Monday, October 31, 2011

Nay-Saying Nana Wants Grandson To Say "No" To Navy Enlistment

Dear Tazi Kat:

My wonderful grandson is about to make the biggest mistake of his life! He is turning 18 next month, is set to graduate high school in May, and has decided that school is not for him and that he wants to join the military. He will sign now, and they will take him away after he graduates this spring. I just know he will be sent overseas to fight and die in some foreign country for U.S. oil interests! How in the world can I talk him out of this decision?

“Joey” has never been the best student, but that is because he does not apply himself to his studies. He has always preferred having a good time to studying, so his grades do not reflect his true potential. I have offered to pay for his continued education at a community college, until his grades are high enough to get into a better school, but he has refused my offer. Joey says that the Navy will give him the kind of education that he cannot get from a schoolbook; that it will help him to become a man; and that maybe after his tour of duty is up he will be ready to return to school for a degree – on the G.I. bill, so his education will be free.

I asked Joey point-blank if he was trying to run away from trouble, but he denied any problems and insisted that his decision to enlist is of his own free will. I reminded him that his girlfriend might not be willing to wait for a man who might not come home, but he brushed off that concern, too. There is just no getting through to the boy! Again, Tazi-Kat, how in the world can I talk my grandson out of this devastatingly bad decision?

Nay-saying Nana

Dear Nay-saying Nana:

At almost 18, your grandson is no longer a “boy”, but a man – albeit a young one – who is capable of making his own decisions. The decision that “school is not for him” is not one that was made overnight, but through years of required education to which he has not “applied himself”. To send him to community college is to attempt to extend an adolescence that your grandson is currently happy to leave behind.

The decision to enlist in the military is a scary one for families to face, especially in a time of world-wide political unrest. If it comforts you at all, remember that countries with “U.S. oil interests” are landlocked, and do not sponsor a national Navy of their own [Ed. Note: This is what Tazi's Mommie's cousin told her to stop her from worrying so much when he was deployed to the Gulf]. This is not to say that your grandson will not face danger as a Seaman in the U.S. Navy; but it is his free-will choice to risk that danger in order to protect the United States and our interests overseas. If I were his grandparent, I would be proud of his decision to put country above self.

I am afraid there is no talking your grandson out of his decision to enlist in the Navy; but there are ways for you to come to terms with his decision and to learn to be more supportive of it – even if you honestly believe it is a “devastatingly bad” one. There are many support groups for the family members our military members leave back home when they report for service, including Operation Home Front for the families of soldiers deployed overseas and the National Military Family Association, to name a few.

In time, the uncertainty of where your grandson will be stationed and what he will be doing will melt away when a structured daily routine develops. Use this time before your grandson’s official leave date to speak to him about his goals, and what he hopes the Navy will do for him. Listen with an open mind, and an open heart, and do your best to be supportive of him. Once you educate yourself about what awaits your grandson, you may find yourself feeling a sense of pride as opposed to a sense of dread. I wish you both nothing but the best!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Young Love? Yes. True Love? You Decide!

Dear Tazi-Kat:

My heart is breaking. The woman I love just got engaged to another man. I have been best friends with “Cherie” since kindergarten, and have always been secretly in love with her. I never said anything because I did not want to risk ruining our friendship, and now she is promised to another man. Tazi, she has only been dating him for six weeks! I think this is far too soon to make such a serious commitment to someone.

I realize that Cherie and her fiancé will not be able to get married until after they finish school, which is not for another four years – eight, if Cherie decides to follow her dream of going to college – and a lot can happen during that time that would cause either of them to change their minds, but I am still tempted to try and do something to push them towards a break up – like telling her parents – and then, as the best friend, I could be there for Cherie to help her pick up the pieces of her broken heart and maybe even find the courage to ask for a chance of winning her hand for myself. What do you think I should do, Tazi?

Head Over Heels

Dear Head Over Heels:

I would recommend that all of you concentrate on your school-work – middle school and high school can be an academically taxing time without having to worry about the stress of a marital relationship.

At 13 or 14, six weeks can seem like a lifetime to have spent with someone; and heart-break can feel like a slow and painful death, but trust me when I say that this, too, shall pass. I will not deny the validity of your feelings – or those of Cherie for her fiancé – but I will express doubt over how long they will last. You may find that you will not have to do anything to “push” Cherie and her fiancé towards a break-up because there is a strong chance that this will occur as a natural turn of events. The fact that Cherie is not mature enough to tell her parents about her “engagement” speaks to the fact that she is not mature enough to be engaged.

Right now, the best course of action for you is to continue to be Cherie’s best friend. The trust and emotional intimacy you share is a very precious gift in and of itself, so please do not sabotage it by plotting to undermine her happiness. Instead, nurture it with continued friendship and loving actions. Some of the most lasting romances have started between the closest of friends; and in a few years – when you are both a little bit older and a little bit wiser – Cherie may discover that the one she has been looking for has been by her side all along.

Regardless of what happens, remember that ladies love the man who treats their girlfriends well; so if you look around, you may find several sets of eyes looking back at you. Don’t be afraid to get to know some of these young women. You may find one you like as much – or more – than your life-long crush.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fear of Public Speaking Can Be Overcome With Laughter

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am a senior in college, and extremely shy. In order to graduate, I have to successfully complete a public speaking class, which I have put off as long as possible. I am registering for my final classes, and have to take this Spring semester. The thought of getting up in front of a roomful of people makes me want to throw up. Do you have any advice for me on how to overcome my fears?

Shy Lady

Dear Shy Lady:

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once pointed out that a survey showed that American feared public speaking more than death; making the joke that if someone were at a funeral, they would prefer to be in the casket than giving the eulogy. Perhaps that is nothing more than a fallacy, but it is a joke that makes many people smile – which is one way to overcome your fears. Laughter, it is said, is the best medicine. It helps you to relax, which makes it easier to make a presentation.

Another way to overcome your fear of speaking before a large group of people is to pick a spot on the wall just above the head of the person in the center row, and look at that spot instead of at the audience. From the distance that is between you and the front row, it will not be noticeable that you are not making direct eye contact. Taking a few deep breaths before going up to present will help settle your jitters, as will thinking relaxing thoughts.

My Mommie (who types these responses for me) has been involved in making public presentations since she was a child, and she asked me to pass along this advice that has always worked for her: When you get up in front of the room, scan the audience from one side of the room to the other, and imagine that all they are wearing is underwear – and not their underwear, but something that would look incongruous to their personality. Imagine the stiff prude wearing something racy from Frederick’s of Hollywood; the Sharon Stone look-a-like in granny panties; the too-cool-for-words guy in the backwards baseball cap in tighty-whities; and the most conservative man in the room in a “Borat mankini” . Aside from making you giggle, it will also give you a boost of confidence, like you have a secret that nobody else knows.

In the meantime, don’t fret bridges you may not have to cross. Any experienced Public Speaking professor will understand that students are nervous about presenting, and will have many of their own tips on how to relax and even learn to enjoy public speaking.

--Tazi Kat

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dad's Assistance With Haunted House Turns Into Real Life Horror!

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I will get straight to the point of this letter: I feel like the lowest form of life on earth right now. I am recently divorced, and have been doing my best to remain active in my young children’s lives now that I no longer see them every day. As a part of this effort, I have been volunteering to assist with the construction of a “haunted house” fundraiser organized by the PTA. It has given me the opportunity to be involved with my children’s after-school project, as well as to get to know some of the parents of their school-friends.

My divorce was very difficult, so I am enjoying meeting many new people who do not know me through my ex-wife as well as the bonding time that I am getting with my children. Another benefit to my volunteer position is the opportunity to meet other single parents; people who understand what I am going through, and who can offer me advice and encouragement for what comes next on my path.

In spite of my best intentions not to seek romantic involvement, there is one woman that I have fallen for – hard. “Sophie” is everything I have ever wanted in a woman: she is bright, funny, compassionate, educated, and professional without being stuffy. Her smile lights up the entire room, and I find myself wanting to be a better man because of her. Recently, we both stayed late to finish up some last minute details before the haunted house grand opening – I because I needed to work off some steam (my ex-wife had picked up the kids and berated about money); she because she did not want me to be stuck there all alone in my agitated state. We went out for dinner and drinks afterward and one thing led to another, if you know what I mean, Tazi-Kat.

I don’t regret what happened between me and Sophie, and I would like to continue to see her because I think we could work well together; but the problem is that she is my daughter’s first-grade teacher. Nobody knows what has happened between us, and for the sake of her job, we can’t say anything. We both realize it was an incredible breach of professional ethics, and she has told me that she cannot continue to see me until after the end of the school year. That isn’t until June, Tazi-Kat, and this is October!

A part of me understands that I must wait to pursue this relationship, but a larger part of me is afraid that Sophie will meet someone else in the meantime. I am ashamed to admit that the larger part won out and I suggested that I would casually say something to her Principal if she refused to continue to meet with me, if only on a platonic basis. Obviously, she did not react well to this and has been avoiding me like the plague. I have tried to apologize to her, but she still refuses to speak to me unless it is regarding my children. Even though I behaved like an absolute meathead, she is still the consummate professional.

I would never, ever do anything to cost Sophie her job or her reputation; and a part of me wishes she would call my bluff so she could see that. Tazi-Kat, do you have any advice to offer me on how to right this very wrong situation I have created?

Bad Dad

Dear Bad Dad:

You sound to me like a very good Dad who made two rather huge mistakes – the first in being intimate with your daughter’s teacher, the second threatening to report her for her lapse in judgment. The question at hand is not whether or not you are good Dad, but whether or not you are a good man. Only you can figure out the answer to that question.

As to how you can right this very wrong situation, that might be the tougher of the two questions to answer, but I will give it a try. The fact that Sophie was willing to wait until the end of the school year to see if there was anything between you besides alcohol-induced attraction tells me that at one point she may have been interested in you; which also means there may be the slightest glimmer of hope for you, in spite of your horrible threat, if you don’t continue on your current course of bad mistakes. (I know this sounds crazy, but I am told that the heart wants what the heart wants!).

My advice to you is to write Sophie a sincere letter of apology (you can include a copy of your letter to me with it, if you think that will break the ice) and then give her the space she so obviously wants. That means, once the letter is delivered you do not approach her or try to talk to her about anything except for how it relates to your children; you do not ask about how she is doing, or pump mutual friends for information about her personal life. In other words, you leave her alone and let her decide if this is a relationship she would like to pursue, and you graciously accept whatever decision she makes. For the sake of your children, I hope this situation can be amicably resolved.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Office Gift Swap Brings Tidings Of Competiton

Dear Tazi-Kat:

The holidays are coming up, and with them come the annual gift swaps that many workplaces practice, including mine. My problem is that I never know what to do when it comes to the price range. In order to be fair to all, my office puts a “$20 limit” on all gifts; but I am confused as to what this really means.

Does a $20 limit mean that people can spend less than $20? Does it mean that we should spend $20 before sales tax or including it? And most importantly, does it mean that the gift should be a $20 value? I was reading your column about the woman who always finds bargains, and realized that if I buy a gift on sale for 75% off, I can purchase a gift that is valued at $20 for only $5; which would save me a bundle but make me look cheap if anyone found out what I actually paid for it. On the other hand, using that same 75% off sale, I could also buy a gift that is valued at $80 for only $20; which would make my gift really stand out compared to everyone else’s, as well as give me bragging rights about the great deal I scored (should anyone be concenred that I went over the $20 limit).

What are your thoughts on the matter, Tazi-Kat?

Holly Day, Shopper

Dear H.D. Shopper:

It sounds to me like the office holiday gift swap is fraught with competition over who brings the best gift! Please remember that giving holiday gifts is about the spirit of sharing good tidings and joy and should not be turned into a popularity contest.

If a gift is on sale for 75% off just before the holidays (with the exception f Black Friday specials), do you really think that is a gift someone would truly want to receive? Gift items that are on clearance sale are generally there because they were leftovers from seasons past. Purchasing the latest Call of Duty game for $20 is a great score, and a gift most adults would love to receive; purchasing the once popular Furby for $20 is a gift that most adults would find pathetic and sad, regardless of the fact that they once sold for several hundred dollars and were considered by many to be destined to rise in value.

As for the definition of “$20 limit”, I would say it is a guideline that is set to avoid the spirit of competition that erupts over who gave/received the best gift; as well as an attempt to keep the gifts affordable and enjoyable for all, thus eliminating the need to even enter the realm of the 75%-off clearance bin.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Is Bald Beautiful? It Is In The Eyes of This Beholder!

Dear Tazi-Kat:

My problem is two-fold. My husband of almost 20 years – who has been bald since before I met him – recently decided to stop shaving his head and start using Rogaine to re-grow his hair. I prefer him bald (honestly!) and the cost of Rogaine just isn’t in our budget right now. It is
very expensive, and we really could be using the money to pay down our credit card debt. This, however, is only half the problem.

“Oscar” was only a teenager when he started to lose his hair, and that which is growing back is coming in gray. He feels this makes him look “old, not distinguished” and has started using hair-coloring for men. Since Oscar is willing to admit that we cannot afford both the Rogaine and trips to salon every month, he has been using hair dye from a box that he picks up at the dollar store. Tazi-Kat, it looks horrible!

I have tried to gently coax Oscar into going back to his natural look, but he insists that being bald makes him look old; that he is tired of constantly having to shave his head; and that he loves his new look. Our 20th wedding anniversary is next month, and we were supposed to have our portraits done, but I do not want this stranger posing next to me in the photos! What can I say to my husband to make him realize that he was sexy the way he was?

Dyeing Inside

Dear Dyeing Inside:

In calling your husband a "stranger" you sum up what is upsetting you so much: He no longer looks like the man you love. This does not mean he is no longer the same man, and if this is the look he prefers you will have to adjust to it. Do not give up without a fight, but do battle lightly on this topic.

How would you feel if your husband told you that you would look much sexier if you just gained 20 pounds? Just as women tend to be sensitive about their weight, men are at least as sensitive about their hairlines, and to suggest that less is more is like telling a woman that she needs to gain weight: however sincere the sentiment is, it sounds hollow.

If your husband refuses to believe you when you tell him how attractive you found him when he was bald, it might be time to dig through some old pictures – and to take some new ones, before your portrait sitting. So often, when a person makes a change to their appearance they think they look terrific, until they see pictures of how they actually do look.

Since your anniversary is approaching, a nice gift would be a “Through the Years” photo album of you and your husband; a collection of pictures from every year of your marriage, documenting both special and everyday occasions. Use this project as an opportunity to reminisce over photos of times past, how “handsome” your husband looked, and what a beautiful couple you are. Tell him that, as a part of the project, you would like to take some more recent photos of him with his “new look”.

Once Oscar sees the photos of how he actually looked before next to the photos of how he actually looks now, he will be confronted with the unvarnished truth – and if he looks as bad as you claim he does, you might want to have the electric razor ready and waiting. If Oscar is still convinced that he looks better now than he did bald, at least you will have a very special anniversary gift to give to him; one that will feature him looking like the man that you fell in love with all those years ago.


P.S. For many women, bald is sexy. Michael Jordan, Telly Savalas, Samuel L. Jackson, Billy Zane, and L.L. Cool J. (just to name a few) are all bald and I have yet to meet a woman who would kick any of them out of bed! You just might want to remind your husband of this fact!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Co-Worker Needs To Stop Being So "Picky"

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I have a problem that I have never seen addressed elsewhere, probably because it is pretty gross and very embarrassing. I work in an office that has cubicles, rather than separate offices, and in one of those cubicles is a coworker with some very disgusting habits. I will call him "Elmer" because he is bald like Elmer Fudd.

Elmer snorts like a pig because of a post-nasal drip, and then hacks it up a few minutes after every snort. The sound effects are horrible, and I try to tune them out with music, which works some of the time; and I can deal with the sound if only because it is the lesser of two evils, the second evil being the visuals. Elmer also picks his nose, and eats whatever he happens to find in there. If someone catches him indulging in this disgusting practice, he will make a joke about it being "snack time"
and offer "a bite to eat" to whomever had the misfortune of catching him off guard. He wipes his nose with his shirt-sleeves, and my male co-workers have informed me that he never washes his hands after using the bathroom.

My biggest problem with Elmer's behavior is that I sit in the cubicle next to him, so I am exposed to this spectacle more often than most. I love my job, and when I first started working here I was excited with my cubicle placement, because Elmer happens to be the owner's son. I figured such a placement would help me to quickly move up within the company. After six months, I realized that all "newbies" get placed next to Elmer and, with seniority, they get better placement. I have been seated next to Elmer for over a year now and, being in the middle of a recession, there has been a hiring freeze so there is absolutely no chance of gaining seniority and moving to a new cubicle, far from the atrocity that is Elmer.

What should I do, Tazi-Kat? As I mentioned, Elmer is the owner's son; so I am hesitant to go to HR over this, and it is obvious that Elmer is not about to change his ways.

Getting an Earful While Seeing a Noseful

Dear Getting...:

You are right, your issue is pretty gross; and it appears that Elmer lacks the decency to be embarrassed, so there appears to be little that you can do other than approach Human Resources about this issue.

Before going to your company's HR office, you should build a case about Elmer that does not center on the yuck factor, but on the issue of general office health. Elmer's habits are spreading germs around the office, and you have a right not to be so heartily exposed to them.

With cold and flu season arriving, now is the perfect time to approach HR about instituting a campaign for the use of tissues and hand sanitizer, along with regular hand-washing. Many offices have a policy that all employees utilize these items to reduce the spread of cold and flu or face sanctions. If the policy is instilled throughout the office, Elmer cannot argue that he is being singled-out for punishment and his father cannot single-out you or the HR Manager for retaliation.

The use of tissues and hand-sanitizer may not put a complete stop to Elmer's unhygienic behaviors, but it should be enough to curb them or at least minimize the spread of his germs. Should Elmer continue to make unsolicited comments after being caught in the act, calmly inform him that his comments are unappreciated and that you would prefer he kept them to himself. By reacting in cool and collected manner, the childish thrill Elmer gets from grossing you out should vanish, and his rude comments along with it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Meddling Mother-In-Law Causing Marital Stress

Dear Tazi-Kat:

My mother-in-law is driving me up a tree. Before I married her son, she was always trying to insert herself between us by undermining our alone time. She would always suggest we do things "as a family, since we soon will be one". At first, I thought this was sweet and went along with it because I wanted her to like me and welcome me to the family. Now, after two years of marriage, I am ready to move across the country just to get away from her.

My problem stems from her inability to respect her son as an adult and me as his wife. She insists on planning every aspect of our lives together, from when and where we vacation; right down to when we should have children. She is constantly stopping by with things for our apartment, food for our refrigerator, or toys for "her grand-cat". Tazi, we have plenty of food in our pantry; the cat is content to play with the plastic seal from the milk gallon; and our apartment is crowded enough without the gifts she bestows upon us.

My husband and I recently decided to start saving for a house, and my mother-in-law immediately suggested to all who would listen that "the kids" (that's us) move in with her to save on the cost of rent. My husband thinks this is a great idea, and can't understand why I wouldn't want to move in with "Mom". I admit that the idea of saving for a house twice as fast is appealing, but I am afraid that once we are moved in with her, my mother-in-law will never allow us to move out of her place and into our own home - and on with our own lives.

Do you have any sound advice for me, Tazi-Kat? And please don't take my mother-in-law's side, just because she brings my Snowball toys every time she (way too frequently) visits!

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Dear Between:

As tempted as I am to praise your mother-in-law's generosity, I can understand how your poor Snowball might feel smothered by all of the love being expressed. There is such a thing as too many toys! We cats generally have a favored few items with which we play, none of which are more loved than the items we purloin from our humans. My Mommie's emery boards are my personal favorite.

I can also understand how you would feel smothered by your mother-in-law's generosity. There comes a time when people stop being children, and they would prefer to be treated as the adults that they are. There also comes a time when a man must stop being his mother's son and start being his wife's husband. I notice that twice in your letter you refer to your husband as "her son". Do you still see your husband as his mother's little boy? Because it would appear that she does see him this way and, by extension, you are her baby girl. If you wish to extricate yourself from her smothering, you need to draw the line and stand firmly behind it.

At this time, I would not advise that you move in with your mother-in-law, lest you want to ride the time warp back to childhood. Your mother-in-law's home is just that - her home, meaning you will have to live by her rules. While these rules may not extend to the decisions regarding family-planning, your mother-in-law will probably do all that is in her power to keep you under her wing (or under her thumb) for as long as possible.

You need to have a serious talk with your husband about his mother's behavior. If he sees nothing wrong with it, I would suggest you seek marital counseling for the deeper issues at hand. If, however, he agrees with you that his mother's behavior is overbearing it will be he who needs to have a firm talk with her about respecting your boundaries. In time, should the situation improve, you can re-visit the idea of moving in with "Mom" to save money on rent.

In the meantime, if you cannot find cheaper rent other than at Chez Mom, try to cut back on expenses that you can control: Internet, cable, cell phone bills, entertainment budget, transportation costs, and even your grocery bill. The Internet is full of articles on how to cut expenses, but I personally recommend anything by financial guru Suze Orman. Financial sacrifices can be difficult, so just remember to keep your eye on the prize - a house to call your own!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Young Woman Can't Sing, But She Still has A Song In Her Heart

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I can’t believe I am writing to a cat (I bet you hear that a lot), but it seems so much easier than confiding in a person. I am 17-years-old, a senior in high school, and have always dreamed of being a professional vocalist. I have been watching American Idol since I was a child, and would love the opportunity to compete on the show and become the next Carrie Underwood. My one problem is that I have absolutely no singing talent. I have tried taking voice lessons and vocal coaching, but I still couldn't carry a tune with a forklift! Do you think I should give up on my dream, Tazi? Or should I follow my heart and study Voice in college next year?

Lady Not-So-Gaga

Dear Lady Not-So-Gaga:

There are many miles between being able to sing well and making it as a professional singer. Having talent is no guarantee of success as a recording artist. It has been said that Carrie Underwood herself would probably still be working on a farm in Oklahoma if it weren’t for American Idol, so try not to put all of your eggs in one basket.

You say that you “have absolutely no singing talent”, even with voice lessons and vocal coaching. This leads me to believe that majoring in voice in college may not be the best choice for you, however, I would not completely rule out this option, either. Have you ever considered the idea of being a voice actor? The lessons you have taken with voice instructors and vocal coaches must have taught you proper breathing and intonation which, when it comes to voiceover work, can be much more important than how you sound.

The next time you watch an animated movie or show; notice the voices of the various characters. Is the thought of being the voice for one of them appealing to you? If so, this is a possible path you could follow to fulfill your dream of becoming a professional vocalist – no singing talent needed.

Regardless of what you decide to do in life, be sure to diversify your college education. If you major in Voice, it might be a good idea to minor in Business – this way you can act as your own agent. You could also major in Communications and minor in Voice, or – if your program allows – study a double major. An appointment with your high school Guidance Counselor should be the first step on the path to your future, as s/he will be able to point you in the correct direction.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Teenager Discovers Tea-Party - Much To His Parents Dismay

Dear Tazi-Kat:

My wife and I are feeling like complete failures as parents, and are wondering just where we went wrong. As proud, liberal Democrats we have tried to raise our son to be a compassionate, caring human being. We thought we were doing everything right, but now - at age 15 - he has told us that he wants to join the Tea Party.

"Joey" has told us that we are too soft, always giving money to the United Way and other causes that assist the needy, and that money earned is money appreciated. He is making my poor wife cry and my blood boil the way he goes on and on about how if the less fortunate just developed "a work-ethic and sense of morality" they could all be fully-employed and "not sponging off of society".

Tazi-Kat, for us, the most difficult part of this issue is that we have always encouraged our son to be a free-thinker and to follow his heart regardless of what others will say. We support our son's right to free-thinking; we just cannot support his views in our home, but at the same time we do not wish to squelch his right to free speech. Do you have any advice to offer on how to handle this terrible muddle?

Voted for Obama...and Gore...and Clinton (Twice!)

Dear Voted For...:

Nobody has ever said that parenting is easy work - not even those who have never been parents. The job of raising a child to be a respectful, noble, and successful member of society is a difficult and sometimes thankless job, as you are discovering. At 15 years-old, your son is old enough to formulate his own opinions; but not old enough to be independent of his parents rule. This "muddle" you are in presents a wonderful opportunity for you as parents to teach your son compassion for others - and that money and jobs do not simply materialize out of want or need for them.

Since your son is still underage, the law requires that you provide him with nutritious food, clothing, and shelter. It does not, however, require that you provide him with snacks and other junk food teenagers like to eat. Nor does the law require you to buy your son expensive designer clothes. Do you see where this line of thinking is headed? Just because you must respect your son's views does not mean that you are required to support them.

I suggest that you sit down with your wife, and work out an accounting of your son's expenses. How much do you spend on designer jeans when plain-old Levi's will work just as well? Calculate the price differences between what will "work just fine" in your eyes and what will "work just fine" in his eyes. Tell him that from this point forward, the extra expense will be his to pay. If he cannot afford the additional money to purchase Sean John clothing than it looks like he will be wearing the latest fashions from J.C. Penney's Arizona Jeans Company.

If you wish, you can take this plan one step further by eliminating spending money for things like pizza with friends, popcorn and candy at the movies, video games, and other splurge items. If his allowance will not cover these expenses, you and your wife can offer him the opportunity to earn the necessary funds by completing additional chores. If increasing his allowance is not in your budget simply tell your son that you, as the employer, cannot authorize the "overtime expenses" and that he will have to seek extra employment elsewhere. For a 15-year-old boy, this usually means mowing lawns, raking leaves, or shoveling snow - depending on the season.

Once this plan is implemented, your son may discover that his preferred lifestyle does not jive with his new-found political views on absolute self-sustainability...or you may discover that your son is truly committed to living out every aspect of his new-found political views. If the former occurs, do not pass up the opportunity to discuss with him the lessons learned. If the latter holds, you and your wife will have to work on accepting that this is who your son is and that his views - however odious you may find them - deserve respect; as would his industrious spirit.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bad-Breathed Hubby Needs More Than Just Mints

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I love my husband with all my heart, but I can't stand to kiss him due to his horrible, awful breath. It is bad, and I don't mean bad like, "I see you had Caesar salad for lunch today" bad; but overwhelming, make you gag bad. The guilt I feel is making me miserable and I can see the hurt in his eyes when I turn my face away from him, but I just can't do it! The smell is
that rank!

The dear man has tried everything - brushing, flossing, mouthwash, breath mints - he has even eliminated garlic from his diet, but to no avail; his breath is
still awful. He has never smoked, nor does he chew tobacco, and he does not eat a low-carb diet that gives so many people nasty breath. Do you have any ideas of what else he could try, Tazi-Kat? This issue is putting a huge wedge between us, and is tearing apart our marriage.

Missin' His Kissin'

Dear Missin'...:

There are many causes of halitosis (that's the medical term for chronic bad breath) and most of them are bacterial. The mouth, being moist and warm, is the perfect place for bacteria to grow. If the things your husband has tried to alleviate the problem - brushing, flossing, and mouthwash - are not working then oral bacteria can probably be eliminated as the source of the problem. Since you mention that he has eliminated garlic from his diet - the chemicals in which enter the lungs through the blood stream - it can be certain that this is not the problem, either. Low-carb/high-protien diets lead to ketosis (the burning of fat for energy) and you are right, they do cause horrible breath. However, since your husband is not a low-carb dieter either, this leads me to believe that the underlying cause of your husband's breath could be a more serious health issue.

How exactly does your husband's breath smell? Can you pinpoint it? Here are a few bad breath smells that are associated with particular health issues:

Rotting fruit: Undiagnosed diabetes (and dangerously high blood glucose levels)
Ammonia: Kidney disease or even kidney failure
Bad fish: Liver disease/liver failure (this is also accompanied by jaundice)

Other smells that cannot be described could be associated with a lung infection or throat problems, such as ulcerations or even cancer. It would do your husband well to see a doctor for a thorough check-up. This means he will have to be completely honest with the doctor about his halitosis. It could be embarrassing, but it could also save his life.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Teen Is Feeling Lost On The Path Of Religious Teachings

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I don't know what to do or who to turn to for advice with my problem. I am 15-years-old and preparing to make my Confirmation in the spring. My problem is, I am not sure I want to do it. I was raised Catholic, and have always gone to church because my parents drag me there, which is why I have also been going to my Confirmation classes; but the way the teacher talks about how Confirmation is my "decision to become a full-fledged member of the Chruch" makes me balk at the idea of it.

I am not sure I am ready to commit to the idea of one
true religion, when there are so many in the world. I think I would at least like the opportunity to explore some of them before pledging myself to one for life. If I tell my parents that I don't want to be Confirmed, I am afraid they will be very angry; but if I go through with it, I will be angry with myself for not following my heart. Any suggestions on how to handle the whole situation, Tazi?

Confused Catholic

Dear C.C.:

From the tone of your letter, I am predicting you will be the kind of Catholic who stops attending services as soon as you are old enough to move out of your parents house. No parent who values their religious faith wants this for their child, so I suggest you have a frank discussion with your parents about how you are feeling. Will they be angry with you? Most likely not. Will they be terribly disappointed with your decision not to be Confirmed? Most likely yes, because this is something that is important to them. However, that is one of the beautys of the sacrament of Confirmation - according to my sources, it is your choice to make; and if you express doubts about wanting to go through with it, the Bishop of your Diocese will see to it that you are not Confirmed until you feel you are ready - should that day ever come.

If I may make a simple analogy, religions are like perfumes. Some people are given the perfect scent as a gift, and choose to stick with that one scent for all of their lives; while other people discover the perfect perfume all on their own, sometimes finding it on the first try, other times sampling several different scents before finding the right one. Some people start with one scent, but with time their happiness with it fades and eventually they stop wearing the perfume and either find a new one or stop wearing perfume altogether.

There is something else about perfume that also correlates to religion: If you sniff-test more than three perfumes in a row, you will lose your ability to distinguish between them. The same can be said for trying out differnet religions, as many of them are extremely similar, differing only by subtle nuances within their dogmas.

Do you have a spiritual advisor? Someone who you can talk to about your questions and misgivings? This person may be able to help you focus on why you are experiencing the feelings you are going through, and could also introduce you to the basics of different religious beliefs. S/he does not have to be a priest or a religious sister; in fact, Youth Ministers are some of the best sources of guidence to teenagers with questions of faith, because they are specially trained and educated for the vocation of working with teenagers.

In the end, whatever their children decide, most parents are just happy that their children have decided on some kind of faith and belief in a guiding higher power. Just remember that like perfume, faith itself is a gift - one that many would say is far more precious than gold. Like an heirloom, it is passed from generation to generation. Understanding this is the key to understanding your parents viewpoint on the subject, and why your religious education is so important to them. Good luck to you on your spiritual journey. Please write to me again in the spring to let me know what you decide!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Purr-Inducing Praise Makes For One Happy Tazi-Kat!

Dear Tazi-Kat:

A friend sent me a link to a column you recently published about bargain hunting, suggesting that it might solve some of my frustrations. At first I was a little hesitant; thinking an advice column written by a cat must be a joke, but I have to tell you I was pleasantly surprised!

For some time now, I have been searching for a comforter set for my elderly father’s bedroom (he lives with my husband and I). In order to keep him warm without roasting the rest of us, I wanted a thick comforter and, since his rugs are grey, I was adamant about the color: it simply had to be navy blue. After three months of looking, I was getting quite frustrated – everything I found in navy that was thick enough to keep Pop warm during a cold winter was quite pricey!!!

I decided to give the advice you gave a try, and I could not be more pleased with the results! I went to one of the websites you suggested, and searched for “men’s comforter sets”. I found a beautiful one in alternating shades of charcoal and pearl grey striping that actually looks better than the navy blue I originally had in mind! The best part was the price – 75% off of retail!

I was about to purchase the comforter set alone, when I noticed that if I spent another $10 I could get free shipping, so instead I bought the “bed in a bag” version of the set – that’s a comforter set that comes with matching sheets – for only $30 more. Because I saved $18 on shipping, it was like getting a set of $130 sheets for only $12. That’s more than 90% off! The best part is that the set is just as thick and plush and beautiful as it looked online; my father is thrilled with it; and I saved $200 that I can now put towards Christmas gifts for my children.

I am so happy that my friend sent me your column that I am treating her to lunch next week as a thank you! You, Tazi-Kat, have a new devoted reader. Keep up the good work!

THRILLED With Your Column!


Wow, that is a lot of exclamation points, but I thank you for them just the same! Your excitement shines through in your letter, and is making me purr. I am so glad that my column was able to help you, and am just as happy to know that I have earned a new regular reader. Letters like yours make my day. Thank you so much for writing.

Please tell all of your friends about my column, and be sure to sign up for Ask Tazi by Email, so you will never miss a single missive from me. You can also read previous columns by clicking on the links in the right sidebar.


P.S. to my other loyal readers: Please spread the word about my column, too! I appreciate it, and I appreciate all of you! Let's take this viral!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Local Celebrity Craves Former Anonymity

Dear Tazi-Kat:

A few years ago now, I was a contestant on a fairly popular reality show. Although I enjoyed the experience, it has left me with the problem of being a almost famous - recognizable enough that people stare at me and follow me around in public, as if they are trying to figure out who I am, but not so recognizable that I have people approaching me and asking for my autograph all of the time.

Tazi-Kat, I want my privacy back! I want to be able to walk into Wal-Mart without having people following me through the aisles. Any suggestions on how to go about blending into the crowd?

Looks Familiar

Dear Looks Familiar:

If you are serious about wanting the spotlight completely off of you, here are a few simple tips to try:

1) Dark sunglasses. Wearing them can shield your face from view and block out your eyes. Facial expressions are very recognizable, and generally involve the eyes.

2) Headwear. A hat, a bandana, or a different hairstyle can completely change your look, which would deflect some or the prying stares.

3) Direct Contact: If you see someone staring at you or following you, speak to them directly, asking them why they seem to be following you. Most will deny their behavior and not bother you again; others will be just as direct and ask if you are who they think you are. Either way, it takes care of the unnerving, mildly stalker-ish behavior.

Taken together, these three tips should cut down on the number of fan-interactions you experience; which will be either a relief or a dissapointment - depending on whether or not you really do want to return to being just a face in the crowd.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dr. Jekyll's Wife Discovers That She Is Also Married To Mr. Hyde

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I need some good advice from an outside party, which is why I am writing to you – that and because you are a cat, and cats are good listeners.  My problem is with my husband.  He is a wonderful, sweet, caring and attentive man; but he can also be rigid to the point of complete inflexibility, self-centered, and hurtful.  He has never lost his temper with me but, at times when he thinks nobody is listening, I have overheard him spewing cruel venom to those with whom he is angry.  Recently, my sister approached me about something he supposedly said to her (he has denied it) and now neither of them wants anything to do with the other.  I am close to my sister, and we still have lunch once a week, in spite of my husband’s obvious dislike of her.  

The other day, I returned home from one of these lunch dates with my sister to find my beloved cat, Tabby, missing.  After a frantic search on my part, my husband calmly informed me that his asthma could no longer tolerate “the pet” so he dropped her off at the shelter while I was out with my sister.  I would have an easier time believing this if he wasn’t a pack-a-day smoker; I think he was trying to be mean to me because I was visiting with my sister!  I immediately rescued Tabby, and told my husband that if he ever did something like this again it would be he who ends up in a shelter – the homeless kind, because I would kick him out of the house.  

Needless to add, it has been rather stressful around the house since that day.  My family insists I am being mentally abused, but I am not sure.  No man has ever treated me so well – or so spitefully.  What should I do, Tazi-Kat?


Dear Abused?:

Unlike physical abuse, mental abuse can be difficult to see; especially through the eyes of the one who is being abused.  You say that your husband treats you well and is “caring and attentive”.  I assume that this occurs only when he is not being “self-centered and hurtful”?  To the eyes of an outside party, your husband’s attentions are a part of the mental abuse he is piling on you.  If he was cruel to you all of the time, you would not be confused about whether or not you are being abused; however, his periods of kindness fill you with self-doubt about your own feelings.  

Abusers are masters of manipulation who slowly chip away at their victim’s self-worth, starting by making them feel like their hurt feelings and anger are unreasonable; that they – the abuser – are actually the victim.  Is that not how your husband portrayed himself when excusing his treatment of your cat?  The fact that you were willing to stand up for your cat tells me that you are still strong enough to stand up for yourself, as well.  Hold onto that strength, because you will need it on the road ahead of you.

Several years ago, Dear Abby posted this list of classic warning signs of an abuser:

1. Pushes for quick involvement: Comes on strong, presses for an exclusive relationship and commitment almost immediately.

2. Jealous: Excessively possessive; calls constantly, even at work, or visits unexpectedly.

3. Controlling: Interrogates you intensely about whom you talked to and where you were?  Always wanting an explanation of who was on the phone, etc.

4. Unrealistic expectations: Expects you to be the perfect mate and meet all of his or her needs.

5. Isolation: Tries to cut all ties from your family and friends; accuses people who are your supporters of “causing trouble” or not liking him or her.

6. Blames others for problems and/or mistakes: It’s always someone else’s fault.

7. Makes others responsible for his or her feelings: The abuser says, “You’re hurting me by not doing what I tell you”.

8. Hypersensitivity: Is easily insulted, claiming hurt feelings when he or she is really angry.

9. Cruelty to animals & children: Brutally kills or punishes, or threatens to kill or punish animals. Also may expect children to do things that are far above their ability. Sixty-five % of abusers who beat their partner will also abuse children.

10. “Playful” use of force during sex: Enjoys throwing you down or holding you against your will during sex.

11. Verbal abuse: Constantly criticizes, says blatantly cruel things, name calling or curses at you.

12. Rigid gender roles: Expects you to serve, obey and remain at home.

13. Sudden mood swings: From sweet to violent in minutes.

14. Past battering: Admits to hitting a mate in the past, but says the person “made” him or her do it.

15. Threats of violence: Says things like “I’ll break your neck” or I’ll kill you”, then dismisses them with “Everybody talks that way” or “I didn’t really mean it”.

If your husband exhibits three or more of these traits, it is safe to consider him an abuser.  If he exhibits these traits towards you, it is safe to consider yourself abused.  The National Domestic Abuse Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) can help direct you towards resources in your area, and get you and your husband the help that you both need.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Shoppers In A Pickle Over Produce Sampling

Dear Tazi-Kat:

My best friend and I are having a disagreement, and we need an unbiased party to settle the matter. I say, when going to the grocery store, that it is okay to sample the fresh fruits to make sure that they actually are fresh and ready to eat. I am pretty sure that the cost of sampling is added into the price of the product, so if I am paying for it anyway I am going to get my money's worth. My best friend tells me that "sampling" is actually stealing, and that it is the cost of such theft that is added into the price; that if people stopped this practice, the price of fresh produce would be lowered. What do you say, Tazi-Kat?

Fresh Fruit Lover

Dear FFL:

Technically, both you and your best friend are correct. The practice of "sampling" is considered stealing by store proprietors, although I highly doubt they will see you slapped in handcuffs for it. Unless there is a Free Sample station set up for customers such as yourself to try before you buy, you are technically shoplifting. Since store-owners have come to expect this type of behavior from customers, many of them do amortize the loss into the price of what remains.  This, however, leads to a chicken-and-egg situation: Does the higher price entitle you to sample in the future or is the higher price due to sampling done in the past?

The sampling of small fruits, such as a single grape (not a small bunch) or cherry may be considered acceptable and is even expected; however, to sample larger items such as bananas, apples, pears, peaches, and other such fruits that are much more expensive per piece definitely crosses the line between sampling and stealing, and should not be attempted nor excused as an attempt to "make sure" that the items are fresh and ready to eat.

If you are so uncertain about the freshness of your produce that you simply must try before you buy, I would suggest that you shop locally at Farmer's Markets and from independently owned grocery stores that purchase from local farmers. Not only will you be helping to grow your local economy; but you may find the taste of locally grown food “fresher”, because it does not have to be picked before it is ripe in order to remain fresh through the extensive shipping process.  Knowing this should eliminate the need to eat food for which you may or may not have paid.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fan of Fall Season Not Cheering For Football

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am what people would call a “football widow”, and I absolutely hate it!  Every weekend, from September to Super Bowl Sunday my husband is glued to the TV, watching college football on Saturdays and professional football on Sundays.  He even gets up early to make sure his house chores (yard work, car maintenance, and odd jobs) are complete before the games begin.  If the Rhody Rams or the New England Patriots are playing at home, he goes to the games in person and I do not even get to see him until after the post-game revelries are over.  Autumn is my favorite time of year and I would love to go apple picking, to harvest festivals and state fairs, and to seasonal craft shows; but I hate going alone so I end up just staying home. 

Admittedly, I knew he was a football junkie before I married him (we actually met at a University of Rhode Island football game), but I thought his obsession would wan as he got older and his interests matured.  Tazi, short of cutting the cord to the television and tearing up his season tickets, is there any way to get my husband to lay off the football and get a life?

Fed Up With Football

Dear Fed Up:

It would appear that, to your husband, football is life and that he feels he has no need to get one.  As for "maturing interests", what do you find so immature about watching sports?  Or is your husband one of those men who paints his face in team colors and dresses up like the mascot for every game?

In order to answer your question, I must ask a question of you: Does your husband have any interest in going apple picking, to harvest festivals and state fairs, and to seasonal craft shows; or would he sooner shove ice picks under his toenails than attend any of these types of events?  Would you be willing to watch or attend some of the games with him, as a way of spending time together; or would you prefer the ice pick pedicure?

Not all married couples share all of the same interests, and that is okay.  By maintaining a strong sense of self, you are able to maintain your individuality, which is what originally attracted your husband to you and you to him.  Too often, when we go along to get along, we lose a part of ourselves and resentment builds; especially when we are sacrificing something we enjoy doing for something we do not.  This appears to be the extreme you have gone to in order to accommodate your husband’s interests; however, I do see room for compromise on both sides.

You mention that your husband wakes up early to complete his house chores before the games begin (football widows everywhere are cheering him, as this is generally not the norm).  This shows that he understands that there are priorities equal to or more important than football.  You should be one of those priorities, too.

The beauty of football is that, unlike other sports, the games are only once a week and the season only lasts for five months out of the year (including professional, post-season games).  It has the shortest season of any of the four major professional sports (baseball, basketball, and hockey being the other three).  There are also BYE weeks (weeks when a team does not play), late games, and night games.  On occasions such as these, you and your husband should be able to spend time together doing things that you both enjoy.  On days when your husband has plans to go to a home game, there is nothing stopping you from getting together with friends and family to do the things that you enjoy.  

In a marriage – as with any relationship – communication and compromise are keys to continued success.  A few sessions with a marriage counselor could give your relationship a tune-up, and help each of you see the other’s point of view.  If you or your husband would prefer, you can think of the counselor as a "marital referee".


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mother Is At A Loss Over Her Daughter's Weight Problem

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am concerned about my teenaged daughter.  She has always had a mild weight problem, but since hitting puberty her weight has exploded!  Granted, she is a tall girl (almost six feet!), but the fact remains that she weighs over 250 pounds.  Her eating habits are atrocious, and she does not exercise at all.  I keep healthy snacks in the house, but she uses her spending money to buy junk food.  I encourage her to exercise with me, but she just gives me “the look”; like I am the lamest person to ever to walk the face of the earth.  Short of sending her to fat camp next summer, is there anything I can do to get her to care more about her personal health? 

Chunky’s Mom

Dear C.M.:

Wow.  Just…wow.  Your signature is a slap in the face to your teenaged daughter, who is probably suffering enough with her self-esteem without you reminding her that she is just not up to snuff in your eyes, either.  Has it occurred to you that your daughter’s eating habits and refusal to exercise could be her way of rebelling against your wishes? 

Thin does not equal perfect.  Regardless of her weight, your daughter is still going to be the same person – just a heavier or thinner version.  Can you accept her for who she is?  Once your daughter feels that she is loved unconditionally, she might stop looking for such validation at the bottom of a pint of Häagen Dazs ®. 

At 250+ pounds, your daughter is significantly overweight (she should weigh about 180); and she should drop a few pounds for health reasons.  This is the approach you need to take.  There is absolutely no reason for her to spend her summer at “fat camp”, especially since there are programs like Weight Watchers that can offer your daughter nutritional counseling and moral support in a safe and supportive environment.  As a teenager, she will need parental permission and a doctor’s supervision to participate; but as a teenager, any weight-loss program she undertakes should be medically supervised.  The Mayo Clinic can also offer you tips on how to have a non-judgmental, heart-to-heart talk with your daughter.

I wish you both the best of luck on the journey to lifelong good health.


P.S.  Your daughter should be screened for hypothyroidism, a condition which can cause severe weight gain and lethargy. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Savvy Shopper's Savings Make Sister-In-Law Green With Envy

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I have a problem that I have never seen addressed elsewhere, so I thought I would write to you.  My issue is with my sister-in-law.  To look at her (and her house) you would think she was made of money.  She is always impeccably dressed in designer clothing, perfectly coiffed because she just stepped out of the student-hairdresser salon, wearing makeup that makes her look like she is still in her twenties (she is almost forty).  The inside of her house is just as amazing. 

When you walk into her living room, the first thing you see is her furniture – antique hardwood that she bought for a song due to the distressed condition and re-upholstered for an equally low price by buying the fabric from the manufacturer’s wholesale outlet.  She has adorable decorative touches that she claims to have purchased at estate sales for a fraction of their retail cost.  Recently, she completely redecorated the master bedroom on a budget of less than $1000, but in spite of the low cost, it looks like something straight out of a magazine; complete with several sets of brand-new, 500+ thread count sheets that she found on clearance for 75% off!

When I try to find similar deals, I am never successful.  I have asked my sister-in-law if I could “tag along” the next time she goes shopping, but she always seems to go on the spur of the moment when I am not available.  She has offered to help me surf the web for deals, but I am not comfortable buying online; whatever I purchase never looks as good as it does in the photo, whereas – again – my sister-in-law’s purchases look even better than pictured.

Thanksgiving is coming up, and I know my sister-in-law has a day-trip to New England planned for Black Friday, where she will come home with tons of amazing new stuff – most of which she will have carefully and thoughtfully purchased as Christmas gifts for friends and family – for which she will have paid almost nothing, as usual. 

I realize that my jealousy is starting to cause resentment, and I was hoping you might have some advice on how I can learn to shop like she does.  My sister-in-law really is an amazing person, and I do not want my jealousy to ruin our relationship, but I feel so frumpy and inadequate when I am around her!  I wish that I had her luck when it comes to finding great deals.  Do you think this is something that can be learned, Tazi?  Or is it just a talent that some people have and others don’t. 


Dear Short-Changed:

Your sister-in-law sounds like my kind of shopper!  I, too, would love to know where she shops and when so my Mommie can scoop up some of those great deals you described in your letter [Ed. Note: The letter was edited due to length].  For the sake of brevity, I will refer to your sister-in-law as “Sally”.

I spoke with a cat friend who has a Mommie like Sally – a woman who is always finding amazing deals - and I got the inside story.  The truth is that people who find deals like Sally tend to go shopping with an open mind and do not expect to find anything.  This way, if they do not find anything, they do not feel pressured to buy something in order to avoid going home empty-handed.  To them, no trip is a wasted trip. 

Secondly, shoppers like Sally do not have narrow parameters when it comes to the subjective.  They can just as easily live with the walls being painted pale blush rather than off-white if pale blush paint is what was on clearance when they decided to paint the walls.  Tag sales and estate sales are great places to find expensive treasures for low prices, but you often have to dig through a lot of junk to find them.  This requires the time and effort that separates shoppers like Sally from the rest of us.

As for shopping online, if you go into it thinking inside the box nothing you purchase will look as good as it does online simply because you are picturing what you see as how you want it to look – not as it actually looks.  If your bedroom is done in Victorian style, then look for Victorian touches – not Victorian touches in a particular size, color, and shape that simply must match all of your parameters.  What you seek may exist, but you will most likely overlook many good deals that almost match all of your parameters and end up pay full-price for an exact match.  Sites such as and NexTag can act as a search engine to great deals on websites you probably did not know existed.  As for purchasing clothing online, if the model wearing the outfit is 5’10” and willowy, and you are 5’5” and stocky, the clothing is simply not going to look the same as in the photo!

Designer clothing can be purchased for discount at stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx, as well as upscale consignment shops; or even the Salvation Army and Savers Thrift Stores, where the money from your purchases benefits programs that help the needy.  Salon services can be obtained for as much as 90% off retail price at schools such as the Paul Mitchell School of Beauty, where only the best students are allowed to work on customers. 

In short, if you are willing to invest the time it takes to find the bargains you can learn how to save like your sister-in-law; and look just as fantastic in the process.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Real-Life Felix Unger Doesn't Find Humor In Odd Coupling

Dear Tazi-Kat:

Three months ago, my best friend broke up with his live-in girlfriend, and needed to find a new place to live (she got the apartment, obviously).  Around the same time, my roommate moved back home without notice, so we thought it was a great idea for us to be roommates.  It was a huge mistake, Mr. Kat.  We are like the characters on that old TV show
The Odd Couple, expect that nobody is laughing and our problems aren’t resolved after half an hour.  When I say the man is a slob I am putting it nicely.  

I read your recent column about the sloppy teenager, and I understand what you mean when you say there is a difference between “messy” and “dirty”.  The man is dirty.  His laundry is strewn across the house, his empty beer cans would cover every table and countertop if I didn’t throw them away, and I recently had to call the exterminator for a bug problem that I never had before he moved in with me.  To look at the guy, you would never guess he lived like a pig.  He is always well-dressed and clean shaven, and the inside of his car is immaculate.  

I want to ask him to leave, but the guy is still my best friend – although I am not sure how long that will last if he continues to live here.  Do you have any advice for two guys who can’t seem to make the roommate thing work, Tazi?

That Felix Guy

Dear Felix:

Did you know that the name "Felix" is based on the Latin word for "happy go lucky"?  Ironically, it sounds as though you are the furtherest thing from happy-go-lucky at the moment, because you are discovering an important truth in life: Just because you are best friends does not mean you will make good roommates.  What is worse, all this familiarity can breed contempt, as it appears to be doing in your situation.  I can see your aggravation about your roommate’s slovenly lifestyle; and I have to ask: Can he see it, too?  More importantly, is he just as put-out over your desire for clean? 

This is one of those times that being best friends can be helpful.  Best friends can talk about anything, even the uncomfortable subjects.  You need to catch your buddy at a neutral time – not right after you have tripped over his dirty underwear for the umpteenth time – and tell him that the “roommate thing” is not working out as well as you had planned.  Point out the obvious: That your different standards of clean are driving you crazy, and that you don’t want your friendship to suffer because of it.  Tell him you will help him look for a new place; and that you will help him move; but that he has to do just that: move.  If you have any mutual friends with similar cleaning habits as your best friend, suggest that they might make for a better roommate situation than the two of you sharing space.  Do not let him convince you that he can change if you give him the chance.  All this will do is delay the inevitable.

The best part of this bad situation is that three months is not a long enough time to make yourself at home anywhere; it is more of a temp-to-perm trial period.  If it is obvious to you that after three months the situation is not working, than now is the time to end it – before it ends your friendship, as you fear it might.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Age Old Issue of the Hanging Tissue Leaves Couple In A Marital Muddle

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I saw your page header, and you are right – I have not known where to turn with my problem since Ann Landers died, so here it goes: Which way should the toilet paper roll hang, over or under?  Ms. Landers often discussed this matter, but I was just a kid back then and didn’t pay any attention.  Now that I am grown and married I find myself wishing I had paid more attention to her answer, because my husband and I are having the same problem.  What say you, Tazi-Kat?

Tissue Issues  

Dear Tissue Issues: 

As a creature of the feline persuasion, I am absolutely fascinated by tissue mechanisms.  I love how they pop up from the perfectly square box in individual pieces, and if I had opposable thumbs I would probably spend the hours between my naps pulling them from the box one by one.  Since I do not have opposable thumbs, I have to settle for playing with the magic tissue roller in the bathroom.  On days when the tissue is placed going over the top, I can pull on it, and play with such glee that sometimes I don’t stop until I have pulled the entire roll right off of its core!  Other days, the magic tissue roller has the paper placed going under, to the backside, and try as I might I just can’t get a good tug going!  It always rips!

Until your letter, I did not realize that you could choose which way the tissue could hang!  On behalf of playful kitties and puppies everywhere, I beg you to put the tissue over the top!  If, however, you are like my Mommie and do not enjoy cleaning up the messes that I (and sometimes young children) make while playing around the house, then under the roller is the way the paper should hang.