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Tuesday, April 07, 2009


This morning, I sat down next to Robin Wasserman (who, indeed, is still sitting next to me). I noticed something she had sitting next to her. It was this:

Yes! “You’re a-Z SUPER Guide to the Opposite Sex,” published by Scholastic in 1979!

“But is it any good?” I asked her. “My readers deserve only the best advice.”

She assured me that it was and invited me to have a look at the last chapter, which is this:

I was sold. So, if I do not have the answers to any of your questions (unlikely though that may be), I will consult the guide. Now! Let us get to some QUESTIONS.

Tiffanie asks: What's your favorite pillow talk phrase?

PILLOW: Hello!
MJ: *looks around*
PILLOW: Down here!
MJ: Who is that?
PILLOW: I am your pillow!
MJ: You . . . talk?
PILLOW: Yes! I whisper to you in your sleep!
MJ: This can’t be right.

Valerie asks: What is the worst way to woo someone?

When wooing, you have to strike a fine balance between looking eager and looking TOO eager. For example, you want to show the woo-ee that you are willing to take steps to have time together, that you are a person who turns emotion into action. Here are two approaches. One is good. One is not as good.


I wanted to make sure we had time to spend together, so I changed some of my plans to make more time for you.


I wanted to make sure we had time to spend together, so I killed all your pets. Now you can brush ME.

It’s a subtle difference, but it’s there.

Gypsy asks: I’m really mad about something, and I don’t know what to do about it. I just want to hit something! Help!

One time, I was visiting home (Philadelphia, home of the crab and chicken love compact). We live along a creek. Now, when I lived there, the house next to us was inhabited by a woman who was 90 years old . . . forever. She had passed on since I moved away, and the house has passed through a few hands, finally landed with this awesome couple who run a tattoo parlor. In his spare time, the guy of the house makes ROBOT SCULPTURES and lots of cool stuff. For example, he made me a cat out of a rotary saw blade. My mom—my conservative, apple-pie mom—loves these people and is always happily chirping along about them. Like the time they went off to some competition where you have to hang weights off your piercings. Oh, my mom was all a-twitter about that. She even brought them cake afterwards.

Honestly, don’t even get me started on how mad this makes me. I wasn’t allowed to do ANYTHING when I was a kid and NO COOL PEOPLE lived around me . . . and I grow up and punk tattoo artists move in and suddenly my mom’s all DOWN WITH IT?

Remind me to tell you just a FEW of the stories of my teenage incarceration years and you will soon see why this rankles me so much.

Anyway, this one time, my parents went away on their summer vacation and I watched the house for a few days. We have a big, sunny room in the back that faces the creek, and it can be a good place to spend a summer afternoon. So I was sitting there, typing away, when all of a sudden I heard my neighbor the tattoo artist screaming. He’s very mild-mannered, so this was odd. But it turns out he had good reason to scream—someone had stolen his boat.

Sidenote: I never understand why keeps boats on our sad little creek. When it runs low, you just get mired on the bottom and have to drag yourself out, and there’s snakes down there. When it runs rapid, it’s really dangerous and you are sent speeding toward the local falls. But he’s new, and he doesn’t know. I was born on the creek and went through my boat phase when I was ten, and am well over it.

ANYWAY, someone stole my neighbor’s boat, and he was screaming, and I could hear this very clearly, because I was really only a few feet away from him with all of the windows open.

And then I heard this noise . . . this weird . . . . bird laughter. Eerie, cawing bird laughter. It was my neighbor’s big parrot, which he often keeps out in the yard.

And then I heard my neighbor yelling, “SHUT UP, BEN! SHUT UP!”

Which only made the bird laugh harder and louder.

By this point, I was pretty interested in the proceedings.

Then I heard a voice from my neighbor’s house asking him why he was yelling at the bird, because the BIRD didn’t steal the boat. And my still-angry neighbor yelled. “He always laughs at anger! SHUT UP, BEN! SHUT UP!”

More bird laughter. The more he yelled, the more the bird laughed.

Can you imagine anything better than a bird that laughs at anger? Because I can’t.

I hope this helps.

Annemazing asks: Is there a particular word or phrase that will disarm someone who is slightly wittier more than one may be. Note: SLIGHTY wittier.

Try, “I have a gun pointed at you under the table.” (Given that the person is only SLIGHTLY wittier, you can say, “I have a SMALL gun pointed at you under the table.”)

Madi asks: I met a really great guy. We laugh at the same jokes, and we both like eating french fries with syrup. He brings me cheesecake and balloons if he even suspects I'm feeling sad. He's kind and considerate, and, whenever he finds bugs in the building, he puts them on a piece of paper and sends them outdoors instead of killing them. But, he doesn't sparkle. My question is this: how do I break up with him?

I assume you mean, “He doesn’t make my heart do that special pitter-patter thing,” and not, “He is a vampire of the Twilight persuasion thing.” Because if it was the later, I would say that you should just take him out in the sun.

Assuming it is the former . . . that’s sad, because he sounds like a good guy. But sometimes, you have to break up with a good person.

Let me look in the book.

“Be brave,” it says. “Tell the o.s. [opposite sex—correct as necessary] that it’s over as soon as it really is . . . And afterward, be sensible.”

Okay, this book is clearly useless. The typical way is to sit down and tell him the truth, that you like him and want to be friends with him (as I am guessing you do) . . . but no one wants to hear the “let’s be friends” speech. It sounds like he deserves better.

The thing to do in this case, I think, is to make yourself undate-able. That way, they will break up with you, or they won’t mind if you do it yourself. You can be creative with this. Here’s one way you might do it:

First, get a ferret. Name the ferret after the other person, but put an honorific on it. For example, if you are dating someone named David, you should name the ferret something like “Professor David” or, even better “Capt’n Davey.” For the first few days of ownership, insist on bringing your ferret with you everywhere. Make “let me get my ferret!” your personal catchphrase. Ask the ferret what it likes and what it wants. Consult with it on movie and food choices.

This will grow wearying pretty quickly, but you’re not done yet.

After a few days, start arguing with the ferret. Accuse it of manipulating you. Ask the real David to speak to Capt’n Davey. Sit there until he does.

If he STILL sticks around, you have to give him the “I am actually a cyborg” speech. This is where you suddenly claim to be a cyborg and say something like: “I MUST HAVE A HUMAN CONVERSATION WITH YOU.” “I HAVE BEEN PROGRAMMED TO KILL MY HUMAN COMPANION. I DO NOT WANT IT TO BE YOU. THEREFORE, I MUST DISENGAGE . . . DISENGAGE . . . DISENGAGE . . .”

Of course you’ll still have the ferret, so you’ll have to make up some cover about how ferrets are the only organic life form that cyborgs can really love.

If that doesn’t chase him away, just make out with his best friend and de-friend him on Facebook, because he’s a weirdo.

I hope to answer MORE of your questions tomorrow! Please do not hesitate to send them in!

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Blogger Suzy said...

Wow your break up advice had me laughing so hard I almost fell off my chair. Thanks for making my day!!

10:16 PM  
Blogger delightfully mediocre said...

I think that may be the most frightening and brilliant way I've ever heard of to break up with someone. Ah, cyborg-ferret love.

... that's a little creepy.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Anna Claire said...

I am so using the 'small gun pointed at you under the table' line. Like really soon.

10:26 PM  
Blogger Badhandwroter said...

I love that this neighbour yells at his bird like the girl I blogged about yesterday. People yelling at birds is just pure classiness.

11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if you can put questions here, but . . . I'm graduating this year, and what would be the best way to go out with a bang?

12:04 AM  
Blogger Alyssa said...

maureen i need your help! how do i know whether or not the English boy i met online is a creeper or not!? this is very bad as i kind of REALLY like him now...HELP!!

1:17 AM  
Anonymous apageunwritten said...

Why do guys always go for the girls who date all the time?

1:44 AM  
Anonymous Suvi said...

Maureen, I have a problem, and I am sure that you can help me.

It is spring. Snow's melting, birds are singing, sun's shining, and everything looks so romantic. I would really want to share it all with the love of my life. The problem is, I don't have one. How do I find love before the spring is over?

1:45 AM  
Anonymous Triskaideka said...

What does Scott Westerfeld have against jeans?
I only ask this because of yesterdays question about what to wear as pants that aren't jeans. Wouldn't he have a good answer for this question?

proof that I'm not a stalker. It says it here on this easily accessible page: http://scottwesterfeld.com/blog/?page_id=109

1:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If that doesn’t chase him away, just make out with his best friend and de-friend him on Facebook, because he’s a weirdo."

The punch line I was waiting for, and a reminder of why I love visiting your blog.

2:46 AM  
Blogger Nadia Murti said...

Tell us stories about your childhood. They're always so funny. DO IT!

How should one get revenge on someone after they did something HORRIBLE to you? I'm considering cutting this someone's hair while he sleeps on the bus.


2:54 AM  
Anonymous Poppy said...

The parrot that laughs at anger! Hilarious.

3:09 AM  
Anonymous Ophelia Bah-delia said...

Maureen, I have a problem. I don't know how to get over this...wall. And it's not just any wall, like made out of bricks or something, but a HUGE GLARING HUNK of MENACE tormenting me. And I need to defeat it? What is the best way to go about doing this?


3:53 AM  
Anonymous afaz said...

Amazingly humorous and beautiful, as always, and now I'm wishing I had read this last week so I would've had an opportunity to use it...
And was the "You're" thing intentional right after the first picture? *brain falls out from confusion* I dun get it...

4:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAHAH! I actually laughed out loud at the end. Oh, geez.

4:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a problem. I don't have a hobby, and while this doesn't sound like much of a problem, think about all the hours i've spent on myspace and television. it's actually quite depressing. I think that if i had a hobby it would also give me some insight as to what I would want to do when I grow up. Any advice?

5:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a problem. I don't have a hobby, and while this doesn't sound like much of a problem, think about all the hours i've spent on myspace and television. it's actually quite depressing. I think that if i had a hobby it would also give me some insight as to what I would want to do when I grow up. Any advice?

5:23 AM  
Blogger Elliot said...

To do list:

Pick up laundry
Wash dishes
Clean bathroom
Buy ferret

6:06 AM  
Blogger The Rays said...

Listen, your answers are incredibly insightful and witty and all but I think, technically, you are cheating on BEDA. Not all of us have the benefit of being adored by the masses. No one asks me questions to which I can base blogs off of. I'm just saying. Maybe you can put a stimulus question at the end of every post so we can all make believe that we too have been inquired of.

7:03 AM  
Blogger Carrie said...

"I wanted to make sure we had time to spend together, so I killed all your pets. Now you can brush ME."

Hahahahahaha! Maureen, you are hilarious.

7:11 AM  
Anonymous Solange said...

This just made my day.
It made me seriously laugh out loud.

I now have to:
a) Buy a ferret.
b) Buy that book.
c) Practice my cyborg voice without cracking up.
d) De-friend the weirdo.

1:01 PM  
Anonymous JK said...

First: Buy a ferret.
I have a question. How does one come up with good questions? I feel like the question itself is just as importent as the answer. I mean almost as important.

4:15 PM  
Blogger ROSIE!!!!!!!!! said...

I have a question, middle school guys suck. How do you find one that is well.. unsuckish? Do you eliminate "refrains from making dirty jokes" on you list of "things that make a guy datable"? Or should you stop using George Harrison and Edward Cullen as examples?

7:14 PM  
Blogger MadameScribble said...

Maureen, I too have a question. How do you survive a friendship break-up...when you're still 'friends' with the person.

My best friend, a few months ago, decided that she no longer wanted to be friends with me. (Well, what really happened was that she had made several scathing, less-than-complimentary blog posts about me and then got very angry when I found and read them).

However, we are still in the same group at school and are still 'friends' even though I sort of don't want to be around her anymore.



6:43 AM  

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