Dear Mouthy Housewives,
Do I have to pay the $100 an hour guys that come to my house to put in closet shelves if they spend their time shooting the breeze on my dime? Should this not bother me? Am I just cheap? It seems like every time I have to call a handy man in to paint the bedrooms or caulk the shower stall or clean out the gutters, he ends up talking to me about his kids that don’t listen, or the lazy boss at his old job. I’m fine with being an ear to someone who needs one, but must I be the one paying to hear of someone’s woes at two bucks a minute?? Seems like they should be paying me, not me paying them to dump on me.
The last straw was with a closet maker/organizer that came last week. She sat and talked about her divorce and then sent me a bill for 3 hours work when she spent at least half an hour at my kitchen table complaining about her ex not giving her enough money to pay for private school tuition for the kids. I can’t be the only one. Do people just pay this and consider it a “tip?” Am I just a cheap skate?
I’ll Listen, But Not At 2 Bucks a Minute
Dear I’ll Listen,
I guess it’s safe to assume that the “handymen with caulk” in your house aren’t shirtless, otherwise you wouldn’t be complaining. Which is probably your first mistake, hiring clothed handymen, but then again, I suppose not all handymen should go shirtless. (I’m looking at you, Fatballs Larry. Ain’t nobody need to see that crack.)
It’s also probably safe to assume that you have one of those “approachable and friendly” faces that gives workers the signal it’s okay to talk to you. Bad, bad, bad. So very bad.
“In the presence of the hired man, one must always put on their Mega Bitch Face.” That’s a quote from the Dowager Countess. Or maybe it’s a quote from my Dowager Neighbor who’s always nasty to the lawn guys. I’m not sure which because I’m usually tipsy when I watch PBS. (That’s why I have 150 tote bags: drunk dialing during pledge drives.)
Anyway, I know it may sound like I’m kidding about the bitch face thing, but I’m really not. If you don’t engage the handymen in conversation, they won’t talk to you. It’s as simple as that. Even if your entire body is telling you, “Go ask Phil if he has any kids!” you must not ask Phil if he has any kids. Tell him what you need done, then disappear.
If he tries to talk to you, put on headphones or pretend you only speak Portuguese or something. Glue your cell phone to your ear and act like you’re on a conference call. (“What?! No, I told you I need that report ASAP, Jeremy! I’m calling HR!”) Just do whatever you need to do to be antisocial. Sure, he may think you’re sort of a jerk, but who cares when each word that comes out of his mouth costs you cash, right?
And if that doesn’t work, give me a call. I’ve got a hammer, a need for cash and I never talk to anyone if I don’t have to.
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Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I’m 37, and [...brace yourself...] I haven’t had any man touch me in the 16 years since my son was born. I was really down and put down about my extra weight, flabby parts, and pregnancy ‘scars’ and have few acquaintances and fewer friends. I’m beyond lonely. I’ve considered the weirdos that troll Craigslist and male prostitutes and just can’t bring myself to do it. Did I mention I have extreme social anxiety? And though I’ve recently upgraded my ‘toy‘ it still doesn’t give what I really miss about sex. So I guess my question is what would you do if you didn’t have the husband part of the family equation?
Lonely and Desperate
Dear Lonely & Desperate
Listen, after reading your note, I can barely set down the box of Kleenex long enough to sputter out with consternation:
CRAIGSLIST?! WOMAN, ARE YOU SHITTING ME?!
The fact is, I don’t know you. I don’t know you, but after hearing your story, I love you and my heart aches for you. Similarly, my fiercely honest and protective friend personality (I have several…I call this one Wanda) is screaming her ever-loving head off. You are hurting, anyone can see. And I’m so sorry that you aren’t as in love with yourself as you should be. In different grades, we–as women and as human beings–have all been there at some point. But the key here is to recognize this foolishness. To recognize that you are to be loved–that you are, in fact, IMMENSELY LOVABLE, “pregnancy scars” and all.
And it is SO IMPORTANT that you learn this and know this and really BELIEVE this. Sixteen years is entirely too long to go feeling this way, and in a way, I’m glad you’ve started thinking about Craigslist only because IT’S BATSHIT INSANITY. This, girl, is your wakeup call. Here, let me show you. The following are pulled from the personals section in my local Craigslist. I’m 95% certain they’re both serial killers.
(Here’s to hoping my husband checks my search history!)
Now. Get your beautiful ass to a therapist. This is your first, very important, most critical step. Here you will learn the tools you’ll need to help gain some of that confidence you’re lacking. Also, sit down and decide what it is that you enjoy in this world. Go out and start doing some of those things. You will find strength. You will make friends. You will learn to love yourself and let others love you back.
And then you will come back here and give us an update so that we can all look back on this post and shudder at the thought of what might have been.
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
How do you dump a so-called friend, who happens to live across the street, and who has shown signs of being a bit of a stalker for a few years now? Her child and my child are friends and I do not want to involve the children.
Won’t You Stop Being My Neighbor?
Dear Won’t You Stop Being My Neighbor,
Why do I get the feeling you are leaving out some really juicy details? Did you start out fast friends, and she started getting on your nerves? Is she actually watching your every move and popping up out of the bushes every time you open your front door? Is she passing off your signature recipe as her own at the annual block party? Or has she cut her hair to look like yours and sneaked into your bedroom at night and pretended to you be you while snuggling up to your husband?
I’m going to have to assume that whatever this woman is doing that you qualify as “stalker” behavior is more along the lines of a Real Housewives-esque situation of wanting to “wear you like last year’s Versace.” After all, if she was truly a threat to you or your family, you probably wouldn’t want your kid staying friends with her kid, right?
So, my advice is to make like an ice cube and chill. If your kids are young, and you still need to be involved in arranging play dates, be cordial, but maybe a little frosty. Don’t make plans that involve just the two of you hanging out together. I don’t think there’s a way to full-on “dump” this woman without it affecting your kids’ friendship. On the other hand, you could always move.
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I’ve recently really gotten into Zumba at the gym. It’s fun and burns lots of calories, but my favorite part is just going and cutting off my brain for and hour and de-stressing. Unfortunately, in the past two months, some crazy person has started whistling up a storm at almost nonhuman pitch and volume all during class. They really go to town if the instructor does anything “sexy.”
While I know that Zumba is a fun, dancey class, the constant high pitched noise is making me livid, to the point that I want to figure out who’s doing it and go smack them. I feel really petty that this bothers me so much and every class I try to tune it out and be Zen and all, but it’s so annoying that I feel I’m just going to have to cut out the Zumba all together.
Am I right to feel that the gym is not a strip club and you should not detract from a stress relieving exercise class or am I just being a total bitch? I think I’m a pretty nice person and it bothers me that I can’t seem to be cool with the whistling. I even put in a request in the gym suggestion box that it be discouraged and of course it was laughed off as a joke. Thanks for hearing me out.
Dear Zumba Zombie,
(Full disclosure: I have a headache right now and wisely decided to treat it with Chardonnay and Allegra-D. I am therefore not responsible forf;kv;eakv;eklj;l, the weird crap I may say.) (Oh, shut up. Dear Abby did the same thing.)
Good for you, problem-haver, that you’re doing a workout you like! I, for one, have never tried Zumba because anything where lively, rhythm based dancing is involved gives me the big itchy hives. Alas, tis what’s kept me out of Brazil for my entire life.
But even though I can’t relate to your Zumba experience, I can definitely relate to being pissed off by a jerkface in exercise class. In fact, there are two women in my Yogarobayates class who never, ever stop talking to each other. They think they’re sooooo hilarious as they stretch and reach and discuss what they’re cooking for dinner that night. I’ve seriously considered strangling them with a wet yoga strap, only my biceps are usually too tired to pull it off.
But my low-muscle tone issues aside, what I have done is email the owner of my gym and tell her that those two women are super annoying and that they undermine the teachers’ instructions. After all, you’re supposed to be paying attention to what the instructors say and any weird distraction like whistling might mean you stop paying attention and get injured. Therefore, it’s obviously in the best interest of the gym owner to silence the Zumba Moron, right? (This totally worked for me and the gym owner told them to STFU.)
That’s why I advise you to be a hip shaking Norma Rae and get your toned butt down to the gym manager’s office and tell them in no uncertain terms that the WHISTLING MUST CEASE. It is the instructor’s responsibility to make sure that this no longer happens, so make sure you assert yourself and say so. Chances are this person is bothering many other people in the class, too.
Sometimes causing an aural disturbance is almost as offensive as causing a physical disturbance. So you are totally in the right to complain and I really hope you do so. After all, every whistler need a whistle blower to shut him down.
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I found out that my 15 year old daughter has a girlfriend. I can’t let her know, because to do so would give away that I was reading her tumblr, and that’s sort of like reading a diary.
So I’m pretty cool with it all… I’m not going all psycho “Oh no, is my daughter really gay? My life is over!” melodramatic or anything. (I honestly think she’s just in an experimental stage, and even if she’s not, I’m not freaking out. She is what she is, and I happen to think she’s really awesome.)
The problem is this: her girlfriend also has a tumblr and posted a photo of herself kissing my daughter. She also talked about her beautiful girlfriend using my daughter’s real first name. So there are photos of my daughter kissing “Beth”, along with my daughter’s first name on “Beth’s”tumblr.
A tumblr is totally public. Anyone can see it, and follow their way from one to another like I did. I am worried about someone from their school finding it and potentially making her life difficult, but I can’t really discuss it with her without letting her know I was cyber-stalking her. Help!
Troubled by Tumblr
First things first: I’m thoroughly relieved to see that you are approaching this situation with an open mind, love, and acceptance. Without those ingredients your task would be even more daunting and problematic. (As if dealing with a teenager of any kind isn’t daunting and problematic enough to begin with.)
That said, I think you have answered your own question here. Her tumblr account is public, right? So, why should you feel ashamed that you TUMBLED upon it? (See what I did there?) This can actually be a really great teachable moment for her when it comes to online privacy and safety. For us parents, it’s easier to see the dangers of the online world, but for our kids, who have grown up entrenched in the culture, it can be more challenging to gain that perspective.
But before you proceed with a plan, I think there’s one question you need to ask for yourself: is it really her online safety that you are concerned with? Or do you feel that you need to reconnect with your daughter in light of this new information? Maybe it’s a bit of both? Because I think the answer to that will dictate your next course of action.
My worry is that there is the potential of distancing your daughter if she feels judged or manipulated. In other words, if she is self-conscious about her sexuality, we don’t want her to think that you are using “online safety” as a front for discouraging her homosexual PDA.
You know your daughter better than I do, so you will be the best predictor of how this discussion might go. If you still feel uncomfortable, or simply want some support through the process, don’t hesitate to seek out a family therapist for some further guidance on the issue. They may even have some insight on this generation’s need to ELIMINATE VOWELS FROM WORDS WITH WILD ABANDON.
Keep us posted,