Columns Oct 16, 2013 at 4:00 am

Tragedies Come in Threes


CACAS's boyfriend almost definitely wants out of the relationship. The sex worker deserves an acknowledgement of his grief as much as anybody else. Great column.
@1 yes, but who will be first with a prescient and germain comment?
DTMFY, girl. No way is anybody that self-absorbed and drowning in self-pity and grief going to follow up with your demands.
What an interesting image by Mr. Newton!

CACAS, at the least be prepared for an exit. Maybe this was a one time event, but hope for the best...

When reviewing CACAS's boyfriend's behavior, the important one came first: Says he's forgiven girlfriend for something when he was really seething over it. That was the shitty move. They could have talked it out.

But note something else: "I don't know how to help you grieve in this situation because you didn't like her." How is that obviously a stupid, careless thing to say? I can think of things that might be better, maybe stopping at "I don't know how to help you grieve," or "you must have some complex feelings," or "I'm very sorry for your loss," but it's not really that bad. How is it horrible to assume that the guy didn't like her when he often made scathing remarks about her?

So the picture I'm getting is that either Boyfriend jumped on a clumsy but ultimately innocuous comment and CACAS quickly assumed all blame and began apologizing up and down, or she started apologizing up and down with no prompting. Either way the dynamic between them was screwed up even before the whole drive drunk, leave her at the bar, and ignore her calls business. Then add her question about whether she's being too demanding, and I'm seeing something truly disturbing. She accepts blame, then wonders if it's alright for her to squeak for some consideration. Run!

Even asking him to consider quitting drinking. Consider? How about an ultimatum? Seems more appropriate under the circumstances.

Next-- The chick owes you an apology? All she did was make out with someone she wanted to make out with. If she's violated a monogamous agreement with her husband, she owes her husband the apology. CACAS's beef is with her boyfriend. He's the one who cheated on her (albeit in a small way). Why are we so quick to blame the woman when it's the man who's cheating? Try turning this one around. A woman cheats on her husband with another man, but we hold the guy she slept with more completely to blame.

And yet, I think this relationship might be saved. It goes back to the drinking. I'd recommend that no drinking ultimatum. Put it to the boyfriend that he must get into some sort of AA or counseling program with the end goal that he quit drinking. Do that or you break up. He won't, or he'll make transparently ineffectual efforts. Then you break up with him, but you'll be able to tell yourself that you tried.
"Hey, who sent those flowers?"

"A friend"/"A well-wisher"/"A client"/"[Name on card]"/"Some guy I know a little from work"

"Oh how nice of him."

And that's if he doesn't want to lie.
I'd be wary of dating someone who "often" makes "scathing statements" about an ex. They've got issues. And now his issues are becoming the LW's problem. Get out of the relationship, and try to figure out, possibly with the help of a therapist, why your response to him crapping all over you was to wonder if you were being too demanding.
CACAS: So your boyfriend's feelings about his ex was more complicated than he let on and, after a fairly innocuous comment from you trying to comfort him, he swears he's 'forgiven' you only to ditch you at a bar, come back to the house you two share, get shitfaced with his friends, talk shit about you all night and then make out with another woman while you're in the house. I don't think your initial comment was nearly as callous or thoughtless as you do (and, frankly, I think your boyfriend's reaction was an instance of convenient transference), but even counting that, he's executed quite a few more dick moves than you have at this point.
@5: I'm pretty much thinking the same thing.
@7: If two people hook up, one involved and one not, and the uninvolved party knows the other is involved, then an apology from the uninvolved party is not out of order. Mind you, the involved party is mostly to blame but the uninvolved certainly had something to do with it, especially if they're all in the same circle of friends (this is all gender neutral, BTW). I just don't think it will matter in this case.
It's not very likely, but if something DID happen to me, my family would find out about a lot of stuff I would rather they did not. And I don't even have kinky furniture.
@4 It's germane, not germain. And prescient doesn't make sense in that context. I'm all for snark in response to "first" posters, but it doesn't really come off if you trash the language while doing it.
@11 you could make your "ICE" contact ("In Case of Emergency") in your cell phone a friend whom you trust to get rid of the porn & dildos before your family comes by...Just make sure the friend has (or knows where to find) a key.
It is refreshing to see Mr Savage at variance with most of his (inferiour) colleagues, who practically as a bloc insist on not only supporting but practically goading sex workers to keep the profession a Deep Dark Secret in Perpetuity, even if he does seem almost about to add Dated a Sex Worker to his list of Requirements for the Presidency. In the main, though, I agree that the LW needs a good thump.

I can approve of sending or leaving a REAL card (the sort with which one used to go calling), with a REAL message, but anyone who resorts to Hallmark or one of its far-too-numerous imitators gives me the LMBs. I could probably compromise on a card with an appealing image but no pregurgitated (ooh, I like that one) message. Probably I'm going to be almost entirely alone on this one, but resorting to Hallmark constitutes a clear admission of resorting to a substitute for thinking; one either couldn't or wouldn't write for oneself. There can be mitigating circumstances for that, but I'd never dare do such a thing.
@13 & @11: Someone surely will develop "an app for that". After some constellation of events (no sign-ins for X weeks, your name in the local obits, etc), a scrub of your phone and browser history is performed and your best bud gets your passwords to notify your lovers and then close your accounts. I know someone who set up such an arrangement with a computer-literate, trusted relative.
Really great column this week!
@10 - Whether or not the other woman owes CACAS an apology, and whether or not she actually does apologize, shouldn't have anything to do with CACAS forgiving or not forgiving her boyfriend. This isn't an ultimatum that CACAS should make of the boyfriend - the boyfriend isn't in charge of his friend's wife's actions, and can't make her apologize.

If CACAS and the other woman have a social relationship, they may need to work it out on their own. But it's not the boyfriend's job to negotiate that treaty, only to work out his own relationship with CACAS.
@11: You've got two choices: either get rid of all the stuff that your family would rather not see in conjunction with you, or figure that when you're dead, what you don't know can't hurt--or embarrass--you, and shrug it off.

The thing is people will gasp with astonishment and glee and tell everyone in the world . . . and within six months, no one will think about it again. So keep it all but if any of it can be used to embarrass or harass anyone else, someone who may still be alive and embarrassable when you're dead and beyond the reach of social/professional censure, make sure to destroy anything that can be used to identify those people.
As regards my own postmortem artifacts, I get a kick thinking about the looks on various people's faces as they say, "OMG! He put that WHERE?"
Bizarre, what is it with people and sex workers? Send a card saying, "Dear X, I am so sorry about your loss". WTF is pejorative about that?
" I am totally capable of getting over one drunken kiss—everybody makes mistakes....I told him that this chick owes me an apology before I can ever even consider getting over it."

You don't see the basic disconnect between those two statements?

Why is an apology from _her_ so important to you, when one from him apparently isn't? If she has something to answer for by making out with him, he by definition has exactly as much of that to answer for, plus ditching you at the bar, plus leaving you to find your own way home, plus doing the phone version of the silent treatment, plus slagging you to your circle of friends. (Just like he used to slag his ex to you. That really ought to tell you something about who he is.) What a complete dickbag.

And here you are saying you are totally ready to give him a pass on his dickbagginess, but you absolutely demand an apology from her for her comparatively miniscule portion of the assholery?

First, why do you even care if you never get over her part of this? If you tell her to fuck off and die, so what? Second, how is making _her_ apology the gatekeeper to getting over it with _him_ going to work? What if she says no? Does that mean she has control over whether you two reconcile? (Not that I would recommend reconciling with Dick Bag at this point, but still.)

Is he some sort of vampire hypnotist, to have you so thoroughly bamboozled?
LW1 clearly deserves her boyfriend. They both sound dysfunctional.
@17: I said that CACAS was within her rights to want an apology from the woman, not that it was the boyfriend's responsibility to make that happen. I also said it probably didn't matter in this case; I pretty sure it's a wrap (and if it isn't yet, it should be).
@6 Married in MA (re: @149 from last week's column, October 9, The Coast)
Okay. it's official. Once I hit menopause, I'm going to be horny as hell!
After selected gluten and sugar free munchies upon watching Thelma & Louise for the umpteen thousandth time, it appears that I'm slightly sweet and tangy. I guess it's true that what you eat, you are (I'm SO glad I no longer scarf Big Macs, now that I know what's in them!).

Re: Joe Newton's artwork: Quote the Raven: "Nevermore!"
@7 Agreed. I'm guessing either she didn't actually say that, or she's gotten so used to shouldering the blame for everything in the relationship she doesn't realize what's happening.

It sounds like the uncle needed a Porn Buddy (
@7 and @25 - Agreed with both. I thought that sounded like a reasonable thing to say myself. It's something I would want to hear actually instead of having someone make assumptions about how I was feeling. I think 25 is spot on that she is just used to shouldering the blame or having him blame her for this.
Dear CACAS, Having just spent entirely too much time with someone who plays the blame game, I say move on. Find your spine, get some courage and leave. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Otherwise you are setting yourself up to be a doormat. While drinking exacerbates shitty behavior, sobriety doesn't mean rainbows and flowers.

Take it from one who knows. Blamers gotta blame.
@24 Grizelda,



PS: Only this and nothing more
Long time reader, first time ever commenting. I feel like I need to speak up for CACAS's boyfriend. I agree that he probably does want out of the relationship, but given the context of the situation (and no other details about his past behavior), I believe this guy is acting out of grief and is not necessarily just an asshole. Losing someone close to you, or who was once close to you, is an incredibly traumatic thing. It's a reminder of our own mortality. People tend to exhibit lapses in judgment and are more likely to engage in spontaneous activity when they're in mourning. I think this is especially true if the death was premature or accidental. And from personal experience, sex drive gets amped up and goes to some weird places when a lover passes away.

TL;DR: Dude was acting out, but is not necessarily a total asshole. Maybe just a temporary one. Either way, he needs time and space to process his feelings and it's best for CACAS to move on for now. Check in with him to make sure he's okay but don't date him.
I advise taking to heart EricaP's general warning to be wary of anyone who makes scathing remarks about exes. (9)

Everyone will give you a pass if you complain about an ex right after the break-up. That's the time to cry into your beer and bore anyone who will put up with you as you detail every hurt, every wrong. If it's not your buddies at the bar, let it be the folks at your yoga class. Weep and complain away.

But you should be well over that by the time it's time to start dating again. A new prospect might reasonably ask why you broke up with your last relationship, and you should be ready with a brief response:

"He drank."
"She cheated."
"We were wrong for each other and argued about everything."

If you're tempted to go into more detail than that, tempted to tell even one story about how the guy got drunk and left you at a bar in order to bad mouth you to his friends, that's a sign that you're not yet ready to date again post-breakup.

In other words, CACAS, don't turn into someone who makes scathing statements about your ex no matter how much you (and Dan) think he deserves it.
I second @30.

My BF and I were together 7 years when one of the children of a family I babysat for died tragically. I hadn't seen them, or the child, in years before this happened and we didn't necessarily part on the best of terms. However, I remember them bringing the child home after the birth, and was there for what ended up being half of her life.

When I found out, it changed me. I was very upset, and was taken by surprise by how deeply it affected me. My BF couldn't have been less helpful. "I don't understand why you are so upset...""You babysat a lot of kids..." "The mom was awful to you..." He thought this would help me feel better.

My grief was compounded by anger by his lack of compassion and his invalidation of my feelings. He wasn't trying to be hurtful, or trying to make me angry but he did. I vented to friends about it, because I was hurt. When someone hurts you, sometimes it makes you angry at them. I am not justifying his "getting even", but grief, especially unexpected grief, can make you start spinning.

I am sure beneath CACAS's BF anger, was how hurt he was by her inability to comfort him or understand his needs. She can dump him for reacting this way. Or they can work through it, as my BF and I did, so they can better understand how to help one another when tragedy/death inevitably happen again.
"I don't know how to help you grieve in this situation because you didn't like her." Obviously, that was a stupid, careless thing to say. I apologized numerous times, and he said that he forgave me.

I'm thinking this is where this started being a DTMFA letter; that isn't a "stupid" or "careless" thing to say to anyone who's ready to date grownups. But it only got worse and worse from there.

However, that line about wanting an apology from the friend's wife makes LW1 sound like a bit of a jerk. As an appropriate punishment, she should date the asshole for approximately one more day before dumping his ass.

CACAS, use that day to move your stuff somewhere else. And to think about not dating assholes in the future, and not blaming other people (including yourself) for their assholery.

Then take Crinoline's advice in 31.
All of which is to say, @22, that I only partly agree with you.
While I agree that CACAS is due an apology from her b/f (once he's over his grieving process) I get a vibe that CACAS is a bit of a control freak. Demanding an apology from a woman for using her b/f without permission & demanding that he quit drinking after one drunken escapade are two examples. Is she too demanding? I think so. But her b/f is acting like a dick so maybe it's called for. As is often the case, we're missing a lot of details that would give us more context.
So hang on, a married woman drunkenly snogs your boyfriend while staying at your home with her husband, and that doesn't merit an apology? Really?

Sure, her forgiving him shouldn't be contingent on her apology but IMO she certainly does deserve one.
What if we could rewrite this. One's boyfriend has said scathing things about his ex. The ex dies. The boyfriend has confused, conflicted feelings. His girlfriend wants to be supportive and sympathetic. She wants to help him grieve and do whatever is right for him-- within the confines of being in a good relationship. That is, she doesn't want to be a doormat, but she does want to be there for him. What's the right thing to say? With all the benefit of hindsight, if we were writing the script and able to give advice on what she should have said and done, what would give a good outcome for all involved?

I'm stumped. I honestly can't think of anything too much better than what she said.
I'm with Dan on the second part of his answer to CACAS. It seems absolutely certain to me that the boyfriend's feelings about his ex were more complicated than he let on and felt hella guilty about all his crazy mixedup feelings after she died. And then he got stupid drunk and did stupid stuff because his brain and feelings were all stupid and mixed up. If CACAS is invested in making the relationship last, I think a good strategy is to give the boyfriend a little breathing/grieving room, but then kindly-but-firmly call him on his fucking bullshit and have the adult conversation she said she wants and the relationship deserves.
@14 There is no doubt that Hallmark can be the refuge of the careless, but unless you are also going to denounce those who merely select heartfelt gifts manufactured by others over stringing the macaroni themselves, or those who reference plots from famous works of literature to make points here rather than constructing their own narratives, I am not sure that you're even all alone with yourself on this one.
"I don't know how to help you" is the absolute right thing to say if you know someone needs help but you aren't sure how to support them. Part of being an emotionally mature adult is letting your partner know what you need.

Retaliating by insulting your partner to all your friends and making out with somebody else (a friend's wife, no less) are also clear-cut signs of emotional stuntedness.

You're 2 years in. That's about the time these issues surface. Trust me, unless he really works on himself, they're not going to get better in the next 5 years. DTMFA
When I read the letter from CACAS, I didn't see the boyfriend as wanting out; I saw him as an abusive prick.

In either case, my advice for CACAS would be the same: DTMFA.
EricaP: I'd be wary of dating someone who "often" makes "scathing statements" about an ex. They've got issues

Not the least of which is that the guy who still rants about his ex-girlfriend hasn't really gotten over her and isn't in any condition to be forming healthy new attachments.
Regarding CACAS's letter, when you are in grief, the last thing you want to hear is "I don't know how to help you." That means on top of whatever you are dealing with, which is already huge, you are being asked to be responsible for another person. It feels like another stone on the pile.

There is no right thing to do. You just have to be there. If something is asked of you then do it. But otherwise, just be there.

The fact that she had to ask the question already points to a huge emotional disconnect between the two. So in my opinion, it was already over before any on the stuff described in the letter even happened.
@24 My mother told me cum, (sorry, Dan, this feels "right"), tastes better after a man eats Mexican food. After much research I've determined it's the Margaritas.
Ditto @44,

Rightly or wrongly, the BF wasn't being open enough for CACAS to judge the BF's investment; OTOH BF mightn't have been aware of his depth of feeling till it was in his face.

If we label this as "interesting times" for CACAS and BF, this might be the nail in the coffin, or the event that opens the BF to "possibilities yet unforeseen". Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

36-- It looks like we disagree on this one.

1. B & C are in a monogamous relationship. C starts something with D, possibly lying about the relationship status in order to do it. I hold D blameless.

2. But wait! D knew C was in that monogamous relationship and acquiesced anyway. I hold D a little at fault because s/he should have resisted the advances, but I still put most of the blame on C. Maybe hold D 10% responsible. So perhaps D owes B a weak apology. The big apology should come from C-- an apology and a whole lot more.

3. B & C are in that monogamous relationship, and D actively pursues C. D knows about B, knows about the relationship, and has his/her own sick reasons for wanting to get in there. In this case, maybe, MAYBE, D owes B an apology, but there's so much wrong in this situation that's not being addressed as to make it a moot point. Even if I hold D more at fault, C's responsibility is still what counts. To do otherwise is to infantilize C. In the case of CACAS's letter to Dan, it sounds like he started as pretty much an infant in the first place.
@39 I admit it, I laughed... #cruelbutfunny
@37: While I, with the benefit of peanut-gallery hindsight, probably would have left off the "You didn't even like her" -- that's demonstrably untrue; the two of them were lovers at one point, after all, and his feelings for her are probably more complex than that -- but yes, it really wasn't that horrible a thing to say. The method and the degree to which he acted out were ridiculously disproportionate, and his only excuse can be that grief sometimes makes people really, really stupid. Even grief should not blind him to the fact that the way he acted was first rate asshole behavior, and he should have no trouble realizing it's time to eat some crow. The fact that he is framing it as "Well, I was mad at you for what you said," indicates that he's an immature moron, if not a sociopath.
@ 49: The fact that he is framing it as "Well, I was mad at you for what you said," indicates that he's an immature moron, if not a sociopath.

Someone I've been close to for a long time is a sociopath, and he's smarter and more subtle than that. Mark me down as a vote for "immature moron."
The car wreck theme is certainly creepy. Is this perhaps an unsubtle argument for not getting a car? No? Well, if it's all the same to you Dan, I'd like to use it the next time my partner proposes getting a car.

"Sorry Dear, but it would bring no end of relationship stress. Here's compelling proof, right from Ann Landers' desk..."
CACAS is living with a narcissist (otherwise known as a self-absorbed piece of shit who couldn't care less about his current girlfriend, his best friend, his former girlfriend, or anyone other than himself). Whatever happens in his life is always someone else's fault (constant scathing remarks about the former girlfriend, blaming his current girlfriend for pretty much everything, not only for a well-intentioned, honest remark he didn't feel like admitting to, but for driving him to leave her alone at a bar without a ride home and then make out with his friend's wife). I'd hazard a guess that he blames his parents, teachers, bosses and ex-bosses for his other failures. One thing is clear: nothing is his fault.

I don't think he's trying to get out of the relationship, CACAS, I think he's just being a dick because you keep taking it. Why would he ever break up with you? You're exactly the type he needs to keep around... a girl with low self-esteem and a willingness to blame herself for his problems and keep forgiving dickish behavior. He won't leave you...that is, until he finds a new girl with low self-esteem to take your place.
Whatever you decide to do, while you're figuring it out, please keep using birth control. This guy will make a horrible father.

Scenario 1: D is blameless. An apology is unnecessary, but polite.
Scenario 2: D is at about 25% fault. An apology is definitely called for, and that does not infantilize C so much as acknowledge dual (but not equal) culpabilty.
Scenario 3: D is at about 50% fault. An apology is required for the willful disrespect/malice, the achievement of which could not have happened without C's consent/acquiescence.

Am I the only one who thought that LW3 was hesitant to send a card and flowers b/c he didn't want the masseuse to think LW3 was hitting on him? I would think that sex workers are more prone to clients falling for them than other professions. (I understand this also happens with psychologists and would also think twice before reaching out to a psychologist in this manner.)

If that is the case, my advice would be to acknowledge that directly with the masseuse: "Normally, if you were like, my barber, I'd send flowers and a card at a time like this. Is that OK if I do that for you, too?" Or something like that.
Ms Erica - Well, none of us uses original words, but I still maintain a great difference in illustrating one's points with snippets from those of great literary merit rather than to draw one's entire message from those who are emissaries not only of evil but (perhaps worse?) of mediocrity.
Ms Grizelda - Would you kindly demonstrate your learning once more for the benefit of Ms Starrr before I provide her with a suitable award for the most heteronormative comment of the year?
I agree with crinoline. The other woman only owes LW1 a general sense of societal courtesy. The boyfriend has a specific obligation of monogamy to LW1. He is the one who should be apologizing, sincerely and unreservedly, regardless of whatever catalyst led to his bad behavior.

Also, LW, demanding an apology is worthless. Apologies only have meaning when given freely and unasked-for. Also, just as in the political arena, a personal demand for an apology is a power play, not a sincere request for an expression of remorse. A forced apology is no apology, and there can be no guarantee that a demanded apology, once given, is sincere. Don't do that again.

And yes, DTMFA. Immature asshole. And what you said wasn't particularly offensive.
@55 -- Wouldn't it suffice to send a note which was sympathetic yet reserved, as one would do given another kind of business relationship? I'm pretty sure, given LW3's apparent sensitivity and intelligence, he could strike the right tone.
@55, @59,

Surely a proper florist could advise what a heartfelt condolence floral arrangement should be. If the sender feels flowers are in order, why not? Must every gesture of affection be viewed in the light of lust?

Though I don't condone the grieving boyfriend's behavior, it's really important to consider what the relationship was like before this death.

If this is just an extension or exaggeration of typical behavior - if it is often the case that he makes her apologize excessively for saying fairly innocuous things, or generally treating her poorly and then blaming her for it - then she needs to say goodbye.

However, if this is completely out of character, then his behavior really could be due to grief. Grief can cause a lot of odd and unpredictable behaviors, and this can be even more pronounced when the circumstances around a death are atypical, e.g. when it is someone young, when it was very sudden and unexpected, or when a person has mixed feelings toward the deceased. In this case, it sounds like the boyfriend's includes a lot of predictors for complicated grief. Dan hit the nail on the head when he said the boyfriend was probably projecting his anger toward himself onto his girlfriend, but I don't think it's necessarily the case that he was still in love with his ex. It's enough that he once loved her. Dealing with the death of someone you both loved and hated can be far more confusing and emotionally disruptive than mourning someone with whom you had a wholly positive relationship. In the latter case, you may feel intense feelings, but they are clear-cut. Also, grief in general can manifest itself in so many ways. While it's not an excuse for ill behavior, it's good to remember that grief is just as likely to manifest in weird mood swings and strange behaviors as it is in tears and other expected markers of sadness.

am back and better
I promised to tell the world about him that's why am posting this here...all thanks to Priest JAYEMA...there are so many fake spell casters out there I was more than scammed heartbroken and almost gave up all hope until I met with am so happy...
If you have issues in your relationship i will advise you to search for Priest JAYEMA...he sure would help you he casts all kind of spells
Mr. Ven, I'm sure you're quite correct.
@56 Please don't think I don't love you, Mr. Ven.

It's just that, to illustrate with another piece of great artistic merit, that much Tango needs to be incarcerated with Cash for the good of greater Los Angeles.
Thinking about the above exchange (very off-topic for the thread, sorry), personally I try to give people what I think they want to receive (albeit not in this post, for which I again apologize).

There are people in my life who want to receive pre-printed cards; they send out Hallmark cards by the dozen, and if I send them a handwritten note on stationery, they'd think me a snob with no sense of style. I do send them pre-printed cards, adding a little note.

Conversely, Mr. Ven, I am one of those who finds your references frustrating, because I tend not to get them, and I feel you are writing only for those already in the know. If you wanted to be inclusive towards those who don't already know those characters & situations, you could include a short quote from the relevant section, making it possible to look it up on Google books. But perhaps it would reduce your eccentric charm if you were to cater to the masses, and I certainly wouldn't want that.
vennominon @57:
Mrs Starr knows the "masseuse" is a "him". This is not heteronormativity, this is just a lack of knowledge about the gender of French nouns.
@51: The part that makes me think sociopath is the way he's got Letter Writer and everyone else catering to him: LW apologizing multiple times for perfectly inoffensive stuff, while he is off doing all manner of obnoxiousness with multiple people who also seem to buy into his idiocy with minimal questioning. (e.g., wife of friend who gets drunk and makes out with him, group of friends who apparently sit still for a prolonged slag session about his girlfriend.) Somehow he just strikes me as having The Gift of Crazy, and my instinct is DTMFA, with the MF richly deserved.
What you said is not important, nor is what your BF does from here on in. You know who he is - he's someone who's too immature to deal with his feelings, doesn't discuss his anger and hides it, then feels justified in doing horrible things to the person he feels "made" him angry and blames her. You can't possibly make a functional life with someone this childish. DTMFA.
@55 annstarrr23: Hopefully this doesn't throw me head first into another massive blogger war-headbashing here in Dan's column, but vennominon (@57) once offered me the correct term for male massage therapist. It's really "masseur", not "masseuse".
I goofed on the terminology, too, many columns ago [See Dan's letter from Unsigned, who described himself as a "200% Straight Guy", on page 189-190 in the Kink section of Savage Love: Straight Answers from America's Most Popular Sex Columnist, c. 1998].
@57 vennominon ( Consider my newfound enlightenment kindly demonstrated.
@29 Married in MA: if you know of an excellent gluten and sugar free lasagna, let me know!
Meantime, I have been savoring GF and SF chicken fettuccine alfredo.
I seem to be acquiring new addictions by the day.
Ms Erica - You're more kind than I am. I don't send anything to people who would prefer a pregurgitated card, but then, I don't "do" holidays (stopping short of going out of my way to say anything about Mr Claus, but not supporting the myth if directly addressed). In the best Humpty Dumpty style, though, I am liberal with unbirthday presents.

As for lack of sufficient explanation, I think that's partly not wanting to insult people by appearing to presume they are not familiar with 202-course-level material (if not 101), partly hoping people will ask if they want to follow up on something, and partly not wanting to provide excessive irritation to those who don't like the style. But I may make an effort to be a little more thorough. (Perhaps this would be a good place to insert a warning about exercising caution in one's wishes.)
@LW1 : what you told him wasn't offensive at all ! You know your friends in times of hardship, right ? He's NOT you friend. Don't keep on living with someone who hates you. He's already badmouthing you the way he was badmouthing his ex. Get out. Don't have children with him. Get out now.

And for the apology from the friend's wife : don't ask for one. Give her your thanks instead. She helped you see who was your boyfriend, before he became your husband and the father of your children. She helped you out. She saved you years of unhappiness. Be thankful and move away.
@43 I'm very interested in this comment of ErikaP and yours.

I'll take my own case to argue that "whoever still makes scathing comments about an ex may or may not be over him/her yet, but is, either way, not good relationship material."

To anybody else than my kids (and sometimes even to my kids, when startled, although I try hard not to), I often comment on the piece of shit of an ex-husband who fathered my children and mistreated me for years and still mistreats me and worse, still mistreats them. I'm so over him he could be in the Mariana Trench, but I'm still weekly miserable through his contacts with the kids. Examples below.

I do fit with your diagnosis of having issues though. And I'm not wishing myself on anybody as anything more than a FWB, not because I'm a sociopath, but because I still have bad depressive episodes triggered by the POS's behaviour. Whose documented intention is "to send [me] to the psych ward".

Examples from this month : last week he cut my road in traffic just after I had picked up the kids from him, in a very public parking lot (chosen for my safety). This week I sent him a bandaged kid - harmless finger burns, but still painful and covered in burn cream, likely to leak onto stuff - and he sent back the kid without the expensive reusable bandage ; the fun part is that I'm struggling financially while he is pretty well off, and he's paying the smallest legal amount of child support (the French justice system : read Kafka. Seriously).
@71 Grizelda,

(Tongue in...) You do realize my favorite lasagna recipe is gluten and sugar free (and as a strict monogamist, I'm not sharing). My favorite "flavor enhancer" is garlic (one of my exes even had garlicky nipples). Sadly, in this context, cream sauces aren't so good (and in terms of food I don't care for cream sauces in general. I'm, sadly, unable to be of assistance.)

On the carbohydrate craving front, I feel your pain. That being said, layered spinach, or thinly sliced eggplant or squash, works well with tomato sauce. Keeping my (ingested) cholesterol low knocks out lots of cheese as well. But, be grateful for what you get, and savor the high test in small amounts ;-).

@ 68: The part that makes me think sociopath is the way he's got Letter Writer and everyone else catering to him:

Fair enough. My experience with sociopathy is limited, but Dick Bag didn't seem up to par; maybe I'm just lucky ("lucky?") enough to know one of the smarter ones. And I can't imagine mine grieving.

Somehow he just strikes me as having The Gift of Crazy, and my instinct is DTMFA, with the MF richly deserved.

Ms Migrationist - I was in an optimistic mood. The thought of how delightful it would be if such a post were the most heteronormative thing we saw all year took hold.

Given that the LW correctly used masseuR, I am not inclined to look at all indulgently on any comment misgendering the practitioner, even by accident. While it was unintentional on Ms Starrr's part and I grant that freely, the words were heteronormative even though her meaning was not. It's not on a level with transphobic misgendering, but I'd put it as a bit more than a Tourettes tic.

We could perhaps make a more serious case that the error (in general; I shall give Ms Starrr the benefit of the doubt) is based in sexism (people default to the female-gendered noun because sex workers are presumed to be women).

It is tempting to start using "Senatrix", though the flow isn't that good.

My meditation for the day will likely be on whether it would have been homonormative had the LW been a woman.
BDSM Consider yourself lucky. You can have your uncle's collection hauled away to a less embarrassing venue for an auction. I've got eyebolts and various other interesting architectural modifications for the real estate agent to explain to potential buyers.

I'm new to the acronyms list. Help? CACAS? WTBR?
@79 AK,

The first letter of each word in the "signed" line of the letter is turned into an acronym: CACAS is Confused And Concerned About Situation, etc.

Yeah, there's a learning moment in CACAS's statement. She comes off as a little defensive and touchy, without meaning too, at a time when she needs to be wholly supportive. And "you didn't like her" is OBVIOUSLY insensitive to say to anyone, true or not, who has learned someone to whom they were once close has died. I have a dead ex-girlfriend. I have a much happier relationship with my wife now than I ever had with that ex-girlfriend. However, I still feel sadness about her death and have warm memories of our good times together. If someone tried to belittle my memories of her, because, after all, we didn't wind up together, I'd find it deeply offensive, and that's after twenty-plus years of getting over it.
@74, so sorry to hear what you're going through. Some day the kids will be older and you won't have to have so many interactions with the POS -- at least there's that.
Look; grief is an excuse for being a bit more withdrawn from a partner, or crankier, or depressed. It's not a blank check that excuses any and all behavior that you, as a grown adult, exhibit during your grief period.

CACAS' comment was perfectly reasonable; I wouldn't even consider it mildly insensitive. It was honest, and clearly communicated a concern for his feelings mixed with mild bewilderment. This is a completely reasonable reaction to seeing someone grieve a lot harder than expected over someone they, up to that point, had expressed nothing but contempt for. It's not like she called her a dumb cunt and expressed glee at her death.

The fact that his feelings towards his ex had manifest in an unexpected way can be excused by the unpredictable nature of grief. If he had responded to CACAS' comment by crying, or snapping at her, or staying at his friend's house for a night to "think things over": that might also be excusable given his grief.

But his behavior was NOT excusable, grief or not grief. He insisted that he "forgave" her for two solid weeks, then went on a bender, ditched her at the bar, badmouthed her for hours to mutual friends in their house, made out with one of those mutual friends, and came away from this whole sequence of events still thinking it was all her fault. All over a comment that was entirely reasonable and, according to all the info HE had given her by that time, entirely accurate.

This is something that only a grade-A asshole would do. Part of being a non-asshole (or, for that matter, a standard functional adult) means that this type of behavior is off the menu. Even during times of grief.

We all have either lost people, or know people who have. And while it's common for those times not to go smoothly, how many of us (or those we know) handled their grief with the epic shitshow that CACAS' boyfriend pulled? And of those who did handle it that way, I bet they have a reputation in their social circle as a bit of an immature asshole. And I bet that's not entirely unfair.
But there is good news. The Maryville case has been re-opened.
In relation to the first story, girl... he wants out. You dont need to be in a relationship where one comment will set him over the edge enough to make out with someone else (cheating). Take care of yourself for a while. can help : )
#83 I agree his behavior was way out of line and he deserves to be called on it. I'm just a little surprised that people don't find CACAS's statement as off-putting as I do.

"I don't know how to help you grieve..." You don't, you STFU and be loving and sympathetic.

"You didn't like her..." You don't say that about anyone who has just died, no matter what.

Grief makes people crazy, and often makes people feel things which they didn't expect to feel. There's plenty of evidence to suggest that this relationship doesn't have much of a future, and I don't have a bit of trouble with that. But CACAS doesn't get a pass on saying something really hurtful just because she meant well or didn't know what to say.
Ven... whew. I didn't know there was any gender difference in "masseur" or "masseuse." I thought they were identical-meaning words for "person who massages." I guess not - learned something new (from auntie grizelda, thanks, not you). I don't speak French.

I am curious, though, given your assumptions about my "heteronormativity," why you are referring to me as "Ms. Starrr?" Because my screenname begins with a traditionally female name? ...How heteronormative of you.
As executor of the estate, BDSM has a fiduciary obligation to sell anything of value - it isn't wise to advise him to donate expensive gear to a local BDSM group (unless that was specified in the will). He needs to take reasonable steps to maximize recovery for the estate, and Dan has suggested several ways to do that. You wouldn't give a away solid gold strap-on, would you?
@60, nope, I would hope that most interactions are not viewed in the light of lust. I certainly don't think that way most of the time.

But when it comes to sex workers, I think that it's more likely that the sending of flowers from a client might be viewed as a come-on. Surely there's a good and proper way to do it, but I do think that was part of LW's hesitation. Perhaps a little thoughtfulness about appropriate interaction is not misplaced?
@74, you might want to have a friend accompany you to these drop-offs, especially if he's trying to harm you (even psychologically). Have them record the interactions, take notes, record every shitty thing he does so you can get custody limited. If he's really a sociopath, he only wants the kids to punish you.
@71 auntie grizelda - i have been gluten free, and low sugar, for 15 years now. lasagna was one of my grieved losses for a while, too. (although i'm not sure how you would have sugar in a lasagna)
i'm not sure what foods you have available where you are, but the skins that are a by-product of tofu making, often sold as 'tofu-skin', make a very tasty alternative. they are a bit harder to prepare though. they usually come oiled and salted, so need to be gently cleaned before use. on the up-side they are huge, and you'll probably have to fold them in half to fit in the dish. good luck.
- where i live there are plenty of gluten-free lasagna sheets on the the market, but they are too expensive....
@81: " If someone tried to belittle my memories of her, because, after all, we didn't wind up together, I'd find it deeply offensive"

Yes, but did you do this? "They were not on good terms, and he often made scathing statements about her."

I can't blame Letter Writer for being confused.
Whether the masseur is open about the nature of his work or not, his friends and family undoubtedly think he does SOMETHING for a living that involves other people in some way.

Who's this "John" guy who sent you this nice card?

A) Someone I work with

B) A client I work for.

Literary references from 202 or 101 English are nice- it makes us unwashed, unlearned peons feel even dumber.
Thanks, homie- you really ARE smart!
(I like your comments, normally, but yeah- you're a genius, ok.
We get it).
Regarding CACAS, I don't see anything wrong with what she said. Okay, maybe the wording was a bit clumsy--it's always hard to find the right words in situations like this--but the point is, CACAS was trying to be supportive whatever her boyfriend was feeling about his ex's death. That he took umbrage and had you apologizing over and over is a very bad sign.

By the way, CACAS, the woman kissing your boyfriend doesn't owe you an apology; she owes her *husband* an apology for making out with someone else (unless they have an open marriage). It's asshole boyfriend who owes you an apology for giving you the silent treatment, abandoning you at a bar, getting drunk and bitching about you, not to mention projecting his feelings on to you. (Why would you hate his ex? I'm guessing you never met her.)

Things are obviously complicated because you live with the guy, but unless he takes steps to change his behavior, you should dump the guy.
Ms Starr - Wrong. I went with the odds. Normally I address someone as M? when there is doubt, but, in my experience, the substitution of masseuse for masseur is so close to entirely performed by those who present as female that I felt safe. It's at least a 4:1 ratio.

Also, as you don't speak French, you are presumably not a direct descendant of Anne de Montmorency (I think he was Constable during the reign of one or more of the Valois; I don't know as much French history as I ought).

I do applaud you for the clever adaptation of Brian Parrish's exit line in What They Did to Princess Paragon.
I don't think I've ever recognized a single one of ven's references.

I'm sorry you still have to deal with your ex-husband's bullshit. Please, rant away - the man is still (regretfully) a part of your life, and he gives you plenty of cause to hate him. That's a totally different situation than ranting about an ex you haven't seen for 2 years. Your feelings about an asshole who is still in your life doesn't say anything about your readiness for another relationship.

It's obvious from his behavior, I might add, that he still hasn't gotten over you.
I just want to say thanks from Birmingham Ala. I just spend the best 2 hours listen to you . It may be the best 2 I ever spend. Joey
Mr. Vennominon: I love your references, even if I don't get some of them. It's half the reason I come here. Please continue.

And blank greeting cards. Always.
Mr. Ven,
With the exception of the Austen references, I don't get your references, but that's okay, although I would like it if you could name the book or author so I could try to catch up. I'm not a Rumpole fan, and I know that sometimes you refer to those books. But I hope you don't let our ignorance keep you from your analogies. I like your original snark better, but the literary references are appreciated, too.

@sissoucat: Your ex sounds like a dreadful person to have to deal with.

WTBR - I'm with the other writers who infer that you might be worried the masseur (Mr. Ven) could interpret a sympathy card as a come-on. But ... what on earth would you write in a sympathy card that might put someone "at risk" if read by a relative??? It would not be appropriate to refer to details of your relationship in a sympathy card, right? Flowers? I dunno, maybe not, but do send a card!

WRT CACAS' situation, I once had a 6 foot tall rock-climbing college boyfriend who got extremely drunk one evening when we were hanging out with friends. I left the room for a little, and came back to discover him all over a mutual acquaintance. I asked him what he thought he was doing, and he claimed I'd been ignoring him. I left again, confused and angry, and was hunted down about an hour later by his older brother, who said he was asking for me.

I was torn about what to do, but returned anyway, to a scenario in which he had clearly drunk way over his limit. He became violently suicidal, so that his brother and I had to restrain him, until he became so incapacitated that we spent a while walking him back and forth from the bathroom between vomiting episodes, until he passed out. At which point we carried him to the college infirmary. He woke up the next day, asking why he had bruises all over his body.

Well. It turns out that he had received a phone call that evening from his mother, who had been kicked out of the house for the nth time by his father, and had called him in hysterics. This precipitated his behavior. I was dumb enough to think the situation also excused his behavior. It didn't.

DTMF, and get yourself some counseling.

The episode related above sent me off men for a while, and off people much taller or stronger than me permanently.

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