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Aug 12, 2003

Advice Column for August 12, 2003

First of all, thanks to all 587 of you who wrote in with ideas for my Neapolitan Shooter. I’m going to conduct some experiments and then take a picture with this digital camera I got. I’ll probably try to run it next week!

Also, I didn’t run this one guy’s letter because my email program turned all his apostrophes into “^Ò” and I didn’t want to change all of them. This sucks, because I had good advice for him. People: please don’t send me letters that have “^Ò” in them.

Got a question? Want an answer? Ask Ray! (ray@achewood.com)

Some letters are edited for clarity and grammar.

H E R E   W E   GO !

What is the correct way to eat a rack of lamb in a restaurant? It looks easy enough to eat when you get it (like a bunch of lamb chops) but there is that hard bone that runs all the way along the bottom. Is it permissible to crack this bone in your hands, because even if they get you a steak knife it seems impossible otherwise?

J., Brisbane, Australia.

Dear J.,

First of all, if you’re at a place that’s serving rack of lamb with the chine bone intact (this is the long inter-rib spinal bone you speak of), then I wonder what in hell they are thinking. Even the greenest grocery store butcher knows to crack this bone for the customer. Definitely crack it manually if it’s been served to you incorrectly.

Chops such as this are definitely meant to be picked up with the fingers—no matter how many forks are to the left of your plate, no matter how many waiters are queued to drape the napkin across your lap when you return from the bathroom. The meat next to the bone is the most flavorful meat on the chop, and any gourmet in attendance will internally applaud your hands-on expertise.

In most cases, chop bones are “Frenched,” meaning a few inches of the rib bone is completely cleared of meat and other tissues prior to cooking. This is done to create not only a lovely presentation but a dry, grippable handle. Whenever you see a Frenched bone, that’s your permission slip to drop the hardware and dig in!

I envy you your future lamb experiences.

I'm currently taking a class on existentialism, and I have my final paper due on Thursday. The problem is I'm no philosophical genius and I have no freakin' idea what existentialism entails outside of "life is meaningless." Can you enlighten me on what existentialism means to you?
Not a Nietzsche

Dear NN,

There was a period in my life where I had a copy of The Metamorphosis (Nietzsche) next to the can. It’s not very long, and I think it’s like pretty much the main book of Existentialism. Even though it’s really heavy philosophy, it’s actually kind of neat to read! It’s about this German dude who wakes up one day and discovers that he’s turned into a great big cockroach. His parents, who he lives with, just lock him in his room and eventually he dies. I think the point is to try to be more tolerant of those who are different from you.

Why does my fucking cat insist on puking on my car? I know cats need to cough up hairballs and the like, but mine insists on vomiting on my car, especially after eating a gopher or rat when the puke contains guts and limbs etc. As a cat, can you please lend some insight into this disgusting habit? My cars are not new, but if I get the new Prius I've had my eye on and she pukes on it, well, that may be the end of her.
Disgusted in San Diego

Dear Disgusted,

First of all, I am going to count to ten and try to pretend that you did NOT just call a cat a “fucking” cat. Maybe you, as a human, don’t understand that a cat is just as complicated and sentient as you? I mean, look at me, God dammit. I write on a God damned computer. If you think cats are so stupid, why are you asking one for advice?!

Phew. Okay, sorry. I was pretty mad there. I know all cats aren’t created equal, and maybe you’ve got one of those “star-touched” ones who end up stockin’ at 7-11 or whatever. That’s cool, we all need to be more tolerant (see previous letter).

Anyhow, I’m wondering if your cat blows chunks in your car when you’re driving, or when it’s parked (and you leave the window open). The former would indicate simple car sickness, while the latter would indicate that you need to roll the windows up, because your cat seems to find your car a very private place where it can attend to shameful business. I wouldn’t be surprised if your cat also went into your car to read the bra section in the Sears catalog etc.

I have been with my boyfriend for ten months now, and it is time I broaden my sexual horizons. I would like to have sex with another lovely young lady. Also, I would like my main squeeze to participate and juice up this chick with me. After several discussions on the matter he's up for it (yay!). However, our dilemma is how to approach a respectable, attractive, clean woman and not seem like a couple of sleazy lowlifes just out for some snatch—which is actually what we are out for, except we’re not lowlifes. We’re just regular upstanding citizens with very healthy sexual desires.

Dear Bi-Curious,

There is a huge section in most newspapers which has personals just like the one you just wrote. You can submit yours, and will probably also find a woman who’s looking for a couple to swing with.

A good way to make sure the woman isn’t real gross (like 55, with long frizzy red hair and dream-catcher earrings) is to mandate a photo swap before meeting. This is real easy to do via e-mail. In fact, if you send in a picture I can post it here!


Readers – did you spot that this letter was actually written by a man? We’ll have more pop quizzes like this throughout the summer and early fall.

So this past Sunday I was at my friend's parish festival, helping out with the bingos. Man! Those little old ladies play some rough bingo. What advice can you give me on how to beat them next year? (They kept winning all the $5 prizes and Wal-Mart gift certificates - what are they gonna need them for? I'm a poor college kid. I need help buying my shampoo and soap and groceries and stuff.)
G. W.

Dear G.W.,

Well, first of all you ain’t gonna play once a year and beat old ladies who play all year long, just like you ain’t gonna drop in at Augusta and style on Tiger Woods.

The reason they are so aggressive is because they actually do need the little prizes and gift certificates. Do you know how little money the government pays little old ladies every month? It is not very much, plus they get scammed out of most of it by Hallmark ads that show life’s problems being turned around by having 600 Hallmark cards on hand at all times.

Dude, it is basically uncool that you tried to cut in on their money. I’m surprised you didn’t get a bunch of Aqua-Net in the eyes when you left for the parking lot.

Readers: this is a follow-up from last week’s “Bella.” She still did not send in a picture.

I was not thinking really of us getting together in so much of a sexual way. I was thinking more of a spiritual connection mainly, with deep love and a lot of eyegazing but also with the addition of the pool floats and drinks elements so that things would not be too Zen-heavy, because I really hate that shit.

But check this because this is weird: when I read your response to my letter there was the phrase "reluctant to lay down the blanket statement" and there was totally a line break before the word "statement!" Which of course that gave me the clear picture of you "laying down a blanket," and I went into a dream (like in the Beatles song) of us lying side by side on a flowered chenille blanket (just go to E-bay and type in "chenille" and "shabby chic") in a psychedelic green field like on that one Nissan commercial. This time the drinks were in a stylin' thermos (like say the ones Hermes used to sell for $6,000) and we had upscale picnic cups to drink out of and the whole bit but once again I was startled out of the beautiful vision by the almost comical discrepancy in our sizes/species and the fear that someone might get an aerial view.

It the most annoying mental tic and I need to figure out how to get over it because it is standing in the way of something that could be truly beautiful and classy. I know you can understand because it sounds like the same kind of thing happened to your fantasy life after you got the rude wake up call about the different styles of ladies you can potentially run into out there in the world. (In the form of the scary picture that one dyke sent you.) But, Ray, what is the solution for those of us who fall in love first and then are confronted by a totally unworkable aesthetic situation?

Dear Bella,

You still forgot to attach a photograph! This was the whole point of my last response to you. I think you can get them to take a simple digital photo of you at Kinko’s if you don’t have a camera (remember: you must show from knees to top of head).

I'm 27 years old and have been living with my girlfriend for the past four years. It's totally time to take that next step, and the only thing I have to do is buy a ring. I've saved a few thousand dollars for that purpose, but here's my dilemma: My girl loves Tiffany—not the singer, the jeweler. I know she wants a Tiffany ring, but we're just blue collar grade people here and I know that with the chunk of change I have I could either get her a sad little Tiffany ring or a really nice, really high quality ring from Costco.

Now, once the ring is on her finger, that big, over-priced rock from Costco is going to look pretty nice, but I know she is going to secretly regret that, at the moment of truth, I didn't bust out a box in that peculiar shade of blue that makes the heart of any woman in a six-mile radius skip a beat. However, if I get the Tiffany she's going to end up with a flake of glass on her finger that's going to look pretty pathetic. I guess my other option would be to wait a few years until I can save a few more thousand and get a nice looking Tiffany, but by then she's going to have gone all neurotic wondering why I don't want to marry her.

What are your thoughts on the diamond dilemma?
Soon to be Broke in Seattle

Dear Seattle,

When you propose, don’t have any sort of ring box present. Just pull the ring out of the inside chest pocket of your coat—this way name brand won’t even be an issue and all she’ll see is a respectable-sized rock.

If at any time in the remainder of the evening she asks if the ring is a Tiffany, or even asks “where did you get it,” take it back off her finger, get your Costco receipt, and go on a long vacation alone while she moves her dumb ass out of your apartment (take your CDs/stereo to a friend’s house first).

I hope you don’t get burned, but if you do, it ain’t nothin that ain’t happened ten times worse to somebody else.

For several years my best friend has been trying to help to me get hip to the Aussie rock god Nick Cave. He started by playing me earlier stuff like Birthday party/ boys next door. His assumption, I think, was that seeing as I like punk music (Ramones, Stooges, X) that I would dig on this young n'raw Nick Cave. It never stuck.

His second attempt was to get me really drunk and play tape after tape of his Badseeds MTV videos. I would be seeing double watching this vampire mullet guy crooning and thinking I was going crazy.

The last straw for him was last year (this has been going on for several years) when we had tickets to go see Nick and the Seeds in concert and I arrived so late that I only caught the encore. He said that he was so enraged that I had missed the concert that he was unable to focus on anything but my empty seat.

It is not that I dislike Nick Cave and his music, on the contrary, I like and respect it. Unfortunately that is not enough for my friend. I honestly think he believes that something is wrong with me that I am not able to spend hours talking about, listening to, and watching Nick Cave. Once he got really drunk, kissed a Nick Cave Poster (which is huge by the way) then attacked me for making fun of him. Is my friend insane?
Babe, I'm On Fire

Dear On Fire,

Yeah, I accidentally listened to some Nick Cave once. How is music that terrible even being made and distributed? It’s like he knows how to make music that is exactly wrong for enjoying—like he has some sort of special combination of keys, time signatures and “anti-hooks” he relies on to make songs which sound so awful that they are completely unappealing to everybody. Frankly, I’d like to hear a person who knows music theory explain exactly why it is that all of Nick Cave’s songs are so technically awful. All I know is that all my primal instincts tell me to fight and kill Nick Cave’s music.

In the latest issue of "toro" magazine, a classy Canadian men's magazine, I read an article on a beverage called Kir Royale that really inspired me. It's a layering of some kind of blackberry cassis or grenadine, and champagne. It sounds tasty, the kind of thing that would really impress any woman at my abode post-date, but I can't seem to find any of the Cassis de Dijon used to make it. Or does the whole drink sound just too...effeminate for you? What's the best drink to mix up for a lady at your house if you want to impress her with your class and put her just a little more in the mood?

Dear Jordie,

“Classy Canadian men’s magazine”? What, is there like a picture of a hockey guy wearing a tuxedo but also his skates, and his mullet is all done nice? Is there a picture of a huge truck just driving head-on into a cement wall?

I’m just ribbing you, Canadians. I know you can take it because you’re not angry drunks like we get in the South. If you so much as squint the wrong way at a runty little Southern man or woman, suddenly it’s a rassle to the death. You should see their muscles – like string beans under their skin – just ready to go until the glucose from the Budweiser is completely gone from their blood and they are taken to prison for the night.

Well, I will start off with the biggest problem. My e-pron [Readers: this is how hardcore porno addicts refer to Internet porno] addiction. Every time I [use] my computer, I find myself visiting the likes of such sites that include voyeur and celebrity [porn] and I just can't get away. Not only that, but every time I go I masturbate.

This leads me to my next problem. I masturbate a good 2-4 times a day. Sometimes it will be to the e-pron or thinking of my wildest fantasies and other times, sadly, I will light a match and masturbate to the flame. I love fire so much, I will masturbate while looking at it.
J, Vancouver, BC.

Dear J.,

Well, I think the main problem here is the fire thing. I hope you were just including that to be funny, even though it is not a joke in the traditional sense of the word.

Anyhow, my advice is to stop masturbating to fire. You didn’t say how old you were, but the J/O frequency itself is not so much of a problem. When Pat was younger, he’d be in his room most of the afternoon and evenings. I don’t even think he learned how to ride a bike until this one summer where he had to wear a catheter for a couple weeks and wasn’t allowed to get wood.

Dear Readers: another letter from the original Gun Guy! This is based on last week’s response where I correctly guessed that in Die Hard, Bruce Willis used a gun called a “Nine Millimeter.”

Actually, you correctly guessed the caliber of Bruce Willis' gun, not the gun itself. It's kind of like guessing the engine specs instead of the car. The caliber is the diameter of the gun barrel, and is measured either in millimeters or percentages of an inch (for example, a .50 caliber would be half an inch wide). Rifle ammunition usually is smaller (the M-4, standard armament for the US Army and US Marines, uses 5.56mm) but hits a lot harder both because it has more powder and because the shape of the casing forces even more pressure behind the bullet.

To the guy whining about being a loser: buy a gun. Simply having the knowledge that you can remove a person's head with the twitch of a finger can give you a major boost in confidence. Not doing it, of course, but simply knowing you can.
Gun Happy

Dear Gun Happy,

Dude, when are you going to get your gun column started? You obviously know a lot about the stuff. I too own a gun (sweet little Tic-Tac) and sort of know what you mean about strong feelings of power brought on by weapon ownership. Tic Tac couldn’t exactly blow a robber’s head off, but she could definitely let him know that I was mad at him.

Some of my friends and family have been trying to tell me I have OCD (I have been joking the past few years that I do have a mild case, but honestly I don't think I have anything that severe in the clinical sense) – for instance, my cousin said I organise things and put them in piles in corners too often when she is still using the items, like my remotes to be on the nightstand a certain way, and am too finicky about having my CDs in alphabetical order at all times to the point that I wouldn't allow her to keep cases out cause I needed them to complete the process! My mom is worried that I count my food in multiples of three and must read magazines from start to finish or not at all.

Honestly, some of them are true, but it isn't a do or die situation! I just would like to know if they are correct in their assumptions or if they're blowing it all out of proportion.
Counting the Minutes

Dear Counting,

Yeah, you sound a little bonkers. It might be good to try to get a handle on this sooner rather than later and see what is going on. I’m sure your mom and cousin will be glad to help.

Tell me, is Riesling just a fancy and/or shmancy word for grapefruit-flavored wine?
H.J., Denver, CO

Dear H.J.,

No, Riesling is a legitimate varietal, just like Cabernet or Chardonnay. They tend to be sweeter and are great when chilled. If you are noticing a grapefruit flavor in some of your whites, then good for you! You are starting to get the hang of the complicated world of wine tasting. Pretty soon you’ll be talking about a wine’s “shale-like mineral character” and opining that the ’93 Opus "unfolds like the Elvira Madigan Concerto.”

I was living with this girl for like 3 years, we were engaged and stuff (her idea) and then she dumped my ass. She was going through some changes and blah blah blah, whatever. She broke my heart but I love her. So I stayed friends with her, both because she needed me as a friend and because I am pathetic.

So then a while later she moves in as a roommate with this other girl (I will call her Othergirl) she knows from way back in middle school (and I know from work.) Then she starts dating this guy, who is the ex-boyfriend of Othergirl. Othergirl dated this guy before she figured out for sure she was a lesbian.

So me and Othergirl got to talking about what a damn sorry mess this all was, and then well... so now Othergirl and I are an item (which is weird, having this girlfriend who is a lesbian and me being a guy and all.) So I am an honorary lesbian I guess, and we just moved in together.

But this first girl with whom I do still want to be friends, she seems to be wierded out by this situation. I don't know what to do to save this friendship, or if I even can. But she doesn't talk to me much anymore, she starts a conversation and then all of a sudden she seems to remember something and zap, she leaves the room.
Somewhere in America

Dear Somewhere,

Humorous! What a situation – it’s like an old Woody Allen movie, except at one point an unconscious person isn’t revived with a block of Blue Cheese.

I guess first of all it is most clear that the original girl still has some kind of feelings for you, which is natural enough. I think it’s pretty bogus to say that you two have a “friendship,” though, since you don’t. You have more of a “weird situation.”

“Othergirl” needs a few more credits before she fulfills her Identity Completion Degree Requirements. I wouldn’t put a ring on that finger just yet.

Overall, it sounds like you kind of hang out with messed-up immature people. That’s your fault. I’m going to an awesome party now and will finish the advice column when I get back.

What's the best thing to do for a bachelor party? My brother is getting married, and it appears to have fallen to me, as the wild man in the family, to plan his last night of single fun. The problem is, aside from the basics (booze, strippers, beer, porn, liquor, hookers) I have no idea what to do. I'm only wild relative to my brother, maybe a 4 verus a 2 on the 1-10 wild-o-meter, but I really want to make it a night to remember. That this thing is in Ohio is another part that sucks, cause Vegas is too dang far away.
Perplexed Bachelor Party Planner

Dear Perplexed,

Man, don’t sweat it. The problem is, for most of our early lives all we knew about bachelor parties was based on the Tom Hanks movie “Bachelor Party,” which was produced in the early 80s and therefore was naturally way over the top (how could you get a burro into the Beverly Hills Hilton, I ask you).

These days people are more down to earth about bachelor parties. The most important thing is just for dudes to have a good time and for the groom not to have to pay for anything or drive himself anywhere. If you go to a strip club, send photos. Those are always a lot of fun to see.

Will you run for governor of California?

Dear Dave,

I did think about it, and I even have one of those red, white and blue top hats from this party I went to, but in the end I decided against it. I looked into the actual requirements of the job and basically you have to spend all day deciding which schoolchildren to screw out of school lunch. Not cool, not really where I’m at right now.

So I'm a terribly cute nineteen year old girl with a bit of a problem. See, I met this guy a couple of months back who frequents the gym I work at: [he’s] 26, an accountant, and we really hit it off. He gave me a bottle of exquisite wine and a book of sex positions shortly after meeting him, but I just laughed it off as flirtation. Anyway, we both felt the electricity, and soon after, he told me he was seeing another girl, but that it wasn't serious, and that he just wanted to keep things the way they were in that respect—which, by the way, I had no problem with. Anyway, we started spending more and more time together, and one thing led to another, as things tend to do. Then I started to fall for him. Really fall for him. Before I could tell him anything, he said that he and the other girl were starting to take things a lot more seriously. But we continued to see each other, and continued to have sex, until I cut it off out of guilt.

My friends all judged the guy on the spot and said he was using me, but I've been trying to explain to them that he's just this really great guy who fell for a girl at his gym. They don't seem to understand at all. Anyway, a little while ago, things started to heat up yet again, until I once more cut it off…now I feel like I'm sitting here, waiting for something to happen between the two of them so I can have what I want, but everyone seems to think I'm being a huge idiot.

What on earth should I do?
Lonely in PA

Dear Lonely,

You are a huge idiot, your friends are right. This fellow sees you as nothing more than a moist birth canal with pleasurable friction. Some dumb book and a six dollar bottle of Turning Leaf got him a few months of extra “ab” workouts? The smartest thing you can do at this point is to add the extra “personal training” sessions to his gym tab, and use the commission buy a Jetta.

Being a feline yourself, maybe you can help me with my problem: I suspect my man is secretly into chicks wearing cat-suits. He is always bringing up the subject after we've "made love" but then claims to only be joking about it. He's probably hesitant to share his innermost desires with me because I keep making fun of him. I can't help myself.

So, would a guy only be satisfied with a complete cat-suit, or might he be happy with some fuzzy tiger-stripped lingerie? Are a tail and ears a must? I'm just trying to be a good girlfriend here.
Trying her best

Dear Trying,

A dude is his most intimate, vulnerable self right after a session of lovemaking. If he’s talking about tapping you in a cat costume, then that’s actually what he wants most in his heart. He’s not joking. Every time you laugh and make fun of him, he becomes more frustrated and unhappy as a person. How much could it hurt to dress up as a sexy-ass lady cat? It’s not like he wants you to get a dumbbell through your clit or anything.

One time I had a girlfriend dress up as a grateful homeless woman. That was one of the hottest nights of my life.

I have been dating a loving and wonderful girl for about a year. She is crazy about me and I am likewise enamored of her. [However,] she has the tendency to talk about her ex-girlfriend like she was the greatest thing that happened to her. Her girlfriend got her the best this, made her the most incredible that. She is faultless and fantastic. Now–because I have no significant exes to speak of, whereas my girlfriend has had many long relationships, her comments make me feel young and insecure. My question is: would it be appropriate for me to ask her to refrain from talking about her ex-girlfriend? I don't want to force her to censor her past, but neither do I want to keep swallowing my anxiety and insecurity. It's also a matter of censoring the present, as my girlfriend is still friends with her ex-girlfriend.
With Questionable Concerns

Dear Concerns,

I think what you need to do is show your girlfriend this letter that you just shared with me. It seems like the perfect exposition of your situation—honest, balanced and unselfish. You are truly a patient soul and are enduring a truly ugly emotional “pathology.”

In her defense: your girlfriend’s agitating claims are in all likelihood a way of trying to prove to you that she is a valuable person worth loving, despite several previous relationships having gone south. She tells these stories to convince you that people in the past cared about her, as a way of implying that she is worth your care. It’s really nothing more than a simple call for reassurance.

I don’t usually cry too much, and never when I’m writing this column, but damn. Something about your letter really put the onions in my eyes. I’m sorry, I have to stop here. I got to move on. I hope you make good [can't see kaybaoard aymore bye]

How does one get their special lady friend to, how should I say this, do a bit of gardening in her flower patch?

It's not like it's an Oregon Old Growth Forest down there, but I wish it were maintained like the women in adult films take care of theirs.

How do I tactfully let my girlfriend know that it would be awesome if she shaved her pubic area. Is there a way to bring up the subject without looking like a sexual deviant? Don't women realize how sexy a nicely trimmed private part is?

Is this the kind of thing where one should lead by example?
Likes 'Em Nice and Smooth

Dear Nice and Smooth,

There is a way to get some trim on, but first let’s talk about a couple of other things.

Mainly, the chicks in hardcore movies only do the ultra-bare because that’s the tradition in the genre. It’s a difficult area to maintain. If you ask your girlfriend to completely shave that sucker, you’re going to get more than you bargained for when she starts complaining about ingrown hairs, itchiness and barbed-wire stubble. Plus, she’s going to miss a lot of the hairs around her ass and more difficult folds, and you’re just going to feel extremely icky and embarrassed when face-to-face with it.

Your idea of leading by example might work, if you just buzz yourself (with clippers - don't shave yet) and present it as something you’ve done and not as something you expect her to do. Just jump on the bed and be all, “Look! Look what I did!” — like it’s a lot of fun (maybe have white tube socks on, to make it seem not too serious). Then, just have the clippers in an easy-to-find place in the bathroom in case it develops into anything. Remember: shaving is the next step. For now, you are just getting your foot in the door.

Confidential to the guy with explosive diarrhea: How in hell did you get my phone number?! It’s unlisted! Anyhow, I’m canceling the phone service to the house and just using my cell phone from now on.

* A Gentle Reminder (“Disclaimer”): This is advice from a cartoon cat, and should not be taken seriously. We are not responsible for anything you do based on what Ray says, or otherwise. Do not commit suicide or otherwise interrupt the lives of others. Continue on with your life as though you had never read this column. Erase your browser history. Not for readers under 18 years of age.