nice to, and the president will openly complain about people being “not nice” to him, which will be bullshit because niceness to him is a deep unkindness to the millions of people crushed beneath the wheel of his authoritarian regime, and he’ll wield these complaints about niceness like a weapon to fend off his resistance and it will work on a lot of nice people.
Around the time I’m writing to you, a nice guy who sang a nice song about bombing a whole country of people will die, and people will mention the times he was slightly mean to the nice-to-Nazis president, but much more often he was too nice to stop him. The nice people on the news will be sickeningly nice to the nice guy who died, and a nice guy who started two wars will give a nice piece of candy to… anyway, we need more people to be mean to the Nazis and their friends, so work on toning down the niceness, but stay kind.
That your friends are into “guys who treat them badly” is a whole different problem and a whole different conversation, and people will psychologize the people who go out with these guys all sorts of different ways, but here’s the root of it I think: guys who treat them badly. That’s the problem, really, and there’s not gonna be a good solution other than making fewer of those, so focus on preventing that rather than policing the reactions.
I'm dating a woman who, every time we go out, orders way more food than she can possibly eat and then gets a doggie bag. I hope I'm not out of line here, but am I responsible for feeding her for an entire week after the date? Saturday after an appetizer, which she didn't finish, she takes one bite out of her main course and says she can't eat any more. I felt like saying, good, more for me--I'm going to take that home this time. It's really starting to bother me. How do I tell her gently, "Order what you want, but eat what you order"?
Hey pal, you’re not responsible for feeding her at all. That’s a decision you made, to go on a dinner date. Maybe she’s finessing you, but you gotta either love it or leave her.
I kind of love it though. Always, always stretch restaurant visits meals into multiple meals if you get the chance. This world ain’t cheap, and sometimes if you eat your whole meal just to finish it, you’ll still be just as hungry come next mealtime anyway, whereas if you stash it away, that staves off having to buy another meal.
One thing I’d recommend, whether or not you stay with her, is to find out who has more money than you do and finesse them for food, especially if “they” are a company owned by mega-capitalists. One time I worked at a startup that gave us a budget for ordering delivery for lunch so that we’d eat in the office instead of leaving, and the budget was often about $10 more than my lunch cost. Did I leave that money on the table? No, every single day I maxed it out, usually ordering dinner for later. The company had more money than I did, I knew this wouldn’t last forever, and the money I wasn’t spending then would help me stretch a budget when I was unemployed later.
If these kind of things aren’t worries for you and you have a good cashflow situation, keep feeding her, so even if it doesn’t work out you helped somebody get by. Warning, though: there’s two recessions coming up in the next decade, so take full advantage of all those sweet late ‘90s benefits at your job while you have the chance.
I am 30 and my wife is 26, and we have been married less than one year. I feel that the romance in our relationship is one-sided. I often write my wife love notes or e-mail to let her know I am thinking about her. I buy her flowers or a gift when I see something I think she would like.
The thing is, if I send her a note, sometimes I don't even know if she has read it. And if she does say something, it is usually in passing, like, "Thanks, that was nice. What's on TV?" I would love just once to receive a love note or flowers from her. I have asked her about it, and she just said, "Sorry, but I am not good at that stuff." What is there to be good at?
Men Like Flowers, Too!
First, if you’re gonna call me Carolyn, how about a “dear”? Aren’t you supposed to be some kind of romantic?
Second, yeah, there’s a whole conversation to be had about romantic orientation and personal expressive styles and all that, but I don’t want to get into this with you, the whole thing still raises a lot of hackles in 2018, so why don’t you ask Carolyn?
Third, in about ten years you’re going to experience the rise of a musical artist named Drake, and you’ll probably love him. But do your wife a favor, if you’re still married to her at the time, and don’t listen to his whiny drivel in the house. If you truly love her, make her some popcorn and tell her to wait for a track by Pusha T. It’ll be worth it.