You know what the problem is with advice columns?
The first two issues are obvious, of course: People write in about some urgent issue and the advice arrives months later when it's too late to do any good. Worse, it's pretty clear the the people asking the questions are too dense to benefit from the advice.
Dear Aunt Esmerelda: My neighbor is upset that my dog is leaving gifts in his flower bed when he should really be grateful for the fertilizer. How do I get him to be happier when Poopsie visits?
Dear Aunt Esmerelda: My son is a Navy Seal who is often away on secret missions. How can I get the Navy to schedule him to be home for my birthday?
Dear Aunt Esmerelda: My niece has a peanut allergy, so I put some peanut butter in her turkey sandwich to help her develop some tolerance. Now she’s in a coma and my brother is making a big deal about it. How do I get him to drop the restraining order?
Yes, the questions are entertaining, but the answers are the archetypes for missed opportunities. Instead of starting the replies with, “Dearest Idiot,” the advice columnists almost always express sympathy and try to comfort the people who are too far gone to be reached on this planet.
“Perhaps your neighbor doesn’t appreciate the close relationship you have with your dog.
I agree that the Navy and America’s enemies should both be more considerate when it comes to family.
Give your brother time to recognize your good intentions, and maybe for his daughter to come out of her coma…”
And there we have it, the biggest flaw in advice columns: too much respect. Contrary to the popular myth spread by consultants everywhere, there are stupid questions and there are bad ideas. It would be a truly healthy development if advice columnists called out their correspondents for both transgressions.
Clearly, it’s time for the Dad Writes help desk, where we suffer only wise people and set the fools on the true path to enlightenment. We’re drawing our inspiration from Bob Newhart, who set the standard for all psychology, psychiatry, and consulting today. We’ll build on his groundbreaking technique, but we will never stray far from the words of the master.
Your wedding is in three days and you’re sending me a question now? Too late for that, but here are some ideas for divorce court. You poisoned your niece and you’re not in jail? This would be a good time to move to another country. If you're gonna let your dog roam around without a leash, let your neighbor poop on your lawn to even things out.
See how easy that is? Advice columns would be much more entertaining and educational if we avoid all the “respect” and “courtesy,” especially when those considerations are 100% undeserved. Our new column is going to be so refreshing for readers, and very therapeutic for me. I can’t wait to hear from the first doofus with a question.
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.