It’s far past time for ‘Abby’ be put out to pasture
Working as I do in the newspaper industry, I am reminded on a near-daily basis by the media at large that newspapers are dying because they are outmoded, obsolete, operating under a business model that is no longer sustainable, and plenty of other doom, gloom, and etc. I guess I should feel fortunate that I work in the online division — the very aspect of the business that’s allegedly “killing” the rest of the paper — but it still gets tiresome when all you hear about is how dinosaur-extinct the industry apparently already is. Too bad, I guess. Facts are facts. After all, I read about it on somebody’s blog.
When you look through the paper and come across parts of it that are truly obsolete, you realize that the industry’s prognosticators have a point. My case in point: “Dear Abby” — a syndicated “advice” column that has long since outlived its usefulness. It’s not even entertaining anymore, because the stories aren’t lurid but simply dumb. The column should be renamed “Paging Dr. Obvious.”
I’ve never regularly read Dear Abby (I assume you must be over the age of 70 to do so), but whenever I have come across the column in the newspaper, I find myself wondering: Who couldn’t do Abby’s job, really? The letters that are printed there are usually beyond inane, and the advice that “Abby” dispenses is equally inane, perhaps because it’s so damned obvious. I guess you get the advice you deserve.
I will demonstrate this point with three recent letters to Abby and her responses.
Dear Abby: My husband and I live and work in a delightful resort town. Lately, we have noticed a trend among our friends and family who are traveling to our town. Instead of calling in advance, many of them call us on the day they hope to see us. In the last two weeks, it has happened three times. These are people we like and would enjoy seeing, but we work full time and we usually need a little more advance notice.
We know our friends make plans well in advance to book airline reservations, so we’re baffled that they don’t contact us while they are making their travel plans. What can we say when our friends call hoping to see us and then are disappointed when we already have plans?
— BEACH DWELLERS IN CALIFORNIA
Dear Beach Dwellers: Tell them that you are disappointed, too, and the next time they plan to be in the area to please call sooner because you make your plans in advance and can’t cancel the ones you already have.
Wow! Sage advice! Thanks, Abby!
Dear Abby: My husband, “George,” wears his false teeth only for church. He puts them in his pocket as soon as the service is over and won’t wear them anywhere else. If I say anything, he gets furious and refuses to discuss it, even though I tell him it embarrasses me and it should embarrass him, too.
George is upset with the dentist who made the dentures. He went to another dental lab, wore them for one month, and then gave up. He also fusses with his hearing aids, glasses, etc. He’s driving me crazy. What should I do?
— JANET IN OHIO
Dear Janet: If your husband’s dentures were comfortable, he’d wear them. The dentist who made them should be contacted so adjustments can be made until they fit properly. If George won’t make the call, do it for him and go along for moral support.
He may also need his vision checked by an ophthalmologist. His glasses may need refitting or replacing — or he may have a condition that should be treated ASAP, so don’t put it off. Also, hearing aids take getting used to and the process can be frustrating — especially if your teeth are hurting and you’re having difficulty seeing. Poor George, if you think you’re being driven crazy, imagine what he’s going through and try to be patient.
DAMMIT! I hate it when my spouse refuses to wear his/her teeth and/or glasses!
And, finally, my favorite:
Dear Abby: I recently became aware of this trend where my friends hit themselves repeatedly in the kneecap with a hammer, because they say it feels so good when they stop doing it. I tried it recently and I think this is a terrible idea. Although they are right that it feels good to stop hitting your kneecap with a hammer once you’ve started, I find that it’s difficult to walk for several days afterward because of my sore knee. This also upset my husband because I couldn’t walk with him to church on Sunday. What should I do?
— HAMMERED IN HELENA
Dear Hammered: While it might feel good to fit in with your friends, this sounds like a behavior that is not suited to you because of the level of pain it causes you. It also appears to be emotionally hurtful to your husband, who had to walk to church by himself because of your physical pain. You should consider ignoring your friends and stop hitting your knee with a hammer.
Okay, so I made this last one up. But I’m expecting a similar story to appear in the Dear Abby column any day now.
Maybe I should start my own advice column called “Dear Jammer,” and have it syndicated in hundreds of newspapers across America. If Abby can do it, why can’t I?
Oh, wait. Never mind. Newspapers are dead. We’ll make Dear Jammer a blog instead.