Monday, July 25, 2005

Ann Landers, Meanie?

First of all, I want to apologize for my fairly long absence. Not that I have gotten many emails asking where I am--OK, I haven't gotten any--but I can dream that someone out there is secretly pining for my, um, trash-talk and analysis. I don't really have any good excuse--I have been working relatively hard, but relatively is the operative word there. For instance, I have nothing on A3G, that undeniably hilarious but oh-so-heart-breakingly conservative lover of federal judges and hater of eyebrow rings, who apparently works a gajillion hours a day at a law firm and then blogs at 4 a.m. about how John Roberts should hire her as a Supreme Court clerk. Exhausting!

Anyway, in case anyone has fallen behind on their advice columns, I wanted to draw your attention to a very interesting personal aside from Prudie, a.k.a. Dear Prudence, a.k.a. Margo Howard, a.k.a. the advice columnist for Slate, a.k.a. Ann Landers's daughter. (Here is evidence, in the form of her book, "A Life in Letters: Ann Landers' Letters to Her Only Child.") Dear reader, Prudie essentially says that Ann was overbearing and mean! Check it out:

Dear Prudence,

My mom is a very caring woman, but ... whenever she comes over, either to visit or to pick up my 12-year-old, she sticks her finger in my plants (checking for water), walks around my house (checking for cleanliness), etc. When I was growing up, my mom had a full-time job, but when it was time for dinner, she had a full table—meat, veggies, fruit, the ultimate dinner. Now that I am a mother, she often comments on the state of my house. I know she cares, but how do I tell her tactfully that I am independent, she raised me well, and I am OK?

Dear M.,

Take it from someone who knows from problems—this is not even on the chart. Your mom's habit of being the housekeeping police is ingrained and really quite benign. Try to laugh it off and don't let it annoy you. This is a somewhat common mother-daughter dynamic. Prudie's own mother, for example, used to sigh that Prudie's children were raised by wolves. You are old enough to know that she did it her way, you're doing it your way, and never the twain shall meet. The way to see this situation, my dear, is with humor. Or at the very least, when she is checking for plant moisture or dust, do the mental equivalent of "la, la, la, la, la, la, la."
—Prudie, obliviously

Omigod! Could it be that Ann Landers, who taught this entire nation everything it knows about how to deal with drunken mothers, absentee fathers, wayward children, and ill-trained puppies was a meanie herself?

In fact, though, you only have to get about halfway through that thought before you realize, Of course she was. If anybody in the universe was going to be a know-it-all in her personal life, it was a woman who tells everyone else how to behave for a living. This is Exhibit # 5324378 for my rapidly-developing theory that most powerful people are fairly unpleasant to be around. Looking on the bright side, though, this theory provides a nice rationalization for my aforementioned strategy of being fairly lazy.

And on that note, I'm off to watch MTV.


Anonymous said...

Does this mean most of us are pleasant people? Or just that, if we continue our current path that carefully skirts power, we will have a chance at being pleasant?

And are all parents in danger of being considered interventionist meanies? Even those in the Midwest?

Someone's Midwestern dad

T&A Lady said...

Dear Dad,

You will only be a meanie if you decide to cross that shadowy interventionist line between "You should save money for retirement" and "Your children were raised by wolves." :)

I will have to work on my Grand Theory further before I determine whether anyone who becomes powerful becomes a meanie or not, but I strongly suspect that anyone who is reading this is very pleasant.

caitlin said...

T&A, I was too busy lamenting your absence to email. or post on my own blog. which went, i think, unnoticed

Anonymous said...

In answer to your worry about whether anyone noticed your absence, I want to say that I was pining for an entry, but feared being interventionist and pushy. BTW, how are your plants?

Love, Mom