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The Mother-In-Law Of All Bombs

I’ve been married to my wife for two years, and I’ve been faithful. The problem is my mother-in-law. She’s really sexy, and has an awesome personality. I’m so attracted to her; I wish I could have just one night with her. I know it’s wrong, and it can’t happen, because she’s married and so am I, but she’s on my mind all the time. Just so I can get past these feelings, should I confront her?

--All In The Family

Were you dropped on your head as a child? Are you looking to get dropped on your head as an adult?

Just because you have a Self doesn’t mean you should express it. Yes, this goes against popular wisdom -- wisdom especially popular with people determined to pin you to a wall at a cocktail party and wax on about something extremely personal and headbangingly dull. It’s a favorite, too, with people who shout loudly into cell phones in public places, apparently convinced that the world will be a better place once word gets out that they changed laxatives or forgot to floss. They call this “freedom of speech.” I call it “bad breeding.”

Some people will claim to value your self-expression, and press you to voice your innermost hopes, dreams, and fears. If your name is Larry David, Woody Allen, or Chris Rock, they might actually be sincere. If not, they are either trying to be polite or preparing to ask you for money -- either to borrow it or to bill you for it. This brings us to the only people who will benefit from you expressing your feelings -- divorce lawyers looking to step up the payment schedule on their Lamborghinis by clearing your life of excess cars, houses, and wives.

If you value the marital package you have, you’ll limit your self-expression to picking out the pattern that best suits you (sporty stripes, or maybe frolicking cats?) from a collection of decorator muzzles. Start training your Self to sit quietly in a straight-backed chair, acknowledging that it can’t get everything it wants; for example, a shortcut out of unrequitable lust by expressing disappointment that only telephone companies offer “Friends And Family” plans.

You fell into the mommy-in-law vortex by making little mental videos of her and replaying them endlessly, against your better judgment (if any), until you just about went blind with lust. You can claw your way out, pretty much the same way you got in. Instead of endlessly indulging yourself, just endlessly unindulge yourself. Sounds like fun, huh? Whenever the lady hops on one of your synapses, and crosses her legs like Sharon Stone, this is your cue to run her out of your head. Do whatever it takes to keep her out, such as reciting the directions on a book of matches in 26 languages. (How DO you say “Close cover before striking” in Farsi?) Throw yourself into new activities; for instance, those involving a focus on your wife. You might even take her on a romantic vacation -- your WIFE, that is -- as soon as you’re intelligent enough to travel, i.e., when you no longer need help answering the question, “Should I confront her?”

The fact that you’d even need to ask is a sign: with all the blood rushing away from your brain, your IQ is topping out around that of a houseplant. Until that changes, it’s probably a good idea to avoid intellectually challenging tasks, such as using a salt shaker or trying to pull up your socks without assistance. To enhance your comprehension of this column (if any), re-read it while standing on your head.

Copyright ©2003, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, "The Advice Goddess," which appears in over 100 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.