March 12, 2007

Another Round with Uncle Millie

It's time once again for "America's most beloved romantic advice columnist" (according to loyal reader Papa Shaft, whose employer might want to run a random drug screening on him, just in case). Personally, I think this blurb is more fitting:

"Well, he is different..." -Loyal Reader PG

At any rate, Uncle Millie is coming to us from Guadalajara once again. He tells me that his favorite things about his new home are "wine, women and song. And definitely in that order." He reports that, by week's end, he may actually make it off the barstool he's been slumped on for the last month or so. If he does, he's not certain where he'll wind up next. Probably the floor, if history is any indication.

But it's romantic advice you came for, and it's romantic advice you shall have. Take it away, Uncle Millie!

- - - - -

If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don't Want To Be Right - And If Having a One-Night Stand With You Is Also Wrong, I Definitely Don't Want To Be Right, by Uncle Millie

Hello, lads! It's another tequila sunrise here in sunny Mexico, to be followed in a few hours by a tequila sunset, with several tequila sun-in-the-skys in between. Speaking of sunrises and sunsets, I'm told that Daylight Savings Time has begun in the United States. This has caused some confusion for people and computers alike, as it seems that no one really knows what time it is. This has never been a concern for Uncle Millie, since I never know what time it is, at least not since I lost my watch in that poker game back in San Francisco. Or possibly San Diego. Or perhaps it was San Jose. Anyhow, I am certain it was in California. Or Canada. Nonetheless, I find that not knowing the time is a good life philosophy. No one expects you to keep appointments that way. And I find that strict timekeeping is usually associated with things I want no part of anyhow, such as steady jobs and court dates. Better by far to establish a pattern of unreliability, and prevent people from forming any expectations of you whatsoever.

Despite my apparent high spirits, I must confess that all is not well with Uncle Millie. I am somewhat homesick for the old U.S. of A. Although I am enjoying my Mexican sojourn a great deal, to be certain, I find that as the weeks wear on, I am missing some of the comforts of home. For instance, Irish whiskey. This cantina had only one bottle of halfway-decent Irish whiskey, and of course I consumed that many weeks ago. Man does not live by tequila alone! I shall have to arrange a pigrimage back to my native land, assuming that I can figure out a way to evade the border-control authorities, whom I understand are holding some sort of warrant for my arrest.

Let's take a look at our first letter.

Dear Uncle Millie,

Do you think friends can become lovers? I've been friends with "Megan" since college. We've always gotten along great; we have a ton of interests in common, and we can talk for hours about whatever.

Recently, I realized that I have feelings for her. I guess I'd never really thought about it before, because she was always like "one of the guys" to me. But we understand each other a lot better than any of the women I've dated. Plus, she's not bad-looking, either.

She and I have dated other people on and off since college, but right now, we're both not seeing anyone. I want to tell her how I feel, but I'm afraid she won't feel the same, and I'll lose one of my best friends. What should I do?

James in Scranton

Now, lad, Uncle Millie is all in favor of having women as friends. Give me a lass who can hold her liquor and knows her way around a bawdy joke, and we can be boon companions for a lifetime. Women are wonderful, and they can make fine friends, provided that they aren't going to spill the beans regarding your romantic escapades to your significant other, which all too many women are sadly inclined to do.

But let's be honest here, lad. You "just" discovered your feelings for her? You need not attempt to deceive your Uncle Millie, lad. I know how it is. I know that you've been trying to figure out a way into her pants since you first met her. There is no shame in this, lad; it's your biological programming at work.

Now, it seems, you wish to become more serious about this lass. You enjoy her company, and she's not hideously ugly. (You and I both know that "not bad-looking" means that she's a dog, but again, lad, there is no shame in that. Uncle Millie has enjoyed the company of many women whom I would not necessarily wish to see in a beauty pageant, or even to see in broad daylight, but I feel no shame. A friendly disposition and a willingness to make love cover a multitude of sins.)

Nonetheless, you're cautious about this, and you're right to be so, in my opinion. Is it worth risking a close and treasured long-term friendship for the sake of a little cheap sex? Of course it is. But consider this: if all goes well, she'll want to be your "steady" ladyfriend, which is fraught with risk. For one thing, it limits your options should a more attractive woman catch your eye. For another, it could be a financial disaster for you. Say goodbye to those Dutch-treat dinners out. Once you're "going steady," she'll expect you to pay for those, as well as the flowers, candy, jewelry, etc. that are part and parcel of relationship maintenance. You're taking a big risk here, lad.

Fortunately, our young people have devised a simple and elegant solution to this dilemma: the concept of "hooking up" or "friends with benefits." In case you aren't familiar, the idea is that you would remain friends as you are now, except now you can jump one another's bones whenever you desire. You did not specify your age, but your reference to college makes we think that you are a young man, or at least youngish. If my surmise is accurate, then you should be able to convince "Megan" of the virtues of the "friends with benefits" plan with a minimum of fuss, unless she fancies herself a "high-class" (read: "high-maintenance") woman, in which case she would be more trouble than she's worth, anyhow.

The "friends with benefits" concept allows you to enjoy the best parts of a romantic relationship (mind-blowing sex) while retaining the best of your current friendship (good conversation, she pays her own way, no commitment). Of course, this route is not entirely without risk; it may turn out that she is disappointing in the boudoir, and then you'll have to get rid of her anyhow. But at least this way, you won't have to waste your hard-earned money in the bargain.

Dear Uncle Millie,

About three months ago, I met a young woman at a business conference, and we hit it off. "Cheryl" is extremely attractive, charming, and fun-loving. She works in another city, but close enough that we are able to get together a couple of times a month, which we do, and we converse by phone and e-mail when we're apart.

Over time, the realization has dawned on me that Cheryl is not particularly bright. I mentioned the League of Nations, and she asked if it had something to do with World Cup soccer. I asked for her thoughts on Kim Jong-Il, and she asked if she was a contestant on "American Idol." I like to keep abreast of current events (a category which does not, as she believes, include finding out the real father of Anna Nicole Smith's child), and enjoy such cultural events as symphonic music and opera (her idea of opera is "Grease"). Her lack of education has become a serious impediment to our conversations.

Still, she is a breath of fresh air, and I must say that she is a most flexible and imaginative lover. I certainly don't envision marrying her, which is fine. But she can't even keep a conversation going for more than five minutes unless it involves beauty products or the debauched comings and goings of recently-disgraced entertainers. Do you think she's worth the trouble?

Symphony Sid in New York

Well then, you're a bit of a snob, aren't you, lad? It's pretty clear to me that you do not in the least deserve this fine lass. If you have to ask Uncle Millie if "Cheryl" is smart enough to be your Friday-night fling, you are almost certainly beyond help. Nonethless, I live to serve, and so I will attempt to help see the error of your ways.

If you purchased a slinky Italian sports car that can go from 0-to-60 in the blink of an eye and clings to the road like Uncle Millie to a coed's bosom, would you complain that it had insufficient space for your family's luggage? If you owned a Derby-winning throughbred racehorse, would you complain that it did a poor job plowing the fields? Of course not; a sports car is not a family sedan, and a racehorse is not a plowhorse. So why in God's name would you criticize a fine lover for not being intelligent?

Despite the claims of certain digruntled female readers, Uncle Millie is not opposed to intelligence in women. I think it's perfectly fine in its place. But when considering the attributes most desirable in a potential lady love, intelligence is far, far down the list, if it is there at all. After all, the intelligent women are more likely to see through your subterfuges, and to play private detective with your private life (see my remark about "Sherlock Holmes in a skirt" from my last column), which is a real nuisance. You've found the perfect lover, and you want to throw her away! Oh, lad, lad, lad.

If she is a "flexible and imaginative lover," as you say, treat her as the treasure she is, rather than dwelling on her perceived shortcomings. So what if she does not know about the League of Nations or Kim Jong-Il (two things which Uncle Millie also knows nothing about)? So what if she is unduly fascinated by the goings-on in Hollywood (as so many lasses are)? If these conversations are so painful to you, simply limit your availability by phone and electronic means. Surely you can endure some addle-pated conversation a night or two per week in exchange for spectacular lovemaking.

Better yet, if her lack of intelligence is simply too much for you to bear, point her in the direction of Uncle Millie. I'd certainly know what to do with her, and I assure you that it would not involve giving her current-events quizzes or dragging her off to some dreadful opera.

Dear Uncle Millie,

I know you're a busy man, so I'll give you the situation in a nutshell: I've been married for 5 years. My wife and I have gotten along pretty well so far, but she's decided she wants a kid. I don't. She knows this. I thought she didn't want kids either, but apparently, she's had a change of heart. How do we deal with this?

Mitch in Emmittsburg

That's women for you, lad. The old bait-and-switch. While you're dating, she'll pretend to agree with whatever you want, but once she's got you in her clutches, out come the demands for what she always wanted but didn't dare say, for fear of chasing you off. Now she wants children. She wants a fancy house. She wants you to come home from the bar before closing time. She wants - perish the thought - monogamy. They'll do it to you every time, lad. At least three of my marriages ended because of precisely this.

Now, Uncle Millie happens to be fond of children. I have at least ten or eleven very special children (possibly more, if the DNA tests establish a definite match), and I cherish them all. I have regular contact with at least half of them, and I would be in touch with more, were it not for those pesky restraining orders files by their vindictive mothers. Even though my wallet is much, much emptier for their presence, my heart is much fuller, which almost makes up for it.

Now, there are pitfalls to beware of with children, besides the obvious financial one. For instance, your wife is unlikely to want to make love during the later stages of her pregnancy, and after the child is born, she's likely to be so tired that romance will be the last thing on her mind. But if you've got a trustworthy mistress lined up - and do have one, right? - this should not be a problem for you. Fortunately, your wife will be too exhausted to track your extracurricular activities.

Worse yet, lasses today are fixated on the concept of "equal parenting." In Uncle Millie's salad days, it was the woman's duty to handle child-rearing, while the man's duty involved such things as financial support and discipline. This was a fine arrangement for everyone involved. Nowadays, though, everything's gone topsy-turvy: women expect their men to be equal partners in parenting! I've never heard something so absurd in all my life. If God wanted men to raise children, He would have given us child-bearing hips.

At any rate, your wife may be expecting you to share equally in the raising of this child. In fact, I suspect this may be at the heart of your reluctance regarding children. If so, lad, you have the right of it. I suggest that you present your wife with the following offer: You will agree to have children, provided that she is willing to agree to the old-fashioned distribution of labor, wherein you bring home the bacon, and she cooks it for dinner. She will likely balk at this, at which point you can say, "But I thought you wanted children." At that point, the decision is up to her, but either way, you can't lose: either she abandons the idea of children, or you will not be stuck raising them. It's a win-win situation.

And now, lads, I must away. They are playing my song (that song, of course, being "One Bourbon, One Shot, One Beer"), and I feel like dancing. Assuming I can get my legs to work. Happy hunting!

Posted by Mediocre Fred at March 12, 2007 10:57 AM | TrackBack

It's a win-win situation.

I fear this assessment reflects Uncle Millie's oldfashioned, pre-DINK outlook. If Mitch had assumed that he was marrying a woman who also would be an earner, then having her not only stop contributing to household income, but add to the burdens on it by producing children, getting out of helping with raising those children may not be much help. After all, I doubt Mitch would be pleased if his wife currently had a wage earning job and stopped doing it simply to enjoy more leisure time. If he doesn't want children, he'll probably look upon them as his wife's hobby.

Actually, that raises a question for me to ask Uncle Millie: assuming that he's occasionally been the sole wage-earner while his spouse has been responsible for domestic duties, what is the proper attitude to have toward money in that situation? should the money be considered equally the possession of both spouses, with each having equal discretion (or lack thereof) over its expenditure? does it belong in proportion to the amount of work one does? or to the amount of only market work one does (which would make the sole wage earner the sole proprietor)?

Posted by: PG at March 12, 2007 10:35 PM

PG, I'll forward your comment to Uncle Millie, so that he can reply to you in his next column. I'd ask him to reply immediately, but that would require him to be coherent enough for speech on two consecutive days, which seems unlikely.

Posted by: Mediocre Fred at March 13, 2007 06:56 AM

Another winner!

Judging from his past performance, I'd expect that Uncle Millie will be able to fully answer PG's questions sometime around 2012. If his liver holds out.

Posted by: PapaShaft at March 14, 2007 12:15 PM
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