I’ve mentioned before that Cheryl tends to let her readers do the talking, often building whole columns out of the excerpts of her letters and e-mails. This works–sometimes. After all, her column is called “Tales from the Front,” and sometimes that’s just what it is–tales, rather than questions.
But when the story reveals that the teller is making a huge mistake–one that she doesn’t even seem to be aware of, or want help with–should the advice columnist step in and help open her eyes?
It’s true that unsolicited advice is often ignored….but I think by virtue of the fact that she’s an advice columnist, she has the privilege to freely advise anyone who writes to her–and this woman needs it.
Today, Cheryl did what she so often does: picks a theme, and prints reader stories related to it. The column focuses on romances rekindled through a Google search. The first one is a lovely Cinderalla story, though it has sort of a bizarre “I have a friend who….” format. The second one cries out for help. It starts out as a typical tale of “the one who got away.”
I’ve been married for more than 20 years, although the last eight have been a struggle. Mainly I’m staying for the sake of the kids, who will soon be out of the nest. Three years ago, I decided to search out Rod, the last boyfriend I had before I met my husband. Although I’d had several boyfriends prior to him, we shared a connection that was exciting, unique and unforgettable.
GASP–would you believe it–the woman googles “Rod,” with some difficulty because of his common name (which means we know Cheryl must be using an alias. Rod?):
Undeterred, I narrowed my search, adding key terms that pertained to his career choice at the time. Bingo! I found his home address and wrote, just a friendly how-ya-doing? kind of letter, filling him in on some general details about my life (marriage, kids, job, etc.)
Twice, Rod cut off their communication, saying that he treasured the memory of their relationship, but refused to become involved with her while she was still married. But!
I protested that I wasn’t looking for involvement—I just wanted to have lunch!
Mmmmhmm. When she persisted in emailing him (apparently to this reader a 6 month delay seemed sufficient for Rod to forget a) that she was married or b) that he had a problem with this), he really put his foot down. Though he packed his email with loving memories and kind words, the crux of it was this:
This is it, Rose. Please do not write me again or search for me on the Internet.
And yet, Rose says, a year later she is
much closer now to making a decision about my marriage.
when the dust settles, even at the risk of being disappointed with the outcome, I know who will get the first e-mail.
Cheryl–this woman needs help, and you gave her nothing! Unless you sent her a personal response advising her to quit harrassing and obsessing over Rod, you did her no favors by printing this letter. You’re an advice columnist. Advise!