Thursday, March 17, 2011

College visit

In today's Dear Abby, a girl wants to visit her boyfriend at college.
I am a 17-year-old senior in high school. My boyfriend, "Kenny," is 18 and goes to college five hours away. I'd like to visit him over the weekend sometime, but I need my parents' permission. Mom is OK with it, as long as I take the train (she doesn't want me driving that distance alone) and I pay for it. Dad is old-fashioned. He dislikes the fact that Kenny and I would be unsupervised in his dorm for a whole weekend, even though Kenny has a roommate.
We've been together for a long time and have been unsupervised before, but Dad's still uneasy. He treats me like I'm younger than my age. I'm almost 18 and have traveled alone by plane. I'm respectful to my parents and feel I deserve Dad's trust.

Kenny and I love each other, but having a long-distance relationship is difficult since we hardly get to see each other. Dad likes and approves of Kenny, but thinks it's "unnecessary" for me to visit him since we call, Skype and text each other often. How can I get my father to see my point of view?
Abby responds,
You probably can't - but your mother may be able to, which is why you should enlist her help in talking to your father for you. However, if that doesn't work, the alternative would be for Kenny to travel to visit you when he's able to get away for a weekend.
Abby is on a roll of giving rather permissive advice lately; she's not really helpful here, but she at least seems to imply that if it were up to her, she would let the girl go. Of course, Ashley and I are more strongly in the teen's corner, but so what else is new?

Lulu: Do you think there are logical arguments she could use to make her case, or is her dad just not going to change his mind because his thing is very emotional and it's about not letting his little girl go off and have sex?

Ashley: Well, I mean, has she had sex?

Lulu: She doesn't say. She sort of neatly avoids the issue, but I feel like it must be on her mind. The "We've been unsupervised before and nothing happened!" argument was always one my friends and I would pull out when we wanted to do sleepovers or trips with our boyfriends and girlfriends, with equal vehemence whether we planned to have sex or not.

Ashley: She's already tried the "the trust my word" approach and it didn't get her very far.

Lulu: Actually, it seems to be more like the "see, we totally won't have sex - the ROOMMATE WILL BE THERE!" approach. Which I feel is less effective than a straight-up, honest, "trust my word" approach. "Listen, I know you're worried that I'll have sex over the weekend, but I'm promising you that I won't; that's not what this is about; I just want to spend time with somebody whom I love and who lives far away."

Ashley: If she already has had sex, she might as well come clean and say she's not a virgin, so his worst fear has already come true. In fact, I might say that even if I were a virgin.

Lulu: I don't know that it's necessarily all about purity. If your parents think you are too young to have sex, but you have already had sex, they still want you to not have MORE sex.

Ashley: Really? Because I think the first time might matter way more.

Lulu: They don't want you to have babies. Sure, you got lucky SO FAR with zero babies...

Ashley: Then the argument is that you know what a condom is.

Lulu: Condoms break Ashley.

Ashley: You know what an abortion clinic is?

Lulu: Well, THAT'S not helpful. You getting an abortion is a worst-case scenario. Depending on the parents, they might even prefer you to have a baby at 17. But either way, we're playing out exactly the conversation she shouldn't have. I think she's cannily avoiding mentioning sex for a reason; she doesn't even want her parents to know it's on her mind.

Ashley: I'm just suggesting alternate routes. If her don't-mention-it / trust-me approach doesn't work, she has several options:

1) wait till she's 18
2) argue that she'll have safe sex
3) just get on the train and go

Lulu: There is something to be said for asking for forgiveness not permission, but it could be a huge shitstorm. She should exhaust all alternate routes first. Do you think the "I need to see what college life is like" approach will get her anywhere? Obviously, she can't claim it's her #1 reason for wanting to go.

Ashley: Yeah, not really. Maybe "I'll be in college in 6 months anyway"? If he doesn't think she can control herself over a weekend, how the hell will she do for the rest of her life?

Lulu: Yeah, I do think it's logical to be like, listen, I'm about to be on my own, baby steps are better than just suddenly being dumped from the nest. Also, I'll sleep on the couch! (I won't sleep on the couch.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Extry, Extry: We Agree With Dear Abby

Sometimes we have little conversationlets about the day's advice that we don't bother posting because they are so short and we are so, so lazy. But I wanted to note this moment in history from last week, where we agree wholeheartedly with Dear Abby!

From Dear Abby's March 9 column:
I am a 50-year-old gay man. On New Year's Eve, there was a block party on the street I live on. My neighbors, "Tim" and "Marie," are a good-looking 30-ish couple. I was watching the fireworks when Marie sat down next to me and said, "Tim and I would like to get to know you better. How about we drop by for drinks some night after we put the kids to bed?" She said this while stroking my upper thigh with her hand.

I find the idea of being intimate with her husband appealing, but I have never "been with" a woman and I don't think I want to be. It seems to me the most prudent approach would be to pass on this opportunity, but how do I do it without offending or causing embarrassment for one of my neighbors?
Abby responds,
Does this neighbor know your sexual orientation? If the answer is no, just thank her and tell her you're not into threesomes. Because it has taken you so long to give her an answer, she probably won't be surprised that a liaison is not your cup of tea. However, if she does know, tell her with a wink: "Thanks for the offer -- I'm not into threesomes. But you can send Tim over anytime."

Ashley: You're right! That is what he should do!
Lulu: I know! I have nothing to add. "Send Tim over anytime": inspired.
Ashley: Marie probably just wants to watch anyway!

Being Jewish

Often we don't post because we can't find anything remotely interesting in the advice columns; other times, one complete month of advice columns goes by and we're too busy with our online gaming addictions to even read them. But yesterday's seventh graders mocking each other in Ask Amy is just the kind we have strong opinions about, enough to break free of our orc-forged chains and actually do a post.
Dear Amy: I am in seventh grade. I am Jewish. I have a Native American friend in the same grade. We have a lot of classes together, and his locker is right next to mine. We have fun together, and he makes me laugh a lot, but he makes fun of me a lot too.

Sometimes he says that I'm fat, but most of the time he makes fun of me because I'm Jewish.

For example, today we were goofing around, and a friend of his said, "What's going on?" and he said, "She was being Jewish." This really hurt my feelings.

He has said that kind of stuff before, and I hate it when he does it. I have tried to get him to stop. Sometimes when I tell him to stop making fun of me, he says stuff like, "But you make fun of me, too." I don't make fun of him like that.

I told him I didn't like it when he made fun of me for being Jewish, and he stopped for about a day. My mom knows that he has made fun of my religion a few times, but I haven't told her that he does it almost every day.

I would feel safe telling a teacher, but I'm afraid that if I do so I will lose him as a friend, and I don't want that to happen. We have almost all of our classes together.

I can also imagine that it might make things worse if I tell. But sometimes I want to cry when he makes fun of me. I don't know what to do.
Amy responds,
There is a difference between having fun and "making fun of." Friends goof around and occasionally tease each other. But it's never okay to criticize someone's ethnicity or religion, even if you're joking.

That's not friendly teasing, that's bullying. And if you're afraid to tell an adult because you think it might make things worse, then that's a sign that this kid is a bully-in-training.

You can say to him, "I want you to stop making fun of my religion. I don't make fun of your being a Native American. What you're doing is mean, and I don't think you're really a mean person, so I want you to stop."

Give him another chance to change. And then, depending on what he says or does next, you should definitely take your concern to your mother and to a teacher.
Lulu: Amy seems to be telling the girl to do things she has already done: ask him to stop, tell him where the boundaries are, and if he doesn't stop, tell a teacher. But I think all of that is shitty advice for a seventh-grader.

Seventh-graders will not respond to a calm discussion of boundaries. He keeps doing it because it gets her riled up, not in spite of it. Saying "This is off-limits, don't make fun of this" is like drawing a target.

And crying to teacher will solve nothing. What is a teacher going to do? Punish the boy and make you feel like a tattletale? Have a Classroom Activity about Being Sensitive to Each Other's Culture, which the boy will ignore and mock?

Ashley: Is it wrong of me that maybe she should make fun of him for being NA? She'll prolly get expelled though :(

Lulu: What is there to make fun of? Your people were oppressed and killed by white man! LAUGH RIOT. I think she should ignore it. Just roll her eyes when he does it. Talk to him about something else. Or don't, if he's not worth talking to.

Ashley: I guess you could own the joke?

"Want to hang out?"
"No, I'll be over here being Jewish"

Lulu: Ha. Yeah, that's another way to go. Demonstrate how ridiculous it is.

Ashley: But yeah, at the end, you either accept it as part of your friend, or you get new friends.

Lulu: And learning how to deal with a friend who is kind of a jerk--to either ignore the jerk parts or drop him as a friend--is an important life skill! Because everyone is a jerk.

Ashley: It's true!