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May 2008

Dear Madrone,

I don't get why things are such a mess down my way. I mean the garbage doesn't get picked up regular, and the kids talk like they were raised by hoodlums, and they dress like slobs, even when their people make good money. I pay the guy to mow my lawn regular, not a shabby price, and he leaves the clippings, says it's good for the lawn, which it is not. And don't get me started about the price of everything else. It's higher than ever, and for what? I ask you, why don't we all just lay down and die?

Indignant, Springfield

Dear Indignant,
I agree with you completely, things were never as good as they've been, but look at it this way, compared to what's coming, this is a piece of cake. And as to your question, it's already taken care of, whether we lay down or not. So that should put your mind at ease!

God bless, Donna

Dear Madrone,
My uncle's first cousin Lou had two girls, they were lambs, but they never got married, who knows why. Well, my uncle's generation knows why, but they aren't telling. Anyhow, the older one decides she needs a baby, so she picks out a guy, does the thing, and gets a baby, Job over, she kisses Lothario good-bye, just like that. Everyone is fine with it in the family, the kid is a real doll face little boy that we all love to pieces. The younger sister meets a Romeo, falls head over heels, he turns out to be a rat with two other wives and a questionable credit rating. They both swear off men, buy a house in a nice development and mind their own business. No problem yet, but it's coming.

Here it is: When the kid gets big and wants to know the skinny on his family, should they tell him?

There is a big raging argument about it, and has caused dishes to fly at the Sunday barbecue. I myself almost lost an eye when a piece of china from the set my cousin bought in Okinawa when he was in the service because it was a deal cut my right eye lid. Thank God I was wearing my glasses. That's why I write to you about this family matter, the danger is not abating. And the kid is not getting any younger.

Your opinion has weight, and would be considered if I can get people to stop flinging the dinnerware. Should his mother tell him or what?

Duck and Cover, Redfern

Dear Duck,
You have a family with pizzazz, I like it. I think it's up to the mother, why break the first rule of family? People can express their opinions to her, if they want, just like, if they want, they can use electric cord hairdryers while taking a bubble bath. It's fun and convenient but dangerous.

Here are the options I see:

1 .Lie

Lying is a last resort, too much trouble to keep stories straight, and usually comes around to bite. However, it's a useful tool, I'm not saying never lie. (more on that later)

2. Tell the truth

Good option, but the kid needs to be old enough to understand the mechanics.

3. Fudge

Fudging is the best, but it takes a real artist to do it right.

Personally, I'd take a combination of fudging early on, then working up to the truth. But what do I know? Oh yeah! I know a lot, that's why you wrote me.

God bless, Donna

Dear Readers: About lying…Face it, sometimes it's a good thing to do. Whoever said honesty is the best policy never took a kid to see Santa at the mall, or praised my aunt Rennie's eggplant parmigiana because the she was so proud of it, and did it kill us to eat it? Especially when we knew she was on her last legs? Even though it tasted like eggplant? (The trick, by the way, to a good eggplant parmigiana is that it doesn't taste like it,) And those are the small ones. The BIG LIES, you really need a pair to pull those off. Like when your sweetie asks you a question about your past and you know the truth will make him stark raving mad, and there's no way of anyone but you knowing, since all other parties are either dead or in jail for life. Why would you tell? I never do.

.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pamela Bongiorno Monk is a full time faculty member of Penn State University, where she teaches creative writing, both fiction and non fiction. She pursues freelance writing, authoring plays and feature articles. She has broken nearly as many rules of family as she has enforced.

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