My husband, “Cosmo,” and I have been married for almost a year and are very happy. He is the most loving man I know and a wonderful stepfather to my three young children. We were both married before, and in fact Cosmo was still married when we met and fell in love.
This created a messy situation. He comes from a big family, many of whom — most painfully his mother and older sister — judged me harshly for being “the affair.” They were not at our wedding and only recently, because they do love my children, have become more accepting of me.
My husband’s father died two weeks ago. Cosmo’s ex, who is a nurse and was on the scene, was the first to comfort him.
Now she and Cosmo’s mother are planning a big family gathering to celebrate his father’s life. The ex was close to many of his family members, while I haven’t even met most of them yet. I feel out of place and unwanted. I even wonder whether I should attend at all.
I am confused about my place in Cosmo’s family and suddenly anxious that this situation may lead him to return to his ex. Help!
It’s pretty clear you need to kill the ex. Getting close enough to put the arsenic in her tea will involve attending your father-in-law’s funeral. Don’t bother talking to your husband about your doubts and insecurity. That would make you appear weak and human.
On the day of, Newly Re-Wed, be sure to passive-aggressively make the event about yourself by sulking in a corner.
Arsenic is a little hard to come by these days. So here’s a better idea: put on your big-girl pants and show up for the “most loving man” you know in his time of need. You can’t change the way you got together and chances are you can’t avoid an open conversation about it forever. But this time it’s not about you. His ex is a part of his life that made him who he is today. Trying to erase her is unfair to her contribution to his character.
Show up, be judged, be shunned, be whatever you will, because you are there for the man you love and that shows who you are. Best of luck — and don’t ask around for arsenic. It might alert the cops.
Operation brush pile
My neighbor and I have different ideas of what constitutes a nice lawn. My yard has grass that can turn brown in dry spells, mature trees and some perennial gardens that may not be Martha Stewart-caliber but keep the butterflies and bees happy. My neighbor clear-cut his property to make it look like a golf course, with a bright green lawn and a swimming pool.
The other day I noticed that my brush pile was gone. My neighbor happened to be outside and told me that he’d had it removed. This would have required more than a casual effort, as the pile is not directly adjacent to his lot but inside a thicket across the shell road that separates our properties.
It’s nice that I don’t have to do it myself now, but I don’t like that my neighbor took it upon himself to clean up part of my yard because he didn’t like the way it looked.
How should I respond?
Paint his door fire-engine red. It’s a happy color and any home in your neighborhood would certainly look better with a splash of color.
If his door is already red, or if you’re opposed to vandalism, go the Fred Sanford route with your yard. There should be no rotting sheet of plywood or old tire not worth keeping; weeds should proudly cover piles of paint cans, old bikes, and broken pots. Right before the health department gets ready to do another benevolent removal of debris from your yard, bake some cookies, go over to your neighbor’s house, and have a chat.
Communication is so annoying, but, by gosh, it does work. You might find out that he tried to do a genuinely nice thing and is completely unaware that it bothered you, in which case you share a cookie, say thanks, and ask him maybe to consult with you next time he decides to tidy up the neighborhood.
Or you might find out he’s a total jackass, in which case just pee in his pool.
He’s not ‘they’
I am in my late 70s, a lifelong liberal who supports LGBTQ rights. I am also a college English professor, so can I please be frustrated about the use of the word they when referring to an individual?
I respect all people’s right to identify as they wish, but I think we need to adopt a new singular pronoun that makes it obvious one is referring to an individual who does not want to be addressed as he/him or she/her. Also, I feel that if someone is nonbinary that person should let others know right away so that there is no accidental offense given or taken.
In my college classes we go around the room on day one so that all can state their preferred pronouns, but in the adult world that doesn’t happen. I just want to do the right thing. But how?
Weren’t things so much easier back in the day, when “he”s were “he”s and “she”s were “she”s? Strong-arming a pronoun to fit a new role is akin to torture.
But when is a good time for a language to stop growing? Or a person? Is it 70? In that case you could swap your sanity hat for a tinfoil one and spend afternoons drinking Scotch on the porch in your underwear, yelling at the neighborhood kids to stay off your lawn.
Discomfort can be the root of growth and using the wrong pronoun in “adult” life is no more offensive than using “Mrs.” instead of “Ms.” or misspelling someone’s name. If correction is met with respect, acknowledged and not dwelled on, you may find that doing “the right thing” is as simple as that.
An only child meets a new goy
In June I went on an internet date at the urging of my mother, who was worried I’d never get back on my feet after my last boyfriend dumped me. She’s okay with my being gay, mostly because I am an only child, but she can be nosy about my choices.
I matched with a date who seemed interesting, if a bit “normal” for me. We met at a bar, had a drink, moved on to dinner, sharing laughs and many common interests. He was vague about his current job and I understood that he was in some kind of live-in work situation.
Carefree and fueled by margaritas, I agreed to go back to his place. Caught up in conversation on the long drive, I didn’t realize where we were going until I stepped out into the parking lot of a funeral home. He met my look of surprise with “I know it seems weird. I’m the temporary caretaker here but I have a completely separate apartment.” He did, and due to our whirlwind romance, once my summer rental in P’town ends I am heading up Cape to move in with him.
I am afraid to tell my mom because he’s not Jewish, but especially because I will be living in a funeral home. What should I do?
Your mother loves you. First of all, have you called her today? She’s worried sick that you’re lying dead in a ditch and you have to assure her that you’ve eaten.
As unfortunate as it is that your new man is a goy, you best assure her that the wedding and any subsequent holiday in your future as a betrothed couple will follow the Jewish tradition, and should any gaybies be in the stars, they will be raised Jewish.
As for the funeral home, two words of advice: guilt trip. Your last breakup could have plunged you into a pit of utter depression and driven you to alcohol or drugs. Does she even know how lucky she is that you met this man? She should be happy that your new beau is gainfully employed. People will never stop dying and that’s job security right there.
Just remember: your mother will always be your mother and she loves you. Also, bring a sweater: those funeral homes can get really drafty. That’s probably why you’re shiva-ring, oy vey!
Editor’s note: With this issue we introduce Doctor Doublepenny, chosen from among 30 candidates, for submitting sassy yet serious answers to the questions posed in our preview edition. Though not an actual doctor, Doublepenny is a skilled student of human nature. Send letters to [email protected] or by mail to P.O. Box 1034, Provincetown, MA 02657.