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Advice Columns

I love reading advice columns.  Ask Amy.  Miss Manners.  Harriet Cole.  And, of course, Dear Abby.  They're a window into other people's lives.

There's a certain amount of "Goodness me!  I can't imagine how anyone would get themselves into that situation!", like the woman who discovered she was dating a guy who grew up in a doomsday cult, or the guy who realized he was hoarding so much stuff, he couldn't even get into his house.

It's also fun to guess what kind of advice the columnist will give, see if it matches what I would say.  Sometimes I read the letters aloud to Darwin and we discuss them before checking what the columnist says.  It's more fun when we disagree with the columnist than when we agree!

I've noticed that a lot of the problems end up being quite similar, when you look closely.  A lot of people write in to basically say, "I'm unhappy in my current relationship. My romantic partner does this, that, and the other that scares me/drives me crazy/makes me feel awful about myself.  What should I do?"  And the columnist usually says something like, "You know you should leave. So do it."  I always wonder if the writers do.

And then there are the real whack-jobs, the ones that make you say, "Who on earth could possibly live like this?"  Like the smoker whose baby was highly allergic to cigarette smoke and who wanted to know how she could give her baby up for adoption.  Or the above-mentioned guy who lived in a houseful of junk.  Or the lady who couldn't stop buying stuff, and her house was filled with clothes, shoes, hats, and small appliances she never even took out of the box.  (The columnist suggested she hold a giant garage sale to clear her house out, then let herself go "shopping" once a week at garage sales with $10 worth of ones.  And see a counselor.)

But the best part is that these are character ideas.  These people are real, their problems completely true.  You can't make this stuff up--because it isn't made up.

You can learn a lot about humanity by reading advice columns.

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