Dear Good Greatsby

Posted on July 20, 2011


In response to overwhelming popular demand by two or three readers, Wednesdays will be devoted to an advice column in which I’ll fix your problems with the assistance of a guest panelist.  Today’s guest panelist will be my personal assistant, Ken.  Ken was selected because I haven’t had time to find anyone good.  You wouldn’t expect Ken to be a good source of advice because of his pattern of terrible life choices, and that’s exactly why I wasn’t surprised he turned out to be terrible.

The first two questions come from blogger extraordinaire, Ellie Ann Soderstrom, from  Check out her site.  I especially enjoy and recommend any of her posts wherein my name is mentioned.  Ellie’s life is in perfect order, and she required no advice for herself, so she forwarded me these emails from a couple of her friends in the hope I might offer some expert counsel.

Dear Good Greatsby,
I am a level 68 Wargen Warlock, a fact I am quite proud of. I’ve worked hard to achieve such a status. I have a date tonight and I’m wondering if I should bring it up or would it sound like I’m bragging?
Worried Warlock

Dear Worried Warlock,

Paul: If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a braggart.  I never brag.  As a matter of fact, I’m probably the best at never bragging of anybody I know.

Your date will be more impressed with your Warlock status if she hears it from someone other than you.  Is it possible to ask a friend to ‘accidentally’ bump into you at the restaurant and pretend to be an ex-girlfriend?  She can mention your Warlock status when she begs you to either take her back or break the love spell giving her hives whenever she’s out of your presence.

Ken: How did you get this picture of me?  I was alone and this was five years before we ever met.

I told Paul again and again that I don’t have time to answer any questions if he insists I reply to his fan mail over the weekend without any compensation.  (All of his fan mail is written in handwriting remarkably similar to Paul’s, and the return address is a PO box next door to Paul’s favorite sandwich shop.  Some of the letters are smudged with mustard fingerprints.  Hmm…)

Dear Good Greatsby,
I have a problem with our nanny. At first she was great, but now my son runs yelling around the house when I’m trying to watch TV, he’ll beg to come with me on my days out, he’ll refuse to wear the suits I put out for him, he’ll swear in another language, and he’s stopped giving me kisses. As I recently hired a private investigator to follow my husband around, you can imagine what a busy time this is for me…I do not need a challenging child on my plate. Help!
Stressed by the Hired Help

Dear Stressed by the Hired Help,

Paul: Sometimes what may seem like a broad range of behavioral problems can be traced back to the child not feeling enough love.  In your son’s case, it sounds like he’s not feeling enough love for the suits you’ve selected for him, and his wardrobe embarrassment is causing him to act out.  Suit styles are constantly changing, and the double-breasted jackets and cuffed pants of your husband’s generation are no longer popular.  Your son may feel isolated if he’s the only boy not wearing inverted pleat trousers during kickball.  Is it possible for your private investigator to follow your son to school, pose as a student for a day, and provide surveillance on the style of suits your son’s friends are wearing?

Ken: I worry Paul is missing the pleat.  (Get it?  Pleat instead of point?  A bit of suit humor for you.)  Is it possible you’re not spending enough time with your son, and he’s feeling neglected?  Sometimes children misbehave to get attention when they don’t feel enough love from parents.  Sometimes also adults when they don’t feel enough love from a personal assistant.  For example, maybe a boss asks you to read his screenplay for a Wonder Years movie and you forget to read it, and when he asks you if you liked it, you tell him Fred Savage is in his thirties and too old to play a middle-schooler anymore, and your boss locks himself in a bathroom (not even at his own house) and sobs for two hours.

The next question comes from a reader named Great Goodsby:

Dear Good Greatsby,
My personal assistant’s girlfriend is always dropping by work at the time of day she must know he’s out getting me sandwiches.  She stays an hour and flirts with me the entire time and makes me feel uncomfortable by talking about intimacy problems she’s having with my assistant.  Here’s my question for you: If my assistant brings back a sandwich on a type of bread different than I requested, what percentage of the sandwich cost should I deduct from his salary?
Wishing I Had Rye Bread

Dear Wishing I Had Rye Bread,

Paul: I’ll let Ken start on this one.


The last question comes from my wife via text message.

Dear Good Greatsby,
Will you pick up the boys from swimming lessons in an hour?

Dear Marryin’thelibrarian,

Paul: Ken, will you pick up my kids from swimming lessons?  You better hurry because I got that message three hours ago.  Can you also grab me a sandwich while you’re out?


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