Friday, October 31, 2014

Fun Halloween Facts From The Black Cat!

Greetings, Readers!

A Happy Halloween/All Hallow's Eve to all who celebrate!  Here in America, Halloween is a big deal - it is the second highest retail grossing holiday in the country, second only to Christmas!  In honor of this time of excess (and chocolate - lots and lots of chocolate!) I present to you today some fun facts about the history of Halloween and its traditions!

1. Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out food to appease spirits who roamed the streets during Samhain, a sacred festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year. Ireland is generally accepted as the birthplace of Halloween!

2. Jack o’ Lanterns originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits and ghosts on the Celtic Samhain holiday.
I is scary!  RAWR!
3. Trick-or-treating dates back to the Middle Ages! “Souling” is a medieval Christian precursor to modern-day trick-or-treating. On Hallowmas (November 1, now known as All Saints Day), the poor would go door-to-door offering prayers for the dead in exchange for soul cakes, a sweet and tasty treat!

4. Because Protestant England did not believe in Catholic saints, the rituals traditionally associated with Halloween were originally associated with Guy Fawkes Day on November 5th!

Remember, remember the 5th of November...
5.  A Rhode Island man holds the record for world's largest pumpkin, which weighed in at 2,009 pounds (911 kg).  It is the first pumpkin ever recorded to break the one ton mark!  (Sorry, not a Halloween History fact; being a Rhode Island native, I had to brag!).

6.  Halloween is not a universally celebrated holiday (France sees it as an American celebration).  In Mexico, the days following Halloween - All Saints Day and All Souls Day - are celebrated as Los Días de los Muertos, the Days of the Dead.  Teng Chieh or the Lantern Festival is how Halloween is celebrated in China. Animal shaped lanterns are hung around houses and in the streets to help spirits back to their earthly homes. 

7.   In 1950, Philadelphia-based trick-or-treaters traded in a sweet tooth for a sweet action. In lieu of candy, residents collected change for children overseas and sent it to UNICEF. Subsequently, the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program was born.

8.  Bobbing for apples actually started as part of the entertainments of the Roman tradition of harvest festivals that honored Pomona, Goddess of the Harvest.

9.  In most countries that celebrate Halloween, black cats are thought to be unlucky as they are thought to be witch's familiars.  In England, the same is thought about white cats, instead of black cats.
I subordinates to nobody!
10. Legend has it that the jack-o’-lantern began with an Irish man named Jack, who was too stingy to be allowed into Heaven and too much of a troublemaker to join the Devil in Hell. When Jack died, the Devil threw him a lighted coal, which Jack placed inside a turnip he was eating. To this day, Jack continues to use the coal to light his path as he searches for a final resting place.

Gracious thanks to and for their fun facts about Halloween!  

Snuggles and a Happy Halloween from the Black Cat!!

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Candy Is Dandy; But A Child's Smile Is Still Sweeter

Dear Tazi-Kat:

Halloween is approaching, and when I think of what happened to me last year I get so angry that I could eat iron and poop nails! I would like some advice as to how to resolve the situation, should it occur again this year.

Every year for Halloween, I give out full-sized chocolate bars to the many children in my neighborhood. Last October, a black family moved into the neighborhood, and come Halloween the children imported several friends and family members, all of whom went trick-or-treating with them! I had enough candy to cover the large influx (I always buy extra, because I never know how many children will come to my door), but the point of the matter is that these children are not from my neighborhood! I believe that children should trick-or-treat in their own neighborhood, and not drive to the best neighborhoods in the city hoping for better candy.

My husband says I am overreacting, and to provide for all children who arrive at our door on Halloween night. Who do you say is right, Tazi-Kat? And if you agree with me, what should I do if I get a pack of outsiders on my doorstep this year?

Sugar Mama

Dear Sugar Mama:

Deciding who is correct - you or your husband - would require me to know that answer to this question: Do you give out full-sized chocolate bars on Halloween because

A) You want the neighbors to know that you are financially comfortable enough to spend that much money on Halloween candy

B) You want to bribe the neighborhood children into not trampling on your chrysanthemums while playing tag or hide and seek

C) You wish to bring joy to the hearts of young children

If the answer is A or B, then you are correct; be sure to post a sweetly decorated Halloween sign in your front yard informing the children that only kids from your zip code+4 should bother knocking. If the answer is C, then your husband is correct.

I realize that chocolate is expensive, and to give away full-sized bars even more so; but to deny children a Halloween treat simply because they are invited visitors to your neighborhood is rather harsh. It could be that the children "imported" their friends and family last year because they were new to the neighborhood, and did not know anyone in the area well enough to go trick-or-treating with them. It is also possible that they wanted to share the joy of the holiday with those closest to them. A third possibility is that their friends and family members were from economically disadvantaged areas, and that many of the people in their own neighborhoods do not give out Halloween candy.

This year, if you wish to cut the cost of providing full-sized chocolate bars for all, why not buy the fun-sized bars and give each child two or three pieces each? This way, the child gets the equivalent of a full-sized bar in a variety of types (Twix, Kit-Kat, Hershey, etc.). Fun-sized bags are usually priced lower than full-sized bars for similar amounts of chocolate. Another option would be to buy large bags of mixed hard candy, and give each child a handful of pieces. This would also avoid the all too common issue of nut allergies - many places that prepare chocolate also process nuts, even if the candy you are giving does not contain nuts.

Regardless of your answer to my question - A, B, or C - try to open your heart to all who cross your path this Halloween - even black cats like me!


P.S. I live in a house that has a reputation for giving out "the good candy", which brings my Mommie as much joy as it does the kids who get it!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wife Wants Permission To Cheat; Husband Is Heartbroken

Dear Tazi:

My wife and I have been having marital problems and have been in counseling to deal with them.  I thought we were making progress, when she informed me that there is someone at work she is interested in, and he is interested in her, too.  She told me she could not be certain that she wanted to commit to our marriage until she had the opportunity to see where things could go with this other man.  She then asked me for permission to have an affair with him.

Tazi, I was stunned.  I did not know what to say.  I told her that I did not want to say yes; I love her and want her to stay with me and to honor our marital vows.  I asked her what she would do if I said “NO” and she responded that she would probably sow her wild oats anyway.  She then accused me of being selfish and wanting to keep her in a union that she was not certain she wanted to stay in.  She has now been staying out late and when she does come home she goes straight to bed and goes to sleep.  There is no communication between us and I feel like my marriage is ending in spite of all I have done to try and keep it together. 

Tazi, can you offer any suggestions on how to save my marriage?  My wife is refusing to return to counseling, saying it will do us no good until I accept the fact that she needs to work things out in her own way.


Dear Clem:

You have my deepest sympathies on the breakdown of your marriage.  You have tried all that you can do to repair the damage; open lines of communication; and rekindle the spark between you and your wife, but she needs to work on doing the same.  A marriage cannot work when only one member of it is actively working towards keeping it together.  This is a sad fact that you may have to face.

From what you write, it sounds like your wife wants the freedom that comes with being a single woman with the security that comes with being married.  She cannot have it both ways, and I believe that she knows this, too, which is why she is trying to guilt you into seeing her as the wronged party.  Your choices are difficult, but unless you take action your inaction will allow your wife to call all of the shots.

Why you would want to stay with someone who has openly expressed a desire to cheat is beyond both my understanding and my ability to counsel, so I urge you continue to go to marriage counseling by yourself; leaving the door open for your wife to join you if/when she is ready.   Your counselor will help you to deal with the overwhelming emotional stress you must be feeling, as well as the feelings of anger, betrayal, and loneliness.  At this point, you must make the decision for yourself as to whether or not you wish to stay in this marriage or have it legally dissolved.

Extra Snuggles,

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Teen Screams for Halloween; Mom Fears Mischief Is Afoot

Dear Tazi:

Halloween is approaching, and my 14-year-old daughter has informed me she would like to go trick 'o' treating this year, after taking last year off because it was "too babyish". She says she misses it, and would like to go again before she gets "too old to get free candy". I can't help but be suspicious that her goal is not to trick 'o' treat, but to meet up with her friends and cause some Halloween trouble.

When I asked her point-blank if this was her plan, she flew off the handle and accused me of not trusting her. Tazi-Kat, she is 14; and I clearly remember the things I said and did to try and fool my parents when I was that age. My daughter does not seem the type to start trouble, but then neither did I when I was 14. I do not want to judge my daughter by my past behavior; but I do not want to allow her to pull the wool over my eyes, either. Any suggestions on a happy medium, Tazi?

Not the Wicked Witch!

Dear Not the Wicked Witch:

Fourteen is an age at which your daughter is being torn between two lives - the childhood that has slipped away from her and the adult world that is fast approaching. It is a difficult time to for anyone to navigate, especially the people going through it.

Fourteen is also a little too old to be trick 'o' treating, and my cat instincts tell me that your instincts are right on the money. A happy medium would be a compromise in the form of a Halloween get-together for your daughter and her friends. You do not have to host a party at your house, but do think of an activity that a group of 14-year-olds would enjoy, while keeping in mind that it is a weekend. Halloween is on a Friday this year, which means a weekend of mischief may be afoot for bored teens!

An evening of Rock 'n' Bowl is always fun, and I am certain the local alleys will have something going on for Halloween night. Roller-rinks can also be a great hang-out that will provide fun for all, and mischief for none. If you would like, you could also host a small gathering in your home (and provide lots and lots of Halloween candy, so your daughter does not feel deprived of her treats).

If, in the end, your daughter is adamant about going trick 'o' treating, check with your neighbors to see if any of them need a responsible teenaged girl to escort their younger children through the neighborhood; and exert your parental authority: let your daughter know that her options have all been presented, and she can take them - and spend an enjoyable Halloween with friends or trick 'o' treating, as she wanted - or leave them, and spend the night at home.


Monday, October 27, 2014

"Diva" Must Learn To Budget, Friend Seeks To Intervene

Dear Tazi:

I have a friend who is an absolute diva!  Anything she wants, she gets and worries about the bill later.  This would not concern me so much if it were not for the fact that she keeps trying to drag me down with her.  If she wants a pedicure, she insists I come along; when I tell her I can’t afford one, she replies, “Sure you can!  You just think you can’t!”  No, Tazi, I really can’t….plus I live in the North and open-toe shoe season is over.  Nobody is going to see my feet anyway!  This is just one example of “Tonya’s” irresponsibility.  There are many more.

Tonya has always kept her spending a secret from her husband, arguing that she can do what she wants with her “allowance”.  Tonya pays the bills – her husband does not want the responsibility – so her husband cannot see the hundreds of dollars she spends every month on stuff she does not need.

Tonya’s husband just lost his job, and they have had to cut back on a lot of things, including cable TV; cigarettes and alcohol; date nights; coffee shop coffee; and laundry service – but Tonya still spends money on stupid stuff!  This week she wanted me to go with her to get our Tarot cards read.  She said the psychic is very reputable, which is why she costs so much, but Tonya wanted to know how much longer she was going to have to “pinch pennies”.  Tazi, she isn't!  Although I accompany her on most of her outings, I do not indulge myself.  I am now starting to feel resentful towards Tonya for the way she spends money she does not have while her husband joneses for a cigarette.  I completely understand how he feels, and want to say something to him.  Should I?

The REAL Penny-Pincher

Dear The REAL Penny-Pincher:

I can see how your friend’s attitude would disgust you; I am mildly disgusted by her myself and I have not had to sit next to her as Miss Cleo tells her the future. 

I would advise against telling Tonya’s husband just where all their money is going; if he has any interest in knowing he can step up to the responsibility of assisting with the household budget.  I am aware that in most marriages one person handles the finances, but the other spouse is generally aware of where the money is being spent.  Willful ignorance offers its own rewards, as well as its own punishments.

You are wise not to spend money that you do not have to spend, even in the face of temptation.  Unfortunately, watching Tonya’s high rolling behavior sounds like it is dragging on your spirits.  May I suggest a compromise?  The next time Tonya suggests something that costs money – pedicures, Tarot readings, lunch at a fancy restaurant – counter-offer with an idea that is low-cost or free.  Colleges and universities frequently host lectures that are free and open to the public; in many areas, museums offer free admission on the first Saturday of the month; and your public library is a great place to look at local artwork, find a good book, or just chill with a friend!  If none of this appeals to you, why not try people watching at Wal-Mart?  The view is always an interesting one!                                                                                        
Photo courtesy of


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

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Great Movie Popcorn Debate: To Butter Or Not!

Dear Tazi:

I have an issue that keeps cropping up, and I am not certain how to solve it. My girlfriend and I love going to the movies, and we generally get a large popcorn to eat during the show. The problem is, I like my popcorn drenched in butter and she likes it plain.

I know the obvious answer is for us to get separate bags of popcorn, but the stuff is ridiculously overpriced as it is; so I really hate the idea of buying two medium popcorns for almost double the price of one large. I have asked the concessions people if they can give me a large popcorn in two bags, and put butter on only one of the portions but they have said they cannot do that - something about bag inventory being used to track sales.

Do you have any suggestions on how to solve this issue, Tazi?

Butter Lover

Dear Butter Lover:

Bring a brown paper lunch bag with you from home, and pull it our when you reach the concessions area. After the concessionaire fills your popcorn bag, pour half of the still plain popcorn into the brown paper bag and leave it that way. Then, ask that s/he put butter on the remainder of the popcorn still in the original bag (because those bags are wax-lined to withstand a butter-drenching). Problem solved! You humans really do like to complicate the most simple of matters!


P.S. I hope you realize that of all the bad foods you humans love to eat, movie theater popcorn is one of the worst, even before drenching it in butter!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bookworm Has Bored One Too Many Holes In Their Home

Dear Tazi:

I am what people would call a bookworm. I love books, and I love reading them. I love they way books look on my bookshelves and I love the way I can just pull out an old favorite and start to read anytime I want, without having to go to the library. I love books. My problem is that I long ago ran out of places to put new books, but have continued to grow my collection. I have stacks of books on the floor next to my bookshelves, on top of the entertainment center, and even boxes of books in my attic!

I realize that I should probably get rid of some of the books that I have not read in a long time or did not enjoy as much as others; but my books, when added together, represent a financial investment worth thousands of dollars. I realize their resale value is nowhere near what I paid for them, so I hold onto them because I cannot justify throwing away something for which I originally paid so much and is still in good condition. Do you have any ideas on how I should handle my book storage problem?


Dear Bookworm:

It is time to thin the herd and get rid of some of your books. This may sound like a painful process, but you mention that there are some books that you have not read in a long time or did not enjoy as much as others. You could start thinning your collection by going through these books and donating them to your local library, Salvation Army, or Goodwill Industries store. All three will give you a receipt for tax purposes, so you will not be "throwing away" something for which you paid good money and your donation will go to help others in need.

Once you have your book collection down to a reasonable size, you will have to work to make certain things do not get out of control again. There are a several options you could try:

1. For every new book you bring into the house, you must donate an old one.

2. You could start a book-share with your fellow bookworms, and lend or trade books you have read for books you have not read.

3. You could start to visit the local library, and instead of purchasing every book you want to read you could start borrowing from their collection. This option would even allow you to visit some of your old books.

4. You could buy an e-reader - they have come way down in price over the last few years, and the available options on them have greatly improved. The cost of e-books is anywhere from 50% - 75% off the cost of traditional books, with many ebooks available for free. If you are not certain that you would enjoy using an e-reader, that is another reason to visit your local library: many now offer e-readers and e-books on loan to patrons, so you could give one a trial run before investing.

5. You could try a combination of all of the above, which would mix the best of all worlds.

Happy reading, and thank you for including my column in your day!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Georgia Bulldog Follows A Tradition That Family Does Not Understand

Dear Tazi:

I am a huge sports fan. I love my teams - professional and college (Go Georgia Bulldogs!!!) - and attend several games a year; including the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry, for which I travel back to Georgia every year. The dates of my travel games are known well in advance, and I make my plans well in advance, too. I have been making the trip back to Georgia for the past fifteen years (since I graduated from the University of Georgia), so my habits are nothing new. My entire family knows how important these games are to me, and MOST have been understanding enough not to plan any major events that would conflict.

My problem is my sister. She got engaged this past Christmas, and decided to set her wedding date for the same day as the UGA-Auburn game (that's the game I am referring to when I mention "the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry"); the most important game of the year! People come "home" from all over the world to attend this game; buying tickets as soon as they go on sale - in fact, I had just bought my tickets when she announced her wedding date: 11-15-14. Her reason for picking this date? Because her Astrologer told her that this date would result in a "fruitful marriage. (My sister is 42 and is done having kids, so it is not like her biological clock is ticking. This will be her third marriage, too, so I think she is hoping that the word "fruitful" is not being used in the Biblical sense). I explained to her that I would not be able to attend her wedding that weekend and asked her to reschedule, but she just flew into a Bridezilla rage and called me every name in the book.

My family is from up North, so they don't understand the full meaning of the game tradition; which is why they feel I should be the one to cancel my plans in order to attend my sister's wedding. I offered to compromise if she would - I would fly home early and be there for the week of planned, pre-wedding celebrations; but she has her heart set on the date she chose and refused to budge, calling me a "bad brother". I am afraid I lost my temper and told her that she should get married on 12-13-14 if all she cared about was the superstitions of astrology and numerology, and now she is not speaking to me. My mother has suggested that I cancel my trip "in order to make peace", but as I see it that would just be letting my sister have her way.

Tazi, do you have any idea on how I can get myself out of this mess - without pulling a no-show to the greatest game of the season?

A Bulldog In The Doghouse

Dear Bulldog:

If there is only one thing I know about the South it is that tradition comes before everything. I have met women in their 40's who return "home" for their sorority installation ceremonies and men of the same age who will plan their family vacation around the type of football rivalry games you have described. Some may find this way of life disturbing; I find it refreshing that respect for tradition is not lost in the hustle and bustle of every day commitments.

Being a Northerner, the closest thing to a rivalry game I have ever attended is the University of RI - Providence College basketball game, which is something fewer and fewer people seem to care about every year and especially this one as neither team has done well in the past few years. What can I say? Many Northern teams have fair-weather fans, and this appears to be the point of view from which your family is viewing your situation. You need to educate them on the historical importance of this game - share with them the rich history of the game; how it goes back over a century; and why the rivalry still exists today. Tell them of the camaraderie that occurs between fans, turning strangers into friends and friends into extended family.

The fact that you have been making this trip for 15 years speaks to the importance of this event and while I realize that your sister's wedding is also important, her reasoning for choosing the date she chose; her Bridzilla meltdown; and her complete refusal to compromise shows a complete lack of maturity and sensitivity on her part. She is, however, a blood relation; and as the expression goes, blood is thicker than water - even if you do bleed black as well as red. The game time has yet to be announced, but these games generally take place in the afternoon or the evening. Would your sister be adverse to having a morning wedding; at a time that would allow you to at least attend the ceremony (although not the reception) before hopping a plane to attend your game? Since neither of you wishes to budge, this appears to be the only compromise possible.


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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How Soon Is "Too Soon" To Give A Gift Of Jewelry?

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I have been dating a woman I will call "Annabelle" for about six weeks, and I am absolutely crazy about her, but I am not certain how she feels about me. She seems to like me, but I just don't feel like I am a priority in her life - at least not the way she is in mine. Christmas is a few months away, and I would like to buy her a nice gift; but I am unsure exactly what kind of gift I should get her.

I am considering buying Annabelle a gift that expresses how I feel about her, like a nice piece of jewelry - obviously not a ring (not yet) but a tennis bracelet or a pair of gemstone earrings would let her know just how much I care about her, and how deeply invested I am in the relationship. On the other hand, I am afraid that giving such an extravagant gift might frighten her away, which is the last thing I want; but I don't want her to think I am not interested, either. Should I wait until Valentine's Day to buy her something expensive, and just go with something a little more generic - like a sweater - for Christmas?

Sighing Over Annabelle

Dear Sighing:

Traditional rules of etiquette state that it is inappropriate for a woman to accept jewelry from any man to whom she is not related, with the exception of an engagement ring. Some women still subscribe to this point of view, and will gracefully refuse such a gift; while others will accept anything shiny and sparkly, regardless of who is offering it. I would say that most women fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

According to the gift-giving guide, it is not proper to give jewelry to a woman you have been seeing for less than three months and, as you have safely assumed, it is never a smart move to give a ring as a gift - even a gemstone ring - unless you are proposing to her or she is under the explicit understanding that it is not - or is, if that is the case - an engagement ring.

Since you are uncertain as to the level of commitment Annabelle is feeling towards you, jewelry should be out of the question until this question has been settled. Do not pressure her for an answer that she may not be ready - or even able, at this early point - to give; rather, allow the relationship to develop in its own time.

In the meantime, if you wish to purchase Annabelle a Christmas gift, try for something more personal than a DVD but less personal than jewelry. A sweater, as you suggested, might be seen as a little personal; as it would require knowing Annabelle's "sizes", and this is not information most women willingly reveal. For a personal gift with meaning, why not consider Annabelle's interests? If she likes to read, you could purchase her a nicely bound edition of something by her favorite author. If she likes music, an iPod shuffle is a thoughtful gift. Be creative, without breaking your bank account; and keep in mind that Annabelle may not be as serious about you as you are about her, so try not to be disappointed if she fails to reciprocate. In the immortal words of The Fonz, "Christmas is for giving, not for trading".


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Elderly Aunt Leaves Legacy Without Even Realizing It

Dear Tazi:

You remind me so much of my beloved Spats, except that your paws are all black and Spats has the most adorable white booties on his paws! I am writing to you today to ask your advice on a question I have regarding inheritance.

I am a 96 year old lady, who never married and has no children of my own; just several nephews and nieces, as well as grand-nephews and nieces, and even one great-grand nephew! Before my siblings all passed (I am the youngest of 11!), my nephews and nieces would visit me regularly with their children in tow. As the years passed on, so did my siblings and the visits from their children became fewer and far between until they completely stopped about 10 years ago.

A few months ago, my youngest grand-nephew, "Carl" started college. For his American History class, he had to interview someone who has lived through important moments in American history. I was quite flattered when he chose me because, as he said, "Aunty Nana, you have lived through so much history!" I suppose that was a polite way of saying I am old, but I also suppose it is true!

As a part of his project, Carl stopped by to visit me on several occasions to ask me questions about my memories of important events in U.S. History - the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the assassination of President Kennedy, the civil rights movement of the 1960's, and the like. I have truly enjoyed Carl's visits, and I think he enjoyed them, too, because he has continued to visit with me on a weekly basis; even though his project is now complete.

Tazi-Kat, until Carl started visiting me, I thought I had nobody to whom I could bequeath my sizeable estate when I pass. I was going to leave everything in trust for Spats, and then to charity when he passed; but now I am considering re-writing my will and, after making financial accommodations for Spats and a donation to my local ASPCA, leaving the remainder of my estate to Carl. My concern is that Carl is still young, and I fear his interest in spending time with me will be fleeting. I do not wish to bribe him into spending time with me, but I do not wish to leave an inheritance to one who deserts me in my old age. It is for this reason that I am not leaving anything to my nephews or nieces.

I am also concerned that if I do leave everything to Carl, he will see it as a door to Easy Street and leave school before he completes his education. His goal is to be a History teacher, like I was before I retired. I know how difficult it is to live on a teacher's salary - my fortune comes from investing well - so I know that an inheritance will be helpful to Carl should he continue on this path. My Spats loves him, and animals are a good judge of character, plus he seems like such a good, sincere young man. He introduced me to the Facebook that all of his cousins use to keep in touch with each other, and shows me the pictures they post of themselves so I may see what is going on with them. It was on the Facebook that I saw your column, too! Such a smart kitty you are! Do you have any advice for an old lady like me?

Aunty Nana to 35

Dear Aunty Nana:

You sound like a lovely lady, old or not, and if I were there with you I would cuddle up on your lap and purr to show you how nice I think you are!

It is shameful that many of our country's elderly are left to live out their final years alone, so I can see why you appreciate your grand-nephew's visits and his interest in what you have to say. Judging by the fact that he wants to be a History teacher, I would say that his interest in you and all that you have lived through is quite sincere. His absence from your life up until this point should not be held against him - he would have been no older than 8 years old the last time he saw you, and may very well not have known of your existence up until a few months ago - so I would not worry about him suddenly becoming too busy to spend time with you.

I can understand your concerns about Carl's youth and for that reason, should you decide to leave your estate to him, it should be left in trust for him until he

A) Reaches a certain age (say 25)
B) Completes his education and finds employment in his field or
C) Both of the above

This plan will guarantee that Carl is old enough (and hopefully mature enough) to handle a sizable inheritance and has completed his education. When a person goes through the trouble of earning a degree and in Carl's case, two degrees - a Bachelors and a Masters, as a graduate degree is required to teach in many states - they generally are not in a hurry to completely abandon it; regardless of their financial situation.

Please keep in mind, though, that you may have many years still ahead of you to mentor Carl and encourage him in his studies, so try to put worry aside and enjoy your time together. Whether you realize it or not, mentoring is what you are doing during your weekly visits with your grand-nephew; and this is a gift that no amount of money could ever buy! Long after you have passed on, the financial cushion that you leave Carl - however small or sizable - will be appreciated; but the time you spent with him is a legacy that will mean all the more.

Snuggles, snuggles, and more snuggles to you and Spats,

P.S. Should you bequeath your estate to Carl, you need not tell him of your decision. This way, you can always change your mind should circumstances change, and there will be no hard feelings against you.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Man-Child Needs To Grow Up Before It's Time To Retire

Dear Tazi:

What am I going to do with my son?  Seriously, I need to know what to do with the man!  “Robert” is 43 years old, never married, and still living with me without contributing to the household expenses.  He has never, ever moved out of his childhood bedroom and still sleeps in the twin bed he had growing up.  Robert originally went to college to study Criminal Justice because he wanted to be a police officer.  Unfortunately, after four years of college he failed the physical exam for every police force in the region due to his slow running skills.  Apparently, a police officer that cannot run fast is not an asset to the force.  Although he never told me so exactly, I believe this is what also kept him out of the Army; which he applied for after being rejected by more than a dozen police outfits. 

Robert took an unfulfilling, dead-end job in office supply sales to make ends meet when he decided what he really wanted to do was teach.  I think he liked the idea of a flexible schedule and summers off, he insisted that he wanted to “help mold the minds of the next generation”.  Four years later (spent getting a second Bachelor’s and a Masters in Education) Robert decided he did not like teaching, but would “tough it out” until he was able to pay off his student loans (I paid for his first degree only). 

Robert has spent the last ten years teaching on-again off-again and complaining how much he hates his job, calling out sick as often as he is allowed – sometimes too often, which has resulted in his termination.  Contrary to popular belief, teachers can get fired; especially if they do not have tenure or even seniority.  I showed him your letter about jobs that you can do with a degree in education that do not involve teaching, but he said he had no interest in any of them. 

Robert has now decided that the reason he has been so unfulfilled in his work and romantic relationships is because God is calling him to be a man of the cloth.  He is looking into entering the seminary to study for the Roman Catholic priesthood, which would be fine with me if it did not mean I would have to pay off the remainder of his student debts and send him a monthly stipend to ensure he does not incur further debt while “studying for God”. 

If Robert did not have such a spotted past when it came to his career, I would be more than happy to assist him in this new endeavor; however, I am afraid that Robert is looking for free room and board from someone new now that I am getting older and looking to retire to Florida.  Do you think I should take a chance on my son, Tazi?  Or should I allow him to take this leap of faith on his own?

Losing Faith

Dear Losing Faith:

Your son is 43 years old and still trying to find himself, this is obvious.  If you would like to continue supporting him; have the means to do so; and honestly believe that the reason he has failed in all of his career endeavors so far is because he is being thwarted by God in order to push him on the right path than by all means go for it.  If you have doubts, though…

The fact that your son chose a career in which he was not physically able to perform is regrettable, but I will give him a pass.  I believe everyone is entitled to a do-over; his just happened a little sooner than expected.  The fact that your son hated teaching from the moment he set foot in the classroom leads me to believe that you are correct in thinking he was seeking summers off rather than fulfilling a desire to “mold the minds of the next generation”. 

You have done what you can in assisting your son in his quest for career fulfillment.  You have generously allowed him to live with you free of charge so he could pay off his student loans that much sooner.  You have no reason to feel guilty should you decide to let your son sink or swim on his own.  It is not like you are telling him to jump off of a cliff and promising that angels will catch him (Matthew 4:11); you have been his angel for quite some time.  If the priesthood is your son's desire, he can make a financial plan that involves paying off his student loans and saving up for his future as a seminarian – and as a Catholic priest, because the “free room and board” deal ends at retirement.


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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

How Soon Is "Too Soon" To Be Physically Intimate?

Dear Tazi:

Try as I might, I can’t seem to meet a nice guy who wants a commitment. I am in my twenties, and am ready to settle down with one person, hopefully getting married and have kids by the time I am thirty, so as you can see I cannot afford to waste any time.

I have tried various ways to meet people, from bars and clubs to online dating sites, but it seems like the guys I meet are only window shopping and looking for free samples, if you get my meaning. It has reached the point that I have started holding out to the second or even third date before having sex, but the guys still don’t stick around. I am starting to think that it is me, like maybe I am bad in bed or too clingy after sex.

My friends have all told me that I am expecting way too much far too early. Call me old-fashioned, but I think that once two people have sex they are considered to be a couple. The men I have seen have all been the first to initiate sex, so it is not like I am offering it up with no expectations of a future relationship. I think calling them the next day if they don’t call me is not inappropriate, but my friends all tell me my “clinginess” is what is chasing men away. Who would you say is right, me or my friends?

Feeling Used

Dear Feeling Used:

While there is no set timetable as to when carnal relations should commence, not everyone feels as you do that having sex with someone – for the first time or the hundredth time – makes them your significant other. Sometimes, like it or not, you are seen as a casual encounter.

Since you are unable to separate sex from commitment, I would advise that you hold off on the heavy physical involvement until you are certain where things stand with the next man you start seeing. Take your time to get to know each other on a less (physically) intimate level and work at getting to know each other and whether or not you are compatible as a couple. I do not know if you are sending out signals that you want to have sex, but should a man try to initiate it there are polite ways to disentangle yourself and explain that you would prefer to wait until you know each other a little better.

If holding out sexually is not to your preference, you will have to do as your friends suggest and ease up on the “clinginess”, as well as expect fewer callbacks for dates. Some men are, as you suggest, looking for “free samples” and once the challenge of attaining it is over so is any connection between the two of you. As a (neutered) tomcat, I can tell you that few men will turn down sex when they think there are no strings attached!


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

Friday, October 17, 2014

Now Grown, Sister Is Afraid Of Being Pushed Back Into The Shadows

Dear Tazi:

I am one of those people who grew up in the shadow of a sibling. Like Jan Brady, my older sister was the perfect one; Miss Popularity who got all of the attention, while I was just “Marcia’s” sister. As fate would have it, we both went to the same state college, and enrolled in the same major, Communications, but different concentrations – I chose Public Relations while Marcia went towards Advertising; however, we had a lot of classes together – I couldn’t get away from her.

After graduating, I decided to start my career while Marcia decided to continue on to graduate school, thinking it would make her more marketable. It didn’t. In fact, her choice backfired, making her un-hirable in our local market because her education level demanded more money, which local employers did not have to pay. Rather than accept less than she could make elsewhere, Marcia moved to a larger city while I stayed in our hometown. The distance between us actually helped us to grow closer, as Marcia learned what it was like to leave her comfort zone and I was allowed to step out of her shadow.

Over the years we have both done well in our chosen career fields and I even went to graduate school, courtesy of my company’s tuition-reimbursement plan. I have married and have a wonderful husband and children. I am truly blessed! Marcia, on the other hand, has taken a different path over the years, one that led to difficulty during the economic recession.

Marcia has bounced from one market to the next, never building up seniority at any one place, but reaching for the next rung of her career ladder when an opening became available in a desirable market. In this way, she reached upper management very swiftly, but never put down roots anywhere. She was living in Nevada when the recession hit, and she has not quite recovered from the huge blow she took. After two years of looking for a job opening in a similar or higher position that she last held, her savings are running out and she is talking about moving “home” to look for a job.

Tazi, I realize that our hometown has not been “home” to Marcia in over a decade, but I can’t help but feel frightened that her return will threaten all that I have managed to build for myself. I am afraid that I will go back to being Marcia’s sister and all that I have accomplished and all that I cherish will be forgotten. Marcia on the other hand talks excitedly about renewing our sisterly bond and how she can’t wait to be a part of my children’s lives, which worries me the most. What if my children prefer their Auntie to me, just like everyone else used to prefer Marcia to me?


Dear “Jan”:

I am sure there will be a lot of people who will be able to relate to what you have written. Growing up in the shadow of a sibling can be a painful experience, but luckily – as you have found – that shadow is something we eventually outgrow. Having gone to college and studied the same major as your sister extended your time in that place, but you have bloomed since taking the path that led you to sunshine.

There is one sentence in your letter that is very telling of what the future may hold, but you seem to have missed it in your worry of what might happen versus what will most likely happen. You state that your hometown “has not been ‘home’ to Marcia in over a decade”. I would like you to think upon all the changes that have occurred during that time. Who has moved away or passed on? Who has moved into your town? Which of Marcia’s old boyfriends have moved on and married women they could not imagine living without? How many of Marcia’s best friends have developed new, adult friendships? Marcia may be moving back to her hometown, but I doubt it is the same town she left all those years ago. Upon arrival, she may discover that she is viewed as “Jan’s sister”. Do your best to overcome any desire to revel in this glory, and try to take a compassionate view by reintroducing your sister to the hometown she left behind.

"Wanna see my Linda Blair impression, Marcia?"

Regarding your final concern…it is my hope that your children will enjoy the time they spend with their Auntie – times with aunties are supposed to be fun times! Just remember that the love between a mother and child is something unique and that it can never be surpassed; it is not a more or less kind of love, it is a different kind of love that can never be taken away from you.


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

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Woman Has Regrets, Keeps Going For Her Child

Dear Tazi:

Two years ago I made the worst mistake of my life.  I had been dating a guy for about two months when he lost his job, so I let him move in with me.  I got pregnant almost immediately, so we got engaged.  Since he was out of work I had to buy my own ring, but we did get married before the baby was born.  It was a small wedding, which I paid for, and “Calvin” promised me the large, fancy wedding of my dreams once he found full-time work.  I excused his prolonged unemployment because of the bad economy, and maybe even because I was pregnant and scared. 

I now have a one year old baby who cries all the time and a twenty-seven year old, chronically unemployed husband who drinks.  I would like to kick Calvin out – it would be so easy to just put his stuff out by the curb and change all of the locks – but he has nowhere to go, except for the local homeless shelter.  I make a good living as an RN [Registered Nurse], so I am afraid that if I do kick him out/divorce him I will end up paying Calvin alimony for the rest of his life – money I would much rather be putting in my baby boy’s college fund!

I own my own home; my Mama left it to me when she passed, which was shortly before I met Calvin and probably why I let him move in with me so quickly – I was in mourning and wasn’t thinking straight!  Calvin’s name is not on the house and my attorney friends have told me I would probably not lose it in a divorce, so that is secure, in addition to my job.  I don’t think I would feel any guilt about kicking my baby’s Daddy to the curb with nothing but his name and the clothes on his back, but I am not sure.  I know my boy would be better off without this lazy cur in his life, and I know that when the time comes I would have to explain to my boy exactly what happened to his Daddy; a bridge that I am willing to cross when I come to it.

I thought I was writing for advice, Tazi, but I guess I was just looking for a listening ear.  Could you print my letter as a warning to all the other love-struck girls out there?  If my story can save one woman from making the same mistakes I have made I would be much obliged.

Regretting It All…Except for My Baby

Dear Regretting It All…

I am glad that you do not regret your son; no child deserves to grow up feeling unwanted.  The reason he cries all of the time could be because of the stressful atmosphere in your home and his tears are his way of expressing this discomfort.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, should you separate or divorce and depending on how your state’s family court system works, you may end up paying Calvin alimony for a prescribed number of years.  My sources tell me that lifetime alimony is a thing of the past and that the average length of time is now 3 – 5 years – long enough for someone to complete a job-training program.  I realize this represents a large chunk of your income – money that could be saved for your child – so be sure to have your lawyer address this matter if/when you go to court.  You may not have to pay alimony – or you may be ordered to pay a reduced amount – if you choose to exempt Calvin from paying child support.  With regards to your house, it is only safe if you do not live in a state with "community property" laws (your lawyer friends can advise you on this matter).  As for explaining to your son what happened to his Daddy, that day may never come, should Calvin decide to exercise his parental rights to visitation.  These are all things to consider as you ponder your decision to stay married, legally separate, or divorce. 

You sound like an intelligent woman who is working on pulling her life back together after tragedy and the impulse decisions that followed it.  I suggest that you talk to one of your “attorney friends” for advice on how to move forward.  In the meantime, I am printing your letter so other women – and men – can learn from your mistakes.


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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Is Being A "Snobby Mommy" What Is Best For The Child?

Dear Tazi:

I grew up in a middle-class family. My father was a police officer for a major metropolitan area and my mother was a homemaker. Although I never wanted for anything, I always felt like we were “poor” because my mother always complained about the things we could not afford that she wanted – mostly luxury items like a Lincoln Town Car, a four bedroom house, jewelry from Tiffany’s, and other things that held no value to me as a child but can understand as an adult. My Mom wanted a higher social status than our economic status accorded.

Growing up, my Mom always tried to direct me to form friendships with the children of doctors, dentists, lawyers, and other white-collar professionals; she would schedule amazing play-dates when these kids would come over, complete with arts and crafts, ice-cream, and other things that made these play-dates memorable; my “regular” friends from the neighborhood got nothing. Regardless of how great these play dates were, they were almost never reciprocated and the friendships my mother would have preferred I form never happened.

I never realized what my mother was doing until I became a parent myself. Like my father, my husband works in law enforcement and we live a nice, middle-class life. When my daughter started kindergarten this year, my mother approached me about “cultivating the proper friendships” for my daughter and her hope that I will succeed where she failed. Tazi, I was horrified at learning the truth – that my mother tried to use me as a pawn to better her social standing! I told her I refused to use my daughter in such a way, to which she responded that my child will end up no better than me if I do not! Tazi, I am quite happy with my life; I love my husband and cannot imagine being married to anyone but him or living the happy life we currently live. We make sacrifices to send our daughter to a good private school, but that is because our public school system has gone downhill since we bought our house.

I thought I had made myself clear on this issue, but my mother is up to her old tricks again. She has started watching my daughter two afternoons a week to allow me some “me time”. This arrangement was my mother’s idea, but I readily agreed to it because I want my daughter to have a close relationship with her grandparents. I was at the salon last week to get a manicure when I ran into one of the “Snobby Mommies” whose child is in my daughter’s class. She seemed surprised to see me, thinking I would be at home hosting the play date that our children had that afternoon. I was taken aback, but quickly recovered and explained that my mother was watching the children.

I went home early to find my daughter’s play date in full swing, complete with Play-Doh, ice cream, and other fancies that are appropriate for special occasions only. After the Nanny showed up to pick up my daughter’s “friend”, I laid into my Mom about her intentions. She insists that I am somehow leading my daughter down the path of failure by not promoting friendships with her upper/upper-middle class classmates. I think I turned out well in spite of my lack of “cultured” friends, but I realize that times have changed. Is my mother right? Should I be encouraging my daughter to reach beyond our social class?

Middle-Class Mom

Dear Middle-Class Mom:

When your mother was a child, there were few opportunities for women who sought a career; women were expected to get married and have children and keep their husbands happy by being good and obedient wives. The man a woman married was often a man she met through friends or other social circles; the divorce rate in the 1950’s was just over 10% and it was not something you discussed in polite conversation, so marriage was for life – for better or worse, for richer or for poorer. From what you write, your mother was hoping to marry for richer and did not, and tried to steer you down a path that she felt would improve your chances of marrying a wealthy man. Please do not feel anger or resentment towards your mother for this – she was raising you in the way that she thought would lead you to the brightest future possible.

Times have changes since your mother married. Women now not only have amazing career opportunities, but many hold positions that are the envy of men – Senators and Representatives in Congress; CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies; even competitive drivers on the NASCAR circuit! While a person’s socio-economic status still plays a part in a person’s future career success, it is no longer the do-all and end-all predictor of how far they will go in life.

As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure your daughter cultivates healthy childhood friendships with children who like a respect her as a person; your mother’s attempts at bribing children to be friends with your daughter strikes me as a little twisted, but perhaps this is how things were back when she was growing up. If your daughter enjoys spending time with the children your mother invites to these play-dates – and they enjoy spending time with her – then I see no reason why the friendship should not be encouraged. However, I encourage you to treat all of your daughter’s friends the same – regardless of their family’s economic status. This is the point that you must make clear to your mother. If it is not too much trouble, why not have two children over at once, one from the neighborhood and one from school?


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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Overprotective Parent Must Ease Up, Allow Children To Have A Childhood

Dear Tazi:

When I was a child, I was very accident prone.  I would “trip over air” as my mother put it.  Because of my numerous trips to the emergency room child services kept a close eye on my home; the concern was appreciated, but unnecessary.  Now that I am an adult I am a parent myself, and I am extra careful with my children – perhaps too careful.

I realize that times have changed and that child protection has improved since I was a kid – it is now a crime to fail to report suspected child abuse – and I am scared to death of losing my children because they fell out of their tree-house or hurt themselves skateboarding.  Because of this, I have not allowed my children to have a tree-house or to play in their friends trees; nor have I allowed them to skateboard or roller-blade or enjoy any of the childhood pastimes that I enjoyed when I was their age. 

My wife and I argue regularly about how much caution is too much caution to take; she says that we should let our children be children, that a certain amount of risk is healthy and will help them to grow into well-adjusted adults ready to take on the world.  I want to agree with my wife, but I live in fear of that knock on the door from child services and the thought of my children being removed from our home until after we clear investigation.  Yesterday, I lost my temper when I learned that my wife allowed our four year old to play on the monkey bars at the playground.  What if she had fallen?  Am I correct in thinking that my wife takes too many chances with our children’s physical safety?  Or is she right in thinking that I am being overprotective?  Sometimes I wonder.

Protective Papa

Dear Protective Papa:

Although I am not a parent, I can understand you plight.  No parent wants to see their child hurt, but I have to agree with your wife on this one; it appears that you may be stunting your children’s development with your overprotective ways.  A child will never learn how to pick him or herself up off the ground (literally or figuratively) if they are never allowed to fall.

Personally, I think you are giving your children far too little credit.  Unless they completely lack any kind of physical strength and coordination they should be able to climb a ladder into a tree-house or scamper across the monkey bars at the playground.  Both of these constructs are generally built less than ten feet off the ground, so on the chance that a child should fall the drop will not be all that great (remember than you must subtract your child’s dangling height from the length of the drop).

The next time your children seek to indulge in a childhood pastime that you fear will cause injury, ask yourself: “Did I do this as a kid?  Did I suffer a life-threatening injury from it?  Did I survive to adulthood without incurring permanent damage?”  So long as you answer yes/no/yes in that order, I do not see why your children should be denied the same opportunity – so long as they are wearing the proper protective gear (i.e. pads and a helmet for skateboarding) and the activity does not involve the careless risks of youth – there will be time enough for that kind of stuff when they are teenagers.  In the meantime, give your children the gift of a childhood worth remembering.


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

Monday, October 13, 2014

ALL Moms Are "Working Moms", Regardless Of Where They Spend Their Day

Dear Tazi:

Like you, I am a work-from-home professional. I have a very busy schedule, from the moment I start work around 8:30 AM until I clock out after 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. It took me a long time to get my clients to accept my disciplined schedule, but they now respect the fact that I will not work overtime or weekends "just for them"; and they accept the reasonable time estimates that I give them for their projects.

I am also the mother of two elementary school aged twin boys, and the parents of their friends and classmates assume that because I am "home" during the day that I am available to chaperone field trips; or be the after-school host to all of my children's friends. One of my neighbors actually asked me to pick up her sick child from school (and watch him until her husband got home from work). Tazi-Kat, I have a very busy schedule and am not about to let people take advantage of me! I politely explain to people that I work from home, and am not a full-time homemaker. I do offer to chaperone the children's field trips at least once a quarter, and host play-dates once a week, and on weekends.

My problem is that this schedule-sharing is not enough for the President of the school PTA, "Sheila", who called me at home (during the work day) and left a scathing message on my answering machine, demanding that I pick up the phone because she "knew" that I was home. Apparently, the school was hosting a bake sale that I did not know about because my sons forgot to bring home the flyer that asked parents to bake something. I called Sheila the first chance I was able, and politely explained to her that I did not get the memo about baking, and she made some very rude comments to me about how I must "sit on my ass eating bon bons while other people have to go to work". After that comment, I politely ended the conversation.

I have heard through the grapevine that a lot of parents did not receive a flyer about a bake sale, and it turns out that only the children of women that Sheila considers to be "stay at home moms" received one! Now, I am curious if my sons honestly forgot to bring home the flyer or if they never received one to bring home. There is a PTA meeting coming up soon, and I would like to address this matter during the open forum part of the meeting, but I am not certain what to say. Any advice, Tazi-Kat?

A Working Mom (At Home During The Day)

Dear Working Mom:

You are in a bit of a quandary, aren't you? I assume your sons will say that they never received a flyer regardless of whether they did or not, so I will put that question into suspension and present the scenario as-is: If you go to the PTA meeting assuming that Sheila did not have a flyer sent home with your sons, it means that she is of the understanding that you work professionally from home; and that she owes you an apology for her rude, crude message. If you go into the meeting assuming that Sheila did send a flyer home with your sons, then Sheila needs to be corrected of the mistaken assumption that you are a "stay-at-home mom" in addition to apologizing to you for her rude and crude message. While I am on the subject of apologies, I would like to add that Sheila owes all "stay at home moms" an apology for not only assuming that they have the time in their schedules to sit around eating bon bons, but for also putting the responsibility of baking solely upon their collective shoulders!

I would find it hard to believe that you were the only woman Sheila singled out for such harsh treatment, so you will probably have supporters at the PTA meeting who will join you in discussing this matter during the open forum portion of the meeting - if the meeting gets that far before this issue is addressed. I am not certain that even Robert's Rules of Order will be able to keep things under control, so I would suggest you do your best to keep control of your temper, and lead by example. Please write back to let me know how this situation ends. I hope all turns out well.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Underage Romance Can Lead To Some Very Adult Legal Isuses

Dear Tazi:

I am 14, and very mature for my age. My mother, who has not dated since my father left when I was just a baby, has started seeing a very nice man that she really seems to like. I am happy for her, because I know she put her life on hold to raise me. Now that I am practically grown, it is her time to enjoy some of the things life has to offer.

The man she is dating also has a child - a 19 year old son named "Chuck" who I like a lot. Chuck has told me I am "one fine looking female" and would like to "see where things can go" between us. I realize that there is an age difference between us; but girls mature faster than boys, so there really isn't much of an age difference between us at all!

My one concern is that by dating Chuck, it may complicate things between my Mom and his Dad. Chuck agrees with me on this point, and says that this is why we would have to keep our romance a secret. I do not like the idea of keeping the fact that I have a boyfriend a secret, and told Chuck that; so for now, we are staying just friends. Tazi, do you have any advice on how to get Chuck to see that being public with our relationship is the only way we can grow as a couple?

Molly From the South

Dear Molly From the South:

I am from the North, so I realize that we have a bit of a culture clash between us, starting with at what age it is appropriate for a young girl to enter into a relationship; however, the law is quite clear on this matter. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have what is called a Unrestricted Age of Consent. That is the age where it is legally acceptable for a man over the age of 18 to enter into a romantic/physical relationship with a girl who is under the age of 18. In no state is 14 the age of consent. You do not say which specific state you are from, but no state has set the age younger than 16 - and more than a few Southern states set the age at 17 or even 18. I believe this to be the real reason that Chuck would like to keep your romance a secret. It would not matter if your mother objected; if a romance between the two of you were discovered, the authorities could arrest Chuck and send him to jail.

The fact that Chuck would like to "see where things can go" between the two of you while keeping things a secret leads me to believe that he is after only one thing, and that you would be wise not to give in to him. Thus far, from what I can gather from your letter, you seem to have made some very mature choices. Paws up to you! Please do not let your romantic feelings for Chuck get in the way of making clear-headed choices.

Please remember that dating, hugging, holding hands and kissing are not illegal in any state; so long as it does not cross the line into "3rd base" behavior (groping, fondling, etc.). IF your mother is okay with you dating Chuck AND Chuck is willing to play by these rules, I would give a cautious O.K. to move forward - but only because it is your mother's approval that you need, not mine. You all might want to keep in mind that Chuck may one day be your step-brother.


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

Friday, October 10, 2014

"Victoria" Isn't The Only One With A Secret!

Dear Tazi:

I am a twentysomething Jewish man. I have a great job and a wonderful family. I love my girlfriend very much, and plan to marry her as soon as I have proven my worth to her family. My problem lies within the fact we are both strict and faithful Orthodox, and do not believe in engaging in physical relations before marriage. I have no problem controlling my desires towards "Sarah" because I love and respect her; my fear stems from the fact that I have a horrible secret I have been keeping in the hope that I can overcome the shameful habit I am hiding: I enjoy wearing women's undergarments.

Ever since I was a young boy, I have liked the soft feel of silk against my body. As a teenager I started earning my own money to purchase my own clothing, but could not afford the men's silk boxer shorts that I liked; so I started purchasing ladies silk panties, because they were less than half the cost and offered the same comfort I enjoy. Now that I am older, I make much more money and can easily afford to pay for men's silk underwear; but I feel it would be wasteful to spend so much money on something when I can get something similar - albeit considered inappropriate - for so much less money.

I do feel a little strange sometimes wearing female underpants but overall I am comfortable with my money-saving decision. I do not consider myself a transvestite, nor do I get a sick thrill from wearing ladies clothing. I just enjoy my comfort at a discount price. My problem is; I doubt my fiancé will feel the same way. Once we are married, I know she will discover my secret; but at that point she will be unable to back out of her commitment to me. However, if I share this information with her before we are married; I fear she will turn away from me. I will not enter a marriage that is based upon secrets and lies, but I am having difficulty reconciling my desire for comfort with my frugal upbringing.


Dear Shy...lock:

Your intentions towards your betrothed are admirable; your attitude towards money concerns me. I realize that men's silk boxer shorts can range from $25 - $50 a pair, which is ridiculously expensive for underwear, but appears that Victoria isn't the only one with a secret! (Sorry, but I couldn't resist saying that!).

One way to reconcile your desire for comfort with your frugal upbringing would be to learn how to sew your own boxer shorts. offers a pattern for men's "KwikSew" boxer-shorts that can be used to make many a pair of underwear in whatever fabric you desire - including silk, which is actually one of the fabrics recommended. They are not too difficult to make; and if she is interested, you and Sarah can learn to sew together. Sewing can be a fun and useful skill, and can save you a bundle on all types of clothing - not just underwear.

In the meantime, would recommend that you either ditch the ladies undies or come clean with Sarah about your dressing habits; because you are correct that entering a marriage with secrets does not a strong foundation make.


P.S. Chag Chanukkah sameach ve-shana tova!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

An Online Romance Is Still Cheating

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I just discovered that my boyfriend of two and a half years is cheating on me. The problem is, I only know that he is cheating on me because I broke into his email to confirm my suspicions that he was cheating on me.

"Brady" has been acting distant for several months now, and at first I thought it was just the stress of school. He has not been doing well, so I figured I would give him some space and some more time to study. Instead of studying, he started playing World of Warcraft, which is how he met the woman he has been seeing. So far, the romance appears to be online only, but I don't know if I want to stick around to see if it escalates.

If I break up with Brady, he is going to want me to give him a reason; he can be very insistant that way, wanting to know exactly why something is happening when things do not go the way he likes. For this reason, he has alienated a lot of people, including several of my close friends who are all telling me I should "jump ship". The problem is, I am still deeply in love with Brady, and I am afraid that if I leave I will regret my decision - after all, I have no real proof that he has physically cheated on me. Right? I am so confused, Tazi-Kat! I need an unbiased opinion on the matter. Care to give me one?

Crazy In Love...Or Just Plain Crazy?

Dear Crazy (In Love?):

You say you have no "real proof" that Brady is physically cheating on you. Would a sexually transmitted infection be proof enough for you that he is cheating? Or would you allow him to convince you that you must have caught it from a dirty toilet seat, or from the steam room at the gym? From the tone of your letter, it sounds to me that you do not wish to be convinced that your boyfriend has been unfaithful to you.

Brady, by your own admission, has "alienated" several of your close friends. Do you wish to drive them away as well by staying with this man even though both your instincts and your investigation have told you that he has not been true to you? Since you ask for my unbiased opinion, I will give it: Leave. Leave now, and don't look back. If Brady insists on a reason, tell him the truth: that you feel you cannot trust him, and without trust a relationship cannot survive.

I realize that two and a half years is a significant amount of time to have invested in a relationship, but can you honestly see yourself spending another two and a half years with this man, knowing what you now know? Give yourself permission to feel angry, and you may be able to see the situation through clearer eyes. Once you have the twin monkeys of guilt and hurt feelings off of your back, you may discover that you don't miss Brady like you expected you would.

-- Tazi-Kat

P.S. Although you really should not have broken into your boyfriend's email account, that is another letter for another time!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

"Creeper" Needs To Crawl Back Under His Rock

Dear Tazi:

Here is my issue. I am single woman who has never been in a relationship. Right now in my life I do not want one. I am 22 and in college, working towards a successful career. I plan on going to graduate school and have no desire to date or be in a relationship. However, that does not stop the creepers from being attracted to me. It seems that any one who is interested in me is either a loser, a creeper, or married.

I have this one married guy who seems to be very interested in me. I have known him for about 5 years and only within the past year figured out he was married. The only reason why I figured it out was through Facebook. I see "Seymour" about once a year because we both volunteer at the same annual event. I will admit that we have has a flirtatious relationship, but I would never act on it. I figured it was a joke. Now though, I think he has a different idea. He texted me a month after the event saying how I was "a severe temptation" and that he "has to be good around me". I am not sure what Seymour means, but it was clear that he was not joking. Now he has been poking me on Facebook. I think I made a mistake by poking him back and continued to poke him back.

Tazi, I do not know what to do. Seymour is married and regardless I would not pursue anything with him. My fear is that next year at our volunteer event things are going to be wicked AWKWARD. Any suggestion on what I can do to stop attracting the creepers and not make things awkward with married guy?

Fish Out Of Water

Dear Fish Out Of Water:

It is fun to flirt, isn't it? I love flirting with the visitors that enter my home! I will pretend to be shy, just to watch them bend over backwards to get my attention! Everyone loves attention, so I can understand why you would playfully flirt with someone that did not interest you - no harm, no foul; right?

Potential relationships can be scary for anyone, but especially for the uninitiated. Paws up to you for concentrating on your education and putting your career training ahead of boys; but it appears this has left you with a lack of experience in dealing with the laws of attraction. Rule #1 is that the less available someone is, the more attractive they become. Because Seymour sees you as a forbidden fruit you are all the sweeter to him - thus the comment that you are "a severe temptation". I am not saying that if he were single he would not find you attractive; just that he would not be acting like a creeper. And that is the issue at hand, isn't it? If Seymour continued to act like a gentleman, would you feel more comfortable around him?

The first step to stopping the creepy behavior is to stop poking him - this will prevent him from poking you back. Is it possible to dismiss a poke without poking someone back? If so, try doing this. If Seymour continues to try and poke you, continue to ignore the pokes. Unless he is a complete dunce, he should get the message.

As for how to avoid the awkwardness at your next annual event: You do not say when it is or how much time will pass before you see Seymour at this event; but perhaps time will heal the awkwardness. If that is not possible, please do not ignore the proverbial elephant in the room. If you see him, you can laughingly say "POKE!" to break the ice. If he responds, take the opportunity to tell him that you are glad that there are "no hard feelings about any misunderstanding that may have occurred". If he asks for details, simply say that you felt he may have taken your harmless flirtation the wrong way. If he still tries to push for details, just say "I think I hear your wife calling for you" and walk away.

As for how to prevent creepers in the future; there is no one easy answer. A friendly, simple, "I'm not playing hard to get, I'm just not interested in you" will get the point across nicely. It may be blunt, but creepers will not understand subtlety. If they continue trying, simply repeat the above line, word for word. Creepers thrive on drama, and if you give it to them they will be back for more. Nothing is more boring to a creeper than hearing the same, even-toned reaction over and over again.

Good luck in graduate school and in your future career!


P.S. Have you "Liked" me on Facebook yet? Check me out at

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

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Professional Decorator Does More Than Just Hang Curtains

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am a professional florist specializing in custom design and decorating for large accounts - mostly businesses and historical mansions, with a few select personal accounts for customers with very large homes. The holiday season is a very busy time of year for me. Although I handle all the design work personally (and throughout the year, in order to ease the burden), the actual set-up occurs just prior to the event or season being celebrated - weddings, parties, and seasonal decor. Most of my clients want their winter holiday decorating done within a very short time - after Thanksgiving but before December 1st - and I have to hire extra staff to get everything done right and on time.

My problem is my best friend, "Maureen". Maureen fancies herself a decorator simply because she enjoys decorating her own home with various seasonal touches that she buys as the local discount store. She has no education or training in the field of interior decorating or in live plants (including flowers or greenery), but this has not stopped her from asking me for a job - as a "holiday extra to start, and then hopefully something more permanent". On the one hand, I feel badly that Maureen needs the work - who doesn't in this economy - but on the other hand, she just isn't qualified to do the type of work I need done. I have offered Maureen work in my shop - running the register, watering the plants, and light office work; but she refused it, saying her "talents would be wasted" in the store.

I can't tell Maureen that I have completed my holiday hiring because she knows I have not and that I am actually desperate for extra help since two of my regular holiday temps just got married (to each other) and moved out of state. How can I politely tell my friend that she just isn't qualified for the job?

Running Ragged

Dear Running Ragged:

It amazes me how many people think they can do someone else's job because they think it looks easy! Please, let me tell Maureen this for you: Interior decorating requires a great deal of education and training in both art and architectural design, as well as palate matching, and knowledge of fabrics; textures, and styles. and how to pull them all together in a way that works for the client's tastes, not your own. Just because someone thinks they have an eye for color or manages to find great seasonal knick-knacks at the Christmas Tree Shops does not make them a professional decorator!

Whew! Thank you for letting me get that off of my chest! Now, as to how to answer Maureen without hurting her feelings: You can't. The fact that Maureen "fancies herself a decorator" means she will take your rejection quite personally; not only because you are friends, but because you are also a professional. The easiest way to explain the situation to Maureen is to tell her that your line of work and the clientele you serve demands the services of professional decorators, who come with unbiased, proven credentials. Inform her that although you appreciate the offer, right now is not the best time for you to train a new employee; and that regardless of her talents, she is still new to the field of professional decorating and would need extensive training before you could send her out to work unsupervised.

If Maureen continues to press the issue, I suggest that you offer to train her after the holidays, once things have slowed down a bit and you have the time to focus on working with her (whenever your slow season occurs). Once Maureen sees all that goes into working with someone else's existing decorating and style tastes, she may discover that she is not the professional decorator she thinks she is - or, you may be pleasantly surprised to find Maureen has a genuine interest in decorating, and is open to learning it on a professional level (which, you might need to inform her, would include classwork at a certified school or college and not your personalize teaching for the duration of her training). I think this duel-sided approach is a compromise that should work for both of you, while sparing Maureen's feelings as much as possible.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Just A Small Town Girl...

Dear Tazi:

I am just a small town girl, living in a lonely world, looking to take the midnight train going anywhere. I realize this sounds cliché, but it is true! I graduated high school last spring and, unlike all of my friends, I did not start college this school year. Rather, I went to work full-time over the summer (waitressing) and have been working ever since. I feel so stifled, like nothing is ever going to happen to me unless I make it happen!

I have been saving up my money - what I earned while in high school, as well as what I have earned working full-time - and I have a sizable sum set aside. My parents would like me to save it for when I do decide to return to school; but I would like to use the money to attend the school of life! I dream of moving to a big city to try and make my fortune, but I am not certain what I would do to make my fortune. I realize that waitressing will pay the bills where I live now, but in the big city I am going to need something more. I am not an actress, a model, a musician, or any other type of person you would usually find working as a waitress while trying to make it big; and I really have no idea what I want to do with my life, besides moving beyond my current surroundings. I guess I am just restless, and tired of waiting for my future to arrive.

Ready To Make A Journey

Dear Ready To Make a Journey:

I can understand why you feel that nothing will ever happen to you unless you make it happen - because for the most part, this is one of life's great truisms. For example, nobody can force you to go to school to train for a career, or even a better-paying job - that you must do yourself; and nobody can force you to stay in your small hometown when you would rather move to the big city.

You say you would like to educate yourself by attending the "school of life", but it appears that at this point a move to the big city would result in your attendance in the school of hard-knocks. From the tone of your letter, I will risk saying that it sounds like you do not have well-researched, viable plans for employment (which is scarce in many areas of the country right now); career training; and a living space that will balance your personal needs with your available finances (I do not recommend that you deplete your savings!). Therefore, I would suggest that you stay where you are for now and work on developing such plans, and in six months or so revisit the idea of moving (perhaps by then, you will have decided which big city is the one for you).

In the meantime, come January, a new college semester will start. I suggest that you check out the course catalogs at your state's local community college(s) and see if there is anything that sounds interesting to you – many a student has found (or changed) their career path after developing an interest in something that they discovered through coursework. Some creative options are writing, photography, or makeup artistry. Some economically practical options are Intro. to Business Management, Marketing, or Bookkeeping. There are endless possibilities, all of which will increase your professional skills and broaden your scope of the world around you; without requiring you to take an unprepared leap into the unknown.

Always remember that if we do not take risks, we may live a safe life; but it may not be the life we seek to live. On the other hand, if we leap without having any idea where we will land, the results may be equally unpleasant. Balance is key.


P.S. Short, one to three day trips to various big cities can give you an idea of what these places are like before you choose to move there. I have yet to meet someone who regretted traveling; but I have met many who regretted moving to a place they had never actually visited!