Thursday, July 31, 2008

Paunch-o & Lefty

[Listen, it has been a long week of planning weddings (not mine; I am determined to remain a spinster aunt FOREVER) and hobnobbing with the elite of the stuffy side of the internet (read: CondeNet’s editorial staff, because I am basically super important), and that is why there was no post yesterday. That is also why today’s post is (maybe) going to be a little… sucky. But here goes.]

Dear Anna,

Last week my girlfriend mentioned something about my “cute little paunch”. I didn’t even realize, but I’ve totally gained weight since we started dating, and now I do have a “little paunch” (I don’t think there’s anything cute about it.) My girlfriend claims she doesn’t care at all, but I can’t help feeling like she thinks I’m less attractive now. Any insight on whether I might be right?



First off: Y-E-S. Not to your question, but to your name. Excellent work. In recognition, I will probably be slightly less snarky. I draw your attention to this because otherwise you probably wouldn’t notice. (Ex: “Hey, is the nitrogen content in the atmosphere slightly higher today?” “The hell? Maybe.” I realize this example doesn’t make much sense, so to flog it to death, nitrogen comprises such a large percentage of the atmosphere that a miniscule change would scarcely be noticeable, and now is the moment where I look down at you, pat you on the head, and say, “But don’t you worry your pretty little head about it.” Your daily dose of condescension, in what may be the most unnecessary parenthetical comment of all time).

Without any more information, I can tell you that you’re deadass wrong. When you really love a person, you do think of things like their paunch as “cute”. Or, really, you don’t think of them one way or the other. I’m guessing your girl really cares about you, and thus really doesn’t give a damn if you’ve chunked out a little.*

This isn’t to say she won’t care if you balloon up to orca-size, though, so maybe think about doing a crunch or two, or maybe switch to g&t’s instead of beer. It’s classier, too!

Putting the “lass” in “classy”,

Aunt Anna

*Men: now is a good time to ask yourself whether you would care if the woman you love chunked out a little. If the answer is yes, then you are a terrible person. If it is no, stop lying.**

**Just my little joke. Anyway, point is, gender notwithstanding, you don’t care about these kind of things when you’re in love with someone. This is because love makes you stupid.***

***Not my little joke. For reals.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Woe is I

Dear Aunt Anna,

I know this sounds shallow, but my girlfriend uses really bad grammar, and it drives me nuts. To the point that I'm thinking about breaking up with her. I am overreacting?

Militant Grammarian
Boston, MA

Dear David,

Listen, if it bugs you that much, either buy her a copy of Strunk & White or break up with her. I don't really give a damn either way. Maybe grammar really is that important to you (I feel this is unlikely). Or maybe you've decided to fixate on this particular issue because it gives you a reason to break up with her while sounding less like a dickhead and more like an over-educated, snobbish jackass. I'm not really in a position to say. Either way, I'm guessing you're both better off if you break up with her.

Also, if that was meant to be a clever little Infinite Jest reference, I think you have answered my question definitively*. Jackass.

Aunt Anna needs her medicine, so all of you go away now.

*I apologize to all three of the tolerable people out there who are still quoting Infinite Jest.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Breaking up is hard to do, if you are a pansy about it


I’ve been seeing someone for about six months now. We started out pretty casually, but for the last month or two we’ve been hanging out more and more often. The problem is that I’ve really just been hanging out with this person because I’m bored. The more time I spend with them, the more I start to wonder why I bother spending time with them. What’s the best way to end things without hurting their feelings?

Santa Rosa, CA

Dear J.C.,

I’m making an exception and using your actual signature, because you didn’t use one of those made-up tag lines that annoys me so greatly. So at least one part of your letter didn’t annoy me. If you were here, I would give you a freshly-baked cupcake. I would then smack you upside the head, but at least you would have a cupcake. So imagine you have a cupcake while I answer your question. It may help. Now, on to your question:

Don’t be an ass. You’re not going to be able to break up with this person without hurting their feelings. What you are saying is, essentially, “Thanks, but no thanks.” This is not something that fills anyone with sunshine and happiness. Ponies do that, yes. Breakups, no. Instead, you should suck it up and break it off. Maybe don’t tell them you find their company so tedious you would rather stare at the blank walls of your apartment than waste another moment listening to their mindless prattle*, but don’t get all wishy-washy about it, either. You sound like the kind of person who could be talked out of a breakup. Don’t be. Steel your nerves, sit them down, and say, “Hey, it’s been fun, but this isn’t something I’m interested in continuing.” If necessary, enumerate the reasons. That alone will probably make them so sad/angry/resigned that you won’t have to explain further.

And for god’s sake, PLEASE do not engage in any of that namby-pamby, let’s-still-be-friends crap. Nobody likes that. Listen, you’re breaking up. Feelings will be hurt. If you haven’t been dating that long, and you haven’t gotten that serious, then don’t flatter yourself: they will get over you. This should make you happy. Then maybe, a few months or years down the road, you can run into each other randomly and have one of those wonderfully awkward, pretend-friendly, vowel-elongating moments where you’re both like, “Oh my god, I haven’t seen you in so loooooooong! How have you beeeeeeeeen? It’s so good to see yooooooooouuu!”

For a response that boils down to: “Suck it up and break it off, already”, this has gone on absurdly long. Aunt Anna would apologize, but she doesn’t care. I hope you enjoyed your cupcake.

Aunt Anna

*If you’re wondering, yeah, saying this will probably make someone cry. In my experience it will, anyway.

Fool me... wait, how many times?

(This is from last Friday, originally posted on my tumblr:

Hi lady,

I just found out my boyfriend has been cheating on me with another girl. For over a year! He swears it’s over, and that he loves me, but I don’t know if I can bring myself to trust him again. Do you think there’s any way our relationship can survive this?

Perplexed in Pac Heights

Dear Amelia,

I think what you meant to ask was, “Should I dump this punkass bitch, or what?” Asking if I think there’s any way your relationship can survive the situation is like asking if I think there’s any way I’ll ever forgive the jerk who accused me of cheating on that reading quiz in fourth grade: sure, from a purely logical standpoint, yes. There are scenarios in which both those things could happen. So I’m going to blow right past your actual question (the answer to which is: yes, but it’s a stupid question) and address the real issue here, which is whether or not you should stay with the dbag*.

There are a couple ways to look at this. One is the graceful, higher-ground, forgive-and-forget way, in which you take him at his word and you try to move forward with your relationship. After all, he never lied to you directly, right? I mean, not with words, right? So, I mean, it’s not like you really

Okay, never mind. Forget the higher-ground approach. I thought about it while I was writing that, and then I was like, hey, this isn’t some drunken moment of weakness. This is prolonged and intentional disrespect and utter disregard. Dump the jackass.

There you go. It’s Friday. And since my weekend started with my first glass of wine at lunch, I’m done with this. Try not to fuck each other up too much over the weekend. But if you do, you can always write me at askauntanna[at] and ask what the hell to do about it.

Bottoms up, in every sense of the phrase,
Aunt Anna

*Hey, as a total aside, I was just trying to think of the female equivalent of “cuckold”, and I’m either braindead, or there just isn’t one. Isn’t that sort of fucked up? Like, hey, cheating on women? Who cares? Or, if there is one, that’s also sort of fucked up, but only in the “crap, dude, HOW MUCH did that English degree cost?” kind of way. Moving on.


Dear Aunt Anna,

I’m totally into my girlfriend, and we’ve been dating for, like, four months now, but she won’t stop bugging me about the girls I dated before I met her and shit like that. I keep telling her that I don’t think that stuff matters, and I don’t ask her about it, but she won’t stop. Should I cave in and tell her, or what?

Keeping It To Myself
Oakland, CA

(Okay, so I’ve decided I can’t bring myself to address the people who write in my the ridiculous names they choose, so I will henceforth be referring to you all by whatever name strikes my fancy.)

Dear Oscar,

Listen, your girl sounds lovely (this is a polite lie - she sounds like a prying little wench, but anyway), but it’s no one’s damn business what you got up to before you met her. Unless you’ve been posting it for all the world to see on the internet or something, or you have a series of incriminating photos posted on your Facebook (and if you’re stupid enough to post pics from that time you were in Vegas during a stripper convention, then dude, you are beyond my help), then screw her for asking. The clock starts when you guys start dating. What happened before that is your business. If she continues to pester, ask her a series of embarrassingly personal questions. If she gets pissed, then you can get off a nice little quid pro quo line, a la Silence of the Lambs. If she answers them, then start googling around to find her blog. Anyone that into oversharing HAS TO have a blog. It’s like a rule or something.

Does that help? Well, I’m not sure I care, but I guess I must, since I took the time to answer you. Whatevs.

Aunt Anna

Dog Day Afternoon

[For our first letter, I thought we’d start with a fairly simple question. From there we can move on to the wide variety of fascinating and self-created problems being experienced by my generation. Come along with me, won’t you?]

Dear Aunt Anna,
My boyfriend and I have been dating for three years. Recently we’ve been talking about getting a dog. We’ve got this awesome one-bedroom apartment in the Mission that we totally don’t want to give up, but it’s got no outdoor area, so I thought something small like a chihuahua would be awesome. My boyfriend thinks small dogs are lame. What kind of dog do you think we should get?

Ready to Adopt
San Francisco CA

Dear “Ready to Adopt”,

There’s a reason I have put quotation marks around your chosen moniker, but I am going to quash those less charitable impulses that are urging me to mock you so hard you fall off your fixie, and instead give you a response far kinder than you deserve, in bullet-pointed form! Excitement!

  • Are you and your boyfriend planning to be together for at least another decade? A dog is like a child, albeit less likely to eventually start a LiveJournal about how much he hates you. Also not tax deductible. Still, though: tiny, dependent creature.
  • Dogs poop. Whenever they feel like it, and wherever. I don’t know about you, but plastic bags of crap really don’t go with most of my outfits. Yes, most.
  • I’m going to skip the lecture on the intense cruelty of keeping a large dog in a tiny apartment, since that would make it sound like I am on your side. I am not. I think this dog idea of yours is nonsense, period. Why don’t you and Captain Bad Idea of the SS Mastiff wait until you hit your thirties, get married, move to the Oakland Hills, and talk about how much you totally don’t miss the city because the East Bay is so vibrant and there’s SO MUCH TO DO, NO REALLY. That is the time for owning dogs. Now is the time for owning poorly-thought-out hairstyles.
  • Is your apartment rent-controlled? If so, when you do give up and move to the suburbs, DIBS.

Best of luck!

Aunt Anna