Sunday, November 25, 2007

Since you asked...

Everyone wants advice. I don't mean from me (because what sort of disturbed mind would do such a thing?) but generally speaking.

Most of us, I think, would like somebody to tell us what we should do every so often, to point us in the right direction or even to tell us what we want to hear. I'm a terrible one for it because I just don't trust my own reasoning (and with good cause, I assure you). When I have a problem I can't stop talking about it - friends learn to avoid me and run screaming into the night when I get a certain questioning glint in my eye. I beg you not to pity me too much when I confess that I once sent in a question to the (oh Christ, wait for it) Belle and Sebastian Q&A website while at an all time time low over a certain problem last year and my inability to decide what to do(incidently the truly delicious and sweet Stevie replied to my post and a very intellligent answer it was too - I took his advice).

For these reasons I love reading advice columns but I find that I hate most of the advice. It's predictable, it's judgy-judgy and it's dull. Enter Cary Tennis, Salon blogger, and the advice-giver I wish I had in my life. How can you not like a man who opens his reply to a woman who fears she has become an alcoholic like this:

"Thank you for your concise and beautifully detailed letter. I sense that it took some courage and focus to put things so clearly. Your letter is a reminder why many people who do not particularly care for my own writing style read the column anyway: They read it for the letters..."
I love Cary because he doesn't do the obvious. But he also doesn't do controversial for controversy's sake. I love him because he frequently rambles, goes off on a tangent or admits that he's cut out huge chunks of his "mostly boring" reply. I love him because he seems genuinely interested in helping the people who write into him - there's no mugging for the cameras, if you know what I mean. He's like the friend you invite to the pub when you're thinking about dumping your partner, or the first person you call when you've just been dumped. I love him because he can say something like this...

"I am not even remotely qualified to diagnose people psychologically. But I will say that it crossed my mind that you might be one of the estimated 4 percent of Americans who are sociopaths..."
... and still come off as sweetly concerned and caring. I love him because reading his column - the letters and his answers - never fail to make me feel better about my own lot, to help me appreciate what I do (and don't) have, and to satisfyingly stick my nose into the business of strangers.

All of the above is, of course, why you should all be reading him too...

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