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I am embarrassed to say that I am a snoop. I try and respect my children’s privacy but frankly, I mostly fail. Now, because of COVID, I have older kids in the house, kids who are basically adults. But I still get itchy fingers to “clean up” in their room. Or “look for” something I can’t seem to find. I wanna know what is going on with them. Is that so bad?
Yes! It is so bad! Not that I haven’t had the same inclinations at times. But you must resist for two basic reasons. One, your children deserve privacy just like anyone else, and giving birth to them doesn’t give you the right to invade that privacy (tempting though it might be). Would you want your children knowing your deepest, darkest secrets? I think not. Two, you may be very ill-prepared for what you might find. Like say, their gambling receipts or sex toys. Ignorance really can be bliss. Now, if you are worried that your kid is going to hurt themselves or others, that is a whole different matter. If that is the case, you have to reach out to professionals immediately. But otherwise, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but as a parent of adults, you can’t be hands on. You gotta be hands off.
I saw your advice to the dog owner who was yelled at by a neighbor who didn’t want said dog to urinate on their lawn. She was also yelled at by a neighbor who didn’t want any bags of dog poop to be placed in her garbage can. You said to avoid these neighbors but otherwise it’s ok to dispose of dog waste in the closest garbage can, even if it is not your own. What about if you are picking up litter along the street…is it ok to put litter like paper, bottles, plastic and other detritus into other people’s bins?
Now I’m paranoid
Let’s get one thing straight. It’s called a garbage can for a reason. Because we put garbage into it! And the very definition of garbage is all the unpleasant, smelly stuff we don’t want. No matter how you slice it, it’s yucky! And on a hot summer day, stinky! Expecting anything better of your garbage can strikes me as being a little on the controlling side. And expecting it not to be malodorous, unreasonable. Obviously, there are plenty of vocal people who disagree with me. One is Philip Galanis of the New York TImes, a favorite columnist of mine who advised using the closest public receptacle to throw away your dog poop. I hate to disagree with dear Philip; however, on this matter I do. But if you are so kind and civic minded as to pick up other people’s garbage/litter you find while walking down the street, I say you deserve a medal, to say nothing of permission to get rid of the litter wherever you can. I would be honored if someone used my garbage can for such a worthy cause! I suppose you could always carry a plastic grocery store bag with you to collect litter and then dispose of it at home. But, why? It reminds me of a woman I used to work with who couldn’t recycle the newspaper unless she put all the sections in order first. There are so many things in life to be concerned about, so many things to worry about, so many things to lend your voice to. The contents of your garbage can in the alley is not one of them. I will also repeat that garbage bins are not owned by anyone but the City, and they are the ones who collect the trash, no matter what is in it or what it smells like. Give those guys a tip!
I do crossword puzzles regularly but sometimes I get stumped. Is it ethically OK to google crossword puzzle answers?
Oh, hell yeah! Are you kidding? That is why they invented the search engine! When you are tearing your hair out, looking at the same ink-blotted section of a crossword puzzle so hard that wisps of smoke start rising off the newsprint, when you’ve put it down and picked it up 20 times to try to clear your brain, when you want to rip the very paper it’s written on into so much confetti, for God’s sake, put yourself out of your misery! Crossword constructors are evil, dastardly beasts who revel in the sound of millions of heads banging against millions of walls. The sheer relief of looking up an answer is intensely wonderful, except when the answer is so exasperatingly obvious, that you want to cut your carotid open with the point of your pen. Have fun!
I no longer care what I look like. How can I snap out of this before I lose my spouse?
A vital piece of information is excluded from your letter. Does your spouse care what they look like (or what you look like)? Does anyone at this point? Personally speaking, I haven’t so much as put a pair of earrings on in a year. My hair looks like a cross between early Justin Bieber and Moe from The Three Stooges. Should I stop there? Because I also haven’t worn a bra in so long, my bazooms could sweep the floor. Just sayin’. If your spouse doesn’t care about how they look, I don’t see why you should care about how you look. I’ve never really understood the whole, “I wanna look good for him/her/them” thing. I wanna feel good for me! And if I feel good for me, others will just follow along, no matter what I look like. Attractiveness has a lot more to do with confidence and feeling comfortable in your own skin than any lipstick shade or number on the scale. If you really feel that your relationship is in jeopardy if you don’t look your best all the time, there is more going on there than Gabby can address, and it’s time to find a good therapist. But for now I would say, just do what most of us do most of the time and lower your standards.
Dear Gabby appears in the RoundTable every Friday. Yes, Gabby is an advice columnist – but not just any advice columnist. Because that would be boring! Gabby combines wisdom with wit. And a pinch of snark. She is not a trained therapist by any means, but has seen and loved many in her day. Her aim is to make you think while she makes you laugh. Gabby welcomes all questions and queries and is only too happy to hear your opinion, no matter how much it may diverge from hers. Write to Gabby at firstname.lastname@example.org.