Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 15, 2005 12:00 PM
Carolyn took your questions and comments about her current advice column and any other questions you might have about the strange train we call life. Her answers may appear online or in an upcoming column.
Appearing every Wednesday and Friday in The Washington Post Style section and in Sunday Source, Tell Me About It Bæfers readers advice based on the experiences of someone who's been there -- really recently. Carolyn Hax is a 30-something repatriated New Englander with a liberal arts degree and a lot of opinions and that's about it, really, when you get right down to it. Oh, and the shoes. A lot of shoes.
Mail can be directed to Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The transcript follows.
Capitol Hill, Washingotn, D.C.: Hi Carolyn, I love your column and think your advice is always so thoughtful. I'm having a hard time dealing with some personal/relationship issues right now, have decided I'm probably depressed, and want to get help. What should my first step be? How do I decide between a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, etc.? I feel weird just finding someone in my health plan and making a cold call, without knowing anything about them. How do I go about finding someone I'll feel comfortable talking with? Thanks!
Carolyn Hax: If you like your regular doc, you can start there, with a diagnosis, conversation and referral. You can also see if your employer offers an Employee Assistance Plan for situations just like yours. You call a confidential number to discuss your problem with someone, and that someone directs you to an affiliate provider (psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker), who then meets with you (usually free, for up to X sessions) to discuss your problem, and then recommends a course of treatment. That discussion can include what type of therapist would be best for your circumstances, along with some names you can call.
Vienna, Va.: I am a person who is usually on time, mostly early, to everything. for some reason I get anxious if I am going to be late. However, my girlfriend is habitually late, something always comes up. Any recomendations on how to deal with this developing problem? I'm sure it cant be too uncommon. Thanks.
Carolyn Hax: The people who make conflicts like this work are, in my experience, the ones who accept that this is the way both of you are and so you have to work around each other. E.g., if you want your GF to be on time, build her normal tardiness margin into your plans--tell her to meet you at X for something that starts at X:30.
Of course some people have a problem with that in principle, and it's understandable--you end up having to lie, whcih sucks, to compensate for someone who is behaving disrespectfully by always being late, which sucks. So the prompt one essentially takes both hits with the so-called compromise. However, if you've decided you love your girlfriend completely and understand that the lateness is part of who she is, then a little clock manipulation will seem like a small price to pay. Theoretically.
Just wondering: Do you ever see a question and think, "Well, actually, there is NO solution to this problem?"
Carolyn Hax: About every third question. It's a bummer.
Washington, D.C.: I just secured a great new job, and while I love 95 percent of my work, there is an element that has me worried. Public speaking was briefly mentioned in the job description, but it never came up in the interview and I didn't offer up my reputation as World's Worst Public Speaker (I seize up and get sweaty palms just thinking about standing behind a podium). For several days I have lived in fear of being sent to address a conference next week; I just found out this morning that it won't happen. While I feel lucky to have dodged this bullet, I know that this is something I need to conquer to be successful in my new job. Any suggestions from you, or the peanuts?
Carolyn Hax: I'm going to lean hard on the legumes for this one, since I have absolutely no specifics to offer except that if I were you I'd enroll in a reputable public speaking program today.
Trying to derail my diet on purpose!: One of my coworkers knows I am trying to lose weight. I made the mistake of mentioning to her that my willpower is not very strong when it comes to chocolate. So now, a few times a week she says stuff to me like "wouldn't you like a candy bar right, now?" Always with a sugary smile on her face. What is up with this type of nastiness? This woman clearly has some problems and seems very unhappy, but I don't know why she thinks it gives her license to try and make others feel bad.
Carolyn Hax: "Why are you trying to make me feel bad?" Call her out. Monsters hate daylight.
Condoms and Such: Hi,
Love your advice! Here's one for you and the nuts.
I was dating a man and the physical side of things was proceeding along their natural course. This bring the couple to a discussion about safe sex and condom use. Man can't (refuses?) to use them and I am shocked speechless. I had never come across this situation before. Man seemed to think this was normal and I was the one with trust issues. Needless to that was the end of things and I'm quite clear I dodged a bullet. However, I am left curious -- do men really do this and do women go along with it?!
Have a great weekend!
Carolyn Hax: For every person who does bleepy things there is someone who agrees to go along with them. All you can do is try not to be either of these people.
For the public speaker: Find a Toastmaster's chapter! And if they force you to speak, find another one where you won't be pressured (because that will only make you feel worse)...
Carolyn Hax: Thanks!
Boulder, Colo.: For the poster scared of public speaking. Try Toastmasters. I've not used them, but know many who did and enjoyed it.
washingtonpost.com: There's also the "Just Do It" school of thought. I used to be the same way, but I found that the more I do it, the less scary it has become. You may just surprise yourself.
Carolyn Hax: I'm with Liz on this one--tho while fear is no longer the issue, I still hate it.
Public Speaking: You're not alone in being afraid to speak in public. I'd discuss this your new employers, find out what kinds of presentations and how much you're going to do. Maybe they will even send you to a class or something like that.
Carolyn Hax: I went back and forth on suggesting this, but now seeing the way you phrased it, I'm not sure why I hesitated. Thanks.
Speechless: I'm sure you'll get a thousand responsese that say "Join Toastmasters!" which I would definitely second. I'd also like to suggest practicing in low key ways. Volunteer to read to children at a local school or library. Volunteer to read to the elderly at a nursing home, and once you are comfortable with an individual, ask him/her if you can practice presenting your what-sit to them. He/she can give you great feedback, and you'd also be establishing a great friendship. Last thought: see your doctor for meds for the day-of that will supress your physical response so that you can work on your mental response. Because once that physical response kicks in, it's game-over buddy. Good luck!
Carolyn Hax: Great suggestions, thank you. Though I think presenting your whatsit to people can get you arrested in some jurisdictions.
Neither Here Nor There: If you want to be friends with an ex, is it always necessary to cut off contact for a while? Ex and I were together for a year and split a few weeks ago. We were friends first and still like each other as people. But as a couple, we were incompatible -- too much fighting, not enough enjoying. We ended things amicably and had a week of radio silence.
Since then, we've had phone calls and instant messenger conversations, and we've chatted briefly when we run into each other, but decided not to have in-person alone time. On the up side: Every time we talk, I remember why we're not good as a couple. On the down side: Sometimes we talk about missing each other. Obviously, we're not Just Friends yet, but we're not going to restart the relationship either.
Do we need to stop talking until the numbness sinks in, or is it okay to keep pining a little as we try to segue back into friendship? I'm 20, if it matters.
Carolyn Hax: If you and your ex had kids or, um, say, worked together full-time, cutting off contact would be a luxury you couldn't afford--so there's no general "need to" with a question like this. You just figure out what works for you, usually by tripping over a few things that don't work for you first.
Springfield, Ill.: Any advice on dealing with parents (who think pointing out differences in opinion equals disrespect) who constantly tell you that they are disappointed in you because you didn't turn out the way they wanted?
Carolyn Hax: Less time with your parents, coupled with less hope that they'll ever give you the satisfaction of a pat on the back. Start by reducing each a little bit, and then a little more if they're still getting to you, and a little more, etc. Let go gradually and find your proper distance that way, since it's harder to do it in reverse--ie by cutting off contact/giving up on them and then trying to work your way back in.
Diet: "wouldn't you like a candy bar right, now?"
Wow, that spoiled my appetite. Thanks.
Carolyn Hax: Didn't it? People can be just awful.
Washington, D.C.: I've had some tough blows lately, the kinds of things that lead friends and even slight acquaintances to offer sympathy and help. My style was to tough it out, which earned me great praise for strength, dignity, blah blah blah. Trouble is that now that everyone has moved on, assured that I am just fine, I am starting to crumble. Seems too late to ask for support and frankly I don't want to lose all those strength and dignity points.
Yes, I am in therapy -- just started. Did I do adversity wrong? Is it too late to correct?
Carolyn Hax: There's no "wrong," you did what you felt you needed to do. Now you're seeing that you needed to do something else, and so you're doing something else. Yay. It may not feel like a rousing success story but you're actually succeeding wildly at something so many people struggle with--listening to themselves, and taking action. Not as easy as it sounds.
As for the specifics, it's not too late, and the dignity points don't mean anything if they're obtained through falsely brave pretenses. You'll rack up genuine dignity points if you choose to confide in one or two of your close friends that you may have underestimated your strength and suddenly find yourself feeling all crumbly and in need of someone to lean on. That takes guts.
Therapy vs. Psychiatry: Dear Carolyn,
My boyfriend has all the signs of General Anxiety Disorder. He has anxiety attacks a few times a week that sometimes wake him up at night. They're generally connected to an irrational fear that he's crazy, but sometimes come out of nowhere. He can trace them back to his best friend's suicide three years ago. After a year in therapy, he's beginning to get frustrated by his lack of progress and is considering asking for anti-anxiety medication. His therapist is discouraging him from doing this (she's not a psychiatrist and can't prescribe it anyway), telling him that if he takes medication he'll never get to the root of his problems and therefore never really fix them. He doesn't know what to do and I don't know what to tell him. Any advice from you or the peanuts?
Carolyn Hax: The specifics of this disorder and its treatment are beyond my ken, but for all things serious and health-related, any responsible course of action involves a second opinion. Not just on the medication idea, in this case, but on the length and direction of treatment in general. He can start with a call to local branches of a couple of the major professional organizations, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Assn, to name two, to request names of members who specialize in treating anxiety. Then he can talk about what he and his therapist have been doing, what he feels they have and haven't accomplished, what mnedication would do, etc.
Kansas City, KS: You're pretty fast at addressing questions online. (And thorough, I might add). How long does it take you to write a column?
Carolyn Hax: Two hours to two days, depending on the subject matter and the severity of mental blockage.
I'm really just posting this because you're the first person who ever said I was fast. (Pretty, even!)
Some City: My therapist and I had an interesting discussion at my last session, and I wanted to throw a question out to you and the 'nuts based on the discussion. She says that if one person in a marriage wants some alone time, they should be able to tell the other person, "I'm going to the mall now because I need to have some alone time to think about things/clear my head/whatever." While I agree that in theory this would be nice, I know that if I said this to my husband or he said this to me, the other would have a small freak-out that something was wrong. Do most people in healthy relationships feel comfortable saying this to their spouse? I know when my husband needs alone time, because he'll go out (to the bookstore or whatever) and won't invite me along. And I do the same if I need alone time, and I think he understands as well. Is this as unhealthy as my therapist makes it seem? What do we need to be so naked/honest with each other all the time when it could be perceived in a hurtful way (e.g., I'd rather be alone than with you right now)?
Carolyn Hax: See, your parenthetical says it all. Why do you automatically pair alone time with the pejorative, "I'd rather not be with YOU"? It doesn't have to have anything to do with you at all. It can be, "I'd rather not be with anyone," or a much more positive, "I'd like to be with my own thoughts." And so, yes, I think it is part of a healthy relationship to be able to ask explicitly for alone time, because being healthy means you don't automatically internalize your partner's fundamental, human need as an automatic rejection of you. It's just a fundamental human need, which you gladly grant.
Unless it's on your anniversary or birthday, in which case any explicit requests ought to be accompanied by a delicate explanation and a lot of jewelry.
Anchorage, Alaska: I'm on a diet, too. I've lost 33 pounds so far since January, so it's now big secret that I'm dieting. I have people say things like that to me, too. (Why do people behave that way?) I just tell them "I'd love one. But I won't."
On the flip side, I've also had people make comments when I treat myself to a doughnut on Fridays.
Carolyn Hax: As if that weren't bad enough, consider that all these people probably feel they've done you a favor.
And they wonder why we're all reaching for doughnuts.
Congratulations on your progress, btw.
Somewhere out there: I'm engaged, we have been dating for several years, living together for almost three. He drinks, to me, a lot. In the past month or so it has really been bothering me. The questions "can I live with this forever?" keeps running through my mind, since I know I can't expect or force him to change. Of course, he has every excuse in the book. I'm a non-drinker, so sometimes I question as to if it is "normal" and if I really am overreacting. I'm making a counseling appointment for us. Any other thoughts as to what to do, and how to figure out the answer to the "forever" question? I know I need to answer it, but how on earth do you figure that out? (side note, he is a very happy drunk, never angry, never violent, its just the drunk part that bothers me)
Carolyn Hax: I think the "forever" question will get a lot easier to answer if you get some help with the "normal" question. A good site for that is http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/
Alcohol-abuse guidelines tend to be written conservatively, for obvious reasons, but I don't think you need to be a drinker to have a reasonable grasp of what people who drink can be like. Presumably you have others in your life (friends, family members, coworkers) who have collectively provided you with a range of normal to work from. That and the NIAAA info and the counseling will put your judgment on some strong footing. From there, you just need to be strong. Good luck.
Albuquerque, N.M.: Any update on the sleep-deprived mom from last week? I've been sending her all my calm-baby vibes.
Carolyn Hax: Nope. Either I wasn't helpful, or she's asleep at her keyboard and still hasn't opened my email.
Alone time: I think the reason this may come off as threatening to a partner is if you've never expressed that need before. If you've been together for a few years and suddenly for the first time say, "I just need to be alone for a little while," that can only seem uncharacteristic and worrisome, no matter how normal the desire. Maybe it is in the phrasing, ("I just need some down time" or "I need a dose of my own company for a moment") but I think it's also necessary to make this part of a relationship that both parties understand and use from the start.
Carolyn Hax: I agree, thank you, except with the "necessary" part. It is something you can introduce later on, it has to be, but it just requires a bit of explaining. E.g., "I've always been this way, but I've also always been afraid to say something because I thought it might hurt your feelings. Now I see that I should have just trusted you and been honest from the start."
Since we all really talk like this.
Re: Washington, D.C., poster: I am on the other end of this -- have a friend who was dealt some tough blows, assured everyone he was fine, joked a lot about it, etc. But he's obviously not OK, not the way he used to be anyway. I'm not sure if he's in therapy or not. But is there any way to gently broach this, or do I have to wait for him to come to me if he need someone to lean on? I should probably note that we're not as close as we used to be before all of this occurred, so I'm not sure if its my place anymore. But I'm worried about him.
Carolyn Hax: I'd start just by being present in his life, without pressing him to talk--maybe by offering to bring dinner over, to take him out to lunch or a ballgame, whatever. Then if it comes to pass that he wants to lean on someone, you'll be right there, instead of out in the sea of faraway "call me if you need me" people who (in his mind at least) may or may not have meant it.
Rockville, Md.: My husband constantly refers to pants as "pantaloons," to the point where he refers to the guy who lives in a pineapple under the sea as "SpongeBob SquarePantaloons." I'm scared. Should I divorce him?
Carolyn Hax: That's not what he's called?
Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: Hi Carolyn,
Would you please give me your thoughts on trust and forgiveness?
I've been working hard on forgiving my father, but none of that work has translated into trusting him. Trusting him seems foolhardy, at best, yet some keep telling me I won't have fully forgiven him until I also trust him. Unloading the anger and pain is all to the good, but trusting him seems like an invitation for more.
Your thoughts would be most welcome.
Carolyn Hax: I don't see, at all, where forgiving is shackled to trusting. You can forgive a person for, say, molesting you as a child without handing over your firstborn. Holy head injury, Batman. Sorry your advisers have let you down, and I'm sorry that has translated into a heavier burden on you. Set the burden down, you have done enough.
Re: drinker's girlfriend: Please, run in the opposite direction. In graduate school I had a bf who regularly drank until he passed out. Drunk or not, he was pleasant and charming, but it was always clear that the alcohol came first and I came second. It's one thing to be addicted to cigarettes, Starbucks, or really nice shoes. These don't alter your consciousness like drugs or alcohol do. Please, your conscious, subconscious, and instincts are talking to you--you -must- listen to yourself.
Carolyn Hax: Thanks. (Though please note that lung cancer, coffee breath and pointless consumer debt are forces to be reckoned with unto themselves.)
Pants?: I call them trousers.
Carolyn Hax: But does an overheated dog pantaloon or trouser to cool himself off? That's when I'd worry.
Sand Castle, New England: Dear Carolyn, Hi. We rely on you. Thanks for being here for us.
So, a year ago today, I made a committment to myself to stay with my husband until today. I gave him a year to see if he would do what he promised last year after my many attempts to get him into marriage counseling and weekly dates, etc. I told him and he laughed because a year was so long to change and he would have no problem. He has done almost nothing -- almost no household chores, no counselors, a few dates, personal estrangement like having nothing to say and no kisses. I have tried in our relationship and reminded him several times of our goals and tried to ask him out, etc.
But he is a combination of offended that I am holding us to this and also quite sure he can be reconnecting with me and have everything be okay with no real change, like not even a counselor, although he has called several in the last 24 hours.
The problem is that talking to him in the dark last night it came over me that I have no real hope of him changing, even if he does something this week, and I also realized that I am strongly attached to him but also completely fed up because of his lack of committment to changing. He admits the problems, says he's done nothing but is sure that now that we've had this talk we can suddenly understand and work things out. Ever since we got married years ago he's copped out on his word on a number of things. It's bad with him the way he is -- unreliable in some ways, insulting as a strategy -- which he did admit last night and say sorry and he doesn't know why he does it.
Should I give him longer, which is what he wants? Although he really wants to change nothing himself because he's not "so bad" but says if I "just don't do" certain things (like even ask about something he promised) he could handle things better. Is it fair to say I have to be perfect by his constantly changing standards before he needs to be nice? And how can we discuss and rely on goals and promises? It feels harsh on him to go and harsh on me to stay... it's almost too hard to imagine what staying with him without changing would feel like as I've been soothing myself with "only a few more months left;" yet in some way it feels so so good to talk to him and have him be loving, it's what I've wanted all along.
What should I do? And do I have to do it all at once? I left him once years ago for similar but less bad reasons and went back because he needed me, and for a while until I realized how he wasn't trying I was really happy to be back. I don't trust myself -- I don't feel confident in acting on my year plan but I think it is a big chunk of time to have not met promises -- I can't think how things got to this point, I was just trying to be a good guy. And I don't feel confident in my ability to have a fair mature relationship... even when I can kinda tell it's not true, I always feel as if I've being too hard on him and I can fix everything by giving up stuff and making more effort. Which works, short term, but the price has gotten higher. It's gotten like a farce -- I even told him some special sand from a local beach we'd been on with a note from him would be a fine birthday present for me and he couldn't even get the few grains of sand.
Carolyn Hax: Such a short answer to such a long question might feel like an implied slap, but it's not, it's just short: Counseling (for you) and a trial separation. You need to clear your head before you make any final decisions.
And, you also need to start backing up your words. Your husband isn't taking you seriously because so far he hasn't had to--you said yourself he's copped out on his word a number of times, and with what consequences? He's still the same and you're still there. This time you said a year, but he knew you didn't mean it, more than even you knew. Did you mean it? Then prove it. If you didn't, then stop saying these things.
Counseling, for you. And if you mean to keep your commitment, then trial separation.
Austin, Tex. (YEE HAW!): First of all, let's get the kudos out of the way -- notwithstanding the fact that I really don't know you, you are the second coolest person in those United States after my wife. You do a very good job with this column.
I need a refresher course on when to offer unsolicited advice. I have a younger brother that needs guidance on various life matters. He just got back to work at a $10/hour job after 18 months of unemployment. His wife quit her job two months before he was laid off, so for a few months her father was slipping them cash to make ends meet. She's been working for the last year as a teacher, so they are keeping afloat though her dad doesn't hesitate to give his opinion on their financial state. I assume he feels he's entitled to do so since he's paid his price of admission to this... play.
With that as a backdrop I do a fairly good job of biting my tongue regarding some of their escapades (e.g., he turned down a $8/hour job at one point because unemployment paid better, and there was that trip to Las Vegas while they were both unemployed because they had already paid for air and hotel). Taking my halo off for a second, I am thinking on a regular basis, "How can you be so stupid?" I wouldn't deny this attitude doesn't bleed into our conversations.
What's prompting this question to you is they have decided to move back home -- she has a teaching position back at the hometown high school, he has a good opportunity for a $20/hour job in an area where cost of living is cheap -- and are fearful that they own more on their house than they can sell it for (they put virtually no equity into the house), and I have heard on the family grapevine that they have some credit card debt as well. Thus the other family rumor is they are considering filing for bankruptcy. I have suggested credit counseling, but they had some friends that were burned by some unscrupulous credit counselors so they dismiss this as an option.
We talk on a regular basis, but he doesn't cross the line of actually asking for advice. On the one had I'm on the verge of finally yelling the stupid question, but on the other I tell myself they are both in their early 30s and this is a helluva learning experience. Please advise me mistress of wisdom.
Carolyn Hax: Thanks! I think. Mistress of wisdom, not the first person you want to invite to your parties.
Certainly you don't want the stupid question to bust out of the corral. You can ask, though, when he's mid-complaint-stream, whether he's interested in hearing your advice--especially if you add that you'll respect his wishes if he says no. Then if he says yes, you can go judiciously to town.
But before you do, you might want to arm yourself with something concrete to say, or else you'll just be using 1,000 flowery words to cushion the stupid question. Find a reputable credit counselor and have the number and bona fides ready; talk to someone about the up and down sides of bankruptcy (especially since the law either has changed or is soon changing or a change is being debated ... OKAY so I don't follow the news like I used to); banish any opinions on actions already taken, especially if the Vegas tickets were nonrefundable. You can't take control of his judgment, so the best you can do is supply him with sturdy resources.
Re: Sandcastle: Over and over Sandcastle said she wants her husband to change.
She needs to understand that there is no leverage in the world that is strong enough for one person to change another person. Attempting to make over the other person in the relationship in an attempt to find happiness is the most futile, useless thing you can ever attempt to do.
The only person who you can surely, absolutely, positively change is yourself. Sandcastle needs to stop looking at her husband and believing that if she can change him, she will be happy. She needs to start looking at herself as the one who needs to change and who can change, and to understand that her husband (whether he changes or not) is not responsible for her happiness. She is.
Been there, done that and know it can be done.
Carolyn Hax: Thanks. I say it so many times I forget how many times it needs to be said.
It's Summer!;: So can we have a designated chat equivalent to a Bacon Pants chat? Like a wedding chat (okay, those questions can get serious) or a shoe chat? We need more than one a year!;
Carolyn Hax: Actually, I think a wedding chat would be perfect for that, since the serious questions about weddings are part of the problem with weddings. Let me think about it.
Shoes, no. Their beauty is in their resistance to ideas, intrigue, intelligence, or anything else worth discussing.
I'm a downer:: So, my BF just told me I suck the life out of him, drag him down, am the most negative person he's ever known, being with me makes him miserable, and he doesn't want my overbearing unhappiness in his life. But if I change, he'd want that person. I had no idea I'm such a downer, and actually, I don't think I am. What's a succubus to do?
Carolyn Hax: This is for anyone who's ever complained about getting an, "It's not you, it's me." Wow.
I guess the succubus has to retrace her steps, pretty closely and pretty far back, to see if Tact Man has a legitimate point, or if you need to have a celebration in honor of chasing this jerk from your life, by whatever means.
Like most things I imagine it's a combination of the two--say, you complain a lot and he tends to exaggerate--but in that combination I also imagine you can find something constructive.
There are people who are relentlessly negative, we all run across them all the time, and while they might not be unhappy themselves there is a water-torture-like effect in receiving bad news, dire predictions, and traffic stories in a steady supply uncut by optimism. My guess is it's habit that has these people reaching for bad news when they're bored and there's a lull in conversation, just like they'd reach for a bag of chips when they're bored and they feel vaguely hungry. If that's true, and if you see yourself in this, then it's something a little perspective change (courtesy of Sr. Tact) and willpower can fix.
That is, assuming you feel you're genreally happy. If there's any chance you're depressed, then it's not a habitual-Eeyore thing and you need to take seriously the possibility that you might need treatment. www.depression-screening.org, and/or talk to your doctor.
Re: Forgiveness: I read this definition of forgiveness: Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past.
Accepting that something has happened and moving forward can be healthy and it benefits person doing the forgiving. It doesn't absolve the forgivee of wrong doing. And it doesn't make them worthy of trust.
Carolyn Hax: Whoever said it, well said. Thanks for passing it along.
Washington, D.C., re Bacon Pants?: What on earth is a "Bacon Pants Chat?'
Carolyn Hax: You must be new here. Check out the archives, early December ... how many years back? Five?
Boston, Mass.: Re: For the poster scared of public speaking. Try Toastmasters.
I don't understand how making toast is going to help. Can you help me out?
Carolyn Hax: The fresh-toast aroma is a non-prescription beta-blocker.
Pantaloons: But you didn't answer the original question. The answer is of course yes, divorce him.
Carolyn Hax: Right. Duh. Sorry.
Britches?: Sponge Bob Square Britches has a nice ring to it, too.
washingtonpost.com: I'm for "Sponge Bob Square Slacks" myself.
Carolyn Hax: Just the excuse to leave I was looking for. Thanks everybodies and type to you next week.
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