I’ve always thought it would be fun to write an advice column. You get to tell everyone what you think, good or bad, AND get paid for it! You also get to see inside the lives of others.

I grew up in the days of ‘Dear Abby’ and ‘Ann Landers’, two sisters who each wrote advice columns for rival newspapers. I enjoyed reading them when I was young but maturity gave me a very different perspective on the questions posed by those who wrote in. Actually, I started to question their intelligence because it seemed that most of the questions were (how can I put this diplomatically?) really stupid, and the common denominator of all queries was a complete lack of common sense. For example;

A woman wrote asking what to do about the numerous fruit flies hovering over her fruit bowl. It was signed ‘Fruitless, in Iowa’. She was told to put bowls of vinegar on her table and counter, covered with plastic wrap. Puncturing holes into the wrap would allow the flies to go into the bowl (apparently they’re attracted to vinegar) from which they could not escape, so they would drown in the vinegar and presto problem solved!  Really? How about just eating the fruit, or putting it in the fridge so the flies have no reason to come? The advisor should’ve gone on to tell this woman not to use said vinegar for any future cooking cause odds are pretty good she’d be dumb enough to do it, dead bugs and all.

A first time mother wrote in frantic that her baby was refusing to eat. She advised that her pediatrician suggested she start her baby on vegetables, so she did, breakfast, lunch and dinner, all the baby got was pureed squash, and by day 3 the child refused to eat any more. It was signed ‘Desperate Mommy, in London ON’. The Advisor politely clarified that perhaps the pediatrician intended for the mother to ‘introduce’ vegetables in small amounts with the child’s regular meals, and went on to suggest that it was unlikely that the doctor intended her to feed the baby ONLY vegetables, excluding all other foods. No, duh, really? She had to write to an advice columnist to see this? Not only did this one schmeck of sheer idiocy, there is a serious lack of maternal instinct here (how’d a dope like this even get pregnant?) I guess if we see an orange kid wandering around in the playground we’ll know she still didn’t get it.

A common topic in advice columns is relationships. The guy whose long term girlfriend dumped him for his best friend wrote in asking for advice on ‘how to win her back’ and was signed simply, ‘Loves Loser, Red Deer Alberta’. The advisor coached him on a number of ways to ‘communicate with her’ so they could ‘explore their feelings for each other’ to see if the relationship could, or should, be salvaged. Seriously? What’s to salvage here? I think she made it pretty clear what her feelings for him are! Get outta Dodge pal. Run fast, run far, and thank your lucky starts that she’s out of your life! Oh, and find a new best friend!

I guess I see things as black and white; for every problem there is a rational, sensible solution, and I don’t have the patience for the complete lack of common sense displayed by so many. Is it that they’re blinded by the emotion of the situation, or are there really that many stupid people out there? I suppose posing questions to an advice columnist offers anonymity, so there is the safety that their identity will remain unknown, and it’s a good thing too, cause for  ‘Fruitless’, ‘Desperate Mommy’, and ‘Loves Loser’, (aka Brainless, Senseless, and Lucky-Loser), being unknown is a blessing they’ve yet to realize.

At some time we all need to ask for advice, and I’d venture to say we’re all guilty of asking stupid questions periodically. It just seems that the number of really stupid ones greatly outweighs the rational ones, or at least those are the ones most likely to be published. Maybe it’s for entertainment; you know, get a rise out of the reader. Or maybe, just maybe, these are legitimate people with legitimate issues………. and no brain.

Guess I’ll shelve any career aspirations I have for becoming an advice columnist. Sign me,

‘Stunned by stupidity’ in Nova Scotia

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One thought on “The Advice Column

  1. I agree Emily but still find myself compulsively reading advice columns. Maybe I just like to know that people have problems way more superficial than mine!!


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