Uncle Ony: The "Quick Fix" ethic - symbol without substance, success without synergistic development - might appear to succeed, but the schemer remains. What if you were to lead your friends to believe you could play the trombone at concert hall level when your actual skill is Grade 1? Hmm? A paradigm shift is needed, a new acceptance of self, an awareness that delegation to time means efficiency, not effectiveness. I suggest a course of counselling might be a useful first step.
Auntie Ag: Oh, don't be absurd, darling. Of course it isn't bad form, as long as you remember to hide the wrappers.
Four years ago, when I was married to my first wife, I fell for another woman, Kate, at a sales conference, started having an affair with her and eventually left my wife and married her. The trouble is, because I work in sales I still have to go to sales conferences. When I'm there Kate constantly rings me, asking me who I've been talking to, what I did the previous evening and so on. She frequently calls colleagues of mine to check my story. Not only does it make my life a misery, it is embarrassing in a professional sense. It almost makes me think I might as well have a bloody affair if she trusts me so little.
Uncle Ony: Come, come. You are asking me, Neil, to help you lubricate your relationship interaction using personality techniques. Of course I cannot do that! All it will ultimately achieve is to truncate your "character base". You can't have the fruit without the root. And the root in this case is residual guilt manifesting, through sequencing, as punishment. Your second wife needs to lose her fear of adultery - the very source and life-blood or your current relationship - and accept that many marriages (my own included) "swing". (A useful preliminary step might be to get together in a supervised counselling session with Kate and your first wife in order that you might "heal" each other.)
Auntie Ag: Oh for God's sake, darling, what do you bloody well expect? She understands only too well what you get up to at sales conferences, and you're clearly not making the slightest effort to reassure her. Next time you go away you must call her every 20 minutes from your portable phone, particularly during the night, whiningly declaring your undying love and asking what she's doing, who she's with, what she's wearing and whether she really loves you - no, really loves you. No woman wants a whining puppy of a husband checking up on her all the time and she'll quickly back off and maybe even start an affair with some charming young gas meter reader or pizza delivery boy.
I have a friend who is very beautiful and slim. I'm not exactly fat and ugly, but the way I look is not the most important thing in my life. More and more when I see her she's started telling me how to improve my figure, make-up and clothes sense. I know it's well meant but it leaves me feeling insecure and miserable, particularly as she's inclined to do it in front of other people. I am really fond of her and don't want to lose her friendship, but lately I've found myself avoiding her because I don't want to run the gamut of her judgmental eye.
Uncle Ony: Are you sure, Sarah, that you are not reading from a "script" learned in childhood ("It's not what you look like that counts, it's your character") in order to duck what you know to be the truth? Might not the truth just be that you have let yourself go, that you are fat, badly dressed and ill made-up? If you could send a recent photograph of yourself I will be able to advise you further. In the meantime I suggest you follow your friend's advice and appreciate the one person who cares enough about you to tell you the truth.
Auntie Ag: Darling: either she's jealous, or her husband's got another woman, you mark my words. It she was genuinely concerned that you had let yourself go she need only have mentioned it once not nag, nag, nag, chipping away at your self-esteem in a pathetic attempt to boost her own ego. Next time she starts simply say (in a patronisingly helpful voice, and preferably in public): "Darling, you're really making yourself sound awfully shallow." If the problem persists try: "Angel, are you sure you're not losing too much weight? You look about 10 years older."
A couple of years ago I told a girlfriend that if I ever have a little girl, I'll call her Lauren. This same girlfriend had a baby girl two weeks ago and guess what she's called her? Lauren. I'm furious, especially as she didn't even discuss it with me. Now when I have a baby I won't be able to call her Lauren or everyone will think I have copied.
Uncle Ony: You are right to be concerned, Marlene. Your friend is suffering from "Wardrobe Mistress" syndrome, combined with "Queen Mother". Hopelessly inadequate according to her own subconscious paradigm, she is seeking to "dress herself up" in the outward manifestations of your personal success. Yet more dangerously, on becoming a parent she is attempting to bring about a transference of these vestiges on to her child, thereby "dressing herself" also in the role of Monarch Maker. I suggest you explain this to her as a matter of urgency.
Auntie Ag: Oh for heaven's sake don't make such a fuss, darling. Calling children after movie stars is completely Brookside now anyway. If it really bothers you, next time your soi-disant "friend" gets pregnant, take her out and confide to her (in strictest confidence because this is all very dernier cri and you don't want copycat naming outbreaks) that if you ever have a little boy you're going to call him Beelzebub and if it's a little girl you've completely set your heart on either Fanny or Squid.
You are invited to send your problems to: Auntie Ag and Uncle Ony, Real Life, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. However, Auntie Ag and Uncle Ony regret that they are unable to enter into any personal correspondenceReuse content