Science fused to fiction

02 September 2011


DEAR SURLY, I have a sister I love dearly. "Thea" is married to a wonderful man, and they have a 3-year-old son I love as if he were my own. My problem is Thea has a nasty, violent temper, and she doesn't hesitate to use it toward the boy. Recently when he was overtired and needed to go to bed, Thea said he "knows better than to push me by throwing a tantrum." She then threatened to "beat him bloody" if he didn't "shut up" and go to sleep. She had already swatted his behind to the point that he could no longer stand up. This feels like abuse to me. When I suggested that perhaps Thea should try to calm down before she hits him (more than she already had), she threw me out of her house! I am terrified that this may be happening more often than I realize. But what if what I witnessed was just an isolated incident? If I act on it, I may never have a relationship with my sister again. What (if anything) can I do? I'm worried for the safety of my nephew, but I don't want to cause a rift I can't mend. -- MIDWEST AUNTIE

Damnit! You first instinct it to write a letter? You should be buying a shotgun, or at least calling the police. That kid is in trouble, especially with family like you. Don't tell me you really didn't know slapping a kid until he couldn't stand might==maybe--be okay. Get a spine, and get that kid some help!

DEAR SURLY, My fiance, "Roger," died recently. I am working through the devastating grief of his passing, but the core of my pain was listening to the eulogies at his funeral. I expected Roger's friends and family to share happy memories and celebrate the best of his life. However, many of those who spoke -- including his granddaughter -- chose to remember him as a notorious womanizer both while his wife was alive and after her death. Stories were shared about how he constantly hit on much younger women, including his daughter's childhood friends. One "gentleman" even shared an "amusing" anecdote about how he and Roger found out they were sleeping with the same woman. I knew about Roger's past before he met me and I managed to come to terms with it, but I did not expect it to be brought up as entertainment at his memorial. I also thought it to be inappropriate with his late wife's family in attendance. Now my memories are tainted, and I feel dirty and used. I live 500 miles from Roger's home and will probably never see those people again. What can I do to get over this anger that continues to haunt me? -- STILL IN MOURNING

MOURNING, we all have traits that define us. You got enganged to a doosie of a trait. The only think that you have to be hurt about is how dumb you are for getting tangled up in him.

See Abby's responses at

18 July 2011


DEAR SURLY, I loaned money to a couple of family members when I was overseas. They had fallen behind on their bills, so I sent them each $1,000 to get caught up.

It's two years later, and I have yet to see a dime from either one of them. I have sent them both letters asking to have 'some' money paid back; both sent me excuses about why they can't pay anything. However, on Facebook they write about how they went shopping, joined a gym and so on. I feel I have been taken advantage of. What can I do to get this settled? -- TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF IN MINNESOTA

TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF, people don't like to pay back money. What incentive do they have? Right now they have your money, gym memberships, shopping, etc.

What you need is an incentive for them. Be warned that some people will react badly to 'incentives'. Maybe you need to invoice them a couple hundred dollars a month, or reply to these facebook posts with "Glad you could make it to the gym while you've still got that debt to me."

Oh, and quit loaning people money.

DEAR SURLY, Do I have to stop wearing my wedding ring? My husband died three years ago. We had been married 53 years and 12 days. Abby, I pledged 'until death do us part.' I just can't seem to make myself take off the ring he put on my finger so many years ago.

I'm tired of being told that I 'have' to give up something so precious to me. Is there a time limit, or is it OK for me to go ahead with wearing the ring and ignore the people who pester me about taking it off? Maybe a time will come when I'll want to, but not now, not yet. Please give me some sound advice. -- ARIZONA WIDOW

WIDOW, No one has any authority to tell you to give up your ring. If you want to hold on to it, you go right on, and if someone 'pesters' you about it, I suggest you spit in her eye!

DEAR SURLY, I'm 15 years old, and I'm afraid to kiss! I won't date anyone because I'm afraid my kiss will suffer by comparison. I know no one becomes an expert without practice, but I don't want anyone to be my first kiss.

Several guys are into me, but I can't date them because eventually they'll want to kiss. It would be so embarrassing to be horrible at it. Any advice? -- TOO FREAKED OUT TO MAKE OUT

FREAKED OUT, Everyone remembers their first kiss, and everyone remembers it as much nicer or more horrific than it really was--but at age 15 you still have LOTS of time to get over it. There's no deadline, and no hurry. If you decide you do want to kiss, do it becuase you want to instead of supposed to.

See Abby's responses at

14 July 2011


DEAR SURLY, We have a problem -- our pastor. He uses the pulpit to criticize, put people down and offers no compassion. A person can only take so much.

The problem is, if you say anything to him, you can bet the next sermon will be about what you discussed. How can I talk to him without making him angry? -- ALL FIRE AND BRIMSTONE

FIRE AND BRIMSTONE, try reading the bible ... it sounds to me like your minister has a good understaning of what it's all about. If that doesn't appeal know you can't change him--but you can change churches.

DEAR SURLY, I have been dating 'Claude' for eight months. We are planning a trip in the fall to visit his family's chateau in France. Claude has long legs and refuses to travel in coach because it's uncomfortable, so he will buy a business-class ticket for himself and a coach ticket for me.

While I'm grateful Claude is paying for my ticket, I feel that since we're a couple, we should travel together. I don't want to be upgraded to business class necessarily, but I'd like him to sit in coach with me. When I brought this up, he refused and is now calling me 'ungrateful.'

My feelings are hurt, and Claude can't understand why I am upset. My friends and family think he is acting rude and selfish. I can't help but agree. Do I have a right to be upset? I am so uncomfortable with this arrangement that I'm considering not even going. -- NOT UNGRATEFUL IN SAN DIEGO

NOT UNGRATEFUL, you're ungrateful. I don't know how your relationship works, but he's buying you a plane ticket! To France! Sure, it's in coach, and not really ideal, but you're not the first passenger who doesn't get to sit next to your companion--odds are you will still enjoy the trip unless you get all pissy about this. Damnit, the flight is unpleasant and it won't much matter who you're beside. Take a few books to read, listen to some music, try to sleep. It won't matter where you sit.

DEAR SURLY, When my husband, 'Ken,' proposed three years ago, he had a steady job with an income twice as high as mine. He was laid off before our wedding, but we went ahead with the marriage. After our wedding, Ken was unemployed for another year before finally finding a minimum wage job. After one year at that job, he was fired. He has since found another minimum wage position.

I am a young teacher. We live in an expensive part of the country. We struggle every day to pay for groceries, gas and other essentials. I wasn't raised to expect many frills in life and I am frugal, but there are certain things I always assumed I would have -- a house of my own, children, a savings account. If I stay with Ken, I don't believe these things will ever be within my reach.

In all other ways, Ken is a wonderful man and I love him with all my heart. But is there ever a time when love isn't all you need? -- SECOND THOUGHTS IN ASHEVILLE, N.C.

SECOND THOUGHTS, you're a shallow bitch. Do Ken a favor and dump him--maybe you can find a nice sugar daddy who will provide you with a house and bank account, and without you weighing him down maybe Ken will revive his will to live and get out of his employment rut.

See Abby's responses at

22 June 2011


DEAR SURLY, I was a victim of domestic abuse by my wife, and I don't feel I have been treated fairly. There are many programs for abused women, but I haven't found any for men. This problem is more common than people realize, but men are embarrassed to say anything. I'd like my voice to be heard to encourage men to speak up.

I did not hit my wife back after she beat on me. I still love her, but I refuse to be abused any longer. Surly, please help me help myself and others. -- BILL IN ARKANSAS

BILL, some people think that testicles mean you have the social responsiblity to defend yourself. In brief looking I find there are places to supply support to guys in your place such as

Get help, just remember that love isn't everything, and if you have to get out, don't be afraid to do it.

DEAR SURLY, Our daughter is divorced with two children. She has been dating a man who has three children. Recently, they decided to move in together. All the children are first grade or younger.

What would be the proper way to handle birthdays?

If my daughter and her boyfriend were married, or even engaged, I wouldn't have a problem sending gifts to his children. But since my husband and I hardly know this man (we live in another state and have met him only once or twice), we're not sure how to handle this. Should we just continue to send birthday gifts to our daughter's kids and nothing but cards to his? Or would that look bad? What's the proper thing? -- FAIR-MINDED IN WEST VIRGINIA

FAIR?!?! You're thinking to give presents to some kids in a household, and withold from others--kids who have no real say in their living arrangements--and you sign as "fair"? Are you an infant?

"Fair" has no home in the real world other than an ideal to which we aspire. If you truly want to be fair, you won't ignore these kids. You don't have to be as lavish as you are with your own grandchildren--not even they would expect that. But recognize them--a card, a little book, something modest that says "hey, you're alright, kid".

Everyone will feel good in the end.

DEAR SURLY, For a lot of reasons--many betrayals among them--I have almost completely lost my faith in the basic goodness of people. I have started isolating myself because I believe that more contact with people will destroy what little belief I have left. I don't want to be so bitter and cynical, and I need help overcoming this. Any advice would be appreciated. -- WOUNDED SOUL IN MINNESOTA

WOUNDED--people have no basic goodness. We're creatures. We eat, sleep, breed, and shit. Most of the people you run accross will me miserable, pathetic sods.

Most--but not all.

Humanity is, and has always been, carried on the shoulders of a special few, and even they sometimes fail.

The trick is not to pin your happiness to someone else. It's not cynical to expect betrayals, failures, and general crap from everyone becasuse sooner or later imperfection visits us all. Be ready for it becuase you can't escape it. Accept it. Sometimes you have to try to forgive it ... as crappy as that sounds.

See Abby's responses at

14 June 2011


DEAR SURLY, I was criticized recently for placing my right hand over my heart while the U.S. flag was flown and 'The Star-Spangled Banner' was being sung. I was told that the hand over the heart is for the Pledge of Allegiance only, when the flag is present. Is that true, and what is the proper procedure? -- ST. LOUIS PATRIOT

PATRIOT, what kind of stupid rednecks are you hanging out with? Who would make it a point to rib a guy over holding his heart during the anthem? First you need to do the American think, and either assault or sue this critic. After that, put your hand where you want it.

DEAR SURLY, I'm a 25-year-old male who, for the most part, has figured out what I want to do with my life. I'm currently working, and I am also considering entering the military to boost my character and resume. I want to eventually become a lawyer so I can help people.

Something that irritates my family is my refusal to date. I suffer from anxiety attacks just at the thought of talking to a woman or asking for a date. My older sister asks me when I will marry, and my dad claims I'd be a great father. How can I get my family to understand that I'm not interested in marriage and children? -- LOVELESS IN THE SOUTHWEST

LOVELESS, your family is pretty narrow minded. They seem to think there's only one 'right' way to live your life. They're wrong. There are, and have been through the ages, many successful men who opted to forgo family in pursuit of other goals. There is nothing wrong with it.

When the family tells you that you'd be a great father, tell them "Thanks, I would be if I decided to do that with my life ... but I have other plans."

DEAR SURLY, My father has been dead for more than 15 years. Any time my mother sees people she hasn't seen since Dad's death, she makes a point of telling them how happy she is now that he's dead! She doesn't care how loudly she declares it or how she says it.

At my son's recent wedding reception, I overheard her having this conversation with my brother-in-law. He made eye contact with me to see if I could hear what she was saying, then shook his head like he couldn't believe what she was saying.

Surly, it's embarrassing that she does this all the time. If I say anything, I know she'll get mad at me. Any suggestions? -- CAN'T TAKE HER ANYWHERE

CAN'T TAKE HER, you can't shut her up. She's happy, and she's going to go cry it on the mountain. Face it, sometimes it's good when the old ball and chain is kicked off. I don't know why she's so happy, but maybe you do. Even if you think she's crass for saying it so loud and often, but you can really only stop going with her, or learn to just ignore her.

See Abby's responses at

13 June 2011


DEAR SURLY, My daughter recently told us she is attracted to women. I feel she has been unduly influenced by her mentor/professor at her college, as she quoted this woman several times when she 'came out.'

My daughter has always been quiet and shy. She finds it difficult to make eye contact with anyone. How am I to accept this, especially since I feel her mentor took advantage of the situation? I am finding it difficult to function at all. I love my daughter very much. This just hurts. -- MOM AT A LOSS IN OREGON

MOM AT LOSS, you hurt over this? Really? Imagine that you're a young girl who doesn't fit in, feels like an outcast, a misfit, left out, and like your own parents won't accept you. Then imagine you meet a mentor who makes you feel like you can be yourself, and when you do try to be yourself your jerk mother is like "ooh this is wrong and icky!" You're the jerk parent, and you're trying to blame the mentor.

You need take this professor out of the equation. You're relationship is with your daughter. Deal with her. Don't blame. Listen more than you talk ... maybe you'll learn something.

DEAR SURLY, My husband and I have been married eight years and have two children. Our marriage has had its share of ups and downs, but we always manage to survive the bad times.

My problem is my husband sleeps on the couch 95 percent of the time instead of in our bed. He makes excuses such as he 'fell asleep watching TV,' or 'the kids were sleeping in our bed' -- even when they weren't. He even goes to sleep on the couch after we have had sex.

I don't like sleeping by myself every night, and I have tried to explain how upsetting this is to me. My little girl has even asked why Daddy sleeps on the couch. Any suggestions? -- MISSING MY SNUGGLE, MELBOURNE, FL

MISSING SNUGGLE, there can be many reasons for separate sleep. You need to figure you what makes your husband uncomfortable sleeping with you? Do you snore? Do you complain about his snoring? Do you flail? Have night terrors? Get you husband, ask him what the discomfort is, and be prepared to hear something that you don't want to hear. Only when you identify the real issue can you address.

DEAR SURLY: My darling wife died not long ago. I'm still grieving. Please tell me what to do when women show up as if I'm
available to date. They're not shy. I'm not interested in anyone, especially since my wife just passed away. I am still emotionally attached to her, and I don't want that feeling to fade.

Surly, these women are forward and aggressive. I can't believe how some of them dress. I miss my wife. I truly loved her and continue to do so. I know in time I'll meet someone, but I'm not ready to jump out there because my heart still belongs to my wife. I welcome your advice, Abby. -- HUNTSVILLE WIDOWER

WIDOWER, there are plenty of men out there who want to remarry very quickly after loosing a wife. These women just don't know your readiness and they can't know without asking ... if you were looking and they waited for clues the main clue would be you dating another woman and by then it could be too late.

They're only after you because you're a helluva catch, so remember to be mildly flattered and say, "Thank you, but I'm just not ready."

See Abby's responses at

09 June 2011


DEAR SURLY, I am a 48-year-old single male. I teach an adult Sunday school class. Two women who have joined our group have made it plain they would like to have a romantic relationship with me.

I'm not sure how to handle this. I'd like to meet someone special, too, but I'm not certain this is the right way. Please advise. -- TROUBLED TEACHER IN THE SOUTH

TROUBLED, what the hell is wrong with you?! If you're spending time in a Sunday school, you will meet people there. Your interactions in that environment will be more in depth and meaningful then any you could muster if, say, you were to meet a stranger in the grocery and try to make a move. Plus, if you're in Sunday school and she/they is in Sunday school you have something in common. Of course this is the right way.

DEAR SURLY, We are a gay couple who have been together for 37 years. We were recently invited to the wedding of a close nephew in San Antonio. The invitation was addressed to us both, and we flew 5,000 miles to attend.

At the ceremony, my partner, 'Alan,' was seated in front with the groom's family. While we were being shown to our seats, I was told by the groom's father, 'Sorry. You can sit somewhere else.' Alan and I were deeply offended.

How should we express our displeasure and prevent this from happening again when the niece marries? Do we have a right to say anything? -- SNUBBED IN HONOLULU

SNUBBED, the Constitution gives you the right to complain. Funny that a family event like a wedding would split your family's seats ... find that father who said you couldn't sit there, and tell him that he's an insensitive prick. Weddings are about bringing family together, right? Don't take no for an answer, and be willing to rearrange chairs if it comes to that.

DEAR SURLY, My wife is a cancer survivor who is doing well. When a friend or relative learns she had cancer, a common response is, 'Yeah, I knew someone who had the same kind of cancer. It was awful. It came back six months later and he/she died an agonizing, terrible death.'

Abby, it's hard to remain polite around such thoughtless, moronic individuals when they blurt out something like this in my wife's presence. I can't imagine the fear she must experience hearing such remarks. Can you offer an effective retort? -- BAFFLED BY THE IGNORANCE

BAFFLED, you oughtn't be baffled. People are idiots. You can't stop them from saying stupid things like this, but you can ridicule them. Say "stories of other people's tragic reoccurrences of cancer are good for our states of mind, you rancid arsehole."

If you're very lucky, stupid people might stop talking to you altogether.

See Abby's responses at