Bad Advice On Calling Women ‘The Mrs.’

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Welcome to our latest Bad Advice column! Stay tuned every Tuesday for more terrible guidance based on actual letters.
“My boyfriend has the palate of a seven-year-old (Twinkies, soda, etc.), snacks all day, and has gained 15 pounds. I exercise five times a week for his and my benefit — and I feel cheated! How do I get him to get in shape?”
— From “Ask E. Jean” via Elle, 19 June 2017

Dear Cheated,

If you do not begin haranguing your boyfriend to conform to your physical standards now, he may begin to think that he and only he is the boss of his body. This erroneous assumption could lead to all kinds of problems down the line, including but not limited to his belief that he has value as a human being beyond his aesthetic appeal to you personally. Your exercise routine not only makes you a morally superior person who is obliged to dictate the terms of other people’s behavior, but is a 100% lifetime guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen to you. Because you exercise, you will never fall ill, become injured, experience aging, or be otherwise unable to maintain your current level of fitness and therefore have no need of finding in your boyfriend, or yourself, anything else to love.

Your boyfriend owes you his unquestioning and dogged dedication to eating what you say he should eat and exercising when you say he should exercise. Anything less shows him to be interested solely in gaining weight at you, the person around whom the great medicine ball of earth spins. Your fitness entitles you to a partner with the precise measurements that most appeal to you, and every twinkie your boyfriend eats is a cruel rebuke of the body to which you are entitled — his. Casually invite your boyfriend to the gym with you every day, and make sure every activity you suggest doing together involves a lot of physical exertion. He’ll never guess what you’re up to, because fat people are pretty dim. But who cares? It’s not like you’re with him for his intellect. He’ll simply see how much you value his commitment to exercise and become immediately enthusiastic about changing his situation accordingly.

Every twinkie your boyfriend eats is a cruel rebuke of the body to which you are entitled — his.
“I invited nine people for dinner, and I furnished and prepared the meal. Several of the guests sent me some form of thank-you. Hooray! What is puzzling me is that the respondents thanked me for hosting the event. In my mind, ‘hosting’ does not convey a reflection of my effort and expense. I could have ‘hosted’ a potluck dinner. Am I just out of step on this phraseology?”
— From “Miss Manners,” Washington Post, 18 June 2017

Gentle Reader,

Before we dispense with the advice, may the Bad Advisor just say that it is her delight and pleasure to respond to your inquiry? Finely crafted and delicately phrased, this letter must have taken many full minutes to compose. And such skill required! Everything from knowledge of the placement of keys upon a keyboard to the function of either the “enter” key or the meaning of a “send” button — and attendant proficiency with a computer mouse! It is a pleasure to correspond with a person of such unparalleled finesse. Truly you are an exceptional person, and for that, the Bad Advisor issues her most sincere appreciation.

To the issue at hand: For what conceivable reason does one arrange, prepare and serve a dinner to one’s friends other than to be thanked profusely and in detail afterward? (Please know that space limitations in this publication prevent the Bad Advisor from going into the amount of detail that a true and accurate description of your wondrous culinary achievements would require, and for that, the Bad Advisor is unendingly apologetic and seeks your most gracious and undeserved forgiveness.) Your guests may only be described as callous and ungrateful in the face of the grand and extraordinary experience which you provided for them. The least they could have done in recompense for your phenomenal exertion in meal preparation would have been to individually issue itemized lists of the behaviors and provisions for which they owe you a prodigious debt. Describing you as a host on a thank-you card is no thanks at all — nay, it is akin to flinging at you the most vicious and vile kind of epithet. You are most certainly not out of step, and you are owed the the very humblest of apologies for this unthinkable insult, the remedy of which you must assign the highest priority in your life.

“I recently attended a wedding after which the bride chose not to adopt her husband’s last name. After the wedding we met them for dinner. When they strolled up to the restaurant to meet us, I happily exclaimed, ‘Oh, here come Mr. and Mrs. Smith!’ after which I was quickly informed that I was wrong because the bride was keeping her maiden name. Abby, even if a woman goes by her maiden name, is it so wrong to refer to her as ‘the Mrs.’?”
— From “Stepped in It” via “Dear Abby,” SF Gate, 23 June 2017

Dear Stepped in It,

It is a sorry thing that this young bride continues to entertain fantasies about self-determination following the ceremony that absorbed her into the home and legal person of her husband. She may flinch and flail all she wants at being addressed by a name that is literally not hers, but you know the truth: Her marital status entitles you to call her whatever you want, including names that are not hers. There’s nothing wrong with knowingly and intentionally calling someone the wrong name as long as you’re doing it because they’re married. If this frivolous hussy rudely bristles in the future at being addressed by the name you have assigned to her against her express wishes, simply decline to address her in the first place and direct any conversation to her husband. After all, he is the only full human person in the relationship, anyway.

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