Ask the Love Shark

Bitten by hopeless infatuation?  Hungry for red-blooded romance?  Ask Love Shark for help–summer’s over, things are kind of slow.


Dear Love Shark:

I am head cheerleader at Grain Valley Consolidated Regional High School (Go Polecats!)  On Saturdays when there isn’t a game to cheer for, or if there’s no money in the budget for an extra bus for a “road” game, I like to “hang” with the other five girls on the squad.  We have fun together because we are popular.

My problem is this: There is this girl “Wenda” who did not make cheerleader and so is just part of the “Pep Club.”  They get uniforms that they wear to the games but they sit in the stands and repeat the cheers we tell them to.  So they are sort of a subordinate form of life, less evolved or something I don’t know, I’m already behind in biology.

Anyway, “Wenda”–which is her real name, but I thought I better use quotes in case she’s reading this–tags along after us yelling “Hey, where are you guys going, can I come too?”  It is really annoying and doesn’t help our image as the coolest girls in school.  Also, it’s kind of, you know, ghoulish.  I think she wants one of us to break an ankle so she can rush on the court or the field or whatever saying “Don’t worry–I know all the cheers!”  That would be a disaster as she is kind of fugly.

Any assistance you can provide would be great.

Amanda Fuller, Osawatomie, Kansas

“Go away, you losers!”


Dear Amanda–

You come to right place, Love Shark know how you feel!  Love Shark constantly surrounded by pilot fish looking to eat scraps off me, host species.   While no one should be rude to a member of another species due to goo-goo high school “inclusiveness” codes, you can establish a “symbiotic” relationship with Wenda like I do with pilot fish.  Say “Here Wenda, take the burnt French fries I don’t want and in exchange I’ll let you write a book report for me!”

His inflatable inamorata.


Hey Mr. Love Shark–

I read your column religiously but don’t think you’ve answered this question before.  I took my inflatable love doll “Suzie” to the beach the day after Labor Day–she is my “sweet substitute” until I can find “Miss Right.”

We went into the water to cool off, and to my surprise a shark attacked Suzie, puncturing her leg.  She lost air rapidly, and was pronounced “Dead on Arrival” when we reached St. Bridget of the Surf Hospital in Hyannis.

I don’t like to hold a grudge against an entire species, but I feel I am entitled to damages of some sort, either a refund for the summer cottage I rented–at the off-season rate, I might add–or a mail-in rebate or something.

Sending this to you because I tried the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and they just said “Tough yupkas–nature rules!”

E.G. “Ted” Swarth, Buzzards Bay, Mass.

Dear Ted:

I’m sorry, but you should have read the disclaimer which is posted at all Cape Cod beaches from Memorial Day to Labor Day: “Not responsible for lost limbs, flotation devices or girlfriends, natural or artificial.  No dogs, no fires, no alcohol.”

My suggestion would be that you check your homeowner’s insurance policy and see if it covers damage or destruction of personal property.  Be sure to include gory pictures of “Suzie” when you file your claim.


Dear Love Shark:

Over Christmas I proposed to my girlfriend Noreen, whose dad owns a truck body company as well as an A&W Root Beer franchise.  I mention these businesses to let you know I am not just “head over heels” in love, I am also very practical and want to make sure her parents can provide for her in the style to which she’s become accustomed.

Anyway, Noreen turned me down and not too nicely I might add.  “Oh Claude, it is just so klee-shay to propose at Christmas, that’s not very original,” she said as she handed me back the ring I had purchased at Furnwald’s, the only jewelry store left in town.

Mr. Love Shark, I have two questions for you if I may: One, what is a klee-shay, and two, do you recommend I carry a torch for Noreen or look elsewhere?


Bud Blankenship, St. Clair Township, Pennsylvania

“Do you have a cubic zirconium in a solitaire setting?”


Dear Bud:

You know Love Shark’s rule–you must keep moving or you will die.  For me, I breathe through my gills.  For you–judging by your letter–you probably breathe through your mouth, so forget about Noreen and find another daughter of a captain of industry who can offer you the kind of position that will likely elude you forever if you try to make it on your own.

As for your other question, a cliche is a small external parasite that lives off the blood of other animals, so this was actually a nice compliment!

“He bought me a drink, then he bit me.”


Dear Love Shark:

I was born without the “gift of gab” and get all “tongue-tied” when I see a girl I’d like to get to know.  This leads to embarrassment and rejection as I blurt out some stupid pick-up line instead of just being myself, which is what my mom encourages me to do.  The problem is that the “self” my mom is referring to is the one who keeps getting turned down, not the little boy she sees when she flips through old family photo albums.

Do you have any helpful “tips” you could give me about how to be more comfortable in social situations and not come on so strong?

Will wait to hear from you before going out again.

Charles O. Buchter, Braintree, Mass.


Dear Charles,

I used to have the same problem.  See cute surfer girl–blonde, friendly smile–the kind you just want to eat up.  So I would bite into her, then we would lie there in the water with nothing to say to each other, it was very awkward.

This is why I now prefer kayaking and paddle-boarding–they are very relaxed sports, not all rush-rush like surfing.  You cruise up from behind to your prey . . . I mean prospect . . . slowly position yourself underneath.  Then casually smile, say hello and let nature take its course.

If it happens, it happens.  If not, remember, there’s too many humans in the sea to get all mopey about one who screams and rejects you.

Be sure to remember to floss afterwards–you never want to offend the next “potential special someone” you approach with a gross limb stuck between your front teeth.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

Consuela Translates the Languages of Love

Dear Ones–

In olden times–much oldener than Consuela–lovers used secret languages to communicate in order to escape detection.  Thus in the XIX century, or maybe it was the XVIII, I don’t remember which, languid ladies used fans to send messages to their beaus.  Holding the fan on the right cheek meant “Yes,” holding it on the left meant “No,” to open and close it meant “You are cruel,” while pointing a closed fan at the mouth meant “You have some kind of goober between your teeth.”

Image result for spanish fan
Translation:  “You also have tuna breath.”


But fans are passé nowadays, leaving lovers adrift when they want to express themselves in a sub rosa manner, and believe me, Rosa is not happy about it.  How do you decipher the wordless missives that come your way from would-be lovers across a crowded room?  Ask Consuela to translate the silent languages of love!

Image result for colored paper clips

Dear Consuela–

I work in the accounts payable department of a large manufacturer of flanges and hasps.  I have noticed that our comptroller “Earl” who has a night M.B.A.–which he earned going to school for many years after work he is so diligent!–always sends me invoices fastened with a “candy striped” paper clip.  Enora Bothwell, the girl who sits at the next desk, receives her packet of payables with a plain metal clip, although she believes she is the “apple” of Earl’s eye.

I would be interested in learning the meaning of peppermint vs. metallic clips in today’s romantic marketplace.

Please respond to my home email, we are not supposed to converse electronically at work.

Mary Alice Grimmett, Ludlow, Mass.

Dearest Mary Alice–

Time to order material for bridesmaids’ dresses!  A striped paper clip sent by a man to a woman means he wants to “jump her bones,” and is willing to submit to a life of quiet desperation in an office cubicle to pay for it.  Show “Earl” you mean business by returning his file copies with a baby blue and white clip that says you’re his gal!

My dearest Consuela–

I am a sales trainee at Loudermilk Dairy Products, where we are forced to spend our Friday afternoons in boring meetings instead of leaving early during the summer like people with good jobs.  Recently I have noticed Floyd Moeglin from the finance department making a weird sign at me when Mike Radick, VP of Sales, turns his back to write on the white board.  He–Floyd, not Mike–will wave his hand up and down under his chin at me, then get this goofy grin on his face.

I looked on the internet for “weird hand signs” AND “mental illness” but didn’t find anything.

Claudia Rees, Hoxie, Arkansas

Image result for little rascals high sign

Dear Claudia–

You are one lucky gal!  “Floyd” is making the Little Rascals “high sign,” universally recognized as either an invitation to friendship or an expression of contempt comparable to a silent Bronx cheer.  I would proceed with cautious optimism in the hope that the former is the case and not the latter.  Since “Floyd” is a trifle infantile in his courtship techniques, perhaps invite him to a church ice cream social.




I have been going out with this guy “Duane” who has a rotating collection of rear view mirror ornaments–the tassel from his high school graduation “mortarboard,” one of those Little Trees “Royal Pine” air fresheners, a Kansas City Royals nylon web pet collar, etc.  Last Sunday night when I got in his car he had a woman’s lace garter hung up there, big as life.  I said “Where’d you get that?” and he said “Wouldn’t you like to know?”  We went back and forth like that for awhile, me asking a question, he “answering” with another question.  Finally I gave up and scooched over to my side of the car where I stayed for the whole drive-in movie, which was Return of Mothra, something he wanted to see but I didn’t.  At the end of the night he said “I didn’t know you were such a ‘chrome-polisher,’ the term in common use around here for a girl who won’t make out and clutches a car’s door handle the whole night.

Consuela, I have invested two months in this guy and want to make it clear I am not into an “open” relationship where he is allowed to festoon his car with female undergarments while I sit home checking for split ends.  Is he trying to “send a message” to me that he’s too much man for any one woman?



Naomi Whitestone, Camdenton MO

Still waters run deep.


Dear Naomi–

Since time immemorial the male of the species has struggled to express his feelings.  “Ug” the first caveman said to his date, and she no doubt asked herself “What did he mean by that?”

A man’s rear view mirror is an extension of his personality–assuming he has a personality–so you should not question the tacky decorating choices he makes with regard to this standard feature of most American-made cars.  I think the little cat-and-mouse/tit-for-tat game he was playing by answering your questions with another question is a good sign, however.  If he was dating somebody else he’d either lie to you or say “What garter belt?”

That said, the Standard Semiotics Directory of Non-Verbal Romantic Cues reports that a garter belt hanging on a rear-view mirror means the owner of the vehicle does not prefer panty hose, which are cumbersome to remove in tight places, if you get my drift.

Dear Consuela–

When a woman wears an “I’m With Stupid” t-shirt on a date with you I always assumed she was saying she was not receptive to overtures from other men.  I ask because this guy came up to my girlfriend Chloe when we stopped for fried clams at Jimbo’s Lobster Shack last night and apparently said “Why don’t you dump that egghead for me?” after I’d gone to the men’s room, fried food has that effect on me.

When I came back Chloe was batting her eyelashes at the guy trying to explain she was wearing the shirt ironically.  He apparently didn’t understand irony–all of his shirts were permanent press.

I got kind of mad at Chloe for leading the guy on, but she said she was doing that ironically.  I forgot to mention, she was an English major and so is into verbal wordplay and figurative speech.  I was a business major, then got my masters in business administration, and now am in business.  This summer I’m getting an executive M.B.A.

I don’t want to be a spoilsport but I also don’t want to spend the rest of my life with a woman who’s always pulling people’s legs, figuratively if not literally.  Is there some sort of mood ring or something I can use to tell when she’s being ironic?

Frazier Hollingsworth
Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts

High IQ babe.


Dear Frazier–

It sounds like you will have your hands full with this “off-the-wall” young woman.  Unfortunately, there are no hand-held devices to detect, much less ward off, the cheap cynicism with which many “liberal arts” majors are infected during their undergraduate days.  I would recommend that you dump Chloe like a hot rock and find a young woman more suited to your personality at a singles group for the literal-minded.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

Your Food Freshness Safety Advisor

Have a question about a multi-colored piece of cheese in the fridge?  Stomach rumbling from a heaping helping of leftover tuna noodle casserole?  Before you head for the bathroom, ask Your Food Freshness Safety Advisor for help!

Dear Food Freshness Safety Advisor:

Yesterday, I made a ham sandwich with two pieces of rye that I’d totally forgot about in the bread basket.  They had a little white and green mold on them which I scraped off before I ate it, I’m no dummy.

Shortly after I finished the sandwich and washed it down with a Ne-Hi Orange Soda, I entered a realm where time ceased to exist.  The draperies in the den were dancing like The Rockettes, sounds had colors that were visible to my eyes (with my reading glasses on), and I realized that my cat Fritzi is a reincarnation of the Egyptian sun god Ra.

When my husband Lyle got home I told him I thought that Fritzi was a divinity who ruled over our lives and he says “Like I didn’t know that before” and went into the den to watch his stupid North Dakota State Sioux 2008-09 hockey highlight tapes for like the forty-leventh time.

“You’re seeing double?  So what–I’m seeing quadruple.”


I was wondering whether I might have ingested something I should not have, and if there are precautions I can take in the future to avoid such a hyper-lucid state.

Sue Ellen Spinorkle, Auxvasse Hills, North Dakota

“Sorry if I gave you a bad trip.”


Dear Sue Ellen:

That mold on the rye bread may have been ergot fungi, which contain no lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) but which are used to synthesize an analog of and precursor for synthesis of LSD.  I know that is complicated, but as long as you throw out any tie-dyed t-shirts you may have purchased on your “trip” and do not listen to Janis Joplin albums, you should remain flashback-free.

Rigger’s license final exam.


Dear Food Freshness Safety Advisor:

That’s a mouthful (no pun intended).

I have a question about bananas.  I have been dating this girl Murleen for two years, she is bugging me to get married but I want to wait until I have my Class 2 rigger’s license so I can support her in the style to which she’d like to become accustomed.

We always take turns with birth control, and it was her turn last weekend.  She comes over yesterday and says a home pregnancy test says she’s “expecting” and I said how could that happen, you took care of things, right?

Here is where the bananas come in.  She says yes of course I did, but did you refrigerate the Jell-O salad with the bananas in it?  I said yes, you can’t make a Jell-O salad unless you chill it and she says you dummy, that turns bananas toxic, you could’ve killed me!

Ms. FFSA, I’m wondering if you ever heard of this theory.  I asked Murleen and she said she thinks she read it in USA Today, and I don’t have time to go to the library and check back issues.

Chuck Weesing, Latrobe PA


Dear Chuck:

The belief that refrigerated bananas are poisonous has been discredited by a study funded by the federal government, which as you know rarely lies about food safety issues.  A so-called “double-blind” test in fact produced more deaths in the control group that ate unrefrigerated bananas, even though subjects in what turned out to be the “death pool” were carefully selected from heroin addicts in the alley behind the laboratory.  I suspect Murleen is pulling your leg, if not some other body part of yours.

Arena Football League: Safe in small doses.


Dear Food Freshness Safety Advisor:

Settle a bet for me and my wife.  I say when the stalks of iceberg lettuce turn orange they are dangerous and you should throw them away.  She says it is a natural process, like a tadpole turning into a frog, and they are safe to eat–the lettuce leaves, not the tadpoles.

I raise this because last night at Shoney’s I sent back my “Classic Turkey BLT Club” because the lettuce had green and orange stripes like it was some kind of Arena Football League team’s jerseys.

We are long-time readers and have agreed to abide by your decision.

Claude and Maribeth Schuchs, Sweet Springs MO

Dear Claude and Maribeth:

I salute you for the wise health decisions you are making by coming to the Food Freshness Safety Advisor before taking such a risky step as eating unsafe lettuce!

There is a simple mnemonic device you can use to tell when you should throw out old lettuce.  It goes “Leaves of green, your lips between, leaves of orange . . .”

Unfortunately, I can’t think of any words that rhyme with orange, so I don’t know how this little jingle ends.


Available in Kindle format as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

Your Air Travel Advisor

Wondering why you’re always served last when the complimentary beverage cart comes around?  Think it’s time the FAA cracked down on people who fully recline the seat in front of you?  Ask Your Air Travel Advisor–maybe she can help!

Dear Air Travel Advisor:

We just pulled away from the gate (there’s only one) at Porter Wagoner International Airport in West Plains, Missouri, and a horrible thought just occurred to me: airplanes can go backwards!  I had not previously realized that modern-day jets had a “reverse” gear, which raises the question, could a plane ever go backwards in the air because of “pilot error” or mechanical failure?

I ask because my first husband, the late Bob Batcher, Jr., once ruined a perfectly good driveway gnome when he “accidentally” threw our Dodge Valiant into reverse instead of first gear making a three-point turn in our driveway on South Lamine.

Thank you,


Mrs. Eloise Batcher Fidler
Grimmet, MO

Wheels up!


Dear Mrs. Batcher Fidler–

No need to worry–modern passenger aircraft have an “autolock” system that goes into effect as soon as it’s “wheel’s up!” on a plane: all doors are locked, and the only operable gears move the plane in a forward direction.  “Reverse” gear can only be activated by an aborted take-off if your pilot runs the plane into the sorghum field adjacent to the airport.

Historic downtown Chillicothe, Ohio.


Dear Ms./Mrs. Air Travel Advisor:

We have begun our descent into the greater Chillicothe, Ohio, area, and the pilot has called for passengers to return both tray tables and seats to the upright position, and to turn off all electronic devices.  There is a woman across the aisle from me who is completely disregarding that last instruction, and is continuing to “text” her friends and check her “Instagram”–whatever that is.

I have half a mind to tell her to follow the captain’s orders for her safety and mine, but I do not want to start a “donnybrook” that will appear in USA Today tomorrow–I mean tomorrow’s edition of USA Today.  Which overhead button do I push?  I don’t want the woman to know that I’m the one who reported her, and if a bell rings she’ll be all over me like a duck on a June bug.

Yours truly,


Verna Hubbardston, Xenia, Ohio

“Mom, do FAA rules apply to fashionable people like us, or just schlubs?”


Dear Ms. Hubbardston:

I have one word for you:  Busted!  How are you able to communicate with Ms. Air Travel Advisor unless your phone is on, in violation of FAA regulations?  A $2.50 surcharge will be added to your airfare for the complimentary bag of pizza-flavored goldfish you were given from the snack cart, and Federal Air Marshalls will take you into custody when your plane touches down.

Thinking deeply about it.


Dear Ms. Air Travel Advisor:

The woman in front of me on the “red-eye” from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Missoula, Montana has been sleeping with her seat all the way back since we took off.  I have taken just about all I can stand, but I am not a vindictive guy– I’m a successful pneumatic fastener salesman and am required to have a pleasant personality at all times.  I’m also a “frequent flyer” with a lot of points, so I feel that I am entitled to better treatment than I’m getting.

I was wondering if you thought it would be okay if I just slipped my hand gently under her seatbelt as if I was gonna tap her on the shoulder but instead “copped a feel.”  It seems to me I’ve suffered enough, and she probably won’t even wake up, she had two little bottles of rosé wine right after we took off.  I checked the “SkyMall” section of the in-flight magazine and there’s nothing in there I can’t do without.

Thanks for any help you can give,


Darrell Kohammer
Truth-or-Consequences, New Mexico

“We have a report of passenger flatulence in Row 27.”


Dear Darrell–

I’m afraid you are seriously confused.  No matter how many “frequent flyer” miles you have accumulated, these represent an obligation of the airlines you have flown, and not your fellow passengers.  I would suggest you flip through the SkyMall catalog again and see if there is a “throwback” Pan Am stewardess inflatable love doll you can take out for dinner and a movie when you reach your destination.

Ask the Wedding Lady!

Your wedding–at least your first wedding–should be the most glorious day of your life. Summer wedding season has arrived, and the Wedding Lady is here to help you master the many minute details that make for a perfect nuptial . . . or is it nuptials? . . . ceremony.

Dear Wedding Lady:

My cousin, whom I will call “Della” recently got married. When she called to tell me she was engaged she asked me to sing at her wedding, which I agreed to. “Della” lives in Elkhart, Indiana, while I am a resident of New Hampshire. I am a professional singer who has performed at Holiday Inns and in cocktail lounges of several other nationally-known motel chains. I poured my “heart and soul” into this performance, practicing my medley of “O Promise Me” and “We’ve Only Just Begun” by The Carpenters, along with “I Love You Just the Way You Are” by Billy Joel in case I was asked to sing an encore, which I was.

“I love you just the wa-ay you are-ar-ar-ar-wo-wo-wo-wo-yeah!”


Wedding Lady, when I accepted this engagement it was with the understanding that I would be treated as the performing artist that I am and would be compensated or at the very least reimbursed for my expenses. I had to pay $489 for a round-trip ticket from Manchester, New Hampshire to Kalamazoo, Michigan, with a layover in Columbus, Ohio–there are no direct flights. Then I had to fork out another $69 for a Continental Trailways bus ticket to Elkhart. What with hotel, meals, etc., I am out over $700!

After the wedding, we went to the Oddfellows Hall for the reception, and “Della” comes up to me and says “Judy, you were just wonderful–here is a little token of our appreciation.” What she gave me was one of the cheesy centerpieces from the dinner tables!

Somehow I feel that I have been cheated in this process. I would appreciate your thoughts.

JudyAnn Dinnini, Manchester NH.


Dear JudyAnn-

Don’t be a diva. What else do you want–nothing but red M&M’s in your candy dish? Perrier water in your hotel shower? When you accept an invitation from a family member to perform at a wedding, it is implied that you will not be compensated. If you want to make money, go work the lounge at the Motel 6.


Dearest Wedding Lady:

I was recently requested to be Maid of Honor at my friend Lisa’s wedding. Lisa and I have been friends since childhood, and used to spend many happy hours dressing up our dolls together. I thought it would be such fun to collaborate on the bridesmaids’ dresses with her!

Long story short, Lisa’s tastes have changed since we were little girls. Her husband-to-be is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, and she has chosen a soft toile material for a floor-length dress, and little pillbox hats with tulle veils in the same shade–all in orange and white, the “Vols” team colors! I may have the tulle and toile parts mixed up, but you get my drift.

Wedding Lady, I have put on a little weight and am going to look like a damn Creamsicle walking down the aisle. Can you suggest a diplomatic way I can broach this subject with Lisa? I don’t want to lose a good friend.

Amanda Goshen, Chattanooga, Tenn.


Dear Amanda:

What God and Volunteer football have brought together, let no Barbie and Midge doll fantasy put asunder! Your friend’s long-term happiness with her husband is much more important than the short-term fashion concerns of you and the other bridesmaids, and I would suggest that you be a team player, suck up your guts, get back in the game, knock somebody on their butt and stop whining.

Dear Ms. Wedding Lady:

I went to my sister’s rehearsal dinner tonight, and the best man “Greg” gave the traditional toast about her fiancé “Mark,” who is a very successful salesman of pneumatic fasteners–you should see the humongous engagement ring he bought her! “Greg” had had a few pops, and I guess the alcohol acted like a truth serum on him. He launches into this long speech about how “Mark” had many, many girlfriends before my sister, and that he remains friends with all of them because he is such a gentlemen whenever he breaks up with somebody, he lets them down easy, etc. I thought maybe this was supposed to be a joke, but when people started giggling, “Greg” says “No, seriously-it’s true!”

My sister is distraught, and the wedding is tomorrow. She has no idea what to do, and there’s literally no time. My fax number appears at the bottom of this letter.

Amy Rae Baxter, Huntsville, Alabama


Dear Amy Rae:

Men must sow their wild oats, boys will be boys, blotta blotta and so on and so forth. When your sister says her wedding vows she will promise to forsake all others, and Mark must do the same. Short of putting a private investigator on retainer, however, there’s not much she can do to hold him to his vows. I would suggest that you watch how things develop and, if the relationship goes sour, you can be Mark’s second wife. Given his track record, you and Mark should be able to stay on good terms with your sister.

Ms. Wedding Lady:

This is not technically a wedding question, more like a post-wedding question. I was recently married to a wonderful man named “Jim.” We decided to take our honeymoon in Hawaii, which was just beautiful. We bought a day-long excursion that included a romantic swim beneath a secluded waterfall. Ms. Wedding Lady–it was like a dream! “Jim” decided to climb to the top of the fall to impress me with how big of a splash he could make with his “can opener” jump. He leaped from the precipice, disappeared beneath the water, and unfortunately died when he hit his coccyx on a submerged rock.

I am slowly getting over my tragic loss–we had our whole lives in front of us! What I want to know is this: we received a number of nice wedding presents, including a Salad Shooter, a countertop doughnut maker and a deep fryer that I was going to use to make “Jim” fried chicken. Do I have to return these gifts?

Barbara Jean Haskell, Glasgow, Missouri

P.S.–I have already sent in the mail-in rebate card on the Salad Shooter.

Dear Barbara Jean-

First let me express my sincerest condolences. The loss of a spouse can totally ruin a honeymoon! As for your question, as long as the marriage was legally consummated you are entitled to keep the wedding gifts, although you may want to repay the kindness you have been shown by sending some baked goods or other treats with your notes. There is nothing that says “Thank you” like homemade donuts!

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

Your Maternal Buttinsky Advisor

Have a mom who criticizes your cake-decorating skills?  Wondering why she always praises your brother’s water-skiing and not yours?  Ask Your Maternal Buttinsky Advisor, she’s full of vindictive ideas!

Dear Maternal Buttinsky Advisor:

I am dating this boy “Randy,” that’s his real name but he likes the “look” of quotation marks, he uses them on all his notebooks and his locker label.

My mom is a widow, our dad died of late-onset Osgood Schlatter’s Disease two years ago.  She met “Randy’s” dad at a PTO meeting, he is a widower, his wife died when her hand tragically got caught in ball return at the West Broadway Bowl-a-Way.  The two hit it off and now they say they’re going to get married, which will make me and “Randy” step-brother-and-sister, right?  As far as I know, that means we can’t legally get married–which we fully intended to do before my mom butted in.

Also, even if we elope, won’t our kids turn out to be low-I.Q.?

Please use the self-addressed stamped envelope I have enclosed that says “Your subscription to American Girl is about to expire!” on the outside to throw my mom off the scent.

LuAnn Meinik, Valparaiso, Indiana


Dear LuAnn–

I have good news for you!  Even though you and “Randy” will be related by marriage, statutory prohibitions on incest apply only to blood relatives, so you will be able to marry as soon as your reach legal age.

As for the low I.Q. part, I think you have that covered.

PTO:  A great place to meet your next significant other!


Dear Maternal Buttinsky Advisor:

Last night our house burned to the ground when the kids forgot to unplug their Creepy Crawler maker after a day of creative fun.  I had to scooch across the floor to keep from dying of smoke inhalation, and when we got out I took the kids to my mother’s house, my dingbat husband was off at his fantasy PGA Golf Tour draft night.

When we got to my mother’s she took one look at me and said “I can’t believe you left the house without throwing on some make-up.”  Then she saw my blouse, which was dirty and wrinkled as you might expect, and she said “Honey, don’t you own an ironing board anymore?”

She says this is her way of showing her love for me, but I think she could cut me some slack under the circumstances.  I forgot to mention, she is Presbyterian.  Any suggestions?

Veronica Thwait, Croton-on-Hudson, New York

Dear Veronica–

I’m afraid I’m going to have to side with your mother on this one.  The Creepy Crawler toy has been subject of a series of recalls by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which as you may know is staffed by zealous advocates fighting for our rights who leave work every day at 3 p.m., I should be so lucky.

When thing have calmed down a bit, I suggest that you and she arrange a marshmallow roast with the kids over the smoldering embers of the house they set on fire!

Dear Ms. Buttinsky or whatever–

I am writing you as a “pre-emptive” measure before my daughter Debbie gets to you first.  She came home from spring semester at the University of Missouri with her jeans torn to shreds like they’d gone through a wood chipper.  Being the thoughtful mother that I am, I got busy on my sewing machine and patched up all the holes, then presented the “finished product” to her when she woke up, which I might add was just in time for lunch.

Debbie starts shrieking and says “Mother, what have you done!”–just like that, without even a “Good morning.”  I said I have sewed up all the holes, you must have fallen down the rock pile in the end zone of the football stadium, they were so torn up.  She breaks into tears and says “take them all out, those were a $188 pair of jeans!” and I said, like the farmer the first time he saw a giraffe, there is no such animal.

Then she showed me the sales slip from someplace called “Lulu’s” and I guess I am wrong, there are people in this world stupid enough to pay nearly $200 for a pair of “dungarees.”  I firmly believe I did the right thing even though some might say I was being a buttinsky.  I was only thinking of Debbie’s health, she could have caught bronchitis or allergies through the holes and have to drop out of school and die.

(Mrs.) Verna Lee Hutchinson, Smithton MO


Dear Mrs. Hutchinson–

I believe you have stepped in a steaming pile of “buttinsky” doo-doo with this one.  While the Greek philosopher Aristotle said the family was the basic unit of society, he did not say that a mother has a right alter her college-age daughter’s clothing except in the case “hot pants” or plunging neckline cowl sweaters that give boys a spelunker’s view of deep chasms of mammary glands.

To “patch things up” with Debbie, I suggest you buy some “hip” iron-on patches in popular styles such as unicorns, rainbows and peace signs, and use them to repair the damage you have done to those designer jeans and your relationship with your daughter.



Dear Ms. Maternal Buttinsky–

My boyfriend Ron decided out of the blue last Christmas that he was going to “transition” to female, and broke up with me.  He is now nearly six months into his treatment and is working as “Rhonda” at the Piggly-Wiggly Super Market.  He isn’t fooling anybody–he’s got an Adam’s apple as big as a cue ball–but I must say his complexion looks better with the foundation makeup and blusher he is using.

Anyway, my problem is, the Piggly-Wiggly is the only place to shop in town and I was going through the “express” line the other day with 12 items, including cucumbers and tomatoes, I was going to try making a salad for once.  Who do we get as cashier but “Rhonda,” so I was polite as could be but my buttinsky mother took the vegetables off the conveyor belt and set them to one side.

I asked “Momma, why did you do that?” she says in a voice that could be heard two lanes over “Don’t you know transsexuals transmit diseases, you don’t want to buy anything from them that isn’t in a can or at least wrapped in cellophane?”

Well, I turned beet red, and “Rhonda” gave me the hairy eyeball.  I was beside myself, as I am trying to stay on her/his good side in case he changes his mind.  My marriage prospects in this godforsaken one-horse town are slim and none, none being Ray Edmonds whose daddy owns the Chevrolet-GMC-Hyundai dealership and it would take the Jaws of Life to pry Cindy Sumack off of him.

Will wait for your reply before doing anything drastic, I am not yet ready to go lesbian.

Wanda Furlong, Otterville MO 65348


Oh, Wanda–

I feel for you so!  Many girls are losing their men to the “gender-bending” fad that is sweeping the nation, and your mother should definitely have let nature take its course as many formerly “out-and-proud” types who go the full nine yards with earrings and make-up eventually return to their “home team.”

If I were you, I would leave “momma” home next time you go shopping.  I know she probably likes to get out of the house but there is a time and place for everything, and remind her that “Days of Our Lives” is only on the TV once a day.

Your Stuffed Animal Advisor

Animals are our friends, but pets can also upchuck on our white wall-to-wall carpeting, or tear up a new pair of pumps we just bought last week on sale.  That’s why stuffed animals are often better friends than real ones.  Got a question about our fake little furry friends? Ask Your Stuffed Animal Advisor!

Image result for stuffed animal set
Save the manatees–collect them.


Dear Stuffed Animal Advisor:

When I broke up with my boyfriend “Todd” a year ago because he could never bring himself to “pop the question,” I did not go out and get a cat like a lot of women I know.  I was not going to end up like them, making popcorn on a Saturday night and watching Lifetime movies with fourteen pounds of fur named “Kitzi” on my lap. So I began to collect stuffed animals which as you suggest are a lot easier to take care of.  They never escape outside and have to be lured back in by leaving a plate of food on the back porch like my girlfriends Mary Anne and Jeanie do whenever their cats run off into the woods.  Also they don’t pee on the rug.  The cats, not my girlfriends.

Now that I have joined the ranks of “virtual pet owners” I have a question.  I have a growing collection of stuffed dogs, cats and turtles.  I checked our local zoning code and it says nothing about legal occupancy for a one-bedroom apartment by unrelated inanimate figurines.  Is 162 (not including me) too many, or can I get the “My Little Puppy Friends” special Christmas edition when it arrives in stores next week?

Miriam Urshel, North Hollywood, Florida

Your best stuffed animal storage shelter value!


Dear Miriam:

Your Stuffed Animal Advisor says “The more the merrier!” when it comes to the toy buddies that make our lives so rewarding when human beings like “Todd” prove incapable of making a commitment.  Make sure you don’t block fire exits with your little furry friends, and you may want to buy a free-standing storage shelter to hide your “stuffed stuff” when nosy mental health professionals from local government bodies come snooping around.


Image result for stuffed animal set
Get the Grab ‘n Go Sixpack.


Dear Your Stuff Animal Advisor:

I am a guy, as you can probably deduce from my name below.  As a boy I was excluded from many youth sports activities because of the crippling effects of Osgood Schlatter’s Disease, and as a result I remained attached to my stuffed animals longer than most young men.

I have now become engaged to a wonderful young lady–I will call her “Opal” because that is her name–who is a real “go-getter.”  She was recently re-elected to a second term as County Prothonotary, the second highest-ranking official around here with plenary powers to issue and revoke licenses for fishing and all-terrain vehicles. Opal has her eye on County Commissioner, and a run for higher office would put her in the local “media spotlight,” which is pretty intense around here what with a newspaper and two radio stations, one “Classic Country” the other “Top 40” format. My concern is that some jerk reporter will find out about my collection–which is now in the high three figures–and try to make an “expose” out of it.

I am willing to take the heat, but I do not want to impede Opal’s career and so am wondering if I should switch to a more conventional hobby such as bowling or fishing.

Norman “Bud” Ohlrich, Keokuk, Iowa

Image result for stuffed animal

Dear Bud:

The stigma formerly attached to adult male stuffed animal collectors has declined over the years as our society has become more “accepting” of our nation’s hobby diversity.  I say turn what some people may consider a liability into a campaign asset by becoming an “out-and-proud” stuffed animal nut!  Pollster Ed Francis of Mid-States Political Consultants says a lot of weird hobbyists are “swing” voters who can tilt an election against an anti-stuffed animal candidate in a close race.

Image result for furby

Dear Stuffed Animal Advisor Lady:

Please settle an “e-commerce” dispute for me.  I recently bought what was advertised as an original issue, limited edition “Furby” on from a seller named lloydinknobnoster.  When the package arrived the thing didn’t look right so I turned it upside down and the label said “Fruby,” made in Deng Xiaoping City, China.  I tried to stop payment but it was too late, so I filed a complaint with the webmaster who says there was nothing they can do, “lloydinknobnoster” is a “Platinum” member with an unimpeachable record.

I contacted “Lloyd” by mail–there are not that many people in Knob Noster so the postmaster knew who it was.  “Lloyd” says I should be thanking him, not complaining, it’s a collector’s item.  I said I wouldn’t take him to small claims court if he would abide by your decision and he agreed although he said he wasn’t waiving “sovereign immunity” whatever that means.

Curt Dwinnel, Hill Jack, MO


Dear Curt–

I’m afraid I’m going to have to side with Lloyd on this one.  Furbies with the spelling “Fruby” down in the crotch where you insert the two “D” batteries are commanding top prices on world collectible markets.  Apparently Chinese stuffed animal workers are only given one bathroom break per week and as a result sometimes lose consciousness while impressing plastic parts with basic information such as product name, serial number, and toll-free number to call if you spill something on the fur. I hope your new acquisition brings peace to your life.  If not, please stay off stuffed animal websites for awhile as I’m bidding on a number of items and don’t want to get caught up in your legal hurricane, thank you very much.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

Your Bug Advisor

Spring is here and the bugs are back!  There are between six and ten million species of insects, but only one for humans.  Hardly seems like a fair fight, which is why you need Your Bug Advisor on your side!

Dear Bug Advisor:

I have carpenter ants–I don’t mean me personally, I mean my house.  They are going into the wood of my soffits as part of my eaves.  Again, I do not have either soffits or eaves, although I have shingles.  What can I do about this?

Tula Marie Grealy, Prairie Village, Kansas

House with random number stickers

Dear Tula Marie–

My what a pretty name!  Shingles are (is?) a viral infection of the nerve roots that causes a rash on one side of the body, either the left or the right.  You don’t get to choose, the shingles do.  Shingles are also a roof covering consisting of individual overlapping elements.  With roof shingles, you do get to choose where they go.  Ask your doctor which is right for you!

Dear Your Bug Advisor:

We have spiders coming out of our electrical switches.  I don’t mind so much but they get my wife upset when she goes to unplug the toaster to make room for the donut maker.  I personally think we have too many countertop appliances, but she says it is her kitchen and for me to stay out of it, except to eat, which I do.

What can I do to get rid of the spiders?  I just want some peace in my house.  I will be in the den if you call, I have a separate line in there.

Claude Boulrice, Florissant MO 63034

Dear Claude–

Leave those spiders alone!  They eat other bugs, and if you kill the spiders, you will just have more bugs, only different kinds.  I know this sounds like a “zero sum” game since either way you have about the same number, but wouldn’t you rather have spiders who generally do not bite humans except when they (the humans) are sleeping?  The choice is up to you; death by spider bite, or a clean countertop.

Dear “Bug Advisor”:

I was looking through the garage sale ads in yesterday’s paper when I came across this little tidbit I thought your readers would be interested in.  “The lily beetle has cut a deadly swath through New England over the past 17 years.  The adults are about a quarter of an inch long and if you squeeze them they squeak, a defense mechanism to deter predators.”

Hel-lo?  Anybody home at The Bug Advisor?  Where in the hell have you been for the past 17 years while a squeaking, quarter-inch long beetle cut a “deadly swath” through New England?  I might as well get my bug advice from Dear Abby.

Sign me–

A former reader, Shrewsbury, Mass.

Lily beetle:  Squeak!

Dear Former Reader:

As noted above, there are millions of insect species–how am I supposed to find the time to write about every one?  Especially since I get paid freelance rates, with no health or dental benefits.  And yesterday they sent around a memo saying you could no longer carry over unused personal days.  You’re lucky I’m taking the time to answer your snippy, impertinent question.  I don’t mean to seem defensive, but if you squeeze me, I do a hell of a lot more than squeak at you!


Dear Bug Advisor person:

I am deathly afraid of getting Lyme Disease, so much so that I stay out from under branches at all times, as I understand this is how ticks get on people, by dropping down on you when you pass under them.  I mean when you pass under the ticks, not the people.

Now I come to find out they have another secret tactic called “questing,” where they sit on a leaf, a twig, or even a blade of grass, then crawl onto you if you get close and linger long enough next to them.  What I want to know is, my daughter has been invited to go on a “Spirit Quest” with her Girl Scout Troop, and I am being asked to sign a medical waiver.  Do you think a reputable paramilitary organization such as the Girl Scouts would deliberately give my Shonna a deadly disease?

Mrs. Lionel Gehrke, Cairo, Illinois

More ticks

Dear Mrs. Gehrke:

I believe you have been misinformed.  The Girl Scouts are not a paramilitary operation, they are a clandestine domestic security force.  A “Spirit Quest” is simply a walk around the neighborhood with flashlights and rolls of toilet paper, to be thrown in the trees outside houses occupied by cute boys.  Sign the waiver, and tell your daughter to stay away from blades of grass.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

Your High Culture Etiquette Advisor

Ever wonder if it’s okay to blow your nose during a Beethoven sonata?  Or take a “selfie” in front of a grieving Virgin Mary in Michelangelo’s Pieta?  Ask your High Culture Etiquette Advisor for artistic demeanor guidance!

“Don’t cry, he’ll have a big holiday named after him someday!”


Dear High Culture Etiquette Advisor:

I cut hair at VIP Cuts II and there’s this hedge fund guy “Evan” who is a regular of mine.  He gets kind of flirty sometimes and last week he asked me if I appreciated ballet and I said “Are you kidding?  I am a professional dancer myself!”  This is technically true as I teach Introductory Hip-Hop at Miss Tammi’s Tap Studio.  So he asks me if I want to go with him to see the New York City Ballet, he has a couple of tickets and I said sure, I’m a big fan of all the local teams.

Things were going fine until halfway through the show when I popped my bubble gum and a bunch of people turned around and stared at me.  I didn’t know what to do so I swallowed the wad, which made it hard to talk the rest of the night and I probably didn’t come off as vivaciously as I should have.

Yesterday I saw Evan out the front window of VIP Cuts II and he was walking into Executive Hair Stylists across the street, big as life.  I’m afraid I have broken some “unwritten rule” of the ballet, perhaps you can tell me what it was.

Thanks a bunch,

Tiffany-Marie Santosuosso, Permberwick, CT

Dear Tiffany-Marie–

Yes, I am afraid you have violated one of the cardinal principles of balletomanes, namely, never ever pop a gum bubble during a pas de deux.  For future performances I would suggest you abandon the Bubblicious for something more refined, such as Wrigley’s Spearmint or Dentyne.


Hey High Culture Etiquette Advisor–

I have a question for you.  Last night I went with this woman “Evelyn” to the Boston Symphony.  I didn’t think it was a real “date” date, she is a client of my accounting firm and when she asked me if I was free the boss said I had to go.

Classical music is not my “thing” but I figured I had to for my career so I tried to be an enthusiastic fan.  The first number was Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” which I thought was a singing group with Franki Valli, but I guess not.  Anyway, the band started, played for awhile, then stopped, so I clapped.  I mean, they worked really hard and did a good job–why shouldn’t I applaud?

Antonio Vivaldi, Frankie Valli:  Curiously, never seen in the same room together.


Instead, Evelyn gave me a look like I was from outer space or something.  I kept on clapping whenever the band was through–what was I supposed to do, leave them hanging?  I hear classical musicians don’t make much money, I figured they’d appreciate it.

At intermission Evelyn was pretty icy, which was fine with me, she’s not exactly a candidate for Miss America if you know what I mean.  When the show was through she asked me could I just drop her off at her place, she didn’t feel like a nightcap.

I am wondering whether I did something wrong, not because I want to “jump Evelyn’s bones,” but I would like to make partner at my firm, Frangilli, Ersch & Como, P.C., someday and hope I haven’t screwed things up somehow.

This letter represents just my views, not those of my firm, in case any of the partners read it.


Yours truly,

Mike Adamrick, Framingham, Mass.

“Okay, everybody, you can go home, the opera’s over.”



Sorry to say, you have run afoul of one of the trickier conventions of the symphony, to wit, don’t clap between “movements” of pieces, only at the end.  This hard-and-fast rule causes problems of “closure” when a majority of uptight concert-goers don’t realize that the music is over until the orchestra starts packing their instruments and leaves.

In the future, restrain yourself from being the first to applaud so as not to look foolish before dates and even quasi-dates such as Evelyn.  Or you could just go to Red Sox games, where you can make noise whenever you want.

Mahler, channeling John McEnroe:  “You CAN’T be serious!”


Dear High Culture Etiquette Advisor–

I have been seeing this guy “Fritz” for several months now.  He is originally from Germany so I knew he had more culture than my ex-husband “Jimbo,” whose idea of art is cable TV fishing shows and tractor-pulls.

I know Germans cause a lot of wars and things but Fritz seemed nice and he was always a gentleman, kissing me on the hand when he said goodnight on our first date and progressing slowly from there, not going nuts and “invading Poland” right away like some of my friends warned me.

Anyway, Fritz took me to a concert last night and I couldn’t understand a word of the lyrics, but I hung in there because I am trying to make this relationship work, dammit!  At intermission I asked Fritz about the music and he said it was by some guy named “MAH-lur.”  When I asked him what the words meant he said “It’s the Kindertotenlieder–songs for dead children.”

Mr. or Mrs. High Culture Etiquette Advisor, I nearly fell over as I am not a punk rocker and am not into “twisted” humor like dead baby jokes.  I had half a mind to tell Fritz off then and there, but I decided instead I would just be really “cool” to him for the rest of the night as I did not want to touch off an international incident.

Is there some sort of “nuance” I am missing, or is this another example of Germans being colossal jerks under the cover of “culture,” like that guy Nietzsche who said God was dead?

Melanie Ann Barner, Wilmette, Illinois

Dear Melanie Ann–

I think you owe Fritz another chance.  Yes, Kindertotenlieder is a shocking work that jolts us out of our comfort zone, but so were Rocky Horror Picture Show and “cosmic bowling” when they first appeared on the scene, which many people enjoy today without embarrassment.

High culture, like beer and some cheeses, is an acquired taste, and may be repulsive at first, but the deep rewards it pays to the patient, mature mind greatly exceed the superficial satisfaction you may currently get from watching Access Hollywood.

And I would hold off on giving Fritz “half a mind” as you were tempted to.  It sounds like you’re going to need all you’ve got.


Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”



Your Foodie Action Reporter

Got a roommate who’s suddenly developed a taste for truffles?  Find an inflatable Julia Child love doll in your husband’s tool closet?  Better call the Foodie Action Reporter–before it’s too late!

Dear Foodie Action Reporter:

I got divorced two years and am just now getting over the pain of losing Francine to a brush hog salesman.  I met a woman named “Giselle” on, and after some preliminary winking and nudging, we agreed to meet in the parking lot at Bing’s Plaza and if things “clicked” we would go into the mall for dinner because she said she loved foreign foods.



Well, long story short I fell head over heels in love with “Giselle” (she did not wear her “quotation” marks to the date).  I don’t know what it is, I just go crazy over women with raccoon-like levels of eye liner and mascara that looks like it’s been spread on with a trowel, and that was Giselle “to a T.”

After five minutes of palaver in the car I said “I’m game if you are,” and she said “sure,” so we got out but instead of going to the mall there is that International House of Pancakes up close to the exit onto Highway 50, so I started walking up that way because I love their “Pigs in a Blanket” and she said she liked foreign foods.

Cochons dans la Couverture

I don’t know if I did or said something wrong but Giselle just sat there the whole time with a grumpy look on her face.  I don’t think she has a legitimate beef since the place is international and they have the Nutella Crepes, which I understand are both French and English.

DeWayne Lollard, Grain Valley Junction, Iowa


Dear DeWayne:

Foodie Action Reporter will give you “A” for effort but “C+” for sensitivity.  Obviously someone with heavy eyeliner and a French name is going to want something a little more “special” than IHOP, even if you don’t have a $1-off-higher-priced-entree coupon to use there.  I “Googled” your location and it appears there is a very nice (which is a city in France) “boit de nuit” named “Les Deux Escargots” on the outskirts of Lincoln, a pleasant two-day drive.  Take along some “pommes frites” (French fries) in case your car breaks down!

“This little thing?  Uh, it’s a two-way ankle fax machine.”


Dear Foodie Action Reporter:

I met this guy “Ian” at a speed dating event a few weeks ago, and now he has asked me over to his house for dinner!  I don’t want to blow it, as the last guy I dated seriously now wears an ankle monitor for ID theft and can’t leave his house.

My concern is this:  “Ian” is a real foodie, he subscribes to Gourmet and makes his own pasta.  He said he would cook “pesto” for me if I liked it.  I said “You bet!” even though I didn’t know what it was.

Ian is into all-natural ingredients, and I am wondering whether he will use actual pests in his pesto, or if I am thinking of some other dish.

Cindy Wynne, Seekonk, Mass.

Pesto:  Yum–I guess.


Dear Cindy–

Pesto is an Italian sauce made from garlic, pine nuts, salt, basil leaves, and romano and parmesan cheese, all blended into olive oil.  It looks disgusting, but is actually quite delicious when prepared properly.  It typically contains no insects other than those that infest your host’s kitchen.

“Which one of you’s the virgin?”


Dear Foodie Action Reporter:

I have been dating this guy “Craig” for several months.  We are starting to get serious, but have not yet “done the deed,” if you know what I mean.  I am not the kind of girl who will hop into the sack with a guy just because he buys you dinner at restaurant that has a non-stick tablecloth.

Craig has been a perfect gentlemen, but lately he has begun to drop little hints unless I’m misreading his remarks.  Last night when we were out to dinner at DiScallopini’s he looked at the menu and said he thought “extra virgin olive oil” was overrated and not worth the price.  He said it in kind of a bitter way, and I am writing to see whether you think he was being sarcastic.

Moira Oehrke, Mahway, New Jersey


Dear Moira–

Not to worry!  “Extra virgin” refers to olive oil that has no more than 0.8% free acidity, resulting in favorable flavor characteristics–and try saying that five times fast.

So it is neither a compliment nor an insult to use the term in the presence of a single woman, although it is a fairly unattainable standard.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”