Can you settle a bet for me? I say that it’s OK to load the dishwasher with different-size plates next to each other, but my mom says that I’ll never find my own apartment or produce grandchildren. My driving privileges are on the line—which one of us is right?
Perry in Peril
Dear Perry in Peril,
What you have asked is technically a “non-question,” because the very notion of doing dishes is flawed. When possible, dishes should be tossed out a window. I know my answer isn’t very “green,” but the time saved will let you make a much bigger impact in your community.
On a separate issue, if your mother has told you that grandchildren are in some way produced by using a dishwasher, she is lying.
I drive a 1997 Honda Civic with 178,000 miles on it. Lately, it’s been making an odd noise and vibrating wildly whenever I apply the brake at highway speeds. Because the car is stolen, I’m reluctant to take it to an authorized mechanic. Does this sound like a serious problem, or can I afford to ignore it for a while?
It sounds like something is wrong with your transmission. You need to get it checked out right away. How am I so sure even though I’ve never owned a car? Because I own something a little more useful than knowledge—I own confidence. Go to the mechanic. Be careful, though. If the mechanic calls the police, you’ll have only about ten minutes to run away. How will you know if he’s called the police? He’ll try to stall you with questions and tasks like “Want to write a play with me right now?,” “Let’s watch the movie Dune,” or “How do the pieces in chess move again?” It’ll be obvious.
My sister has always had a real zest for life, but lately I’ve noticed that she seems to be drinking more than usual. I’m also not thrilled with the guys she’s been “dating”. How can I approach her about this without sounding like an uptight, repressed spinster?
First of all, thank you for giving me the opportunity to write “Dear Prudence.” It was really fun. You have the age-old problem of a slightly drunk sister throwing her body a party and inviting, indiscriminately, guys she met at a flea market and several bassists. Often people have to realize on their own that they’re making mistakes (Robert Downey Jr. and Amy Winehouse are just two examples). Still, you can accelerate the process. Fill your sister’s pillow with thousands of pieces of paper that say “You’re making a mistake” and “You need to cut down on drinking.” When she brings some dude home, they’ll lie down and be like, “these pillows feel weird.” Once they look inside and find all the notes, they’ll be like, “Your sister really loves you. We shouldn’t be doing this.” You can also handcuff her to a golden retriever. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried drinking or making out while handcuffed to a dog, but I bet it’s near impossible.
I’m a middle school student and I’m not very athletic. This is a problem because most of the other kids are, and they always play basketball together at recess. I want to play, too, but I’m afraid I won’t be good enough. What if they laugh at me for the rest of the year?
Ball’s in My Court
Dear Ball’s in My Court,
Oh my god! You are afraid of the wrong thing! What if they laugh at you for the rest of the year? No, that’s not what you should worry about. What if they laugh at you for the next five years? What happens if that leads you to never believe in yourself? What if you seek solace in drugs, or worse, community theater? You can’t allow that to happen. You have to overcome your fear of being laughed at and develop an insurmountable self-confidence. How? Not by turning to whiskey — that’s what weak tweens do, and you’re strong. You need a three-pronged approach: 1) Start playing basketball somewhere alone for two hours a day for at least one day, but more like a month. 2) Pick two other things to become not just good at, but great at. A few options: backgammon, karate, computers or pre-marital sex (JK — don’t do it). 3) Absorb the following knowledge: sports are one of the most important things at your age, but exponentially decrease in importance after high school — just ask Mick Jagger or Janet Reno — plus at around 28 everyone becomes overweight and sluggish, and the most important things become happiness, money, and having (or being) a pretty wife who smiles really well (and doesn’t let on that everything is awful).
My friend Andrew is experiencing a renaissance after a relative nadir in his love life. I want to buy him a gift that says “Yeah, dude. You’re doing it. Be safe.” What would you suggest?
San Francisco, CA
P.S. He is a box turtle.
Well, obviously you don’t need to get him condoms or anything like that. My guess is he already has an iPod. You should build him a turtle-sized modern home with glass walls, a steam shower, hot tub, and lettuce room — basically Howard Roark the place. A classy turtle is a happy turtle.
P.S. If the reason your friend is experiencing a renaissance in his love life is because you bought another turtle and put her in his cage, then you are no better than Indian parents that make their daughter marry some rich family’s son in exchange for horses and weird drums. I know, why end this with a confused, ethnically charged remark? So you start seeing turtles like I do — as pawns in a cultural war.