Bad Advice On Not-Dead Dogs And Married Flings

Welcome to the first installment of our weekly Bad Advice column! Stay tuned every Tuesday for more terrible guidance.

“I live in an apartment complex geared toward young adults (college students looking for a quieter environment, grad students, young professionals, and a few young families). Last year, the young woman across the hall lost both her parents in a freak accident, and her little brothers were sent across the country to live with family. She already had one (admittedly very well-behaved and well-trained) dog, but she took in both of her parents’ dogs. There is a two-dog limit that I was informed was ‘strictly enforced,’ but she apparently appealed for special permission given the circumstances and received it because one of the dogs is ‘elderly.’ I feel bad for her circumstances, but it’s been a year and she still has three dogs, so apparently the ‘elderly’ one wasn’t so old after all. She seems to be a responsible pet owner, but I think it’s unfair that she’s had three dogs and will for the foreseeable future. I think she used everyone’s pity for her family tragedy to get around the rules. Would it be wrong of me to complain to management?”
— From ‘A Few Paws Too Many,’ via Dear Prudence, Slate, 23 August 2016

Dear ‘A few paws too many,’

Life can be unpredictably cruel, but little compares to the unimaginable trauma of waking up every morning, as you undoubtedly do, and remembering, as you undoubtedly must, that your neighbor owns three dogs when the rules of your apartment complex clearly say that people may only own two dogs.

Worse, one of those extra dogs was supposed to have died already. What indescribable sadness must flood your heart when you hear the clitter-clatter of aging canine paws tippy-tap down the hallway for the twice-daily walk for which the dog has the goddamned gall to be alive. This dog’s heartlessness astounds, but it is, after all, only a dog. The real blame lies with its owner, who failed to ensure that the animal did not shuffle off its mortal, be-kibbled coil in a manner consistent with the arbitrary operational policies of your shared landlord.

And for this, you endure a kind of pain few have experienced before, or will since, while your neighbor — who, it must be remembered, has failed in her duty to orchestrate the demise of an animal whose continued daily existence puts her in violation of rules — gets to bask in the knowledge that her parents are dead and her siblings have been removed to a remote locale.

Consider that there may be one positive to come out of your ordeal. One of the great mysteries of existence is why bad things happen to good people, but in your case, we know the answer: so that your neighbor could sidestep the pet allowance in her rental agreement.


“Should stepchildren and their offspring be recorded in your family Bible?”
— From “Keeper of the Family Bible,” via Dear Abby, 23 August 2016

Dear Keeper of the Family Bible,

By no means! Stepchildren and their offspring should be recorded with light scratching on the back of the barn, with the rusty nail traditionally reserved for the purpose.


“Dear E. Jean: Recently my friends and I flew to Vegas to celebrate my twenty-third birthday. While we were drinking and dancing, I met a guy. We hit it off right away. I went back to his hotel, and one thing led to another. The next day we hung out at the hotel pool, sipping cocktails, strolling, just talking about life. Everything felt so good! I really thought he was the one!
The day after that, we made a plan to meet in L.A. I dropped him off at the airport, and we both flew back to our respective homes — me to Denver, him to L.A. Twenty-four hours later, I got a call on my cell. I didn’t recognize the number, picked it up anyway, and it was his wife! She told me they’d been married 10 years and that they have three kids, ages four, two, and six months. I felt so guilty! But my gut told me to listen to his side of the story, so I called him.
He said that their marriage was on the rocks, that he was sleeping in the basement, and he promised he was about to be separated. His confession brought us closer, and I immediately flew to L.A. It was wonderful! Unfortunately, his wife found out and called me, furious, saying that I was still trying to see her husband! I was shocked. I told her I was sorry, but I was there for emotional support because they were splitting up. This made her even angrier, because apparently he had told her he couldn’t prevent me from trying to contact him.
I see that what he’s doing is wrong, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to be with him. He makes me happy! I make him happy! But he broke things off last Monday. He said he ‘must put the family first.’ I hope they don’t work out and we end up together. Is this wrong of me? I want to text him or call him. What do I do? — We Have Such a Connection!”
— From “We Have Such A Connection!” via Ask E. Jean, Elle, 26 August 2016

Dear We Have Such a Connection!,

Girl, you have such a connection! The kind of connection you can only make with the special kind of man who actively lies to multiple people at once in an effort to sidestep experiencing the cruel and unfair consequences of behavior that puts other people, including small children, at emotional and financial risk.

But girl, your connection! It is so strong! So strong that this man, with whom you have such a strong connection, is making open and affirmative attempts to sever that strong-ass connection. That’s how strong your connection is! So, so strong!

The only way to maintain this strong connection is to strengthen it by doing what’s worked so well for you in the past: trusting your infallible gut, which has never let you down. It has, for example, gotten you good and hollered at by the wife of a man who you traveled hundreds of miles to clandestinely fuck after he gave you the great news that he was definitely splitting up with the wife with whom he has not, as yet, split up and from whom he has said he does not intend to split up. And not only did this uppity and presumptuous woman holler at you, she made the shocking — SHOCKING — allegation that your decision to fly hundreds of miles to visit her husband was in fact an indication that you were trying to see him! You cannot even with people who come up with nonsensical ideas such as drawing the conclusion that traveling to see someone is an indication of a desire to see them.

Girl, what a connection you have with a man who has said he is not interested in continuing a relationship with you but sadly just can’t do anything about whether you contact him or the family with whom he is ostensibly attempting to reconcile, just in case either you or his wife fall through. I mean, he can’t control what anyone does, least of all himself.

Look, he makes you happy and you make him happy, and that’s all that matters, that you two are a couple of happy, lovelorn kids in a topsy-turvy world that doesn’t understand the strong connection you have over whether this man may or may not leave the wife and family he has said he was definitely going to leave or not leave. The only way to get an answer? Call or text him, girl! He will definitely tell you something that may or may not be what you and/or his wife or children want to hear!


Lead image: flickr/Matt Deavenport

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