Everything You Ever Wanted to Know….

Today I received a very special delivery from my friend A.E., R.N. We were in band together in high school, so when she said she found something that reminded her of me and she wanted to send it, I assumed it would be some piece of ancient band paraphernalia (those black socks we decorated with puff paint? The little action figure we found in the parking lot and adopted as our mascot?)–in any case, something of real but fleeting entertainment value.

So imagine my surprise when instead, I opened up the gift that keeps on giving. Forever. That’s right, it’s:

The Ann Landers Encyclopedia, A to Z: Improve Your Life Emotionally, Medically, Sexually, Socially, Spiritually. (Doubleday, 1988).

Wow. That is a lot of -llys. Thank you, A.E., R.N.!

To give you a better sense of the scope of this master work of the master columnist, here’s a snippet from the inside flap of the front cover. And I quote:

“How do you feel about abortion? Adultery? Sex after sixty? Masturbation? Oral sex? Interfaith marriage? Pornography?”

hooked yet? No? Well there’s more.

“What do you know about snoring? Smoking? Alcoholism? Drug abuse? Suicide? Dreams? Shoplifting? V.D.? Obesity? Hypsnosis? Acne? Arthiritis? High blood pressure? Cancer? Breast enlargement surgery? Teenage sex?”

Still not convinced? Just hold on.

“Are you ashamed to ask–but would like more information on orgasm? Face lifts? Rape? Contraceptives? Bashful kidneys? Homosexuality? Constipation? Frigidity? Shyness?”

With bashful kidneys and frigidity on the menu, who could pass? But just in case….

“Are you struggling with anger? Loneliness? Boredom? Depression? Nervous habits? Allergies? Headaches? Impotence? Widowhood? Insomnia? Menopause?”

Well.

“These are just a few of the topics you will find here.”

Also, it comes with the Ann Landers guarantee:

“I am utterly shameless when it comes to tapping the best brains in the country for my answers. No one is too important or too busy for me to bother.”

In fact, the encyclopedia contains more the 400 essays on ALL of the topics above, and more. They’re written by experts in the field, with commentary from A.L. She also covers some of the topics herself. And of course, “Generously sprinkled throughout are some of Ann’s most memorable columns.”

According to the dust jacket (O, wise dust jacket!), Ann Landers once said, “If I can shed a little light in some darkened corner, plant hope where there is dispair, replace anxiety with courage, ignorance with useful information, and open a door to self-understanding, the time and effort that went into this enormous undertaking will have been well spent.”

Oh Ann, we aren’t fooled. We can tell you took equal inspiration from St. Francis (“where there is hatred, let me sow love”) and Lena Lamont of Singin’ in the Rain (“If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives….all our hard work ain’t been in vain for nothin'”). But we are still impressed.

P.S. Great hair.

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