There’s no better way to introduce you to Cheryl Lavin (image from http://www.chicagotribune.com), author of “Tales from the Front,” than by giving you a peek at Thursday’s column. Her long-running feature on the challenges of finding and keeping love caters both to couples, who typically complain about each other’s altered physical appearance after years of marriage, and singles, inevitably bitter, who list their “nice” qualities and ask why they can’t find a date.
In fact, my one (to date) successful (as in, printed) advice column submission was related to this very issue. I gave a particularly obnoxious “nice guy” what-for and she printed it(!), thoughtfully providing me with a secure alias (“Beth”) to protect me from…the niceness he would surely inflict on me, if he knew where to find me.
Since then, I’ve always felt a little bond with Cheryl (may I call her Cheryl?)–a bond that was solidified this morning when I read her headline:
“Unending discussions about nice guys and overweight wives”
…and snorted. As long as she’s aware of it, I’ll go with it! I also admire her boldness (apathy?) in throwing together these two topics that have nothing to do with one another except that they create the most sheer volume in her virtual mailbag.
I have to believe that this is really annoying for columnists….for the most part, they get asked the same questions, over and over and over and over again. Usually I (or anyone!) can guess how the columnist is going to respond without even reading the answer…unfortunately, that response is never “Look at yesterday’s column, dumbass.”
Instead, columnists exhibit a number of different approaches to this issue, from mocking the readers with a wry-but-weary headline, as Cheryl did, to abbreviating their answers with a handy, versatile acronym. This technique was made famous by Ann Landers (MYOB/mind your own business) and perfected by Dan Savage (DTMFA/dump the motherfucker already).
One final note on Cheryl: she is notorious for printing whole columns made up of readers’ anecdotes, with little to no actual advice or even, um, writing, of her own. She did it with mine over a year ago, and she did it this morning. Does this even count as a column anymore?
And could this blog be any drier? I haven’t written for an audience in awhile…it might take some time to refine my, um, voice. Please bear with me!