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Bullshit Not Only Walks, But Tangos
One of the many e-mails I answer that don't make it into my column. First the original, fresh from trailer-town -- although the writer would surely be the last to know:

Hello,

I am a single 20 year old mother and 2 years ago I dated a man 20+ years older than myself. He wasn't married, he didn't have an estranged wife, or even a girlfriend. He was just significantly older than me. The public reaction to our relationship was incredible, no one approved. Least of all my mother who I believe had a crush on him at the time.

After a few months I broke up with him. Not because I saw anything wrong with him (to this day he was the best boyfriend I ever had) but I couldn't take the disapproval. It seemed as if everyone judged by the age difference that he was taking advantage of this young sweet innocent little lamb of a girl. 18 I was, but inexperienced little innocent looking for a father figure I was not!

I would be railed upon for hours about how I shouldn't be with this man, "He'll cheat on you", "He's taking advantage of you", "He will get you pregnant and leave you", etc, etc, etc. Worst case scenario scare tactics to get me away from him. They worked in the sense that I got tired of all the shit getting flung at me and broke up with him.

Almost immediately I took up with a fellow my age that met with public approval and guess what? I got pregnant and he left me. (Not a big concern, I have a stable career, resources, and I am more than capable of raising my daughter. Unlike many mothers my age I am not working 9-5 at a McBurger to provide for my child. As disappointing as the situation is, a deadbeat dad isn't the blow to my life that it would be to others. I count my blessings often.)

Funny how no one batted an eye lash when this went down but were outraged and my simply being with an older man!

Well, time goes by and since we run in the same social circles we began to spend time together again. After testing the waters, we found that we are still interested in one another. Because of the public response to our relationship last time we have been seeing each other secretly. It's not frequent, but I enjoy the time I spend with him.

As much as I HATE the term, the best way to describe the relationship is "friends with benefits". Uggg, I wish there was another way I could put that. I am not interested in seriously dating anyone, although everyone around me is eager to see me dive headfirst into the dating pool. I enjoy what we have. I am not chomping at the bit to get married and I don't see any reason to go from jackass boyfriend to jackass boyfriend at this point in my life. I have someone I am comfortable with and care about. He treats me with respect and seems to care for me as well. And, yes, I enjoy sleeping with him from time to time. No longer term pressure just......this. And as long as no one knows, no one can give a shit.

I guess I just want someone to confirm that this is OK. I'm happy with this. I begin to wonder after a while that there is something wrong with me that I see this kind of situation so differently for everyone else around me.

Thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings. I pray that some of this makes some kind of sense. Writing is not my strong suit.

- The Sadder but Wiser Girl?

PS - While it is a secret now (god forbid) someone may find out one day, and I can't help but wonder how it would be best handled. I wouldn't want to make the same mistake twice and give up something I consider good for me simply because it doesn't fly well with the popularity polls. Not that I plan to tell anyone at all, but luck favors the prepared.
Next, a letter from some guy she apparently showed her e-mail to me before or after sending it:
Dear Ms. Alkon,

I wrestled with whether to write this letter to you, but out of concern for accuracy and fear that you might not be able to smell the bullsh*t surrounding the letter to which I refer, you might inadvertently give advice that could be the launch-point for further disaster for one of your advice seekers.

I am a close and long-term friend of a young girl/woman (and her family) who just wrote a letter to you, basically asking for your permission to date an “older man”. She let me read the letter before she sent it to you and I was amazed at how she related what she considered to be the facts surrounding her question. Maybe I am mistaken and you or your people would have been able to discern the truth between her lines all by yourselves, but I feel compelled to walk you through. I cannot bear to see this girl and her family go through more insanity “supported” by an advice columnist’s unenlightened recommendations. I will take on “Sadder But Wiser Girl’s” misrepresentations point by point.

The “20+ years older” man is in fact 27 years older than she is. He was not only living with the mother of his two little children at the time he seduced “Sadder But Wiser Girl”, but introduced what turned out to be his common-law wife to everyone as his wife. So as far as everyone knew, he was married. After many years together, Mr. Older Man only just moved into a separate apartment last month. It should be noted that Mr. Older Man offered his services to SBWG’s mother as a “carpool dad” 3 years ago when “SBWG” was only (newly) 17 and living at home with her mother. That is how he wormed his way into position to groom this young girl.

SBWG ‘s mother was extremely upset when she found out that he had been sneaking her out of the house late at night to have sex at a local public building to which he had after hours access. It was not because her mother “had a crush on him” (not sure who came up with that one). SBWG’s mother was upset because this man revealed himself to be an untrustworthy sleaze-bag. The truth is, he is a 47 year old alcoholic. He works in a casino on the outskirts of town. He has a long history of preying on young, just barely legal girls. Probably because actual adult women smell his crap a mile away and will have nothing to do with him.

After a few weeks, HE broke it off with HER. He was sniffing around another young thing at the time and lost interest in SBWG. SBWG was devastated and rebounded into a relationship with a random young man whom she paraded in front of Mr. Older Man trying to make him jealous. He wasn’t. SBWG got pregnant by this random young man almost immediately (within 6 weeks). Yet another illustration that this girl is not making good decisions.

SBWG states that “no one batted an eye lash when all this went down”. That could not have been further from the truth. This situation caused quite a high-Richter shake up in many lives within her circle of family and friends. The fact that she is so incredibly disconnected from the monumental amount of effort that it has taken for every one to adjust to and support her through the situation is appalling. She received no small amount of financial, emotional and material assistance from everyone who knew her, especially her long-suffering mother whom she often derides behind her back while asking her for favors even now.

The baby’s father did not leave her. She left him, because Mr. Older Man suddenly decided he wanted to sleep with her again.

SBWG is Not in a stable career. She has had 8 jobs in the last 18 months or so. Taco Bell and Wal-Mart were two of them. She is presently on probation at her current job because she is behaving so irresponsibly. The only reason she hasn’t been fired yet is because the managers are worried for her baby’s welfare. She doesn’t have a car anymore because she neglected basic maintenance and blew the engine. She lives rent free with her baby’s father’s parents who took her in because she lost her subsidized apartment though her own actions and they were worried, again, for the baby’s welfare. SBWG is amazingly immature and despite her proclamations that she is “more than capable of raising her daughter”, she clearly is not. I’ll spare you the messy list of reasons why.

SBWG did not “run in the same circles” as Mr. Older Man. She had to actively insert herself into his circle and, more importantly, between him and the newest 19-20 year old he was recently dating/sleeping with. I doubt that this new girl is aware of SBWG and Mr. Older Man’s rekindled relationship-on-the-sneak.

“Friends with benefits” means she listens to a lot of Alanis Morrisette. It also means that Mr. Older Man has convinced her that for him to be able to have sex with her while he stays otherwise available to “scope and scout for fresh new trout” is the height of a sophisticated adult relationship. He does not treat her with respect.

Bottom line is SBWG is living in a warped dream world. This whole situation between SBWG and Mr. Older man has created several lifetimes of rotten karma to work out. Lots of pain. Lots of loss for her distraught but caring family (and for SBWG too but she is too young to be aware of it yet). She is still adolescent and wants what she wants no matter what chaos it causes for her, her family and friends, and now for her little baby daughter. Everyone is worried about the baby.

I can’t imagine how it is to have a job dispensing advice to people you don’t know. I would be so reticent to write what might seem an appropriate response to a situation as it is presented, for fear that some unstable personality would use it as fodder for an argument to do (or keep doing) something destructively stupid.

Anyway, I will let you do your job now. Thank you for letting me say my peace.

A Tired Friend

My response, which I copied to both of them:

I smelled the bullshit the moment I read that she was having her kid as an unwed mother at 20.

I don't want kids, and I've always been pretty mature and responsible, and even if I wanted them I wouldn't have been ready to have them until I was in my late 30s. At least I acknowlege that.

This girl has terrible self-esteem issues and the commensurate lack of personal values and has no business having a kid. She needs to focus on her kid and not take up with any men.

This child didn't ask to be born -- she owes it a life. A pity you need a license to cut hair and only working ovaries to have a child.

A book for her to read -- The Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem -- although in suggesting it I feel a bit like I'm throwing an eyedropper of water on a forest fire. She should also look up bbhonline.org -- to find a program near her to help her figure out how to parent.

Running around with older men while working at the likes of Taco Bell isn't parenting. Women who behave like this would do the best thing, I believe, in giving their children up for adoption to people who are capable of parenting. This is the ultimate act of selfishness on her part.

"Almost immediately I took up with a fellow my age that met with public approval and guess what? I got pregnant and he left me."

Horrifying. Birth control anyone? Planned parenting? We'll be thanking this chick when we're being carjacked by her child because she was too busy attending to her needs to parent.

Note to SBWG: There are plenty of loving, infertile couples out there. Give the kid up instead of fucking them up. The ability to spread your legs and shit out a baby isn't parenting. Far from it.

Posted by aalkon at August 9, 2006 7:56 AM

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Comments

Amy, perhaps you can shed some light on this question for me...why is it that I can't walk into a doctor's office at 21 and ask to be sterilized? I'm fully aware of the ramifications of that decision and I have the money to pay for it. Nope, I get told I'm not old enough, can't make that decision, will have to wait until I have had a child, etc., BUT I could go out tonight, have unprotected sex with a stranger, and be left with a child that is no less of a permanent consequence than getting sterilized would be. Of course, getting sterilized really only affects me, while having a child without being able to provide for it would not only affect myself and the child, but my family, and quite possibly your tax rates. Logic, please?

Posted by: amh18057 at August 9, 2006 8:23 AM

Because we live in a country in which women are infantilized -- and because it's also a country filled with people who have all these primitive beliefs in god, which they enforce on the rest of us.

For years, I've been able to walk into pharmacies in France and buy the morning after pill, aspirin with codeine, and all sorts of stuff -- over the counter.

I looked into getting sterilized a few years back, but I didn't want to take the risk (of going into early menopause, etc.) so I ended up not doing it. But, even in my late 30s they treated me like a girl who might be doing something her mommy wouldn't approve of.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 9, 2006 8:32 AM

Because your doctor doesn't want to get sued if you change your mind later.

However I understand how you feel - I finally got my long-awaited Essure procedure when I was 34. Childfree women who wanted tubals used to have to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Funny, I think any woman nutty enough to want kids should get evaluated.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at August 9, 2006 8:34 AM

Amy, you say your bullshit detector went off immediately when you read the original letter. Mine did, too. It absolutely reads like a fake. The words used, the rhythm, the length, are far too mature and clearheaded for a girl/woman in the situation she describes. How do you determine whether they're real or not?"

Posted by: Elementary at August 9, 2006 8:44 AM

I'm running out the door, so I'll be brief, but check out "20 year old" and "stable career." What 20 year old even has a "career"?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 9, 2006 9:21 AM

Wow...any response from either of those two yet?

Her letter is just...I can't even describe it, but I like the way Elementary put it. It reminds me of people who put on facades so others won't notice they're sociopaths.

Posted by: Brenda at August 9, 2006 9:39 AM

It is interesting that Tired Friend uses the words "he had been sneaking her out of the house" etc. How do you sneak someone else out of their own house? SBWG was old enough to know what she was doing, and while the older guy might be a sleaze, it's time for her family and friends to stop blaming him for SBWG's actions. SHE was sneaking HERSELF out of the house at night, and they need to start holding her accountable for her stupid decisions. Which means they have to quit bailing her out!

At 20 years of age, she SHOULD be old enough to understand the connection between actions and their consequences. If she doesn't, maybe her concerned mother should be asking herself why she raised her daughter to be such a rock-stupid halfwit.

Okay, I'm just grumpy because why does it seem like the dumbest people have to breed so much?

Posted by: Pirate Jo at August 9, 2006 9:41 AM

Just came home to more bullshit from the girl:

Dear Ms. Alkon, Thank you thank you thank you. And please feel free to forward this email to that "friend" if you see fit. This will probably seem a little odd but please bear with me while I explain.

That email you forwarded a copy of was not a "friend" as she claimed but my mother, if you hadn't guessed already. (Biological mother by the way, I was raised by my foster mother, her sister, my aunt) I didn't show the email to a single solitary soul before I sent it to you. She has been sneaking into my email accounts and going through my letters.

My mother is a meddlesome and off balance woman. We have our issues but I have tried to keep her in my life but at a distance and out of any of my personal affairs. She is my mother and as much as I may not like her and the stunts she pulls, I still love her.

I have to say now; my request for advice was false. The scenario that I wrote out to you was made up to bait my mother. I suspected my mother had been snooping through my email for months now. Little tidbits of information here and there turned up in conversations with her that she couldn't have known. But there was never enough for a founded accusation. I was confused as to why she would feel the need to go through my personal correspondences.

I wanted to make sure I caught her red-handed. Otherwise she would simply play it off as a viscous attack towards her, "Why would I say something like that about her and why didn't I trust her?" Now I'll trust her on the day pigs fly around my ass in parade formation.

So, I started to write emails with false information, to see if she would respond. See if the misinformation made it back to me through the grapevine.

I didn't expect to be forwarded the email she sent, I thought she would try and confront me after reading something like this. But anyway, this is what I needed. I know once and for all that the simple fact of me being her daughter isn't enough for her to be honest and up front with me. She feels the need to invade my privacy and slander me to absolute strangers in the name of a grudge now almost two years old. I was fooling myself to think that I was exempt from the stunts she pulled with all other family members as well as her friends. It's not as if she hasn't done this kind of thing before. Whenever she feels she has been wronged in anyway she likes to exact revenge. For example, she did this kind of thing to her ex husband a few years ago. After their divorce she used to read his email several times a day to keep an eye on him. She even created several false profiles with online dating sites she knew he frequented to mess with him. The bit she takes the most pride in was how she got him to go to an expensive hotel in the next state to meet with a "woman" she created, just to stand him up. She saw herself as, and this is a direct quote, "An Agent of Karma". Is this just slightly childish and maybe a little immature? Now, I am not defending her ex, he was a total sleaze. But that was underhanded, sneaky, manipulative, and only proved that she was no better than him in the long run.

When angry with me she has gone to the point of calling my work raging, telling anyone who would listen that I was a Meth addict, stealing from my work place, anything she could to try and cause me trouble. When I confronted her she would claim the I was being lied to, she would never do something like that to me. Or that it was grossly exaggerated. It was terribly embarrassing when I had to ask my boss, the bank's branch manager, to speak with my mother because she would not stop harassing me at work. It has gotten so bad that our security officer was brought into the matter!

I don't care to address everything she wrote any more than this, Total-100%-Grade-A-The Real McCoy-Accept-No-Imitations, bullshit. I could go into more detail but from your perspective it is all a matter of he said she said. And frankly a waste of time for me, my mother has already labled herself as the town nut-job so no one will listen to her anymore. She is not the "long-suffering mother "she likes to portray herself as.

Thank you for your assistance in exposing her even if you were unaware of it. I can now tell her to fuck off, she is not trustworthy and I can't see her explaining her way out of this one. Even if any of what I wrote was true, it's my life! I am an adult and it is none of her business. She screws with my life, invades my privacy, and she has no right.

PS – I hope you don't take any offense to what was done. I felt like I should know what my mother was doing and now that I am aware I can guard myself appropriately. I hate having to play this game but now I can end it. I don't know how she got my passwords but they are now certainly more creative than they were before. I just don't want you to feel used in all of this. If so, I am sorry.

My response:

The point about the kid remains. You're an unfit mother. Give the baby up to two people, gay or straight, who can be adequate parents. Your kid didn't ask to be born. You're abusing it by your very situation. It's disgusting and immoral. Your letter and your mother's are up on my site.

PS My time is not free. Answering your e-mail took me away from other e-mails. Is your situation entirely false? I think not. I think there must be a child, and you must be 20. And other stuff there must be true, or your mother couldn't have responded in such detail.

I suggest you go on my site and contribute $20 via Paypal on my blog -- http://www.advicegoddess.com/goddessblog.html

scroll down on the left for Amazon and Paypal link -- to repay me for wasting my time.

I don't expect you will, because I already know you aren't ethical. I give advice free, but I'm not a free pawn for you to use for detective work on your mother.

What about your situation wasn't true? No baby? No older man using you? No father you ditched for your own immature desire to put your pleasure above all else?

Give this baby up to parents who can provide for it -- emotionally, psychologically, and physically.

Posted by: Amy Akon at August 9, 2006 11:13 AM

I think this girl is preparing for a career as a con artist.

Posted by: That Julia at August 9, 2006 11:29 AM

Wow, again...I think she's making up most of the second letter. The first one was too detailed and idiotic to be made up, and now she realizes how moronic she appears. I doubt it was her mother, anyway, since you thought it was a man, and I'm assuming there was a name or it was somehow obvious from the email address. In any case, this has been a ton of fun to follow! Thanks, Amy!!!

Posted by: Brenda at August 9, 2006 12:02 PM

...or a screenwriter.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at August 9, 2006 12:08 PM

You're welcome! Frankly, I'm not interesting in parsing the details, beyond the fact that this chick has a child, and that child should not be under her "care."

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 9, 2006 12:09 PM

I agree with whoever it was that uttered the word "sociopath." 20 year old single mother or 35 year old con artist, this person (may not even be a woman) has all the trappings. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

Posted by: snakeman99 at August 9, 2006 1:33 PM

someone posted: "...why is it that I can't walk into a doctor's office at 21 and ask to be sterilized?"

Showing my naivete here - is this true? I had no idea it was this difficult. I'd be curious to know if men get the same runaround when getting vasectomies (especially since I've been considering one).

Posted by: snakeman99 at August 9, 2006 1:40 PM

I still hold it's all a fraud, some stupid person out there having fun at Amy's time and expense. Not a word of any of it rings true to me, not her original story, not her friend/mother's alleged response, not her second go at explanation. That's why I asked Amy how she determines whether a letter is legitimate, or just a game played by someone with too much time on her hands.

Posted by: Elementary at August 9, 2006 1:54 PM

The best are the letters people write in hopes of getting revenge on somebody (via seeing the letter published in the paper). The bad part for them is when I side with the person they think is in the wrong.

I believe this story - 20-year-old single mother, older sleazoid guy, and other points are true. The essential points. The spin, well, who cares. It's usually the nut of the issue that makes me interested in responding to a question for my column; for example, whether couples are more intimate if they leave the bathroom door open so their partner can be party to their shitting, farting and all the rest. I'm sure you an imagine what my answer was.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 9, 2006 2:41 PM

After I read the first two letters I was convinced they were both written by the same person. Same rhythm and cadence, use of language, etc. Letter #3 sealed it for me. This is a play-ah in action... to what end, who knows.

Posted by: scout at August 9, 2006 3:50 PM

I don't really care, but I feel reasonably sure they aren't. What would be the point? People don't do things without motive. All that interests me here is the point about the kid. If you're a 20-year-old living without dignity or self-respect, and you don't care enough to change, there's really nothing I can say to you. If, however, you bring a kid into the equation, I'm going to bitchslap you on the kid's behalf.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 9, 2006 4:36 PM

To the posters who mentioned not being able to get sterilized in your early 20's, I hear you. However, I myself just got sterilized earlier this year at the ripe old age of 23, after firmly but politely pushing for it. After my own ordeal of trying to get a sensible request regarding my own body honored, and hearing horrific stories from other women whose doctors wouldn't perform medically necessary hysterectomies, etc., I set up the "Childfree Resources" forum linked above in the "URL" section. Please check it out to see if there's a doctor in your area listed on the board; it's worth a shot!

P.S. Amy, great advice! Now if only my 18-year-old welfare-mom cousin would internalize that information!

Posted by: Kim at August 9, 2006 5:23 PM

I read this advice column and blog daily - some items I agree with, some I don't, nonetheless, it is entertaining and keeps me interested in coming back.

That being said - I do have to voice my disagreement in the comment: “…but check out "20 year old" and "stable career." What 20 year old even has a "career"?”

I was married at 18, and had my first child at age 19. I knew that was what I wanted out of life, a family at a young age. At 18 years old with a high school diploma and a full year of internship at a well known corporation, I began my career in a young new company. Career meaning full benefits, salary and 9-5 career, not flipping burgers or waitressing. My husband was also going to school part time and working a full time job. We were able to purchase a home (real, not on wheels), 2 vehicles and provide for our children quite well before the legal drinking age.

I am now 30+ in a Sr. Level position that I worked very hard to earn, with two happy, well provided for children, and a husband with a college degree and a secure career.

I fully respect the fact that some people do not want children, I have friends marrying and making that decision now and support their choice – as with everything, to each their own!

So, to conclude, I have to voice my disagreement that every 20-year-old cannot have a "career". Most do not, but there are the select few that mature, know what they want and work for that goal.

Other than that disagreement, with regards to the author of the 2 letters (potentially three), I do wonder what the world is coming to when anyone, no matter what their mental, physical or social state is can have children. It makes me even more of a supporter of same-sex marriages!

Posted by: KJS at August 10, 2006 12:16 PM

If you were married at 18, there was somebody bringing home the bacon, right - besides you. You had planned pregnancies, I'd guess. This woman is not exactly responsible. And few people have stable careers at 20 - where they can provide, as a solo act for a kid. You're an exception. Rare, let me assure you.

I'm a big supporter of same-sex marriages. Read Judith Stacey's research, to name one, to know why.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 10, 2006 12:26 PM

Very good site. Thanks:-)


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