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Summer 2010

Dear Madrone,
When is it ok to butt in? My neighbor down the block has a brother whose son is a no good lying two face ratfink SOB. And I mean no disrespect to the rest of two face ratfinks, who tell the truth and are legit. Whatever. This guy is a complete waste. And he married a sweetie pie, who has no clue that he is sleeping around with UPS delivery lady, this week! Last week it was the cheerleading coach, and the month before that, the sister of the wife he's making a fool of. Everyone knows, except the wife. And everyone says, butt out. No one will take pity. Should I?

Concerned

Dear Concerned,
No good answer for that, because whatever you do, the guy will still be a stinker. I'd tell, but I'd understand that there is a 90% chance (which for all you brainiacs out there, means 9 times out of ten) that YOU will not be thanked. In fact, you will be forever the one who is attached to the truth, and by attachment I mean an ugly wart that sprouts hairs will be plastered on the middle of your forehead everytime the wife looks at you. She won't be able to help it. Now you could say, why does she have to know it's me? Well she doesn't, you could go that way, but then you'd see the wart when you looked in the mirror. Oh it will be there ok.

Now if you don't tell, no wart, but a no good lying two face ratfink SOB has turned you into a doormat. So you can't even look in the mirror, unless it goes down to the floor, like at the shoe store.

God Bless

PS- 9 times out of 10, the wife knows very well what's going on, and doesn't that tell you something???

******

Readers. it's the summer and barbecue season is in full blast. Nothing like that! But dangers lurk, and you need to be prepared for when your brother in law asks you for five grand to tide him over, or you get taken over by the need to express your actual thoughts about the red flowered muumuu your mother's cousin bought for you on her trip to the islands and you never wore because it made you look like the tent of a very happy circus.
So here's some advice to help you through...

When is it OK to say no to family? I have news for you. It's never ok. When family asks you for something you must give or be ready to take heat. So, Madrone, you ask me, does that mean I have to be a doormat for my cousin Joe Schmoe who asks me for a ride every day to work and never offers gas money. I'm on the hook for the dead beat? No, not exactly. All I'm saying is that when you lay down the law, and say, pay up you cheapskate, you will be the bad guy, not Joe Schmoe. It doesn't mean that you have to be walked over, it's just that no one will pat you on the back for it. If you think people are going to pin a rose on you, you're in for a surprise. You may be right, but that's not going to stop anyone from giving you the hairy eyeball as the next Sunday barbecue.

-- On the other side of the plate, It's really important to remember that when you ask family for something NO MATTER WHAT, it's going to be bad if they tell you no. Even if you're a jerk for asking, even if they don't have what you ask for, even if they've given to you a hundred times before. That no is going to stand between you forever. People don't understand even the simplest things sometime. "What's the worst that could happen?'you ask. Ha! There are so many worsts..here's just one.

My brother in law knew a guy. This guy was a no good, a dead beat, and he was into the bookies for mucho moolah. Now the guy had a younger brother of his own, who was pretty well heeled, mostly because he worked like a dog and saved his pennies, and the wife did too. They had a nice house and a couple of kids who were clean and smart. The no good always went to the brother for cash when the heat got too hot, and the brother always gave. Until one day, when the debt in question was caused by the no good taking a nice trip to the old country on a credit card he did not deserve. This was the last straw, the brother said no. Enough. What happened? The mother, who had mostly kept out of it, blamed the younger brother when the no good got worked over by a disappointed gentlemen. Pointed the finger at them, at a family dinner, which started a screaming fight between the younger brother and his wife later than night when the wife made noises about the nerve of his mother (Breaking the biggest rule, really not a good thing to do) which resulted in a pot of sauce being thrown though a window, and landing on a poodle that had been walking by, and breaking its leg, which was a very bad thing as this dog had a pedigree out the wazoo, and was ruined by the incident, which resulted in a nasty lawsuit that the poodle won and put the younger brother in the poorhouse, without a wife, who left, with kids, married a guy with even more money and no brothers.

SO it's very bad to put family in a position where that could happen, and it happens all the time, every minute,just like that world population counter at Penn Station in the city.

.

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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