Quarter Life Crisis: The rug was pulled from beneath this recent grad. Now what?

Dear C and Dr. B;

I am in my last year of college and will soon have to figure out a career. I know that I have some big decisions to make. I am trying to be optimistic, but everything in my life sucks! My mother just died and this means I am losing my home. I can’t support myself yet, so I have to go live with my dad in the meantime. My mother left him because he was totally unsupportive and she found out he was seeing someone else at work! Now he has a new wife, who is less than happy to have me there.

It seems like everything I depended on has been pulled out from underneath me like the proverbial rug. My parents’ marriage was a failure, now all that’s left is Dad and a bimbo. I cannot get motivated to get out there and forge a life and career for myself. Everything fails in the end anyway. What’s the point?

Blue Bonnie 

Dr. B says: Sorry for your losses. Life can be awful – but it is also filled with opportunity and potential. Humans are creatures made up of stories and now is the time to write your own. Your mom wouldn’t want you to crawl under a rock and hide for the rest of your life. She would want you to take a risk and maybe learn to fly.   

Other people are not responsible for your happiness, and you are not responsible for theirs. In fact, the more you try to make someone else happy the angrier they often get at you for doing so. 

Your happiness is your responsibility – don’t go looking for someone else to depend on for that. You need to depend on your own merits.  Life on this planet is never going to be easy, and the forces of nature are trying to eradicate us at every moment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate what you do have, enjoy excellent distractions, and find meaning in your life. But all of that is up to you, and no one else.  As Tom Hopkins said: “Being miserable is a habit. Being happy is a habit. The choice is yours.”

C says: I’m trying to be sympathetic, Bonnie, but you are bitching about free accommodations. Your dad and stepmother weren’t expecting this either; they were trying to start a new life. And however justified you think you are, resenting them is not going to make you feel any better about yourself.

I do understand that it is painful for you to lose your mom – and maybe your parent’s marriage failed, but don’t mix that up with your own life and career choices. One really has nothing to do with the other. Right now you are mixing it all up in your head and you’re not going to be able to launch yourself onto a successful career path if you can’t focus and take aim.

Do you have a friend you can visit, a zoo you can volunteer at, or a job out among people who are enjoying the open summer air? Do you have someone you trust and talk to? Now is the time to enlist some outside help for perspective.

I say this in all kindness, Bonnie: Stop feeling sorry for yourself. This is no more than the trial that every child faces when first walking into adulthood. This is your Rite of Passage. Try not to screw it up.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

Dancing on Air: Amid COVID restrictions, local family of circus artists turns their yard into a stage

Twinkling lights spin down from the trees then disappear, while ribbons of music infuse the night – Rise Like a Phoenix, a three person, multi-act circus show, ran for four magical nights in June 2021. The performance was the work of Air and Silk, a family trio of circus artists who brought the enchantment of the circus into their own backyard. 

The idea began in 2020 as an effort to reach out to an elderly friend in NYC who was isolated and cut off by COVID from the theater and concerts she loved. Simone Jogl, along with daughters Skye and Anneken, created a story in movement as a gift for her, tracing their friend’s life story as an immigrant. They called the production Cirque for Sophia

“We took all the routines that we already knew and put that together with the story,” Anneken says. As the trio began working, the idea got bigger – with costumes, music and professional rigging for aerial silks. After filming a few runs to make a video for friends and family, the trio got even more ambitious: “Let’s do another story!” They began developing their ideas in February 2021. Rise Like A Phoenix is the breathtaking result, and the speed at which the production came together was astonishing.

Simone explains: “This only works when it’s pretty warm, and because of the pandemic, there was limited aerial time to rehearse the acts.” As a result they had only weeks to develop the full concept – but the trio had years of training and skills to assist them.

Simone and her husband, Gerwald, were both competitive amateur ballroom dancers in Austria, though not as a team. Their careers overlapped only by a year or so, then Gerwald went into martial arts and Simone focused on Latin American and 10 Dance, making the Austrian national team in both disciplines. Anneken inherited that same love of movement – she began aerial silks when she was 9, and later on began training in contortion as well; she is a Trouper at Circus Smirkus camp in Vermont this summer and she hopes to make this her career. “I’d like to do it professionally, maybe go to a circus college.” There are circus colleges? Anneken nods. “There’s a lot in Montreal, that’s the center. There’s one in Vermont, and in San Diego, but there aren’t that many in the US.” Does Skye have any ambitions to perform? “She is 14 so her ideas shift and change a lot,” says Simone, “but she loves performing and is thinking to fold that into her life for a few years, maybe as a street performer.”

Air and Silk is a remarkably versatile trio. They do everything themselves, from building the staging, platforms and green-rooms, to the design and set-up of lights. Air and Silk have produced some impressive multi-act circus shows as Lafayette Backyard Productions, and they are available for parties, corporate events and site-specific performances.

To see a trailer and stills from Rise Like A Phoenix, visit simone0023.wixsite.com/website/blog/. To receive a recording of the entire performance, contact simone@rolfing-providence.com.

Texting Treachery: Should this reader confront her husband?

Dear C and Dr. B;

My cell phone died and I had to text my daughter, so I borrowed my husband Paul’s phone – he’d left it in the car. I got the shock of my life when I saw my husband’s last message to a co-worker. The subject was “the smokin’ hot” new receptionist at their office, who apparently has “an ass that won’t quit.” The conversation goes on to describe what he’d like to do to her. His co-worker makes several suggestions that were downright obscene, and my husband responds with “if only!” and a drooling emoji. 

Now I don’t know what to do. It seemed more like locker room talk than an affair going on, but I have NEVER seen that side of Paul and it was seriously disturbing. Paul has been nothing but polite and friendly toward women in my presence. Now it looks like he turns into a sex crazed adolescent behind my back. What the hell? I’m torn between walking out – or flushing his head down the toilet. 

In Shock 

Dr. B says: Men and woman act differently when among groups of same-sex friends. Not all man talk follows Trump’s “Grabbing Pussies,”  but much does, just as many women, when among their peers, will compare “pull toys.” There is a difference between saying these things in the locker room and saying the same things publicly or on Facebook. The locker room involves gender-specific bonding. You describe your husband as fully appropriate socially, respectful to you and other women when he is with you or in public. If it is consistent, then it is true. It is also true that he is a male and of the human animal. What he does on his own time in privacy with his friends is really his business. I agree the culture will never be woke so long as these types of activities continue, but I am pretty sure the culture isn’t going to be fully woke in mine, yours or our grandkids lifetimes. Besides – reading his messages is a boundary violation and it is he who should be pissed at you.

C says: I see this in a very different light. Consistent social behavior isn’t necessarily “true.” It can also be nothing but a consistant act covering up a very different truth.

Back in the day, I played bass in a punk band, and I was skinny with muscular arms and a crew cut. I was often mistaken for a boy if I sat in the back of the dressing room and kept my mouth shut, so I would hear lots of guys act sweet as pie in front of their girlfriends, then talk crude trash about them behind their backs. True, a lot of it was just showing off, but I noticed something else – the men who were lewd and disrespectful behind closed doors also went through a lot of girlfriends – and the women they left behind had been hurt in the process because the guys didn’t really have any respect for them. The men who did NOT degrade women in private had better relationship outcomes, and although they didn’t criticize the men who bragged, neither did they join in.

People can’t express thoughts that they do not have. Sometimes talking trash is just a game people fall into under the influence of others, but if someone I knew was consistently respectful to Black people in social situations, but I overheard him using the n-word with his buddies, I wouldn’t write it off as “just being one of the guys.” I’d write it off as being a racist hypocrite. We all have different personalities we pull out depending on the company we are in. For instance, I would never express my true thoughts about Trump at a Proud Boys rally – I don’t have a death wish. But I would most certainly NOT chime in and mimic their opinions just to fit in. 

I’d sit down and have a good long talk with your husband and I wouldn’t worry that you accidentally “invaded his privacy.” You weren’t snooping through his pockets – in these days of social media, what we all say in private can easily become public domain. If Paul’s pissed that his privacy was invaded, I’d ask him this: “What if your daughter had found the texts?” Ya gotta wonder how he’d explain it to her.

Paul isn’t a swinging bachelor, he’s part of a family. Hold him accountable.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

Changing Stations: One reader shares workspace with a bigot. What should he do?

Dear C and Dr. B;

I work on an assembly line. It’s a hard, brainless job but I believe in the “whistle while you work philosophy.” Why be miserable, right? But not everyone there shares my thinking. George, the guy next to me, is miserable. And he seems to want to spread his misery to everyone around him. He is downright hateful, constantly saying awful demeaning things. The crap that comes out of his mouth is racist and bigoted, with no respect for anyone. He complains all night long. I try to ignore him, but it is really wearing, day after day. It’s hard to whistle when the guy next you seethes and fumes and whines and grumbles. What can I say to this guy to get him to ease off?              

Eric Burdened   

Dr. B says: People are artists and words are the paint they use. Unfortunately, you have to live in the world you paint. This guy is basically just thinking out loud, but the picture he paints is bleak and desolate. There is probably not much you can say to him without making things worse. Possibly subtle manipulation could have an effect – like wearing a T shirt that says: “Words are the paint and you have to live in the world you create with them,“ or “Negativity is like a black hole sucking out all the light around you.“ Or perhaps, “You might not be able to control your world but you can control your reaction to it”

You can also ask the manager to change your station. You can wear ear plugs or get a note from your doctor saying you need to wear earbuds to help your focus, if it wouldn’t endanger you to have music on. 

C says: Are you trying to get poor Eric killed, Dr. B? Nothing enrages an already angry guy like smug, passive digs from someone cheerful. Honestly, even I would want to smack someone who did that. It implies that you know better, and the other person is an ignorant asshole who needs to learn from someone more enlightened.

My recommendation to Eric? Just get the hell out of Dodge. There are plenty of hard brainless jobs out there, especially now, and if you happen to be planted next to some guy who is poisoning the very air you breathe with negativity, it is up to you to get to a better place. You are NOT going to change him. 

If your boss is a sympathetic type, you can bring up this problem to him, but I’ve seen this backfire. I once complained about a fellow worker who chain smoked right next to me – this was before they passed laws against it. The person found out and actually slashed one of my tires. If this dude discovers you ratted him out, you will become a target for the seething anger he is yearning to spew.

In his book The Fourth Way, P.D. Ouspensky had the right idea. He believed that we were all human machines of a certain type, and it is wise to figure out who is what. He said, “If you know someone is a Hitting Machine, and you go near him and get hit … well, what did you expect? He’s a Hitting Machine!”

So – the guy next to you is a Racist Bigoted Spewing Machine. If he keeps spewing all over you … well, what did you expect? Use your brain, dude! 

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

Is My Teen Suicidal?: One writer wonders if something deeper is going on with her daughter

Dear C and Dr. B;

My husband thinks I am making too much out of this, but I am worried. My daughter Sophie has been affected by the pandemic like all of us. But now, I am sensing something deeper is going on with her. 

I used to have to tell Sophie to stop talking on Zoom or texting her friends. Now, I have to rouse her from another nap, or tear her away from staring at one of her devices like a zombie. I haven’t heard her talking to her friends in a while, I’m not sure when that stopped.

Initially during the lock down, she was openly upset, which I could deal with. But now she seems to be holding it all in. She’s irritable whenever I ask her a question or try to make pleasant conversation. I haven’t seen her smile in weeks. Now that school is out, and things are opening up more, instead of making plans to go out, she just stays in her room. 

My husband says, “She’s a teenager, Mary, they’re all like that. Leave her alone, she’s fine.” But I’ve read that teen suicides have risen a lot in the last year. When is it time to “interfere?” 

Mary Contrary

Dr. B says: Take this seriously! One of the things that can help prevent suicide is feeling that you are not alone, and the pandemic, for many, has greatly increased our sense of isolation. Another help in suicide prevention is a sense of connection with the future – and current events in our culture have taken that tie to the future away from all of us. In the news, we are barraged with global warming, COVID variants and constant police and/or terrorist killings. There can be a feeling that there is no future. Social media seems to normalize and even encourage suicide. A CDC survey in June 2020 found that one in four teenagers has had suicidal thoughts.

I would look into a day program for Sophie and initiate a counselor as soon as possible. Trust your instincts. As a parent, you know your teen better than anybody else! If it seems that the situation may be serious, seek help. Break a confidence if necessary, in order to save a life.

If you think your child may be suicidal, use the resources below to get free help, 24/7:

https://www.crisistextline.org/ National Crisis Text Line: Text “ALOHA” to 741741

National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-2433 or 1-800-SUICIDE

https://www.facebook.com/800273talk/ National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

For more info: https://www.ksbe.edu/article/pandemic-causes-uptick-in-suicide-rate-among-teens/ 

In case of an emergency, call 911.

C says: Please consider this – getting early help is CRUCIAL. I’ve seen what can happen if a teen is taken to a hospital as an ER entry. Hospitals are so overcrowded that a patient can literally spend days in a makeshift “ward” in a hallway, waiting for a bed. And psych wards aren’t a place of constant therapy and meaningful talk. There is always medication, and there are always long hours of staring into space. It is not a good place to try to recover the will to live. So do whatever you can to keep Sophie from reaching a point where hospitalization is necessary in order to prevent her from harming herself.

And remember: No one who is on the verge of suicide is going to be chatty. Teens especially are not easy to help – they will have already expended that option in their own minds. So it is up to you to gently persist in being there for your daughter. If she has closed her door, open it. Do not take any of this personally or get hysterical at her reactions. This isn’t about you.

If you are mistaken, and she is not suicidal, you have still done something important. You have shown her that she can trust you with her life, even when she pushes you away. That in itself can give her second thoughts if ever she is thinking.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

A Room of Their Own: Pawtucket gallery puts queer artists at the forefront

The Queer Art Collective, set in the historic Exchange Street District of Pawtucket, is open to all visitors. There is no sense of exclusion upon walking through its doors, and the artwork of the current exhibit represents a very diverse collection of voices and views, from Joe Welch’s evocative, prolapsing sculptures to the surreal and timeless photographic images by Darrion Rose. But the gallery has an unusual submissions policy: Queer Artists Only Need Apply. 

Gallery owner and director Taylor Davis takes a decisive stand in her mission statement at the company website: “Here, at The Queer Art Collective, we put queer artists at the forefront and refuse to have their true stories silenced. It’s our mission to break down heteronormative art culture and create a space that doesn’t tokenize sexuality for means of diversity. Queerness is not a performance to be commercialized and capitalized upon.”

What makes this space truly unique is that in her quest for an LGBTQIA+ sanctuary, Davis has also managed to create a space where everyone who enters feels welcome.

“I opened during the pandemic – because of the pandemic,” Davis told me. Admission was by appointment only at first. “It was for COVID at the time. People needed to get out of the house, they were getting so depressed, lonely and isolated. Here, they could come in, walk around and see art. One thing a lot of people have said to me was, ‘I haven’t seen art in person in over a year!’”

I asked if there had been any protest from straight artists or accusations of discrimination. This is something that Davis readily admits. “That’s right, they’d be correct in that.” She added, “It’s not our intention to discriminate against heterosexuals. However, it is making the statement that this is our space.” Davis has seen a general lack of representation for queer artists, and sees this gallery as a step toward balance. “How often do you hear about places that discriminate and only hire straight people? And if you aren’t straight, they will treat you poorly. Well, this is a space where LGBTQIA+ artists don’t have to feel that way.” 

Davis is amazed at the support she has found since moving to RI. ”I feel like I have a community here now – I’m meeting all these other people with stores and galleries. I’ve never seen so many workers’ unions. cooperatives and collectives as I’ve seen here, and it’s really exciting to be a part of that. It’s like finding your people. And now I have a company that I am bringing others into; it’s changed me as a person along with my perspective on what community is and what I want to do here.”

The current exhibit runs through October 5 and has an intriguing theme: When The Colors Fade: A Queer Riot Against Corporate Pride. Davis explained, “It’s in response to the companies that don’t support LGBTQIA+ people normally, but they want to capitalize off of us, so they’ve come out with gay pride rainbow merch to cash in.”

The gallery is booked through January, which is when their current lease is up. But Davis has big plans for the future. “I’d like to get a license for a wine bar; hopefully we can open the gallery portion and keep that going during construction. We’re looking at property now in Providence proper. I do love Pawtucket, but I don’t get a lot of foot traffic, so I need a place that’s more centralized for people who just walk in. Things are really opening up.”

As the world struggles to find its way back from COVID, Davis has established her own new normal for a group that has too often been targeted or marginalized. “As human beings we all experience classism in different forms; this gallery is about my own community and what I can do for them. Queer people deserve to have safe spaces. They deserve to have companies that care about them and their voice.”

This is one company that does.

The Queer Art Collective is at 172 Exchange St, Pawtucket. To reserve your tickets for the July exhibition open house visit thequeerartcollective.org/upcoming-events or go to fb.com/TheQueerArtCollective for more info.  

Serving Up Some Truth: Can this waitress’ anti-masker boss force her to go bare-faced?

Dear C and Dr. B;

I am a waitress in a very busy high-end restaurant. The government seems to be saying the pandemic is over and a lot of people are tossing their masks – but I read the news, and I know that with the new highly contagious variants, the danger is far from over.  

I hear a lot of my customers talking to each other about how they are not vaccinating.  They have all kinds of reasons from Bill Gates microchips to “It is my right!” OK, fine. I guess they have the right to get sick because of their denial and misinformation, but MY issue lies with my boss. He wants all of the wait staff to ditch our masks. Why? He feels it’s off-putting to his clients for me to be wearing one.  He says customers have even complained, because it interferes with their hearing me. Maybe that is true ­– but so what? 

These people, through their craziness, expose me and subsequently my whole family. Yes I have been vaccinated but a vaccination just means I won’t end up in the ICU or hospitalized. It does not mean I can’t get COVID. I feel it is my right to continue to wear a mask forever if I want to, but my boss threatened to fire me. I need the money to pay mounting bills and the tips are good here, except for a few vindictive anti-maskers, but that is not the majority. I face daily anxiety having to come into this situation, and my boss is completely against me. I don’t know what to do!  –Woeful Wendy

C says: I researched this online, and discovered that it is OSHA, and not your boss, who has the final say on workplace safety. OSHA standards cover pandemic-related safety risks, and under the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause, “All employers must provide a­­ work environment that is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” There are COVID-19-specific guidelines still in place for limiting workers’ exposure to the coronavirus. OSHA still recommends that employees wear masks and makes it clear that social distancing is not a substitute for mask wearing.

You might tell your bonehead boss that if any COVID cases develop at his place of business, the first questions asked will be about safety measures in place to protect both patrons and employees. If OSHA is told that you were not allowed to wear a mask because your employee decided that sucking up to a few customers was more important than public health, they’ll shut him down. Period.

In the meantime, Rhode Island is still providing pandemic unemployment benefits and if you are concerned about the safety of your workplace, this in itself qualifies you to collect in full. If I were you, I’d tell all of this to your boss. If he still insists on risking your health, I’d tell him to go to hell. The judges at unemployment court have no patience for employers like yours.

Dr. B says:  Working at a business where the bosses don’t back up their workers can be like having to go to Hell every day. I feel  for you. You are 100% in the right. Americans are  crazy. Mask wearing and vaccinating are about being aware of other people not just yourself. We have rules for driving so as to limit your chance of killing anyone else on the road. COVID safety measures are there for the same reason – to limit your chances of killing someone else. Unfortunately, in this day and age in the USA, there is little recognition of, or respect for, anyone besides oneself. That is why it is so dangerous to drive now – no one is paying attention to anyone else.   

It is ironic that although Americans are very big on “I know my rights,” a crucial issue such as your right to protect yourself and others is one that may be much more difficult to enforce.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

Not Firing on All Cylinders: Why is her gun-hating friend heading to the shooting range?

 Dear C and Dr. B;

My friend Cynthia just shocked the hell out of me by announcing that she was going to a shooting range to learn how to fire both a pistol and a rifle. She has always told me that she totally against guns and she has also posted many remarks on her blog about how women end up committing suicide with the guns they bought to protect themselves, and how domestic violence becomes fatal whenever there’s a gun involved. She has shared my horror over the number of mass shootings there have been in the US this year.

I can’t believe she is going to go to a shooting range and I’m so upset I can’t even talk to her about it. Why would she do that?

Annie Oakley

Dr. B says: Have you shot a gun? It’s a rush, it is fun – like driving a go cart fast instead of being on the highway. It’s a safe controlled environment to do something that could otherwise be dangerous.

Nothing wrong with a range – NO animals hurt at a range. I say, good for her. It feels empowering too. There is a huge difference between taking a gun class at a range, and standing with a semi-automatic at a QAnon rally.   

Lighten up and take the class with her! I’ll bet you would enjoy it. Just remember to have good ear protection. 

C says: Lighten up? No questions asked? I’m not so sure that’s a good idea, Annie. Yes, shooting is a rush, and ever so much fun, but that is scarcely the only reason that an anti-guns advocate would suddenly want to take up arms. Sure, your friend could just be looking for a new thrill; or something else entirely could have happened to prompt her sudden turn-about. Here’s some other possibilities to consider:

• Your friend may have recently experienced something that made her feel unsafe. I used to teach self defense to women and before I took anyone into the classes, I asked them the reason for their interest. Their motives ranged from self-empowerment to a healthy awareness of the very real dangers any of us could face. The women that raised a red flag were those told me: “this f__ker broke into my house/ attacked me/ hurt me really bad, and I want to be ready next time.” The motive here is a pent-up, waiting rage that could explode in any direction if triggered by the wrong move. When I came across women like this, I told them they needed not just self-defense techniques, but also therapy to process the trauma in a healthy way. I wouldn’t sell such a woman a gun either.

• Your friend may be infiltrating the ranks of gun advocates in order to learn everything she can about the people who thrive on them, and about the mechanisms of the guns themselves. Quite honestly, I think that anyone who rallies against a cause without knowing anything about it is standing on very shaky ground. She could actually still be pursuing her anti-gun mission and gathering information in order to further arm herself in a debate.

• Have you noticed the sheer number of public mass shootings there have been in this country in recent months? People are unexpectedly going nuts out of nowhere and shooting each other. It’s unprecedented, which means unpredictable. You said that you never would have anticipated your friend would get into guns, so…just sayin’. 

Of course, there’s also the possibility that your friend has a crush on a guy who goes to a shooting range, and is simply looking for any opportunity she can get to hang out with him. The route to a gun enthusiast’s heart is through his rifle – nothing more ego boosting than teaching the little lady how to shoot.

These are just a few of the other reasons I can think of other than fun, fun, fun, that a woman would suddenly buy a gun. My point is, any sudden change in behavior is something that warrants a conversation as to why. You haven’t asked, Annie, so you don’t know. I suggest you ask. 

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

Stuck with You: Was Granny ultra modern or out of line?

Dear C and Dr. B;

My grandmother is 76 now, which means she grew up back in the days when men were the masters of the house and a woman’s main job in life was to please them. But listen to this story about her wedding night! I really want to know what you think!

After a big church wedding and all the customary traditions, Granny put her own twist on the marital bedroom. She brought a bottle of Crazy Glue with her and told her newly wed husband: 

If you are ever tempted to disrespect me or violate our vows, I just want you to know that I have this bottle of Crazy Glue and it is ALWAYS going to be in this drawer.” It was a somewhat vague warning, but I think Grandpa got the message because they were married for 65 years and there was never a hint of trouble between them.

It seems a little hostile to me – does this really seem like a good way to start a marriage? I’m looking at Granny in a whole new light.

Dr. B says: I have a poster in my office that says “Be Nice but Take No Shit.” Your grandma optimized this philosophy, which I find really commendable as it was not the norm 65 years ago. My ex said something similar to me. She showed me a pair of scissors and said she would cut off my balls in my sleep if I ever deserved it. That is not why she is my ex. In fact I support the idea that in a patriarchal society all women should do something like your granny did. 

In the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony, there is a Ketubah, which is essentially a marriage contract. It lists the consequences should the marriage not work out, including large monetary fines for the man. Studies show that not only are marital outcomes better if there is a stake in the game, but additionally, people behave better if they feel they are being watched. 

Too often, men in our culture are not held accountable for their actions. Your Grandma is a good role model. Be like her instead of the chopped down sacrificial giving tree that is our cultural model. 

C says: While I can commend Dr. B for his support of female empowerment, and I fully support the idea of a pre-nup, I have to point out that there are a HUGE number of ways in which Granny’s strategy of establishing a standing threat could backfire. I’ll give you a few:

1. We are assuming that the bride is in full control of her faculties and does not have a history of PTSD from male abuse. If she does, we could find ourselves in a position where the police are called and a body bag is brought in. Why? Because people who have been abused do not always interpret circumstances accurately – they can imagine a threat or an insult where none is present. Let’s say that a woman, we’ll call her Diana, was betrayed and then seriously abused in the past. Let’s add suppressed rage and a desire for vengeance to the mix. Now, let’s give Diana too much to drink at a party. She looks across the room and catches another inebriated woman draping herself all over her husband. Diana misses the part where he disgustedly pushes her off, because she has already stormed out. When the guy gets home there’s a good chance Diana will exact a punishment that he does not deserve. What if she pulls out the scissors first and asks questions later? Sorry, honey, I didn’t mean to cut it off. Can we sew it back on? 

2. Granny’s tactic assumes a posture of distrust from the get-go. If a basic trust hasn’t been established between two people, and they feel that dire punishment must be suspended over their partner’s head in order to ensure fidelity, then THAT is a problem right there. Either you trust someone or you don’t. If you don’t, then for god’s sake, don’t commit to spend the rest of your life with them!

3. We are also assuming that the bride herself is worthy of trust. What if she is the one who ends up cheating? Does this mean that the husband just deserved what he got? Sorry, not fair. That’s what pre-nups, and the Ketubah, are for – everyone gets what they agreed to deserve.

I hope that Granny was otherwise an honorable woman who  treated others as she hopes they would treat her. If she wasn’t, then let’s just say that she was one conniving bitch who was years ahead of her time.   

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

Heavy-Handed: Should this reader’s daughter apologize?

Dear C and Dr. B;

My daughter Hannah got on her high horse at her high school about another student wearing a Hamsa religious symbol. She said that it was a cultural appropriation and that it was inappropriate for the other student to wear it because she was of a white non-Jewish race. Actually, Hannah was wrong about the origin of the symbol – yes, it is a Jewish symbol, but it is also shared by Muslims and Christians because it dates back to Middle Ages superstition. Anyway, I told Hannah I thought she was rude, and wrong and should apologize. Hannah refused.   

She got so upset over the whole thing! But what bothered me the most was that it wasn’t even based on historic fact. She got her version of the story from a Google search she did on Jewish artifacts. 

She’s also on a rant about not supporting Israel’s abuse of Palestinians, but I think no American has a right to sit in judgement here because Americans treated Native Americans even worse. I just found out the national park service massacred entire tribes in order to create some of the parks and ejected many others who had been living In the area.

I feel I need to have a talk with her, but I’m not sure what to say – she honestly believes she’s on the side of justice with these opinions.    

Stable Mom

Dr. B says: This is a big question that could be approached from more than one angle. For the purpose of the conversation with your daughter, I would point out that she is in high school for a reason. Teachers stress the importance of sourcing information for a paper, and this matters in the real world too. The opinions expressed without reliable references and sources can have volatile world consequences and do more damage than good. Many of the problems in America right now stem from information bombardment that lacks accuracy or truth.  People are dying from the conflicts these inaccuracies cause – mass shootings, a storming of the Capitol and anti-vaccine conspiracy theories are just a few. Ask your daughter if she wants to be part of the problem, or part of the solution. High school might be more meaningful if she can see that the information skills she is getting really matter.   

If she wants to see some examples of reliable news sources, direct her to NPR radio broadcasts and educational reference sources such as Google Scholar. And this quip I saw the other day is something else to consider ­– “If you can be offended, you can also be manipulated.” Emotion isn’t data.  

C says: Here’s something you might say to your daughter in regard to cultural appropriation – she is guilty herself of appropriation. She is assuming the role of a wise and informed adult who is in a position to intelligently judge others, when in fact, she is just another emotionally immature adolescent who mouths off without really knowing what she is talking about because she has jumped onto someone else’s bandwagon. If Hannah had bothered to Google search the actual origin of the Hamsa, she would have known better. She probably got her story from Facebook, which is not exactly a source known for its unbiased accuracy.

Hannah probably won’t listen to you because you are, after all, just her stupid mother and she is, after all, a fully mature adult who is wise and informed and capable of judging others. At least she thinks so. Therefore, why don’t you tell her that I, an impartial stranger who has over 50 years of experience on her, has a message: You, Hannah, have made yourself the fool in this equation. What a truly mature, wise, and well-informed adult does after discovering they have made a mistake and insulted someone else out of ignorance is APOLOGIZE. Get with the program, kid. Do your research, or next time – keep your mouth shut.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com