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Grift For The Mill

IT'S BAD SEED Month, here in Adviceland, and it's almost time to announce the big winner. The huffy letters -- uh, I mean, the nominations -- have been tumbling in.

Men are nominating women: "Women are devious and underhanded!"

Women are nominating men: "I have a low trust factor for any man, even one who's one of my best friends."

Men and women are nominating me: "Man-bashing femi-nazi!" "Self-loathing man-coddler!" "I hope the rope you keep telling us women to give these drooling, helpless oafs snaps and slaps you in the mouth." Some seem to be nominating me for emergency plastic surgery: "You are stupid, ugly, and old." "You look like a man in drag."

But, enough about my charms. Let's explore this issue by turning to a cross-section of this month's wounded. Slumped over in that chair facing the wall is a man; let's call him Martin; no, let's call him Martinizing -- because he's a man who spends a lot of time at the cleaners. Here's Martinizing's whine list:

"You wrote about 'Scammed,' who gave a woman $4,000 to help her make a down payment on a home, only to have her tell him afterward that she was just interested in him as a friend. You dumped on him and told him it was ALL HIS FAULT. It's never, never you scheming women. Hey, I've been used by lots of women, lots of times, and I never even hit the sheets with some of these users. If I had a nickel for every time I've been scammed by some female, I could retire a rich man."

Martinizing, darling, like "Scammed," you've been DWU: Dating While Unconscious. As in cases of DWN (Driving While Ninety), this condition can cause unsightly injuries, such as severed credit lines, and it may even lead to the amputation of homes, cars, and any home furnishings not bolted to the wall or floor, hotel-style.

Now, there are some pretty clever con artists out there; many of whom have Y chromosomes, for your information. When I was in my twenties, one of these guys threw on a boyfriend costume, and pronounced that he would change my life. Well, change it he did -- most notably when he suctioned out all the excess funds clogging my savings account.

At my post-con low point, my fondness for food and shelter forced me to work as a chicken. This entailed donning a mangy chicken suit and handing out "clucks off" coupons outside a new chicken restaurant for five dollars an hour, minus taxes. Now, perhaps the threat of a less-than-lucrative career in freelance poultry impersonation should be considered an extraordinary motivator, but one hard lesson was all I needed, and all anyone should need, to avoid any future parasite/host (or parasite/hostess) relationships.

If you'd been scammed once or twice, you'd be entitled to our sympathy, and maybe even a nice, squishy group hug. But, you've been scammed "lots of times"? Sure, your scheme girls are guilty of stealing your money. Guilty, guilty, guilty! But, unless you're an unusually social coma patient, you're guilty too. You do have a God guy on your side, Rev. Dr. Mark Shirilau, who didn't agree with me either:

"You had a great opportunity to point out the abuse people hand out in relationships by failing to deal honestly, and you instead chose to point out someone's foolishness. This is equivalent to the police lecturing a bank manager for having an outdated alarm system while the bank robber is running away."

Whipping out my laptop and shouting, "Stop, or I'll write some really biting prose!" isn't likely to break the stride of anybody who's the least bit determined to make your yacht their yacht.

Where I can make inroads is with the chumps, by asking them how many times will they curl up in a fetal position clutching a crumpled "account closed" slip before they figure out that stamping their feet and blubbering "people should be nice to me" isn't working?

What they need to do is brush the dream dust out of their egos and ask, "Does (s)he have the hots for me or my platinum plastic?" and be willing to admit that they're number three (because they have two platinum cards).

And with that word from somebody else's sponsor, it's time to announce our winner. Drum roll...the envelope, please. Rip, rip. And the winner is...Me!...for discovering what men and women have in common: They're gullible. Also, they think I'm an idiot. I'm happy to report that the nominations for Amy The Dimwitted, Man-Hating Trollop and Amy The Dimwitted, Woman-Hating Trollop were split pretty much down the middle. What great news! If men and women can agree that I'm a dimwitted trollop, how far apart can they really be?


Copyright ©2001, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, Ask The Advice Goddess, which appears in 60 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.