Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cheating Husband Died Happy, Leaving Widow Happy; Mistress Feeling Guilty - And Grabby!

Dear Tazi:

Last year, my husband of 40 years died suddenly of a heart attack. The public story is that I came home and found him laying across our bed, lifeless and clutching his chest. This is more or less the truth, but it is not the whole truth. The whole truth is that my husband was a lying, cheating S.O.B. who was never faithful a day in our marriage. I happened to come home early from a spa day because I was not feeling well, and I caught him in bed with our granddaughter's pretty, young kick-boxing instructor. What happened next is what has me troubled:

"Shari", the kickboxing instructor, screamed and tried to push "Wayne" off of her, which startled Wayne. The shock from Shari's screaming and me walking in on them - combined with Wayne's heart condition - were more than the old bastard's ticker could take, and it conked out on him. Needless to say, some very awkward moments followed as the paramedics that were called to our home came accompanied by the police, and Shari and I were both interviewed for details. My granddaughter has since found a new kickboxing instructor, and I have found the peace of mind that I never knew while married.

The anniversary of my husband's death is approaching, and Shari has contacted me regarding Wayne's death. She feels that she may somehow have contributed to his heart attack by pushing him off of her, maybe shoving him a little too hard, and in turn causing his fatal heart attack. Personally, I think she is full of guilt and nothing more; but what if she is right? Am I somehow in collusion with covering up an unlawful death if I do not report this? I do not wish to drag my late husband - and my family - through the mud with scandal; but nor do I wish to be part of a conspiracy surrounding my husband's sudden death. When I told Shari this, she said she would keep quiet about it for a "share" of my late husband's estate (a considerable sum). To buy some time, I told her I would think about it; but I will not be blackmailed!

Incidentally, because my husband died unexpectedly at home, an autopsy was done and the Medical Examiner ruled the cause of death to be "natural". I know that Wayne was always forgetting to take his heart medication, plus he was at least 50 pounds overweight and his doctor had warned him that he was cheating death; which is why I tend to believe the Medical Examiner and suspect that Shari is overreacting.

Hardly Grieving

Dear Hardly Grieving:

I ran your question by a retired police officer turned attorney, who informed me that if the Medical Examiner suspected foul play s/he would have noted it in the autopsy report. Because bodies are examined as-is at the scene and in-depth during the autopsy procedure, it was obvious to all in charge that Wayne did not die in his sleep, in spite of the fact that he died in bed. A shove to the chest hard enough to incite a heart attack would leave bruising on the torso, something that would also be noted in an autopsy report and investigated by the police - at the scene of the crime, and afterwards.

According to the Rhode Island Medical Examiner's Office (the state in which I am based), the Medical Examiner determines the cause of death in any suspicious death, which is defined as a death occurring outside of a medical facility or when the deceased was not receiving medical care for a long-term health issue. Medical Examiners also determine the type of death (homicide, suicide, accidental, natural, or undetermined) and document any injuries found on the body, determining whether they are pre or post-mortem.

Now, this is Tazi talking: You give the authorities and the Medical Examiner too little credit in their ability to do their jobs properly. You do not mention Wayne's age, but after 40 years of marriage I think it is safe to assume that he was in his sixties or older. Age, combined with a heart condition, a poor track-record for taking his medication, strenuous activity (which is something sex can be considered), extra weight around the middle (which is where men tend to carry it), and the shock of having your wife walk in on you as you are trying to please a "pretty, young kickboxing instructor" all make for the perfect storm that can stress the heart to the breaking point; especially if one was at high risk for heart attack, as your late husband was.

Since an autopsy required in spite of the fact that your husband was under a doctor's care, the idea of foul-play may have already been considered and dismissed. As the Medical Examiner's report did not mention bruising, you may want to contact a private Medical Examiner for a second opinion and a review of the original Medical Examiner's report, informing the original Medical Examiner of your actions and explaining the situation, and offer permission for the two Medical Examiners to discuss the matter. If the private Medical Examiner agrees that a lack of bruising shows a lack of force strong enough to incite a heart attack, I would allow the matter to rest. If, however, there is any question in the matter you have an obligation to report this information to the proper authorities as soon as possible - or else you just might be in conspiracy in keeping secret the true manner of your husband's death. I would also report Shari's attempt to blackmail you. I wish you luck.


P.S. Considering his age and physique, your late husband must have had quite a large wallet if he was able to attract a pretty, young kickboxing instructor!

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Monday, January 30, 2012

EXTRA EDITION: Student Response To Prayer Banner Controversy

Dear Tazi:

I am writing in response to your letter from "Falcon Forever" about the Cranston High School West prayer banner. Although I can appreciate your desire to stay neutral, I think that the voice of the current students needs to be heard.

My friends and I are students at Cranston West. For the past several years, it has been drilled into our heads that bullying is wrong; that bullying takes many shapes, and to be on the look-out to make sure that what we consider fun and games does not cross the line into bullying. Due to zero tolerance policies, we are all careful to be considerate of others. So why is it that Jessica Ahlquist can bully the rest of us with her non-beliefs? Whatever happened to the idea of majority rule or even compromise or arbitration? Her all-or-nothing attitude is what has everyone so angry.

Last year, I made my Confirmation (I am Catholic) and as a part of the preparation I had to go on a weekend retreat. It was then that I had a spiritual awakening, and I realized the importance of my faith in God. Up until this point, it wasn't something I really though about; I only went to church on holidays and never said formal prayers. I still don't say formal prayers, and I don't believe that any one religion is better than another; but my belief in God is now a part of my daily life - something I never saw happening. How can Jessica Ahlquist - who is a year younger than me - be so certain that she will not change her mind in a few years? Even "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade fame is now a staunch pro-lifer.

At our school, we have people of many faiths - Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Wiccan, etc. and we all get along. Nobody made a big deal of the prayer banner because it wasn't a big deal until Jessica Ahlquist made it one. Now that the [feces] has hit the fan and is blowing back at her, she wants to play the victim. But what about the rest of us? Haven't we been victimized by her bullying?

Falcon Now And Forever

Dear Falcon Now And Forever:

I am printing your letter to give the a forum to the student voice, as you suggested. Quite honestly, when I printed the original letter as an EXTRA EDITION I did so because I thought the issue would be dead within a week. I had no idea that people felt so strongly about the banner; but the issue at hand does not appear to be just about a banner, does it? It appears to be about bullying and those who feel that the small minority is marginalizing the vast majority.

Although I stand by my original response - that I will not voice an opinion on the judge's decision and that I feel the reaction of the people mocks the very banner they seek to defend - I will add that I am very disappointed in Ms. Ahlquist's refusal to attend classes out of fear of bullying (death threats are another story; and Ms. Ahlquist has been afforded police protection ). True courage is not standing up for what you believe in, but in standing up to the face of adversity in order to defend your beliefs.

There is fault on both sides of the controversy, but now is not the time to assign blame. Rather, it is a time to work towards healing.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tazi Recommends: Hellfire

Dear Readers:

Welcome to another edition of Tazi Recommends... If you are new to this column, let me explain what is so different about my Sunday column: I offer blog reviews, instead of advice. The reason is two-fold. First, I thought it would be nice to give a "paws up!" to all the great blogs out there that you may not be reading; second, I thought it a genius way to get you to put down the Sunday paper - aka my napping mat. For a full description of what Tazi Recommends... is all about, check out its inaugural column. For those of you who are veteran readers, I thank you for your loyalty and ask you to continue reading!

With all that is political going on in America and around the world, I have been searching for a political blog that had balance; one that addressed the issues in the world around us from both sides; and from different levels, both high and mighty as well as the "what can one person do?" level. I think I have found it in today's blog review, which is why Tazi Recommends...

by "Dreadnought aka Juggernaut", from somewhere in cyberspace

Raw, powerful, and relevant; Hellfire discusses politics from a more youthful point of view than that of a CNN commentator, but in a much more mature way than a high school drone of Rush Limbaugh (even Limbaugh calls those followers "mushheads"; I thought "drone" a more polite term!). The opinions expressed sometimes use language that others find unacceptable in polite discourse, but rather than detract from the material it adds to it. The writing style of "Dreadnought" allows the reader to get inside the head of America's "next generation" and see what its members are feeling on the state of America - its economy and its culture - and at times what is there is anger; other times, compassion; but most of the time calm and rational thought - something that is sorely lacking in much political debate.

Examples of Dreadnought's writings include a first-person view of "Youth and Political Disillusionment", which discusses the recent changes in attitudes brought about by domestic and world events; "Discipline: The Four Letter Word", a short blog (that I wish was longer) describing the reaction he received when Dreadnought suggested to a college classroom that discipline was necessary to success; and my personal favorite so far, a serious look at feminism through the eyes of a man. Replete with thought-provoking questions on gender and society, "Feminism: Man's New Best Friend" will leave you asking yourself exactly what you believe on issues you never considered - but should.

Dreadnought's writing is not for those who are easily offended. As I mentioned, his writing is pretty balanced, which means his political writings will offend people on both sides of the political fence. It is not for those who are uneducated in the realm of debate, who feel that berating someone through commentary makes them correct simply because they are yelling the loudest. Hellfire is a well-researched blog that, in spite of the (occasional) use of relaxed language standards, dissects the issues on a higher level. If you want to argue the points being made, be prepared to fight with acceptable sources (meaning if your stuff comes off of sites with "anonymous" sourcing with questionable credentials, you may want to keep quiet).

The thing I like most about Hellfire is that, because it is hosted by tumblr.com, you can re-blog the work of another without worrying about properly crediting the author - the original link is built into the re-blog, giving credit where credit is due and allowing you to easily expand the debate to new audiences while adding your own opinion, additional points, or critical rebuttal to the mix.

Overall, I would give Hellfire a PG-13 rating for the subject content - it is definitely not something I would read to the children as a bedtime story - but Dreadnought's writing style does not include language or scenarios that junior high students have not already seen or heard. Except maybe for his rant against ITT Tech commercials, but that appears to be an early work; done before the blog took a political turn. I recommend it to all with an interest in the politics of American society, from the fiscal to the social. There really is something for everyone; served up with a dash of humor, just to keep things from getting too heavy.

As usual, I am now off for my Sunday nap!


Friday, January 27, 2012

Ruined Sofa Tearing at Woman's Conscience

Dear Tazi:

I have an issue of a rather sensitive nature, and I am hoping you can give me some advice. While my mother-in-law is wintering in Florida, my husband and I are unofficially house-sitting. The truth is, we got evicted from our apartment after the landlord got foreclosed on, and are staying at her place until we find a new apartment. She is not aware of this fact, although the neighbors think that she is.

My husband and I both could benefit from anger management counseling, but we do not have the money for it at this point in time. We are both stressed over our living situation, and things came to a head on New Year's Eve. He did not want to go out, so I got dressed up to go out with my girlfriends. We argued, and one thing led to another and push came to shove - literally. I turned my back on my husband to walk away and he shoved me. My shoe caught on an area rug, and I went flying forward towards the hearth. What slowed me down was the heel of my stiletto catching on my mother-in-law's sofa; otherwise, I would have slammed head-first into the hearth. I suffered bumps, bruises, and a badly broken ankle; the sofa - which was hand-upholstered in hand-woven Chinese silk - suffered a six foot tear right across the front.

I got an appraisal on the cost of repairing the damage, and the entire sofa would have to be reupholstered. It would cost approximately $16,000 (for the cost of materials, and the intricate pin-tucking pattern) . On the night of the accident, my husband took me to the hospital, and the police were called because the emergency room doctor did not believe that I had "tripped". I am not sure if we were able to convince the police, but no charges were filed. However, the problem with my mother-in-law's sofa remains.

We have not yet said anything, but I would like to tell my mother-in-law the truth: that her son and I have been living in her mansion; that we were arguing and things got out of control; and that the damage to her sofa is minimal in comparison to the fact that I could have been killed if I hit my head on the hearth. My mother-in-law could then decide how to handle the financial issues at hand. I know my mother-in-law well enough to know that she would be angry, but understanding. My husband feels this paints him as the "bad guy" and as "an abuser". He wants to tell his mother that we stopped in to check on her house before going out for the evening, and that I tripped and fell and damaged the sofa; which is the story that we told the police. This way, her homeowner's insurance will cover not only the damage to the sofa; but my medical bills and pain and suffering, as well. He feels the profit "we" make off of my injuries could go towards moving expenses and a new apartment.

Tazi, I feel like we have done enough damage as it is; and that lying to my mother-in-law will only complicate the situation. What do you suggest?


Dear Home-Wrecker:

I am counting the crimes you and your husband have committed: illegal entry, illegal occupation of your mother-in-law's home, domestic assault, battery, property damage, interfering with a police investigation...did I miss anything? Although I wholeheartedly agree that property damage is infinitely better than manslaughter (the charge your husband would be facing if you had died) I also think it is time for the lies to stop.

I have tried to recreate the scenario you describe, and consulted a Physics professor to figure just how fast you would have had to be traveling to hit the hearth with enough force to split your skull. Without information such as point to point distance and force exerted by the hearth, it is impossible to accurately figure; but the fact that your foot dragged for six feet along the sofa tells me you were moving at a pretty good clip. Just how hard did your husband shove you? If both the ER doctor and the police had a hard time swallowing your story, you can bet that a homeowner's insurance adjuster is going to give you an even harder time - and may actually insist on mathematically figuring the velocity at which you were travelling to cause such damage. Further lies will cause your story to unravel.

You ask my advice, so here it is: Get anger management counseling, before your tempers cost you more than the replacement cost of an expensive sofa. And tell your mother-in-law the unvarnished truth. Her homeowner's insurance might not cover the damage if they know that you two were living there without her permission, so she might want to grant that to you post-factum; unless she wishes to cover the expense of fixing the sofa out-of-pocket or if this constitutes insurance fraud. I dislike the idea of lying - even to an insurance company to which your mother-in-law pays premiums - but if she does not than the insurance company might be able come after you and your husband for the money, which may put you in greater physical danger from his continued temper. I consider the fib the lesser of two evils.

In the meantime, perhaps it is best if you and your husband seek separate residences.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sometimes, The "One That Got Away" Left For A Reason

Dear Tazi:

For longer than I have known, a woman I have known forever has had a thing for me. I wish I had known about her feelings sooner, because I have secretly been in love with her for several years. My problem is, I am stuck in a loveless marriage and cannot leave without further complicating the lives of all involved.

"Sandy" is a wonderful woman, who thinks my mother is a living saint. My mother adores Sandy, and always comments on how she is the type of woman I "SHOULD" have married instead of my wife. However, my mother does not believe in divorce under any circumstances. Her marriage to my father was a living Hell, but she "toughed it out 'til death parted" them and expects her children to do the same. When my brother divorced his cheating, alcoholic wife, Mother actually wrote him out of her will. My brother did not care, claiming his freedom was more valuable than any inheritance.

Tazi, my mother is quite wealthy and I am afraid I don't have my brother's strength to walk away from all of that money. Plus, even if I did divorce, I don't think I could be with Sandy publicly. My mother treats my brother's new wife like a Jezebel simply for marrying a divorced man. I would hate to see her turn on Sandy like that, and I would hate for Sandy to see how controlling and manipulative my mother really is - like I said, she thinks the woman a living saint. This is only half of what I mean when I say I would complicate lives by leaving.

My wife has threatened to draw out any divorce proceedings until after my mother passes, in order to get her "fair share" in a divorce settlement. My mother is elderly, but of good stock and could easily live another ten years or more. I cannot see myself living in a loveless marriage for another ten years...plus, I am afraid that Sandy will fully move forward with her life by that time.

I have never expected Sandy to put her life on hold for me - how could I? - but I know that she has turned down two marriage proposals (from two different guys) because she "didn't love the man with all her heart". I have it on a reliable source that she still has feelings for me, but has given up all hope of ever being with me. I know that Sandy is currently seeing somebody; but I did not realize how serious she was about him until a few weeks ago, when I saw her with him at her favorite little coffee shop. She always said that she would never take a love interest there because she liked the place too much and didn't want to risk losing it in a break-up. Do you think that by bringing him there she is telling the world that she has found "the one"? Seeing them together as I drove by the place sent me into a jealous rage, and I almost crashed my car!

I realize now how my brother could give up a fortune to be with the woman he loves, and if my situation were different I would turn my back on Mother's money to be with Sandy - but to do so would sever the bond between Sandy and my mother; and that is only if Sandy were willing to leave the man she is currently with to have me instead...not to mention the fact that a divorce could drag out for longer than Sandy would be willing to wait. Do you think I should lay my cards on the table and tell Sandy everything that is in my heart - and the behind-the-scenes drama - and let her decide for herself if she wants to be with me? Or should I just let her go on thinking that there could never be anything between us?

Adoring Sandy

Dear Adoring Sandy:

My what a tangled web you have woven around yourself! It sounds like the center of a Days of Our Lives story-line! Before I advise you one way or the other, I have a question to ask you: Have you ever revealed your true feelings to Sandy? Or are you only contemplating it now because another dog has the bone you want to chew? Also, how recent is your reliable information that Sandy still has feelings for you? She may have turned down two marriage proposals, but that does not mean for certain that you were the reason; nor does it mean she will leave the man she is currently seeing to dash off into your arms. To "lay your cards on the table....and let Sandy decide" is an awfully large ball to drop in her lap. I would make certain that your intentions are pure before considering such a move.

As it stands right now, it appears that Sandy is happy with the man she is currently seeing. Unless you see a ring on her finger, assume that she is not making plans to walk down the aisle and cool your jets to see just where your paths are leading. Currently, you are a married man; and by your own admission that fact is not going to change in the foreseeable future. If you truly love Sandy, you will not destroy her life all to satisfy your own jealousy.

I would advise you to talk to your mother. You say that she "always comments" on how Sandy is the type of woman you should have married. The next time she comments, use it as an opening to tell your mother that you agree with her - but that there is only one Sandy, and that you discovered her too late. If your mother knows how you feel about this woman - and her relationship with Sandy is as you say it is - she may be willing to relax her standards a bit in order for you to disentangle yourself from your current situation. If she is not, I beg you to leave Sandy out of the picture.

If, however, your mother is open to the idea of you pursuing a relationship with Sandy, I suggest you dig deeper into what you saw at the coffee shop. The man she was with could have been a work acquaintance or even a relative or platonic friend. For all you know, she may be single and open to your advances. If the man you saw is someone whom she is dating, find out how serious the relationship is an choose a direction based on what is in Sandy's best interests. Only in The Graduate was it romantic to see a man try to stop a wedding mid-ceremony. In real life, it is heartbreaking; leaving no winners in its wake.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

College Student Has A Special Kind Of Crush

Dear Tazi:

Semester holiday is ending and college classes will be starting again soon. You probably get a ton of letters from people who hate their roommate, but my problem is the exact opposite: I love my roommate. And therein lies my problem - I really love my roommate, and not in a platonic sense.

"Shelly" is an all-around amazing person. I never considered myself a lesbian, but I can see why I fell in love with her. It's hard not to, what with her combination of beauty, brains, and personality; everybody loves her! People tell me all the time how lucky I am to have her as a roommate, and if Shelly overhears them she tells them that she lucked out in getting me as a roommate, too!

So far, I think I have been able to hide my feelings from her - people think I have a friendly crush on her, like I look up to her as a best friend. I am okay with this, but I am afraid that the truth will come out and I will lose Shelly's friendship, which would be unbearable! Shelly and I are both single, and have never dated (her parents would not allow it; I never got asked) so we are both inexperienced with boys. Could my feelings for Shelly just be a fantasy-type crush; or could I really be a lesbian?

In Between My Feelings

Dear In Between My Feelings:

The radical behaviorist B.F. Skinner theorized that human beings fall somewhere along a spectrum of gender and sexuality, with most of us choosing one sex over the other but at some point in our lives feeling an attraction for someone of the same sex. He argues that operant conditioning teaches us that we must choose one gender identity and live by that identity exclusively. This can lead to frustration and guilt.

You say that you "never considered [yourself] a lesbian". Have you ever had crushes or outright sexual interest in boys/men? Do you find other girls/women appealing in the way you find this one particular person appealing? If the answer to the first question is "yes" and the second question "no", than I would say it is a safe assumption that you are not a lesbian; you are simply experiencing a normal human reaction to a person who embodies traits that you find attractive. Your inexperience with the opposite sex - at a time when there is pressure to "hook up" and have casual encounters - could also be feeding your desire for one who is unattainable; one who provides an easy excuse not to engage in sexual relations that you are not ready to have, but fear you may be pressured into having nonetheless.

My advice to you is two-fold. First, I suggest you speak with one of your school's mental health counselors - they have heard everything under the sun, and this will not be anything new to them, nor will they judge you; rather, they will assist you through the confusion you are experiencing and help you to figure out why it is that you feel as you feel towards this one particular woman. Second, I suggest that you cherish your friendship with Shelly. A close girlfriend is a precious gift, one that is not easily found. A platonic friendship between the two of you can lead to great personal fulfillment, if only you let it!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

EXTRA EDITION: A Friend Of Tazi Is In Need Of A Home!

Meet Spike!

Spike needs a new home

Dear Tazi:

I am a good friend of your Mommie, and I need a favor! I had a cat named Spike. Spike is 7 years old. He is a tiger cat. I had given him to a friend who had lost his cat, but now he has accumulated other cats and, well, Spike does not get any attention. I go there to see him and, well, I went there last week and he is losing weight and runs from everyone. He needs a new home where he will get the love and attention he deserves. Maybe you know someone who would give him a good home?

Spike is fixed and had all his shots. He is a total lap kitty, and is an indoor kitty (just like you!). He will lie on your lap and lay in bed with you and cuddle. He also loves bacon. I have never given an animal away and now that I have I wish I hadn’t; but he was going after his sister (one of my other cats, from the same litter as Spike). I also have two other cats, and I think having three girls and one male was the issue - he was trying to dominate them, so a house without other animals would be best for him.

I’d like to take Spike back, but I can’t. He has only been gone since June, but since that time my Tazzey (Spike’s sister) has come out of her shell! Could you spread the word and see if someone would like to adopt Spike? I live in Rhode Island and cannot travel or afford to have Spike shipped, so the adoption would have to be local.


Mommie To A Different Tazzey

Dear Mommie To A Different Tazzey:

As a former shelter cat and a huge fan of bacon, I could not resist your plea; so I am immediately printing your letter as an "Extra Edition". Is there anybody out there in the Southern New England area that could open their home to this beautiful cat? For adoption information, please email me at tazikat@yahoo.com or send a message through the form on the right-sidebar of this page.

If you are not from Spike's area, please remember to consider a shelter animal when adopting a pet. We are usually full grown; trained; and have set personalities, so what you see is what you get!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Husband Turns The Tables On Wife's Power Ranger Crush

Dear Tazi:

I started reading your column on the advice of a friend, and have been working my way through your "Past Missives of Great Import". When I got to the letter about the man whose wife is obsessed with Puss in Boots, I knew that I had to write to you.

My wife is also obsessed with a fictional character; in "Betty's" case, it is the Red [Mighty Morphin] Power Ranger. Betty is close to a decade younger than me, and grew up watching Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and "Jason" (that's the red Power Ranger's real name) was her first crush. Betty has held onto her Power Ranger fantasy and often delves into her childhood by watching reruns of the show, usually with a dreamy look on her face whenever Jason is on screen. Thanks to Netflix and OnDemand, Betty can get her fix pretty much any time she cares.

At first I was quite upset with Betty's obsession with "another man", but then I realized that she swooned over this Red Power Ranger not because of the way he fills out a Spandex® suit but for the qualities he embodies: bravery, loyalty, and chivalry. Seeing this, I realized that I often fell short in these areas. How often did I ignore my wife's requests to come kill a large spider for her? How many times did I leave her to make Sunday plans with her Mom because I was too busy watching the game on TV? When was the last time I held a door open for her or surprised her by taking her out to dinner for no reason other than she deserved a break from the kitchen?

For her birthday this past November, I surprised her by dressing up as the Red Power Ranger (the Spandex® did not look as good on me, but Betty did not seem to mind). I dashed into the house with flowers in hand, swooped my wife up in my arms, told her that I loved her and that
I wanted to be her hero! Since that day, I have made the extra effort to pay attention to my wife's needs, and have found that my needs are getting extra attention as well (*wink**wink*). As for the Power Ranger costume, let's just say it is being put to good use!

Jason's Replacement

Dear Jason's Replacement:

Thank you for sharing your story! In my original letter, I suggested that the husband work to embody some of Puss' more endearing traits. I am glad to see that such a suggestion can yield positive results. I just hope that your Red Power Ranger suit is not making too regular an appearance, lest your wife start to prefer you in it over regular clothing!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Votes Are In; Man Is Proclaimed #$@% By His Friends

[Ed. Note: The explicit language in the following letter has been removed, but is alluded to out of necessity. The content of the letter may offend some readers. The response should not].

[Note to Non-American Readers: The insult used in the following letter is the worst thing you can call an American man. It refers to a feminine post-menstrual cleansing product. --TK]

Dear Taz:

Apparently, I am a [French word for "shower"] bag. A while back on Facebook, someone started "National Smack A [French word for "shower"] Bag Day" and I received no less than a dozen "*SMACK*" comments on my page. At first, I had no idea why I was getting these comments, then someone explained to me that it was Smack A [French word for "shower"] Bag Day and asked me if I needed them to paint me a clearer picture.

Taz-man, I had no idea that this is what people thought of me. I always thought of myself as the guy with the cool charm that ladies love - kinda like a cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Bond - with a sense of humor and intelligence that puts me a cut above your ordinary average guy. Could I be wrong? Could this explain why I have had trouble finding a woman that will keep me around for more than just a few months? And why people make fun of my job as a pre-owned luxury-car salesman? Am I that much of a [French word for "shower"] bag? Or do you think my friends were just [expletive] with me?

[French word for "shower"] Bag?

Dear [French word for "shower"] Bag:

Did you really have to be so explicit with the language? I wasn't going to print your letter because of the content, but realized that this is an issue that desperately needs more attention among the Jersey Shore generation, so here it is. Apologies to any readers I have offended for publishing this. I know I felt like rinsing my eyeballs in Clorox bleach after reading it. Now, onto the issue at hand...

Note that I left off the "?" at the end of your signature. Also note that my name is TAZI, with an "I", not "Taz" (except to my close friends and family) and certainly not "Taz-man". You may also take notice that I censored your inappropriate language. When I started to read your letter, I thought maybe you were being bullied; but it appears that is not the case. If you are this annoying in person I can see why your friends chose this very special way to stage your intervention.

You do not ask me for advice, just my opinion, so in answer to your question my answer is no, I do not think your friends were "just [expletive] with you"; I think they were trying to tell you what you fail to notice about yourself. Seriously, even I - a tom-cat - do not find Arnold Schwarzenegger to be the kind of man I would want to imitate, let alone compare myself; and if James Bond were a real person a lot of women would put him into that same category.

You write that you consider yourself to be "a cut above your ordinary average guy". My research tells me that this is the very definition of a "bag". UrbanDictionary.com offers 41 pages of definitions for this compound word, my two favorite being:

8) An individual with an inflated self-esteem who is deeply deficient in social skills. They laugh loudly at their own jokes, quote themselves repeatedly, and are never as entertaining to others as they are to themselves.

10) A person who has no idea what they are talking about yet act like they are a smart person by knowlege from other people. They act out to be intelligent and gifted only to realize they are mearly a fake idiot with no idea about what is really happening in the world.

If you recognize yourself in the definitions above, there is hope for you yet. Feel free to write back if you would like some advice.

No snuggles for you!
-- Tazi

P.S. It could have been worse. My extensive research shows that your your friends could have voted you a "nozzle" or a "canoe" instead of a "bag"

Much thanks to UrbanDictionary.com for the wonderful definitions provided! --TK

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tazi's First Twitter Letter! Subject: Bullying In Schools

Dear Readers:

Feel free to send your questions to me via Twitter or Facebook! Here is a question from one reader, in follow-up to my column on the Cranston (RI) Prayer Banner Controversy:

@TaziKat what is your solution to bullying? Do you feel that there is some a mechanism that will help reduce it in schools, etc? #asktazi


Dear IceCreamJunkie:

Bullying is an interesting concept to me, as it is something unique to humans. No other animal derives joy from picking on a smaller or weaker being. In fact, unless we are seeking to eat the smaller/weaker being, we will either protect them as a member of the pack or ignore them completely as dead-weight.

Bullying is something that should not be occurring in schools - period. Schools have the ability to block social networking sites from their Internet servers, which is where most cyberbullying occurs; and I feel they should exercise this ability as a means to an end. School computers should be used for studying, not socializing. As for in-person bullying, it is up to the teachers and other school employees to take a stand and end it when they witness it and to bring the behavior to the attention of the proper authorities.

Bulling outside of school is a different issue altogether. In studying human behavior, I have noticed that human parents like their children to be the best at everything and have a tendency to take pride in the most minor accomplishments. A child who bullies shames his/her parents; therefore, parents must be made aware of their child's unacceptable behavior in order for change to occur. Spell it out to the parents: Your child's bullying shames your parenting skills. Furthermore, I recommend holding parents responsible when they claim ignorance of their child's online behavior. A child cannot cyberbully without access to the Internet (or a smart phone) and social networks. It is the parent who provides access to the Internet (or a smart phone) and social networking sites. I realize that many parents want to be their child's friend (for real, and on Facebook) but they must be a parent first, however unhappy their child is with that decision.

If a child is physically bullying another, that constitutes a criminal act - assault, and possibly battery depending on the extent of injuries inflicted. I cannot think of any parent that would not be concerned about their child physically assaulting another; however, if there are parents out there that just don't care than social services needs to intervene.

Last but not least, sometimes the person being bullied needs to learn to take a stand. If someone is harassing them on Facebook to the point that Facebook is no longer enjoyable than they need to stop going on Facebook! A person who willingly subjects themselves to the hurt of reading insults has no right to complain that their feelings have been hurt. If someone is impersonating them online, the proper authorities need to be contacted because this is a criminal act as well as a breach of the terms of service of social networking sites.

If someone is bullying someone else in person, it is best to master the art of indifference if they are unable to think of a witty comeback. Bullies bully in order to get a reaction out of their target. Like a barking dog, a bully will lose interest in its target when ignored.

I realize this last bit sounds harsh, like I am laying blame on the victim; but life beyond the school-yard does not care about your self-esteem. As an adult, your boss is not going to care that your feelings were hurt when s/he criticized your work; you exes aren't going to care that their moving on has left you despondent; and nobody is going to want to listen to the drama that occurs on Facebook when there are more important things to be done. In fact, they are going to wonder why you are wasting time online when there is real work to be done.

I also realize that many fear to report bullying, for fear the bullying will intensify. If it does than the additional bullying needs to be reported as well. The recent aftermath of the court decision regarding the Cranston (Rhode Island) High School Prayer Banner has resulted in cyberthreats against the student who brought the case. The Cranston Police are reviewing the threats and, if the threats seem credible, calling people in for questioning. This police action could not have happened if the student did not stand up for herself. Let this be a lesson to those who bully, and to those who would bully.


P.S. When a parent bullies a child, that is abuse and must be reported to the authorities - by law.

Editor's Note: Following the original publication of this article, local news sources reported that the cyber-threats against Jessica Ahlquist have ceased.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tazi Recommends: Art of Cyberdribble

Dear Readers:

Welcome to Issue #2 of Tazi Recommends...

As a cat, I really don't give a rat's behind about what humans read so long as it is not the Sunday paper, because that is where I take my nap! In order to get you people away from my/your cat's napping mat, I have started to use my Sunday column to recommend other blogs of interest and note. If figure if the New York Times Magazine can do book reviews, I can do blog reviews. Today's blog is:

Art of Cyberdribble
by the adult learners at Regis University College for Professional Studies in Colorado, USA

Art of Cyberdribble is published regularly during the academic year - which means it is currently on hiatus for the semester break, giving you a chance to catch up with all that you have missed before new articles are posted later this month. The blog follows the various trends in cyber-technology, from the importance of social networking to today's youth markets to the emerging use of electronic medical records. Essentially, it highlights and discusses how the ways in which we communicate have changed over the last decade or so, thanks to that ubiquitous invention we call the Internet! With articles ranging in subject matter from Can Twitter and Facebook Replace the Nightly News? to the politically charged subject of Cyber Voting this blog covers the "intersection of communication, cyberspace, technology, [and] culture".

Art of Cyberdribble is well researched, and provides both the credentials of its writers (paws up!) as well as references for any researched facts. In a world where anyone with a keyboard can claim to be an expert, in a time where it has never been easier to "Wikipedia" something as opposed to research and vet scholarly sources, this practice provides a breath of fresh air here in the blogosphere; and provides a good jumping off point for anyone who seeks to research cyber-communications.

I would recommend Art of Cyberdribble to anyone who wants to learn more about the emergence of electronic communications in society, as well as anyone who seeks a way to explain cyber-communications to someone who does not understand them or their importance. In short, Art of Cyberdribble provides great debate material for teenagers whose parents just don't understand why Facebook and Twitter are so important to them; parents and grandparents who seek to understand why it is so important to the youth in their lives; teachers who wish to integrate social media into their classroom; and Marketing and Communications professionals who seek to understand the teenaged and twentysomething generations to whom they seek to sell.

Now, while you are off to enjoy Art of Cyberdribble I will be off to enjoy my nap!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

EXTRA EDITION: Prayer Banner In School A Hot Topic!

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am aware of the fact that you are a Rhode Island based writer - er, cat - so I am certain that you are aware of the whole prayer banner debacle in the city of Cranston. I think it is utterly ridiculous that the time and money of our court systems is being wasted on such foolishness!

The banner - which is actually a painting, not a physical banner - has stood as a piece of artwork for decades with no complaint from anybody. Now some 15-year-old girl who claims to have "known" that she was an atheist since the age of 10 is having her will upheld over the majority. What 10 year old is certain of their religious convictions? Heck, what teenager is certain of their dogmatic convictions? Years from now, this little snot will have moved on with her life, but the ramifications of what she leaves behind will still be felt.

Am I - and the vast majority of those who speak out on this matter - in the wrong? Or are we right to believe that our collective voice is stronger than the shenanigans of this kid?

Falcon Forever

Dear Falcon Forever:

Your letter was one of three that I received on this subject just today; and it was the only one with language I could print.

You are correct that I am a Rhode Island based cat, and that I have heard of the debacle over the prayer banner in the auditorium of one of the local high schools. [Ed. Note: The mascot of the school in question is a falcon]. I am printing your letter because it is socially relevant, not because it is something on which I wish to give an opinion.

The question of separation of church and state is one that is settled in the U.S. Constitution, which states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

How this amendment is interpreted has been the stuff of legal wrangling for decades. There are those who believe that Thomas Jefferson's figurative "wall of separation" between church and state is the standard by which we all should live; and there are those who believe that tolerance for the majority rule is more in keeping with our American system of democracy.

Although I will choose not to weigh in with an opinion on this matter, I will comment on the tone of your letter: it is disrespectful. I realize that you are angry and that you feel your civil rights have been violated; but the very wording of the prayer asks for "Help...to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win" as well as spiritual guidance to "always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West". You mock the very prayer you seek to defend. A civil discourse should remain thus. I welcome comments from my readers - across Rhode Island, across the United States, and across the world.

-- Tazi

This letter was received on 1/12/12 and printed as an extra edition due to its time-sensitive relevancy. --TK

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Replacing a Destroyed Elf On The Shelf Requires Delicate Manuvering

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am one of those Elf on the Shelf Moms that people make fun of online (but never to my face...hmmmm, I wonder why? Could they secretly be jealous of the time I have to spend with my child?). I love the look of utter joy on my young daughter's face when her Elf, "Blue", shows up for the holiday season; and the excitement with which she bounds out of bed every morning to look for him. Unfortunately, "Madison's" joy turned to horror a few days before Christmas when she woke to discover that our basset hound "Barney" had gotten a hold of Blue and turned him into a chew toy. Blue's destruction was complete - torn limbs, puncture marks, the whole nine yards. Blue now sits in a shoe-box while I decide what to do with his remains.

Madison's Christmas was spoiled by the destruction of her dear, sweet Elf; and she has spent the last few days angry with Barney, calling him a "bad dog" every time she sees him. Barney is not a bad dog; in fact, it is my fault for putting Blue on a low shelf where Barney could reach him. My daughter is only six-years-old, and I do not wish to use this experience to discuss death with her; but I don't know what else I can do to give her the closure she so obviously needs. Also, I would like to continue our Elf on the Shelf tradition next year; but I am not certain she will warm up to a new Elf, considering the traumatic fate of this one. I have considered taking Madison to a child psychologist to discuss her feelings, but my husband says that if I go that far than I am the one who "needs to get their head examined". He suggests we let bygones be bygones and just get a new Elf. We agreed to seek the advice of a neutral third party, and I was going to write to the advice columnist in my local newspaper when a friend showed me your column. So here I am, writing to you for advice. Please help.

Elf-less Mom

Dear Elf-less:

As a cat, I love small things that move around - like the Elf on the Shelf - so I can see why your Barney decided that Blue was a good choice of playmate. I can also understand how your daughter would be upset over the loss of her beloved Elf; however, to equate its loss with human death is taking things a tad too far, to put it mildly. Children are resilient, and with a little creativity you can continue this lovely tradition with Madison while at the same time teaching her forgiveness (for the sake of the dog).

Since Madison believes that the Elf is magical, I think you should work from there. Start by writing a letter to Madison from Blue, telling her that he returned to Santa's North Pole Workshop a few days early so he could recover from his wrestling match with Barney. Have Blue apologize for giving her such a scare; but boys will be boys and he just couldn't resist a tussle with the dog! Tell her he hopes that he didn't hurt Barney too badly, and that his fur will cover any bruises he may have given the dog.

Come February or March, write another letter to Madison from her Elf. In the letter, have Blue tell Madison that he has "completely recovered" from his wrestling match with Barney, and with the help of Santa's magic and a good plastic surgeon he bears not a single scar. Also mention that Mrs. Claus sewed him a brand new outfit to replace the one he damaged while playing (you can also mention that he was scolded for ruining his good Elf outfit).

Now, for the most important step in this whole plan: Buy a new Elf on the Shelf for next year and let Madison think that Blue has returned, as good as new. As she grows older, the magic of the Elf will fade for Madison, but the memories you create for her - and the lessons you teach - will remain.

-- Tazi-Kat

P.S. I don't think people are jealous of the time you get to spend with your child; just tired of the pressure put upon them to be what society deems "perfect" parents.

Big thanks to People I Want to Punch In the Throat for writing and posting the funniest "Elf hater" essay ever! TK

Monday, January 9, 2012

Helicopter Mom Is Invading Daughter's Airspace

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am 16 years old, and my Mom is driving me crazy! I realize this is a common complaint, but I am seriously flipping out over the way she treats me. She seems to think I am still a little girl, and not a practically grown woman.

Ever since I was a very young child, I have done my best to be independent. My father tells me that when I was a toddler, my Mom would try to dress me and I would get undressed just so I could dress myself all over again. As a kid, my Mom would try to "help" me with my homework by doing it all for me. Book reports, science projects, you name it; Mom wasn't happy unless she had a hand in it. It got so bad that I had to complain to my teachers about it, who told my Mom that her "hands-on approach" would start to lower my grades if she kept at it.

I love my Mom, and I know she only wants the best for me, but things need to change! This Christmas, I opened my gifts to find (among other
cool things) a package of girls' white cotton underpants from Sears. Tazi-Kat, I have been wearing Flirtitudes since I was 12, which I have had to buy when I am at the mall with my friends since my Mom thinks they are "slut wear". The only reason she doesn't throw out my bras and panties when she does the laundry (which I try to do myself, when I beat her to it) is because my Dad stepped in and drew the line.

Tazi-Kat, do you have any suggestions on how to get my Mom to ease up on me? I am a straight-A student, play three sports in school, and am in a youth group at church. It's not like I'm doing drugs and sleeping around or working a street corner when she is not looking! I am starting to look into colleges, and schools on the other side of the country are starting to look very, very attractive to me.


Dear (S)mothered:

Paws-up for the creative signature! Now, onto your issue. You do not mention it in your letter, so I must ask: Are you an only child? It sounds to me like your mother is investing all of her time, talent, and mothering ability into you because you are her legacy - all that she will leave behind when she leaves this world. If she has no other children, you are her magnum opus - her greatest achievement; which could explain her hesitancy to let you express your independence.

I looked online to research Flirtitudes, and discovered it is the J.C. Penney brand of undergarments for young women, and is the furthest thing from "slut wear" that you can find (next to white cotton panties from Sears, of course). As a cat, I keep my ears open, even when my eyes are shut, and have heard that many young women like pretty panties because wearing them makes them feel pretty and confident; both of which are wonderful traits for young women to possess, so your Flirtitudes get my Tazi-Kat stamp of approval. Please inform your mother of this fact!

As for your Mom's need to control every aspect of your life, right down to your undergarments, perhaps you could ask your Dad to intervene on your behalf a little more often? As your mother's husband, your Dad should present a united front with your Mom on the issues at hand; but that does not mean that he cannot privately disagree; discuss; and cajole her into allowing you more freedom as a sign of her trust, which is something you appear to have earned.

In a few years you will be going off to college; so for now, as you work towards improving your relationship with your mother, try to base your college search on programs that best meet your academic needs, career goals, and personality; and not on how far from your mother's grasp the school will put you.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tazi Recommends: Coffee to Cocktails

Dear Readers:

I don't usually publish on a Sunday (unless it is a holiday) because that is my day to relax and catch up on my family time. There is nothing I like more than to sprawl out across the Sunday newspaper except for sprawling out across the Sunday newspaper while my humans are trying to read it! In order to make the Sunday paper more accessible to your cats, I have decided to start publishing a Sunday column called Tazi Recommends...

Every Sunday (except for holidays) I will recommend and review a blog that I find interesting and/or informative. I will give the link and author name(s); what the blog is about; and who the intended audience is. Today's inaugural entry is:
Coffee to Cocktails
by Misha from the Greater Philadelphia area

Coffee to Cocktails is a blog about being a Mom, a wife, an employee, and a friend - and all of the sub-roles each of those roles entails. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious, and always enjoyable, Misha writes from the heart about her life in the suburbs and what it is like to try and be the Super Mom that all of the television sitcoms portray - and why it is humanly impossible to do so without a staff of twenty and the budget of a Kardashian.

This blog has a little something for all of middle-class America, not just Moms. Women will enjoy following Misha from her morning coffee to her weekend cocktail as they nod their head in agreement with what she has to say; men can find insight into what is going through those nodding heads for when the woman in their life seems angry with them for no apparent reason. This blog is not recommended for children or younger readers (meaning if teenagers still think your music is cool - or you are a teenager - you may want to take a pass on this one).

That's all for now...it's time for my full-day Sunday nap!


P.S. This is my 100th column!! Who knew this little project would be so successful?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bride-To-Be Has Cold Feet Towards Future Husband, But Warms Towards Future Brother-In-Law

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am afraid that I am about to make the biggest mistake of my life. I am engaged, and my wedding is scheduled for December 12, 2012 - 12/12/12 - but I think I am marrying the wrong man. "Marc" is a good man, and I do love him; but I don't think I am in love with him. Throughout our relationship (2+ years) I have been happy; but I have always felt like there was something missing. Last month, Marc's brother "Justin" came home from oversees (he is a contractor who was working in the Middle East) and I got to meet him for the first time. Because they are brothers and are close in age they resemble each other, but that does not explain the amazing attraction I feel towards Justin. It is like he is the man I have been searching for my whole life and Marc is simply a shadow of him - which would explain my attraction to Marc.

I honestly believe that Justin is my soul-mate, and that he and I are meant to be together. The problem is, I do not know for certain how Justin feels about me. Obviously, he cannot say anything, what with me being engaged to his brother, but I a pretty certain that the attraction is mutual and he is just hiding it for the sake of family unity. I would like to say something to Justin, but am afraid that, if on the off chance he does not feel the same way, he will rat me out to Marc - then I will be left alone, with neither Justin or Marc.

I am very confused, Tazi-Kat; but like they say, the heart wants what the hearts wants - and my heart wants Justin. Could you advise me on what my next step should be, Tazi-Kat? I really feel like I should act soon, in order to make certain that I marry the correct brother on 12/12/12!

In Love With The Other Brother

Dear In Love...:

Let me get this straight: You have known your future brother-in-law for less than a month, but are already proclaiming your love for him - and are hoping that he feels the same, and will put these feelings for you above loyalty to his family? Sweetheart, you have been reading one too many Harlequin Romance novels if you think that is going to happen.

What is most likely going on is that you have cold-feet as your wedding date approaches, and are seeking a viable reason to call off the marriage without losing the security of your romantic relationship. By trading one brother for another, you would not have to go through the work of meeting someone new; developing relationships with his family; and doing all of the awkward "getting to know you" things that occur at the start of a new relationship. However, even if you were able to simply leave Marc to date Justin, do you honestly think that their family would be fine with this scenario? Something tells me the answer to that is "no".

Right now, you have a full eleven months before your wedding - to Marc. I will not even address the idea of using your current wedding date and plans to marry his brother. I suggest that your immediate action be to dial the number of a licensed counselor to hash over all that you have written in your letter [Editor's Note: The letter was edited due to length and explicit content]. Regular sessions with a professional will help you to accept what is reality and what is fantasy; as well as assist you in accepting that which can never be reality.

I also suggest that you and Marc get some premarital counseling, if you are not already doing so. In discussing what you both expect from each other - and your future together - your interest in Justin may wane and your uncertainties about Marc may be calmed. Or, you may find the exact opposite to be true - either way, you and Marc will be moving forward with all of your cards upon the table. I realize that some of the things that are addressed may be hurtful to Marc, but it is better to address these matters before the two of you are married rather than after.

Once you have clarity on why you have stayed with Marc - in spite of the fact that you feel something is "missing" - and why you feel such sudden attraction to Justin, you will be able to make a firm decision on whether or not to call off the wedding. Since your wedding date is still a full year away - and on a date that is certain to be in demand, regardless of the fact that it falls on a Wednesday - I do not think you will have a problem getting a return on your deposits if your doubts are still in place as the day draws nearer.

-- Tazi-Kat

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Farmville Fanatic Has Withering Relationships

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I need help. For the last few years, I have been playing Farmville to the point of addiction! It has taken over my life to the point where I spend several hundred dollars a month on Farmville cash to spend on my farm. At first I justified the expense, arguing that Farmville is my only form of entertainment, but I have reached the point where I can no longer justify the amount of time and money I spend playing this online game.

This year, I found myself unable to sit through Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws because I kept excusing myself to go to the bathroom. My mother-in-law thought her cooking wasn't agreeing with me; but the truth is, I was playing Farmville on my iPhone. I did not start my holiday shopping until Christmas Eve, because it seemed like every time I had a spare moment, my farm needed my attention. At Christmas dinner, I excused myself at least a dozen times to check on my Farmville missions before my husband confiscated my iPhone and told me that I could choose between Farmville or the Funny Farm, because that is where he will be sending me if I don't start putting people ahead of my gaming.

I tried to make an honest effort to give up Farmville, but found myself unable to go more than a few hours without checking on my farm. Unlike the rest of my life, Farmville brings me such delight! I thought I could sneak in some Farmville time while my husband is at work and the kids are out of the house, and set my crops to grow/pause when my husband is home, but I discovered this morning that he put a parental block on Facebook and Farmville.com! He has not given me back my iPhone, so I went to store to try and buy a new laptop (so I could play on a computer without a parental block) where I discovered that he removed my name from our credit card accounts! As a homemaker, I have no income of my own; and cannot get a credit card in my name to outmaneuver my husband. I decided to try one last tactic and went to the local library to log-on to Farmville from there, but I discovered that my password is no longer working!

When I confronted my husband about my day, he confirmed setting the parental controls after changing my Facebook password; removing my name from our credit card accounts; and cancelling my iPhone service (and paying a hefty fee that could have been spent on more useful items). I feel like he is treating me like a child! I realize that I have an addiction, but I think I should be allowed to overcome it in my own way; in my own time. My husband disagrees, saying that he has been trying to get me to stop playing Farmville for months now, and that his extreme measures were required. Tazi-Kat, I honestly don't know what he is talking about; these extreme measures are the first time I have noticed his disapproval of my gaming, and I think he is making things up to defend his grossly inappropriate behavior. What do you think, Tazi-Kat?

Suzie The Farmer

Dear Suzie The Farmer:

Although I do not approve of your husband's tactics - or his use of the play-on-words "Funny Farm" - I am going to split my decision on this argument. Your addiction is far too strong to try and conquer on your own, and drastic measures may be required. However, the controlling measures your husband took to try and get you to stop gaming were just plain wrong. You are his wife, not his child, and this addiction is one that you must work to conquer together.

From the tone of your letter, you have been tuning out life around you in preference for Farmville; to the point where you ignore your family on the holidays. Are you aware of how much you have been ignoring your husband and children the rest of the year? The fact that your husband claims that he has been trying to get you to stop playing Farmville "for months now" and this is the first time you are actually hearing him - after he has taken away your access to the game - leads me to believe that you have been tuning out much more than you realize.

I realize that Farmville brings you great joy, but that joy is coming at the detriment of your relationships with others. If the rest of your life is not as delightful as Farmville, you need to concentrate your energies on discovering why you find life to be such a drag, and take steps to remedy the problem(s). Since you are unable to go for more than a few hours without playing Farmville, I do not think independently weaning yourself off of the game is the best course of action at this point.

Video games - and computer games, like Farmville - provide for instant gratification, and can be as addictive as drugs or alcohol. For that reason, you will need a supervised recovery program. I suggest that you contact a certified mental health professional, and make an appointment to discuss the issues that leave you seeking an escape from real life. Once you are aware of how to conquer that which is driving you to invest so much time, money, and attention into Farmville you may discover that the game holds less and less of an attraction to you.

As an aside, I would like to mention that marriage counseling might be helpful in opening the doors of communication between you and your husband. You lament the "hefty fee" your husband had to pay when he cancelled your iPhone account; yet you admit to spending "several hundred dollars a month" on Farmville. It seems to me that the Great Shut Off was an investment in your financial future, as well as your marital future; but again, this is something that you should discuss with a licensed therapist, not a cat.

-- Tazi-Kat

P.S. Please give a snuggle to your children from me. It sounds like they could use some attention.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas Is Over, But Friend Expects Perpetual Presents

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I have this particular friend that I go out with often; however this friend of mine seems to be using me. Every time we go out I have to pay her share because she complains she doesn't have any money, because she collects social security. However, after going out with her she frequently asks me to stop at Barnes and Noble so she can buy books about vampires, and she spends 30 dollars or more; or she will spend her money on iTunes cards. When I confront her about it she says she doesn't get much to spend. However, the amount she dishes out for these items is money that I wish I had to spend.

In addition to these spending habits, she complains of being very lonely. Now, after looking at her patterns, I can see why she doesn't keep her friendships. I would like to tell her why she doesn't have many friends; but I don't want to sound harsh. For me, I can't keep a friendship going on me dishing out the money all the time and not getting money back in return (for the gas I use in my car to take her out and for the costs of the entertainment). What would you do in this situation?

Worn-Out Friend

Dear Worn-Out Friend:

You mention that your friend is on social security. Considering her spending habits, she is either a very hip senior citizen, or a young person on social security disability benefits. Just this past Christmas my Co-Mommie and her friend (both “seniors”) were commenting on how technology has gotten ahead of them, and that they are content with their VHS tapes and big-box TV's; so I am going to go out on a limb and guess that your friend is a younger person on SSD benefits who has a lot to learn.

In this economy, many humans are having a difficult time making ends meet, which means there is a lot less money left over for entertainment, fuel, food, catnip (sorry, I had to slip that one in there!), etc.; so your friend’s argument that she is on a fixed-income and that she “doesn’t get much to spend” is painfully self-absorbed. You have every right to be upset with her over her attitude, especially if she never offers to reciprocate in any way.

You mention that she is running out of friends, and from the sound of your letter you are ready to close the door on her, too. Before you do that, for the sake of the friendship, offering her some friendly advice could be the nicest thing you could do for her – even if it seems harsh to do so.

The next time the two of you make plans to get together, suggest that this time you each pay your own tab. If your friend is okay with this arrangement, your problem is solved! However, if she complains that she cannot afford it – as I suspect she will – gently point out the fact that the money she spends on books and iTunes cards could more than pay her tab, leaving her some left over for the goodies that you would also like to purchase for yourself, but cannot because you are constantly subsidizing her entertainment budget.

If your friend gets angry or defensive, tell her you mean no offense, but that you feel cheated; that the friendship has turned into a one-way street with all of the benefits going directly towards her. Explain that the books she purchases could probably be borrowed (for free) from the local library; and the iTunes songs she purchases can be heard on the radio or purchased for less through a different mp3 provider, such as Yahoo! Music or Amazon.com, which offers thousands of entire mp3 albums for $5 or less (many are free); and the most current music for the same price or less than what iTunes charges for the same songs. An online radio service like Pandora Internet Radio will allow her to listen to her customized musical tastes for free.

If, after offering these very reasonable suggestions, your friend is still claiming poverty and not willing to pay her own way I would broach the idea that her self-absorption could be what is driving people away; that few people are willing to go to the financial lengths you have to maintain a friendship. This will almost certainly upset her to the point she will push you away, hurling blame at you in order to push it away from where it belongs – squarely upon her.

If things reach this point, the only options remaining will be to continue with the status quo; look for low cost and free forms of entertainment; or choose to take a step back from the friendship and get together/go out places less often. Regardless of your decision, you will at least have had your say on the matter; and given your friend some things to consider. If she continues to believe that there is nothing wrong with her behavior, I predict that she will find herself all the lonelier. Therefore, depending on her age and her health, she may have a very long and lonely life to look forward to if she does not change her ways. This is something you may also want to mention.