Thursday, March 23, 2006

Questionable Answers

In keeping with the mission of Not Right to serve humankind, I want to start an advice column. So if any of you have problems (as one or two of you might), then drop me a line here or off-blog. My e-mail address is my first and last name runtogetherlikethis at gee mail dot com (but not actually that, obviously).

A few rules will apply for this: 1) This is me we're talking about here. You know my writing, so expect a similar treatment as I phenomenally solve all of your woes; 2) Save your most serious issues for professionals. If you have a real problem such as suicidal tendencies or substance abuse, you need real counseling. Also, consider that I'm probably in need of lots of help myself, which adds the requisite amusing irony to this; 3) That said, however, I will give legit answers as best as I can. This isn't "Ask a Vapid Sorority Chick" or any other Onion-type thing. The goal here is to help out people in a real and really entertaining way; 4) Hypothetical problems are acceptable and, in fact, encouraged, especially if it makes for fun bloggery; 5) Entries can be anonymous (and/or confidential) if you choose. Furthermore, I reserve the right to make up confidential entries, just like the tabloids do.

For this first issue, I will rip an actual letter from a syndicated advice column and answer it my own way. Just so everybody knows what they're getting into:

DEAR ABBY: I am seeing some behavior in my 15-year-old nephew that has me worried. He's a "high achiever" and, basically, a pretty good kid. Maybe he's under stress from school or sports, but he has been having some shocking, angry outbursts. Whether against his parents, his brother or his girlfriend, he will fly into a rage. He shouts, pounds his fists on the table, slams doors (breaking a glass pane) and storms out of the house. I saw him shove his brother during a recent argument, and I have heard him threaten to put his fist through a wall. Luckily, he hasn't followed through.

He doesn't have a history of causing trouble, and these angry outbursts don't happen all the time. I know you have a booklet about controlling anger. Do you think it might help him, and how can I order one? -- WORRIED UNCLE, ANNAPOLIS, MD.

Dear Worried Uncle: You are absolutely right to be worried about your nephew's behavior. Unusual signs of aggression in good kids is always alarming and is almost always triggered by a traumatic incident or series of incidents. In this case, it might be that he's 15 years old and is being bombarded by an increasingly testosterone-crazed American pop culture. Or that he's being teased. Or molested. You know him better than I do, so why are you asking me?

Seriously, my advice would be to look for anything amiss (such as relatives who are less "worried" than they are "creepy"). But no matter what, the kid needs to learn that such violent outbursts are not an acceptable outlet for aggression. If he is as good as you claim, then he should eventually see the error of his ways. In the meantime, set a good example in your own behavior. When you're tempted to put your own fist through a wall over dealing with your nephew, refrain from doing so in his presence. Consciously or not, he probably looks up to you. Serial killer Richard Ramirez looked up to his uncle, a bloodthirsty maniac who spattered his teenage nephew with his wife's blood. So the importance of good role-modeling can never be overstated.

Of course, I'm no professional psychologist; I'm speaking strictly from the perspective of someone who has been there. You see, I was once a 15-year-old boy. For a whole year, in fact. And at one point I was prone to much of the same behavior that you describe in your nephew. Mainly in my twenties, but that's beside the point. Your best bet, again, is to be there for your nephew and address his insecurities. If nothing else, it's cheaper than that $6 booklet that Dear Abby so graciously attempted to sell you. At least that Dr. Peter Gott guy sends you a free copy of his health reports before offering them for sale to other readers. Capitalistic greed at Dear Abby pisses me off! Makes me want to put my fist through a wall...

Sorry, I digress. If none of this behavior works out by the time he's 18, then you could always send him to Annapolis. Since you're already there and all.

Best of luck! --Ian


HappyFunBall said...

Remember, you said that hypothetical quandaries are acceptable. Oh, but that I had one! My real problem is this: I've been trapped in my basement for two weeks by a rabid moose. I can hear him upstairs, stomping around, doing strange and unnatural things to my Tickle Me, Elmo collection, and drinking all my beer. I have plenty of canned sardines and root beer to keep me alive, but dammit, I'm missing The Young and the Restless. Please help me, I'm starting to have some serious withdrawal symptoms.

Signed: Trapped in a Basement By a Rabid Moose and What the Hell's Happening on my Story?!?

Nick said...


This experience will do you some good when it's all said and done.

1. The time away from The Young & Restless will do your brain some good. You will find that your intellegence, upon no longer needing to watch such crap TV, will increase drastically.

2. You will learn a very valuable lesson, you should store beer in every room of your home. That way, if you ever become trapped in any particular room again, you will still have beer to pass the time.