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Aug 19, 2003

Advice Column for August 19, 2003

Dear Readers: Apparently last week I erroneously said that “The Metamorphosis” was written by Friedrich Nietzsche instead of Frank Kafka. My bad! Thanks to the 297 people who put their suicide plans on hold long enough to write in.

Book Corner: Instead of “The Metamorphosis,” try picking up one of those “Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy” books! Man, I found a couple of them by the can at Téodor’s place one day, and Jesus are those hilarious. I hope that guy keeps writing books for as long as I have lungs to laugh with. He really has a great sense of humor.

Got a question? Need an answer? Ask Ray! (ray at achewood dot com)

Some letters are edited for clarity and grammar.

H E R E   W E   GO !
Listen to the theme to Ray's Place, by Milwaukee Youth Children's Choir, aka MC Frontalot

I'm wondering about my cat's trips to our veterinarian. Are there any common misconceptions humans have about what our cats must endure that you could clear up for us? Are there any ways to make my cat feel more comfortable about going to the vet? She isn't as verbose as you are, but she's learned to recognize a few words, and 'Vet' will send her hiding for at least two days. I feel like I'm tricking her every time I spell it out, and I later feel bad about myself even though I know that I'm keep her healthy.

Dear GK.,

I’ve seen “ER” and other shows about the human medical industry. What happens in a human hospital, even to the lowliest drunken vagrant with a hot temper and no medical insurance, is far better than what happens to a good cat at the best human veterinarian “hospital.” Usually what happens at “the vet” is that they immediately stick a thermometer up your Roca-chute without even asking your name, and then they just go “awww ain’t he a good boy” as though the ideal feline is always sittin’ around smilin’ with a glass dipstick up his Boston beanmaker.

My factual guess is that you should just let your cat go to her own doctor, and quit dragging her to a place full of humans who have terrible bedside manners. Think about it: would you, as a human, want some feline doctor with a Rolex meowing quietly to himself while working a thermometer up into your pucker? I didn’t think so.

You seem like a guy who'd enjoy Las Vegas. Assuming you've been there, what casino/hotel do you usually like to stay at? I prefer the Flamingo—not too expensive, great location, great pool, and while it's not the fanciest hotel in town it's a decent enough place. But I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.
C, Alexandria, VA

Dear C.,

A good question! Most humans probably don’t know this but billionaire (feline) investor J. Vincent J. Lemoni recently built a massive Underground replica of Vegas (including Fremont Street, for some reason) just a few miles from human Las Vegas. You won’t be able to find it, but based on what I’ve read it’s pretty much an exact replica of human Vegas, right down to that one scene in “Mystére” where the big fat baby on the golf cart turns into an explosion of caramel candies which the audience can eat.

Personally, yes, I do like to go down to “Vegas II” for a little of the high life. I’ll throw a few bucks down on roulette before a classy dinner at Delmonico (at the Venetian), or get nasty on some Pai Gow Poker at Bellagio before sampling some award-winning Godiva martinis and fine dining at Le Cirque (always stop for a Bellini at the Fontana on the lake first). But hell, I’m no snob. Sometimes I’ll just go nurse a couple airplane bottles of fig vodka down at the Stage Door (across from the off-strip entrance to Bally’s). They have a pretty good deal on hot dogs there, and you can just zone out on quarter video poker right at your seat.

See, Vegas is all classy these days, but it’s also a fun time if you just slum it in the dirtiest old-school way possible. I have had some good times just yelling at people and having them yell back at me before one of us kind of fell over a railing or something, and one time I woke up next to a vomit-caked fat guy in this drainage area behind the Luxor! I don’t know what had happened between us the night before, if anything, but when he woke up and started dry-heaving I just crawled off to this other part of the ivy that was kind of hard to find from where he was. Later that day I made it back to the room and just sat in the bathtub with a pillow and a sheet for a real long time.

I really need to know why poor Tasha Yar had to die twice! I know that temporal paradoxes played a significant role in the whole ordeal, but really now, twice!? And to also have her half Romulan daughter try to destroy her old friends aboard the enterprise not too long after her original death.
Hopeless Geek, Alpha Quadrant

Dear HG,

Okay, this is like the fifth time you’ve written in with some question which seems like it may be about Star Wars or Star Trek. Or Battlestar Galactica? I am not an expert on these shows. I realize that my advice column is available on the Internet but you have to accept the fact that not 100% of Internet users like the same spaceship show that you like.

However, if I were to guess, I’d say that Tasha Yar didn’t actually die twice, but rather infinite times. Don’t you remember the shot right before she died, where she looked in the mirror, only to see that there was a mirror on the wall opposite that mirror, just at the moment that Jor-ai rebooted the transkinesic Baryalon Pyramid, thus annihilating her into an endlessly repeating hall of mirrors? Think for yourself once in a while.

I am a 21 year old male that has never gotten involved with a lady in any way, never held hands or anything. When I was a teenager, my parents didn't think this was weird but now that I'm older, starting a career, taking responsibilities, etc., they're starting to talk about it.

Each time I go home the subject is hinted at and more and more I feel pressure from them to get involved, and I think it's important to them because I am their only male child and I think they want like-named descendents or something (they are religious). They think I am going through a phase of some sort but I have my reasons for abstaining. How do I end the awkwardness and let them know I have no intention of hooking up or procreating?
Celibate Nihilist in AZ

Dear Celibate Nihilist,

Without knowing your “reasons,” I can’t really assess your situation. Try giving us a clearer picture of why you are unwilling to participate in your species.

My boyfriend of five years just moved to California to attend college. I have a year and a half of college left here in Colorado, so I stayed to finish my degree. We are currently trying the long distance thing, though it is incredibly hard. Do you believe that our relationship can survive the next year and half until I can move out there? Or am I wasting my time believing it will work?
Miserable in Colorado

Dear Miserable,

It sounds like you really want to make it work. Why don’t you finish your degree out where he is? Colorado is not really a very good state, and I am sure California has better colleges. I just pray that when you finally move out there, you don’t find him in his bunk bed with some other girl, completely having sex.

Ray, in response to the gentleperson who (cough) "likes 'em nice and smooth", I might suggest they offer to help their special lady friend with the shaving activity, assuming that their hands do not shake overly much. In my experience, this can be extremely pleasant for both parties, especially if the activity takes place in a nice warm clean bathtub.

Also, the "Original Gun Guy" is wrong: the US Army uses the M16; the M4 is a shorter version of the same weapon and is issued to special forces units (Navy SEAL teams, for example).

Dear EPM,

What a knowledgeable fellow you are! You have good insight about bikini-trimming, but also offer a bit of gun trivia. You are kind of like a book-ends of my advice column subject matter.

Perhaps the best idea I had while reading your letter was that of a small pistol, with a small bayonet on the end, and the bayonet blade was actually a Gilette Mach 3, and the gun shot out aloe-infused shave gel instead of bullets.

I am on the horns of a feline-related dilemma. I am married to a wonderful woman, but unfortunately we have a major problem. Our beautiful cat Flossy recently died of natural causes. This was bad enough, but it provoked three days of crying from my wife and me having to dig a backyard grave.

Then a few days later, her mother's cat Puss died. More crying, more digging.

These are the only two cats my wife has ever known, and they both died within a week. But now she wants to find another cat.

My question is: Do we try again with a new cat, and run the risk of another tragedy that would really break her heart? Or do we just get a dog?
Does Life Go On?, Australia

Dear Australia,

Man, I got a heavy question for you. What is your wife gonna do when you get stomach cancer and die at 35? What are you gonna do when she gets killed by a drunk driver tomorrow, even though it’s 3PM and that sort of thing isn’t supposed to happen when you’re just going out to buy some pasta noodles?

What about when you conceive a child, but you discover during ultrasound exams that the child’s spine looks like a damn firework that went off, and he’ll be a quadriplegic “hunchback” for life even though his brain functions are 100% of normal? You are just going to have to cold suck up these little problems in life. I don’t care if your cat died. The dead have it easy.

Ray, Ray, Ray...I'm so disappointed in your assumption that I'm a man! Was it my writing style, my excitement for a threesome, or my use of the word 'snatch'? You should know that there are really women out there who aren't afraid to admit that they want a little nookie while simultaneously indulging in a hearty meat stick. I know that you're thinking, "No way, a woman like this is too good to be true. It must be a dude trying to get some attention". Darling, I guess you've never met a woman as daring and open as me.
Bi-curious, San Francisco.

P.S.: I had to beg my boyfriend to let me have my fantasy. But he's not completely convinced. He goes on and on about the possible consequences and how they might end our happy relationship. I need some more advice!

Dear Bi-curious,

Well first of all, thank you for sending in the photo. Although I have no way of knowing it is you, and most of your body is obscured by the bathtub, and you might very well be the dude who is in the tub with you (holding the whiskey), I will just go ahead and believe you because I think I have some advice.

It sounds like you want to have an M-F-F threesome, and your boyfriend does not. You’re at an impasse…or are you?

Let’s say that I’m Ray the Cat, and I hate jumpin’ off my third-floor bedroom balcony into my pool (I’m kind of afraid of heights, which is a mental thing). But one night when we’re partyin’ and gettin’ pretty screwed up Téodor and Lyle start jumping off the balcony into the pool, and then Vlad and even Mr. Bear, and before long I’m the only one left who hasn’t done it. Everybody’s chanting “Ray! Ray! Ray!” and calling me a chicken and stuff, completely messing with my mind. I was terrified when I finally stood on the railing, facing the pool...I felt like I was going to die the instant I jumped, or hit the patio instead of the water. But do you know what? As soon as I leapt, life kind of went into slow motion, and all this adrenaline pumped into my heart, and as I was falling I felt like a kid again. Then the big, refreshing splashdown, and when I came up everyone was cheering! Man, what a thrill. Now I jump off the balcony into the pool every single morning as soon as I wake up! Man, what a way to start the day.

So what I’m saying is, we can’t be afraid of new challenges in life. Often times confronting our fears can lead to incredible new experiences, like the sensation of flying, or of being laid by two women at the same time.

Hey Ray...So I have this friend, and he's been in a relationship with his girl for something like four years, but he keeps cheating on her! Everyone (except for her of course), knows that this is going on, and we all feel like shit for her. We want to tell her, but this is definitely a rock and a hard place type of situation. She's not really our friend, but the dude is, and if we tell her he is going to get really bent out of shape. We have tried to get him to fess up or quit his cheating ways, but he just won't. What is your opinion on this situation? Should we up and tell her, or just try our best to ignore these nasty happenings?
Confused in Iowa

Dear Iowa,

Why are you keeping the truth from this girl? If this was a lawsuit, you’d be charged with conspiracy. Seriously, tell the girl immediately and if your asshole unfaithful friend gets bent out of shape, then GOOD. There’s more at stake here than the delicate delusional bubble he lives in. Have you considered that he stands a good chance of spreading STDs by having multiple sex partners, and that this innocent girl could get a fatal disease because you didn’t have the basic decency to tell her the truth? It’s a pretty safe bet that she would want to know. Have dignity.

You have alluded to the enjoyment of marijuana, yet you never discuss its delights as you do with alcohol. Do you prefer alcohol to weed?
Curious in California

Dear Curious,

I prefer them both. Why do I gotta choose? We’ll burn one a couple times a week, and it’s great. The music sounds better, the laughter is deeper and the food is more delicious. The only downside is that the house gets kind of smelly, but you don’t really notice until the next day when you’re sitting there trying to figure out whose idea it was to pour all the cereal in the house into the bathtub and fill it with water.

I've just turned twenty this week. I'm no longer a teenager and I'm feeling a bit of anxiety towards the entire process of getting old. Did you go through anything like this? What do I need to do?!
- J

Dear J.,

It mega sucks to age, let me tell you. Twenty’s still a pretty good time for a human: not too much weird hairs on your back yet, the girls your age are all still pretty no matter what they look like (big Romanian nose, etc), and all you have to worry about is going swimming and getting a simple little job where your friends can visit you and just chitchat all day. When you get to more like 22-23 in human years you’ll start to settle into kind of a routine with a regular job that requires black shoes, and at 25-26 you’ll start drinking to ignore the self-parody you’ve become, and in the late twenties you’ll open your eyes and really start to hate yourself. You’ll live to about 70 or so, I think that’s the lifespan for humans.

I wish I could advise you to just be a cat and come party at my place, but I cannot. We don’t really care about “ages” or “time” so much. It’s more about some wicked Chow Fun noodles with BBQ Pork, grilled NY Steaks and corn on the cob, a pony keg of Beck’s and an all-night pool party with the music cranked way up. That’s what we’re doing tonight, like most nights, down here in animal town.

I have been a bartender for a few years now and the bar spoon works quite nicely and is rather classy/fancy/smooth, however when efficiency and speed are necessary, grabbing a maraschino cherry (staple in any bar garnish tray) by the stem and dipping the bottom of the cherry into the first layer of liquor and pouring the second layer of liquor on the cherry separates the liquors very well by the same principle as the spoon.
LL, bartender
Hobo's @ 3rd & Couch, Old Towne Portland, OR, USA

Dear V.,

That is a very cool technique! I’m glad you wrote. It’s neat little craftsman’s tricks like this that make me glad I run this column.

Could you possibly help me with a wine problem? I don't really like white or red wine, but I do enjoy Rosé. I do know that this type of wine is becoming more acceptable in Europe, but I will be having guests from America in the autumn and I would like to know if this is a suitable wine to serve Americans with dinner? We will most likely be serving something traditionally Swedish, i.e. meatballs, pickled herring, potato gratin & various other smörgåsbord delicacies. Could you possibly recommend a good Rosé? Swedes are traditionally vodka drinkers, not wine experts. Thanks!
A girl in Östersund, Sweden.

Dear Östersund,

Whether or not your American guests are down with Rosé wine is anybody’s guess. There is not one wine palate shared by all Americans. Some Americans think box wine from a cheap Chinese restaurant is completely fine, some don’t drink wine at all because it’s not beer and some have weekly groups where they compare and discuss wines (obnoxious). I will say that to the knowledgeable American wine drinker, Rosé wines are kind of suspect, mainly because they get associated with that pink zinfandel stuff. However, if Rosé wines are part of your drinking culture, then by all means serve them. Your guests didn’t go to Sweden to eat American food and drink American drinks. When I was in Germany I had a wheat beer with 7-Up mixed in, and it was actually pretty good, but I would never have tried that in America!

Plus, a sweet Rosé will be perfect for rinsing the horrible flavor of pickled herring out of their mouths in a hurry.

I was just wondering if questions you decide not to answer one week are discarded or will be attended to in a future column?
Kevin, Internet

Dear Kevin,

No, I start fresh each week. If a question doesn’t get answered it’s usually because I get about five times as much e-mail as I can possibly hope to answer. Plus, a lot of the questions are redundant, like over seventy teenagers a week asking me how to get a girlfriend or money, etc.

In the last few days one of my female friends has gotten engaged. She's 21 years of age and the guy who popped the question is a mere 17. They've only been seeing each other for a couple of months and talked of moving in together (although they haven't yet) after the first month of seeing each other. To further complicate matters the girl in question has suffered quite seriously from depression over recent years, although she has seemingly been doing well for many months now but has no job and is yet to have gotten herself on her feet properly since she dropped out of university. The fella is apparently "very mature for his age" but she would say that.

I don't want to tell this couple how to run their lives or anything of the sort and would only give my own opinion and advice if I thought it was wanted; this is not why I write to you. My problem is that said couple is soon to be having an Engagement Party which will be my first meeting with her young suitor and I worry that under the influence of the large volume of alcohol likely to be consumed I am more likely to be inclined to speak my mind - unedited. That is:

  • Although I realise in certain regions of the USA and other foreign lands marriages to people of more foetal persuasions is acceptable, my own personal opinion (coming from the UK) is that this guy is too young to know what he is talking about in terms of life-long commitment to someone,
  • They haven't known each other long enough to make such an important judgment about one another,
  • The girl is probably in a vulnerable state (with regard to overcoming her depression, lack of job and qualifications, friends all moving away from home etc.) and more grateful to have someone to cling onto rather than in love,
  • And the girl, being older and supposedly wiser, is even more silly than the lad for going along with the whole thing.
That is, the engagement seems rather ridiculous to me. I just don't know how I'm going to get through this party - refusing the invite would be blatantly rude, sobriety would make the whole sickly sweet (and somewhat twisted) affair unbearable, whereas drunkenness followed by a "What do you think of him?/I'm so happy to be getting married" one-on-one conversation/probing for my approval might end messily with my tendency to tell people exactly what I DO think when drunk. What might make such an outburst worse is that a month or two prior to her meeting this fella me and the girl had a brief romantic tryst which ended in a slightly messy fashion where I perhaps wasn't the model of good behaviour. I'm now seeing one of our mutual friends who I'll be accompanying to the party and whom I think this girl (the engaged one) knew I was into even over the brief time I was seeing her. Ugly things could rise to the surface if all goes wrong.

I don't want to make anyone feel bad or make myself a hated figure among the rest of my friends or girlfriend so any advice about how I can prevent an inappropriate outburst of honesty (or even feeble words of encouragement) would be greatly appreciated. It should be said that I have a difficult enough time keeping my mouth shut or faking approval when sober, a quality that is usually but not always appreciated by those closest to me.

Dear Nameless,

Yeah, you seem to already know that opposition to their union will only strengthen their resolve to carry through with it. It’s like if you tell your kid he'll never be a good musician, his rebellious nature will naturally cause him to stay in his room all day and practice like crazy. Except in this case, this ill-advised couple is not going to grow up to be Jimi Hendrix. They’ll probably be divorced in a year or so and that much wiser. If it lasts, it lasts. Stranger things have happened.

Get bubbled, and be nice. They’re getting married, the party should have a good positive vibe that you can tap into. You may be surprised that you can actually act like a gentleman in social situations even though you have an inward opinion that the whole affair is a sham. How do you think I get through Pat’s terrible birthday parties? I’m not glad that Pat was born, but I sure don’t say so. I just slice some “organic nut loaf paté,” pour a glass of his celery soda/gin punch and go home right after the annual slide show of what he did that year (ran marathon, cultivated hyacinths, went to Taos and bought a turquoise bolo tie ring, etc).

Confidential to the guy with explosive diarrhea: Thank you for the Hickory Farms gift basket, but I really do wish you would stop writing in. I gave the basket to a local homeless shelter, so don’t think I owe you anything.

* 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.