Not So Great Advice

Dear Abby gave great advice. Me, not so much.

Hi there, guys and dolls! Friday’s here, and that means it’s time for some great advice. Okay, maybe not great, given my track record, so let’s go with mediocre. My wish is that you are all living fantabulous lives, but if you need a help or have a dating dilemma, social situation or glamour glitch, please give me a dingle here on the blog or email me at and I’d be happy to clarify or confuse things for you further :-).

Now for this week’s letters:

Dear Barbara Jean,

Are office romances ever okay? I have my eye on a new junior executive who I’m sure will be going places.

Secretary Susie in Schenectady

Secretary and Junior Executive in action

Dear Susie,

Thanks for your letter! That’s a very good question that I’m sure many of us career girls contemplate on a daily basis. Your question actually clarifies a few very important points on the success of your pursuit. First off, make sure your prey (I mean, loving intended) is higher up the corporate ladder than you are. It’s always nice when he foots the bill, and coattails are nothing to sneeze at! It’s all fine and good to have a little slap and tickle with the mail boy in the supply closet (who doesn’t do that?), but for the truly serious, set your cap at a higher angle, which you’ve done. Also, be sure to arrange to capture him in a compromising situation, such as a photo of him in nothing more than your chiffon dressing gown with marabou trim. That way, if things go south, you always have a little leverage in the form of blackmail to fall back on. Toodles!

Dear Barbara Jean,

Wearing red lipstick, not looking like a hussy

My mother says that red lipstick makes girls look like hussies. What do you think?

Reserved Ruth in Rhode Island

Dear Ruth,

Now what’s wrong with looking like a hussy? I mean, there’s a girl who looks like she knows what she wants to get, and then there’s tramp (don’t go there). But to be honest, I think your mother’s a little behind the times and there’s nothing wrong with bringing a little color to your face. Try a subtle shade for daytime, and more dramatic for the evening. There’s nothing like leaving a little lipstick on his collar, if you know what I mean. Toodles!

Now that’s vivacious!

Dear Barbara Jean,

Is it okay to wear a bullet bra when seeking out new male companionship? Would that be considered false advertising?

Vivacious Vera from Vermont

Dear Vera,

Of course not! Nor would it be considered falsie advertising ;-). A gal needs to work her assets. I say if you’ve got it (real or purchased), flaunt it. As for the moment of truth down the road if you get a good catch (and that could be hours or days later, depending on your attraction, age and experience in such matters), make sure he’s suitably mesmerized by all of your charms before the big reveal. A important tip – be sure to understand how to carry yourself. No one wants to have an eye poked out (trust me, I’ve had the oddest things happen…another time). Happy Hunting!

Let him figure it out.

Dear Barbara Jean,

My husband is always complaining about what I make for dinner. He says he’s tired of the same old meatloaf and mashed potatoes routine and when I try to make something new, he says he doesn’t like it. Quite frankly I’m fed up. What do I do?

Grumpy Gus’ Gertie in Georgetown

Doesn’t he look happy doing this chore?

Dear Gertie,

For goodness sake, get him studying the books! Cook books, that is. Show Mr. Grumpy Gus what it’s like to try to keep him fed, watered and happy. Every time he grumbles, get him to make a list, get the grub and make the meal. A day or two of that and you should be back to marital bliss. Toodles!

Dear Barbara Jean,

This is what Olive is afraid of.

My children are at the age where they want to help out in the kitchen, but I am so concerned about it. You see, I like things just as they are, everything in its place and a place for everything. Plus, the children bring in all kinds of germs from the outside, including the ones that Lysol just can’t kill. What am I to do? 

Organized Olive in Orange County

Dear Olive,

First recipe the children should manage for Olive

For heaven’s sake, get those kids earning their keep! My goodness, I’m sure you are the perfect mother, always picking up after them, could eat off your floor, all those good things. But part of your job is to teach your children how to move out and run their own homes one day. I would let them at it, but first, introduce them to the martini shaker and get them to mix you some great “afternoon tea,” for your inverted triangle glass. That way, you’ll be pleasantly relaxed (okay, buzzed) while your charming children turn your kitchen upside down making some truly awful food. Then you can also teach them how to clean. Be sure to have the take out menus ready for the first few attempts.

Bon appetit, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

I am a recent divorcee just getting out in the dating scene. I’ve been shopping for some new dresses and found some darling ones. But what to choose? There’s so many fetching frocks out there, how do I choose just one? What would you do? Please help me with my dilemma.

Nervous Nellie in Newark

Dear Nellie,

Nellie should go for at least three

Good for you for getting back on that horse again! Maybe this time it’ll be a “Carousel of Love” rather than a pokey old “Marry go Round” ;-). Quite frankly, I don’t see your dilemma. I’d get two, maybe three, or more. If a budget is an issue, don’t let it be. Just remind your ex-husband that the sooner you get re-hitched, the less he has to pay in alimony over time. Let him cough up the investment for your future, just as you had to most likely choke down the excuse that his secretary’s lipstick on his collar that time was because she tripped and fell against him. Just guessing, but I’m kinda right, right?

Go out there and have a ball, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

A dramatic interpretation of Jill giving Pam the evil eye

Recently our neighbor Pam dropped 250 pounds by divorcing her husband of ten years and then dieting and exercising to get into tip-top hourglass shape. Now my husband and all of the other men are making eyes at her and she’s flirting right back. Please help me and my friends preserve our husbands from this vicious vixen. We don’t know what to do!

Jealous Jill from Jackson Hole

Dear Jill,

You and your friends should not despair for long. You know how they say to keep your friends close, but your enemies closer? Form a neighborhood watch with Pam. You know, all of you taking shifts, acting like you care, all the while inviting her over for coffee, drinks, etc. This way, someone will always know where she is, in the company of watchful women and be sure everyone plies her with all the fattening foods she loves. Encourage her to eat, keep up her strength, get through that nasty old divorce. Before long, she’ll be fat, dumpy and depressed, just where you want her to be. Simple

Have fun, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

I have a question about sack dresses. When do you think they should be worn? Day or evening? Formal/informal? Please advise.

Sagging Sally from St. Louis

Dear Sally,


Most sincerely, Barbara Jean

Tweedy sack dress hides a multitude of sins. Looks like the hat covers some minor hair crime, too.

PS – okay, on second thought (actually, after a huge lunch including the hot plate special with gravy and a generous slice of boston cream pie), I say ANYTIME! Let’s face it, sometimes even the extra rubber girdle just can’t suck it all in. If a man can’t handle a little mystery being cloaked under a sack, what good would he be in the sack? And honestly, these things matter!

Dear Barbara Jean,

I’m not feeling myself these days. I think the new divorcee down the street may be a witch and has cast a love spell over me. I can’t stand to be away from her. It’s like she has me in her clutches I can’t escape her beauty and charms. Please help!

Smitten Saul in Salem

Dear Saul,

Maybe Saul doesn’t really want the spell to be broken…

Well Saul, are you really sure you want to escape? Love Potion Number Nine can be pretty powerful stuff, but maybe you kind of like her? Here’s a thought – introduce her to your mother. I’m sure she’ll take one look at that little witch and she’ll snap that spell pronto.

Enjoy the spell, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

I don’t know what to do. I keep tripping over things and walking into walls. My doctor says I should wear glasses, but my mother says no man will make eyes at me if I do, let alone marry me to get out of her house. Awaiting your answer, this situation is getting painful, literally. Yesterday I hit a lamppost!

Just think Alice, this could be you in a few weeks!

Awkward Alice in Arkansas

Dear Alice,

For goodness sake, get yourself some glasses, get yourself a job and get out of your mother’s house. Then get yourself a handsome man by wearing those danged glasses so you can see him and make your own pass at him. Up to you if you want him to meet your mother.

Go get ‘em tiger, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

Meg, just before her husband got home

I am really in a pickle. My husband came home early and caught the door to door vacuum cleaner salesman ‘showing me his wares’ so to speak. Luckily, we were both still dressed, just engaged in a little ‘hose play’ you might say. Now my husband doesn’t trust me and stays around the house all day. He’s underfoot and I can’t get anything done. Not to mention having to explain the weekly visits from the pool boy, when we don’t have a swimming pool. Also, the washing machine repair man’s due to come by in a couple of days. As you can tell, having my husband around really puts a wrench in my social life. Barbara Jean, I don’t know what to do.

Mischievous Meg in Michigan

Dear Meg,

Bravo, darling! I have to hand it to you, you run a very efficient household, what with all the many help dropping by and doing their part. I agree that having your husband hovering just won’t do. And trust me, you don’t want those fickle salesmen and delivery boys to wander off. When the fresh divorcee from down the street learns that the pool boy has a vacant time slot, it’s hard to get him back. Trust me, I know from personal experience. I say call his office and get the lay of the land. Chances are there’s some little lass in the secretarial pool pining away for her own office ‘pool’ boy (aka, your husband, and don’t tell me you really care, missy, I’ve got the gist of your ‘home visits’), and once you anonymously put a bug in her ear to call him in for a ‘closed door meeting’, he’ll be back in the office again.

Love to help keep the marrieds happy, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

My mother is good friends with the class geek’s mother and they are always trying to set us up. He’s kind of goofy looking and in the after school robot and computron club. All he talks about is that one day we’ll all have these little tiny computers that do everything for us. He says they won’t be the size of a house or need to use ticker tape or punch cards. He and his friends will figure it out one day and be really rich because they’re really smart. Do you think he’s right or just kind of weird?

Not quite sure how they’ll shrink this down, but okay….

Confused Connie in Colorado

PS – He also says that he likes me almost as much as he likes computers and that his mother thinks I’m good for him, so he doesn’t mind me hanging around. I think that’s a compliment?

Dear Connie,

Hmm, interesting question. You know, I think he means well, and in the name of research, I had a scientist friend of mine help me out. He put your letter on punch cards and fed them into their state of the art, solid state logic machine. The answer was astounding (his words, not mine). The results indicate you should stay with your nice geek, in addition to my geek’s advice. He says that he too has heard that computers will be the wave of the future, and by golly, those who will get them to be pocket sized will be the richest men in the world.

Don’t forget me when you’re rolling in the dough, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

I don’t think Betty will be bored for long…

I feel like I’m in a rut. Everything feels like the same old, same old thing. I think I need to do something and call on your wonderful wisdom to help me. I’m feeling antsy and wonder should I change my hair or should I change my husband? What would you do?

Bored Betty in Boise

Dear Betty,

Let’s see. I think I’d change my hair first. It’s much less of a hassle and it’ll grow back if you don’t like it, whereas to get your husband back if you don’t like the other fish in the sea out there could be a lot of work. Plus, your problem could be changed in a two-part method – change your hair, then if your other half doesn’t notice or disapproves, then change him, too. You certainly won’t be bored then!

Here’s to shaking things up a bit, Barbara Jean

Who told Wanda about what?

Dear Barbara Jean,

I’ve just heard some unbelievable gossip in the neighborhood and I don’t know who knows about it and who doesn’t. Also, in this most delicate matter, I’m not sure who will side with whom. How do I know whom to tell and whom not to tell? It’s really too good to just keep to myself.

Wagging Wanda from Wichita

Dear Wanda,

Wow, now you’ve got me wondering and I don’t even know anyone in Wichita! I wish you would have told me, not that it would change the advice I’m going to give in any way whatsoever, I just want to know… Anyhoo, when you get together with any of your neighborhood gal pals, let them speak first, maybe they’ll be itching to spill it themselves. Watch for signs of ants in the pants behavior, fidgetyness, or that they outright tell you. If they sit there like clueless bumps on a log and don’t say anything, chances they don’t know anything (about that, or maybe they’re just dim bulbs all round, I don’t know your friends…). And what the heck, if the conversation’s boring, spill the beans and get the ball rolling. One big tip – whatever you do, don’t be the one to tell the parties involved by accident. I speak from experience. You’ll never be privy to the good gossip ever again, and that juicy secret you have on this particular misadventure will be nipped in the bud before you have enough time to fully enjoy the salacious dirt on this go round…

Don’t be the loose lips that sink this ship, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

No one wants to see this ad lying around as a hint…

Last year my husband bought me a new broom and dustpan for Christmas, so this year I left my magazine open on his chair, side of the bed and at the breakfast table turned to an ad for Evening in Paris perfume. This morning I noticed that he had turned the page to the vacuum cleaner ad and left it at my spot at the table when he left for work. What do you think that means?

Done and Dusted Darlene in Des Moines

Dear Darlene,

First of all, I’m a little shocked you stayed with him for another year after that smooth move. He must be good for something, I guess. Anyhoo, without continuing to cuss him in my head, I gave your situation some thought. My guess is that you may in fact be getting that vacuum cleaner. So this is what you do. Go out and get that perfume yourself, wrap it up and put it under the tree as a present to you from a secret Santa. Be sure to gush appropriately and then immediately rush from the room and pretend to make a lovey dovey phone call. If that doesn’t clog up the new Hoover, nothing will. Now, the next step is up to you. If he gets all flustery and turns into a real he-man, ‘fess up and you may have the most romantic holiday season ever (get my drift), or if he acts like nothing’s a miss, take that broom and dustpan and sweep him out to the curb, temporarily or permanently.

Have fun cleaning house, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

That kid can carry water, but not a tune…

Our church has a great Christmas pageant, complete with a chorus of little darling angels every year. The problem is the new girl in the neighborhood who joined the choir can’t sing, she basically just yells and belts out this terrible caterwauling. It is frightening the little ones, gets the nearby dogs yelping and has actually shattered a stained glass window pane. The minister has left it up to me as pageant director to deal with the situation. I tried to get her a different part, a non-singing one and her mother insists on her being in the choir. What do I do?

Frazzled Fran in Fresno

Dear Fran,

I understand your situation. It’s a church, you need to be charitable and let everyone take part and do their best. It ain’t Hollywood, it’s the local crowd. Talk to the minister and since he’s copping out and leaving you to deal with it, tell him to cough up out of the church funds for earplugs for the congregation. Have the ushers hand them out with the programs and tell everyone to place them in their ears when the new girl starts whaling. Let the dogs sing along and make snowflake patterns on the stained glass out of masking tape to help keep them in place. Don’t know if it’ll work, but it’ll at least look festive.

Stay tuned through the holidays, Barbara Jean

Some surprises are not welcome

Dear Barbara Jean,

My sister and her husband make me so mad. We never know whether their family are coming for Christmas or not. Every year, it’s the same thing. I ask her and she gives me a coy answer that doesn’t say anything. If I make room and food for them, they don’t show up, but if I don’t they’re right on the doorstep, last minute, expecting food, presents and accommodation. They show up with presents (for themselves, I might add, not for anyone else, mind you), park themselves in front of the tree and don’t move for days. As I’ve said, it’s my sister and mother says we are not to fight. What am I to do?

Miffed Margaret in Missoula

Dear Margaret,

The holidays can be a tricky time, can’t they? I agree that your sister sounds like a royal pain in the patoot. Here’s a suggestion. Why don’t you and yours play a little hide and seek on Christmas eve, right around the time they usually would show up. If you have kids, make it a little game and have everyone be nice and quiet in the bushes and watch to see if they show up to your empty house. If they do, wait patiently til they figure out that you’re not there and decide to mooch onto another family member, say maybe they’ll go to mother’s. Let her ‘not fight’ with them for a change. Then you don’t have to make extra food or bedding space for those fun, ‘just in casers’ and you get a quiet Christmas with your absolute nearest and dearest. And if they don’t show up, at least you got some fresh air.

Hoping you fix your sister’s little red wagon, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

My boss is being a real grinch for Christmas this year. He’s saying that no one can have time off at Christmas. So far, Bill in accounting is using the ‘heartbreak of psoriasis’ for his sick excuse, while Debbie in the typing pool has claimed the vague ‘women’s problems’ to get her time off. Do you think that ‘extreme halitosis’ would work to get me a week off?

Work Weary Wendy in Wenatchee

Dear Wendy,

Hmm, I don’t know. I mean, do you really want the stigma of really bad breath be the bane of the office gossip all next year? Also, I think you should also go for something a little more drastic. Why not say you have contracted a rare resurgence of the plague? If you have enough sick days banked, that may actually get you all of January off as well. Hola, Mexico! Shake a margarita and maraca for me!

Have a great rest, Barbara Jean

That’s a whole lot of expensive crap…

Dear Barbara Jean,

My spoiled brat of a nephew sent me a page out a toy catalog with everything circled and a crayoned note saying that his mother (my sister) told him that because I was a single working woman I could afford to get him all the toys on the page. All that stuff is expensive! There’s no way I could do that, or want to, for that matter. I am so steamed at my sister. What should I do?

Angry Annabelle in Alabama

Dear Annabelle,

Oh, relatives. Aren’t they fun? Here’s what I’d do. Pick one item that you want to get your gem of a nephew and tell him to be happy with that, also that there are poor kids around the world who would be happy just to have the catalog, so he better be grateful for what he gets. As for your sister, I believe a lump of coal is in order. 

Wishing you a Merry and Affordable Christmas, Barbara Jean

This is what Denise wishes would happen.

Dear Barbara Jean,

What is a girl to do? I have been dating Ralph for a long time now, and I really want this Christmas to be the one he proposes marriage to me. My mother and I have tried everything we could think of over the last six years, shy of father instigating a shotgun wedding (he won’t do it, doesn’t like even the threat of violence and honestly doesn’t think Ralph is worth it, even if I do). Father also thinks he’s a little slow and unmotivated, lacks initiative. Please advise as I’d like to be a Mrs. by June because I have found the perfect dress and I’d hate to see it go out of style…again.

Desperate Denise in Detroit

Dear Denise,

Hmm, you are aware of who you are asking, right? I’ve not been able to swindle a carry over the threshold myself yet, not for lack of trying. However, now that I think about it, definitely lack of suitable suitors. Too many schmoes, not enough goes…. Sorry, my lot, not yours. Back to your Ralph. I say take the bull by the horns and reign him in. And are you set on June? Why not holiday nuptials? Get everyone all together including the preacher, get him a suit, pick up your own ring and have your father stand guard at the door til the ceremony’s over and the dotted line signed. I’d do it quickly, before unwrapping presents before he realizes what is happening. Besides, if he likes you enough to stick around for six years, it ain’t just for your pot roast. Your lazy butted Ralph will get used to the idea, eventually. Why not let him settle in after the binding contract?

Happy trapping before the new year, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

My sister is always borrowing my sweaters, even when I ask her not to. She stretches them all out of shape. Her, um, assets, are more generous than mine. It’s not fair. What shall I do?

A likeness of sis, irritating Florrie, yet again

Dear Barbara Jean,

Flattened Florrie from Flagstaff

Dear Florrie,

Hmm, I’m not sure what to say here. I’m wondering if you’re miffed at your sister for the items she borrows or the fact that she fills out the role as sweater girl more completely? Let’s see – I vote you do those ‘must, must increase my bust’ exercises, stick in some falsies and buy bigger sweaters. Make her feel small and increase your ampleness (I don’t care if it’s not a word, I find it completely appropriate in this situation, so there) all at the same time.

Problem solved, Barbara Jean

Carly, just about to hit the road

Dear Barbara Jean,

My darling husband bought me a new car for Christmas. Now he wants to drive my car, because his car is all dented. Barbara Jean, the reason for the dents is because well, quite frankly, he’s a bad driver. How do I tell him he can’t drive my car?

Caring Carly in Carlsbad

Dear Carly,

Congratulations on your new wheels! He must be a very generous man. However, don’t let that stop you from protecting your new baby from the awkward man. Offer to drive him, saying you’re just enjoying your gift so much! Be subtle, kind, loving, in your approach to keep him from getting behind the wheel. However, if that doesn’t work and he persistently insists on driving, grab your keys and hit the road! Now that you’ve got the wedding ring to hock, set off in your new wheels for some new free-wheeling adventures. Don’t worry, in his beat up car he won’t be able to catch you.

Happy Travels, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

My husband has just informed me that he thinks we should have a big family, seven (he said SEVEN) children. Now I’m all for raising a family, but I meant one or two children. Not SEVEN. Barbara Jean, I’ve tried talking to him, but his head is in the clouds and he’s over the moon at having a large brood. What am I to do?

Overwhelmed Ophelia in Ohio

Dear Ophelia,

If he has these two space cadets in the crowd, that’s sure to change his desired total…

Yes, my gal pal, that’s a doozy. Of course, a large family sounds lovely for a man who doesn’t have to go through seven rounds of pregnancy and, let’s face it, no matter how modern your man thinks he is, the majority of diaper changes and runny noses. Here’s what you should do. Go to all of your mother friends who have young children in the neighborhood. Tell them to bring their kids over, that your husband would just love to babysit them all while you all go to the city for a little shopping and lunch. I guarantee that by the dessert course (which all of you richly deserve), he will have narrowed down his family planning scheme to your favorite number.

Here’s to fixing your husband, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

I wonder if you don’t mind helping me figure out what my problem is. I am having trouble in the romance department. I can’t seem to get a date. I feel like every time I ask a girl, she takes a good look at me, pauses and either shakes her head or laughs at me. Now I’m a clean cut fellow, I take pride in my appearance, including having my mother inspect me and using her tried and true hair cutting method on me that she had done since I was a child. She thinks I’m very handsome, so that can’t be it. What could it be?

Betty’s Bowl Cut Bob from Bakersfield

Dear Bob,

See Bob, if you go to a professional, you may get one of these spiffy results…

Oh boy, I think we have the problem right there. Mother Betty needs to use the kitchen supplies for something else and leave your head alone. One day, just before mother starts chasing after you with that cereal bowl again, pop into a barber’s and get yourself a grown-up hair cut. On your way home, stop and ask the first girl who strikes your fancy out on a date and see what happens. Then go home and fill all the bowls with candy, cereal, snacks, soup, goldfish, anything, so she can’t turn one over on you and cut your hair.

Always happy to help the lonely, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

I’m sick and tired of my boss messing up my files. I take great pride in keeping them neat and orderly and all he does is rummage through the cabinet, take out random pages and either never puts them back or just sticks them in whatever folder he pleases. I’ve stayed late so many times that my mother no longer keeps dinner hot for me and just leaves me a sandwich that has gone stale by time I make it home. What do I do?

Filing Felicity in Fernie

Dear Felicity,

Felicity needs to lighten up about her system

I understand that your filing job makes you felicitous (sorry, I couldn’t resist), and I respect the great care you take in your job. As I see it, you have a couple of options – one is that you keep the files under lock and key and only hand out what appropriate papers your boss needs, have him sign for the itemized list and give him the stern stink-eye so he knows you mean business. The other (and my personal favorite) is to just lighten up a little. Who cares? You just work for the company, you don’t own it – if your boss screws it up, make him find what he needs next time. He’s a big boy. And don’t stay late to clean up his mess. Remember – life first, filing second!

Here’s to filing your priorities accurately, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

My mother-in-law’s always dropping in unexpectedly all the time. She says she wants to check up on her boy and make sure I’m looking after him right. Barbara Jean, we’re newlyweds and her constant visits are cramping our style and it’s getting downright frustrating.

Ticked Off Trish in Tarzana

Dear Trish,

Wonder if Trish’s husband looks like this…

Hmm, you live in Tarzana? Well, that’s given me great inspiration for my answer. The next time your mother-in-law just happens to drop by, why don’t you have your husband answer in something a little daring, say a Tarzan loincloth? This will serve a couple of purposes – one, your mother-in-law will see for herself that her ‘boy’ has grown up to be your ‘man’ and hopefully will be appropriately embarrassed and two, you’ll have your young husband in a loincloth. That’s its own reward!

Have a vine swinging time, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

Here’s what Mabel saw

My boyfriend (whom love very much) has a great personality but lacks a little in strong stature. In fact, I don’t think he weighs even 100 pounds, sopping wet. Barbara Jean, I’m a mid-western farm girl with a hearty appetite and with big bones to boot. I need my man to muscle up! I saw this ad in a magazine lying around and wonder if it works. How do I get my little guy to see this and think it is his own great idea?

Muscular Mabel in Missouri

Dear Mabel,

Don’t we all want our men to think they come up with their own bright ideas? Sigh… Why don’t you find a copy of one of his favorite magazines (you know, like Scientific American or something egg-headed like that) and carefully glue the ad in the middle of it. Give him a day or two to see if he comes across it and takes action on his own. If he doesn’t, roll up the magazine, making sure that the ad is visible, whap him over the head with it (playfully, of course), and tell him it’s time for him to become a manly man.

Wishing you lotsa luck, Barbara Jean

One of enviable Irene’s holiday choices

Dear Barbara,

I am at a loss, my boyfriend Chuckie wants to take me on a tropical holiday to Miami, but my other boyfriend Derek wants to take me skiing in Colorado. I really like both of them and can’t decide who I should go with and where. Please advise.

Indecisive Irene in Indiana

Dear Irene,

Oh, if we could all have your problems! I say do both. Go for a week or two smooching on the slopes and then snuggling in the sand.

Wishing I had your life, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

Sarah’s mother – does she or doesn’t she?

I sure hope you can help. It seems to be that my mother is the talk of the town these days. All the neighborhood ladies are saying that my mother is cheating at Bridge. Actually, any and every card game going. It’s getting to be embarrassing, and I think they might be right. I mean, they haven’t proven anything yet, but they’re all talking about it, so there must be some truth in it then, right? What am I to do?

Suspicious Sarah in Stockport

Dear Sarah,

Hmm, you haven’t really told me what has you so embarrassed. The gossip or the cheating… If it’s the gossip, just get over it. There’s bound to be some floozy or boozy who will soon put some kind of toe out of line and they’ll be the new neighborhood fodder. If it’s the cheating, well, I’d say get over that, too. Who the heck doesn’t cheat at card games? Isn’t it just an excuse to sit around a table and drink with bad for you snack foods? I’d say relax and get your mother to give you a cut of the profits. Maybe she could teach you a thing or two about not getting caught with something up your sleeve.

Wishing you a successful bridge night, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

Somebody’s husband seduced by Mindy’s pie

We’ve got a serious problem in our little suburban neighborhood. Mindy, a recent divorcee in town, has been baking some indescribably delicious pies that none of the husbands can resist. All of us (from 82 year old Mabel to the 21 year old Tammy) have caught our husbands following their noses to the amazing fresh baked aromas coming from Mindy’s kitchen window. I have to admit her pies do taste great, but she says they have a secret special ingredient that she won’t share, saying it’s been handed down through generations. Barbara Jean, it’s driving us mad. How do we get her to tell us what it is that makes her pie taste so darn special? We’d like to get our husbands back, too.

Determined Deirdre in Detroit

Dear Deirdre,

Well. Are you sure that it’s the divorcee’s baked goods that are attracting the men and not a ‘pie’ of a different kind? I wonder. And then, on the other hand, do you all really want your husbands back? Might be an opportunity to play the field and let Mindy deal with all of their dirty socks, lazy behaviors and bad habits for a while. Be sure to really think about it….

Always one to keep the divorcees busy, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

Ack, help! I went to a new beauty salon to get a special ‘do for Valentine’s Day with my sweetheart. It was a disaster! The dryer overheated with the permanent wave solution and scorched my hair all off! And this was the year I thought he’d finally propose, too. What is a girl to do?

Burned up Belinda from Boston

Oh which will Belinda choose?

Dear Belinda,

Oh my, I do hope you weren’t hurt! You don’t say that you were, so I’m guessing that it’s not a permanent thing (other than the wave, or lack there of…). After you have your lawsuit started of course, go out and get yourself a fine and dandy wig. There’s so many fantabulous styles and colors out there, go ahead and live a little. Who knows? A new ‘do might get you to the ‘I do’ even faster!

Ready to throw the rice, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

The girl I love has accidentally booked herself to babysit her sister’s child on Valentine’s. And I had a special dinner all planned with candles, chocolates and flowers. Gee whiz, Barbara Jean, I’m upset. What do I do now?

Romantic Ronald in Reno

Dear Ronald,

Maybe this will be Ronald’s result…

Well, don’t you sound like a swell guy! I do wonder, though, how does any girl ‘accidentally’ volunteer to babysit on Valentine’s Day….hope she feels the same way about you. Oh well, maybe she’s just not very bright. I say, take the romantic plunge, Ronald and take the date to her sister’s house. Wait til she has the little gaffer settled down and show up and turn on the charm.

Wishing you Valentine Smooches, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

I have fallen madly in love with a Mountie in Moose Jaw. However, my widowed mother is miffed that I moved away from Missouri for the prospect of matrimony with Monty. Barbara Jean, I think this is the real thing. How do I make my mother more merry about me marrying miles away from her?

Smitten Sally in Saskatchewan

Dear Sally,

Marvelous Mountie Monty from Moose Jaw

Congratulations on making Mountie Monty your man in matrimony. Why, those rugged men of the north are a treasure to behold (and hold as well). Tell your mother to mind her own business. Maybe your Monty can get your mother one for her too, because as we all know, the Mounties know how to get their man!

Happy hunting, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

Rita and I have been assigned to work together on projects at the office. The problem is that I do all the work while she stands around pretending to look busy. Then when the report is done she hands it in and says she did all the work! Now the bosses are singing praises and hinting at a raise for her while I get tsk, tsks and frowns. What’s a girl to do?

Ticked Tillie in Tacoma

Notice Rita pretending to do research at the files
while Tillie is working away…

Dear Tillie,

This is an easy one. Next time do two reports hand in your own that you did a really good job on before she has a chance to get her gammy mitts on it. Then whip off a really crappy one and have Rita hand that one in, as usual (I’m sure she doesn’t look at them anyway). Repeat as necessary until she gets fired.

Congratulations in advance for your raise, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

I am fed up with my husband’s practical jokes, especially when he uses to trick our children. Last week he scared little Jimmy so badly that wouldn’t come out of the closet all night and poor little Suzie won’t go near any of her frilly dresses because she’s worried that Daddy put itching powder in all of them, again. What’s a wife to do?

Exasperated Edith in Enderby

Dear Edith,

This is how you could make practical joker Daddy behave…

I agree, your husband needs to be taken down a notch or two. Here’s an idea to fix his little red wagon! Get a hold of some rubber knives and possibly rope. Get the kids to surprise your husband when he comes home from work one day, even tie him up in a chair with that length of rope if you have to (don’t be surprised if you enjoy doing that, they say it’s perfectly normal for married couples, so I’m told…) . Do not untie him until he agrees not to play jokes on the family again. Agree to a truce and go out for ice cream.

Keeping families happy, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

My husband is the director of our little amateur theater group’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire and I think I would make the perfect Blanche DuBois, but he wants to cast Marcy, the neighborhood divorcee. How do I make him give me the part?

Thespian Teresa in Toluca

Teresa and her husband before she got my advice

Dear Teresa,

Here’s what you do: Study the part and on the night of the first performance tell Marcy that there is a Hollywood agent scouting around and somebody needs to take him out for a drink. Watch Marcy’s dust as she skitters out the door to play hostess. Then get into costume and save the show.

Break a leg, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

I think the produce man at our local green grocer is delicious, but I don’t think he’s ever noticed me. What can I do to get him to see me as more than just another grocery gal shopper?

Get a load of this gorgeous green grocer!

Longing Loretta in Laredo

Dear Loretta,

Oh, I know your problem. Some of those grocery guys are gorgeous! Why not strike up a conversation about his stock in trade? Pick up a pair of peaches and ask him if he thinks yours are ripe you may, at that point, invite to give them a squeeze. If he needs further encouragement ask him if he thinks the melons are ripe. Finally, you may need to resort to asking him if he has a banana (yes, I do mean just one). If at that point you have not secured a dinner invitation, he is either not yet ripe for the picking or he may prefer a different type of produce than you can provide, such as a cucumber or zucchini ( you’re a bright girl I think you can figure that one out).

Have fun fondling, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

I saw this darling dress that my mother and I thought would be perfect for my Spring social. Father, on the other hand, insists on coming shopping with us and whenever he sees the price tag for anything I like, he immediately says that it is too expensive and doesn’t let mother buy it for me. Barbara Jean, I really, really, really want this dress how do I get him to say “yes” to the dress?

After Yolanda and her mother are done with father
this tag will be a sight for sore eyes.

Yearning Yolanda in Yuba City

Dear Yolanda,

This one is a cinch! Get your mother to take you to the most expensive and glamorous dress stores in town and try on the skimpiest and most expensive dresses you can find. Let your father get an eyeful of those high price tags and revealing designs. While he is still in shock, take him to the store where your darling dress is and I’ll guarantee he’ll have no problem seeing your choice as sensible and smart for his young lady.

Helping you learn how to wrap your father around your little finger, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

The Pageant of the Car Parts…

My boyfriend’s a mechanic and he and his car buddies held a beauty pageant. To my surprise, I did not win (I ran as Miss Fan Belt). I later found out (much to my dismay) that he had cast the deciding vote to Miss Body and Fender (personally, I’d like to know how she got that vote….). What should I do? Should I look the other way, or should I tell him to make tracks and burn rubber?

Disgusted Deirdre in Detroit

Dear Deirdre,

Well, I’m not surprised that Miss Body and Fender took the honors. With a name like that, obviously referring not only to the “auto” body, but also her own chassis, I quite frankly think she worked those mechanics over. My suggestion? Ditch the greaser and get a doctor. Maybe use your “Fan Belt” to snap one like him into line.

Enjoy the richer pastures, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

That’s got to be Fanny’s niece…

My sister promised my annoying and naughty niece that I would buy all of her Girl Guide cookies. Now I’m stuck with a bill and 400 boxes of the darned things. Barbara Jean, I’m on a diet and with summer right around the corner, how the heck am I going to get in shape for my new polka dot bikini?

Fleeced Fanny in Forest Hills

Dear Fanny,

Well, get out there and peddle those biscuits to your friends and neighbors, sister. The Girl Guides are an admirable upstanding group, even if your niece isn’t very nice. And say, whatever you have left, why not wing a couple of boxes my way? Think of it as payment for my helpful advice.

Thanks for the snacks, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

Time for Vera to stick it to her husband

My husband is now spending plenty of time at home and quite frankly, he’s getting underfoot. Literally. He is following me around, making what he thinks are friendly, loving ‘suggestions’ (the man does not know what he is talking about). He has an idea about how I can do practically everything better, including darning his socks. What’s a wife to do?

Vexed Vera in Vail

Dear Vera,

Get him to put his so-called ‘expertise’ to work. Give him a long list of all the things you do on a daily basis (even if you have to make up a few, as if he would know the difference) and leave him to do them. Now go out, grab a girlfriend and make a day of it lunching and shopping. Be prepared to see the mess he has made of your well run house, but at least you’ve had a reprieve.

Good luck straightening what he’s screwed up, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

I am shocked and aghast to find out that my children have been running a gambling marble game in the back yard for money! I did not raise them to behave in such a manner. How do I handle this?

Embarrassed Edna in Ellensburg

Dear Edna,

Edna’s little extortionists look a little like this

Well, I have to admit that I would be admiring your enterprising children if what they were doing wasn’t illegal extortion. First of all, I guess get them to stop and then if they can figure out who they took money from, get them to give it back to their patrons. If they can’t figure it out, buy all the kids in the neighborhood ice creams except your own little fleecers. If there’s any left, use it to pay for a club house for the neighborhood, and make your kids unpaid janitors of the facility.

Fixing one little red wagon at a time, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

That thing must look something like this

My mother-in-law bought me the most hideous hat for Easter. The gol-darned thing is made of straw and huge gaudy flowers, even has a spot to put a live animal in it. (I’m not joking. I think she hates me.) She has said that she can’t wait to see me in it on the holiday weekend, all weekend, all Easter. What’s a good daughter-in-law to do?

Appalled Abigail in Arizona

Dear Abigail,

Hmm, in-law relations are a very tricky thing. She may very well hate you (taking away your son from her and all), or she might really be thinking she’s doing something nice for you and just has horrible taste (that hat sounds, um, well, bad). You say it has a spot for a live animal? Well, why not get the chicken, rabbit, goat, whatever you are supposed to wear in it early and leave it alone with that animal for a minute or two. It’s bound to eat or destroy it (I wouldn’t worry about it getting ill, pets get into stuff like that all the time, it’s fiber for them) in record time. Then get yourself something cute and natty – something like a pillbox with a veil, pink or purple pastel, very Eastery and with no room for a critter. Then when you see her, you can explain how this happened all of a sudden and if she’s nice about it, let it go. If she gets pouty and bratty, then give her the chicken, rabbit , goat, whatever as her present for Easter.

Solving your holiday problems, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

My neighbor is this old geezer who always has to comment over our fence whenever I’m out in the yard. He makes these suggestive jokes and leers at me and I don’t like it. It gives me the willies. I told my husband and he doesn’t take it seriously. He laughs it off and tells me I should be flattered. I think the man is just lonely, I don’t think he means anything harmful, but I still don’t like it.

Here he is again…

Perturbed Patty in Pittsburg

Dear Patty,

Oh, I know the type. Don’t those “funny guys” get your goat (see letter above, goats seem to be a theme this week…)? And no, he probably doesn’t mean any harm, but they are annoying. I hate when I have to do that “get along smile and nod” just to keep peace in the neighborhood. How about this? The next time the old timer leers, play it up strong, go up to him, touch his collar, play his bluff and see what he does. Chances are he’ll get all flustered and back down, never to bother you again. Then again, if he gets worse, you’re close enough to give him a good swift knee to the you know where and that’ll move him up an octave and out of his range. Either way he’ll be fixed.

Enjoy playing in your own backyard, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

Maybe Kitty really is that good….

We all suspect that the new girl in our office,”Kitty” (if that’s her real name), lied about her credentials to get a cushy executive secretary job in our office! We were shocked! Who lies at work, especially to get a good job like that? How else would a girl just jump in like that without doing her time in any of the office pools? I’ll bet she doesn’t even know how to take a phone call, let alone a letter. None of the men are complaining and say she does a fine job. Now, we don’t have any proof exactly, but Myrna from the typing pool swears that Myron from accounting saw her just last week, performing at a gentleman’s club, and she certainly was not sporting a steno pad and pencil, if you catch my drift. How to we catch her out and expose her for the fraud we are pretty sure she is?

Offended Olga in Oregon

Dear Olga,

You know, I read your letter twice, and then again. Are you sure there’s just not a lot of sour grapes floating around? How many of you are in this lynch mob anyway? I say, leave the girl alone, or better yet, find out exactly how she hurdled past the rest of you office steeple chasers and maybe you’ll learn a thing or two. Maybe Myron’s wrong (doubt it would be the first time…) and if she is lying, maybe she can teach you a thing or two on how to get ahead in business without even trying (I believe that has been done a time or two…).

Good luck making friends and promotions, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

Cathy looking catty…

My parents have grounded me for no good reason! I really haven’t done anything wrong, well, nothing that the average teenage girl hasn’t done. Now I have to stay at home, either inside or no further than the bottom step. All of my friends are having fun, going to parties, happenings and other swell shindigs. What’s a girl like me to do?

Careless Cathy in Carson City

Dear Cathy,

Hmm, I wonder what you did, exactly. I’ve heard what kind of hellions you new teenagers can be and what you get up to (just between you and me, I might be a teeny bit jealous, I love to raise a roof or two myself). I’ll bet whatever you did, you deserved a little time in parental custody (and it was probably worth it). Here’s a tip for the future, always remember to cover your tracks. It may take extra work, but if you want to get away with something, make sure you’ve left no trace.

Don’t ask me for bail money because I’ve already spent it, Barbara Jean

Keep your letters coming! I love to help or hinder any way I can.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts. And don’t forget to give my Poppy Cove Mysteries a try if you haven’t already.

Toodles, Barbara Jean