From about the age of 7, when I'd read Dear Abby in The Indianapolis Star, I've been fascinated with the advice column. These days, I prefer the more sophisticated and racy columns by Emily Yoffe in Slate.com's"Dear Prudence" feature, but the idea is the same.
The writers all have intractable situations and they're asking the advice columnist for solutions. As far as I know, no columnist has ever reversed the scenario and asked his or her readers to answer questions and solve the columnist's problems — until now.
The scenarios that follow are 100 percent real-life situations that I have no idea how to resolve. I've asked my friends and they also don't know. If you feel that you have the solution, you can email me or, better yet, share your comment on NUVO.net or facebook.com/nuvo.net. I'd be very grateful if you could solve these problems.
A stripper's secret
The first problem comes from Texas, where a friend of mine has quite a nice career going for himself in Dallas. Let's make up a name for him, say, "John F. Kennedy." John is a married man whose personal life is quite uneventful. His best friend, we'll call him "Jack Ruby," is quite the ladies' man. His current girlfriend, "Marilyn," is extremely beautiful and cunning. Marilyn is also the featured performer at one of the leading topless bars in Dallas. As such, it's not unusual for her to make more than $1,000 a night in tips. Ruby is fine with all of this, because Marilyn's money allows him to live a far more lavish lifestyle than he otherwise would. They have a nice house, a new car and he even gets to spend his free time watching his girlfriend and her peers on the job.
What Ruby doesn't know is that Marilyn supplements her income not only through lap dances and tips but by also turning tricks with wealthy clients. This has doubled her income, giving Ruby an even higher standard of living than before. Ruby is unaware of her prostitution but is starting to wonder why Marilyn is suddenly making twice as much money at work. Did I mention that Ruby is extraordinarily jealous and would likely go into a violent rage if he found out? No? Well, he would, which makes my friend John's problem even more difficult.
Turns out that John's brother, "Bobby," is one of Marilyn's most faithful customers and is even convinced that he's in love with her. He's threatening to expose all the secrets to Ruby, which would be unfortunate not only because would it ruin then men's friendship, it could also lead to violence. Ruby not only has a jealousy issue, he also has a stash of guns.
John's been urging his brother to stop seeing Marilyn, but Bobby isn't listening. He's also subtly hinted to Ruby that his girlfriend's seemingly inexplicable pay raise may in fact have an explanation. He doesn't want the situation to get out of control, but he's also powerless to keep his brother away from Marilyn, or to make Marilyn forgo her illicit gains. What should he do?
I live with my wife in a duplex in a fairly nice neighborhood. The rent is reasonable and the location is convenient for our jobs and is close to several nice restaurants and grocery stores. Everything was fine until our neighbors moved in about 18 months ago. They're several young men with no apparent means of support. More importantly to us, they belong to one of the worst rock bands I have ever heard and they practice, quite loudly, several times a week. The sound of the drums makes our walls rattle and the bass gives us headaches. And when they're not practicing, they're throwing parties where the participants all get drunk and loud. This happens so frequently that we have the police department's number on speed dial. We've called in on them, our neighbors to our south have called in on them and the neighbors immediately west have, too. The police come out, tell them to quiet down and the problem is solved until the next night, when the process starts all over again.
We've tried reasoning with them to no avail. Our landlord is nice enough, but seems to have no deterrence power either. Their front porch is littered with Pabst and Milwaukee's Best cans. All of this might be tolerable if their band was actually good — but they're horrible. Think Fugazi mixed with an alternate-universe Celine Dion.
All the suggestions we've gotten from friends are either impractical or illegal. We don't want to vandalize their instruments. We also don't want to burn down their house because, since we live in a double, ours would burn down too. We're tired of calling the police but want the noise to stop. Are there any legal, nonviolent courses of action we can take?
Again, if you feel you have answers to one or both of these problems, please let me know. I'm usually pretty good at dispensing advice, but these issues have me stymied. Thanks for reading.