Example: [Collected via e-mail, March 2008]
A couple of women moved in across the hall from me. One is a middle-aged gym teacher and the other is a social worker in her mid-twenties. These two women go everywhere together and I’ve never seen a man go into or leave their apartment. Do you think they could be Lebanese?
What can I do about all the Sex, Nudity, Fowl Language and Violence On My VCR?
I have a man I can’t trust. He cheats so much, I’m not even sure the baby I’m carrying is his.
I am a twenty-three year old liberated woman who has been on the pill for two years. It’s getting expensive and I think my boyfriend should share half the cost, but I don’t know him well enough to discuss money with him.
I’ve suspected that my husband has been fooling around, and when confronted with the evidence, he denied everything – and said it would never happen again.
Our son writes that he is taking Judo. Why would a boy who was raised in a good Christian home turn against his own?
I joined the Navy to see the world. I’ve seen it. Now how do I get out?
My forty year old son has been paying a psychiatrist $50.00 an hour every week for two and a half years. He must be crazy.
I was married to Bill for three months, and I didn’t know he drank until one night he came home sober.
My mother is mean and short tempered – I think she is going through mental pause.
You told some woman whose husband had lost all interest in sex to send him to a doctor. Well, my husband lost all interest in sex – and he is a doctor. Now what do I do?
Remember these people can vote…
Origins: The above-quoted
list is one of the Internet’s perennials: While it does at times recede into periods of relative dormancy, it always emerges from such to make yet another round of people’s inboxes. We’ve seen versions of it circulating in the online world as far back as 1997, yet it is far older even than that.
With only one exception (“What can I do about all the Sex, Nudity, Fowl Language and Violence On My VCR?”), each of the compilation’s clueless queries can be found in The Best of Dear Abby, a 1981 offering of memorable letters from her readers.
(We note the fact that the appearance of these letters in Abby’s compilation only validates that she actually received them; it doesn’t rule out the possibility that some of them may have been written by correspondents who were deliberately trying to appear clueless.)
Other versions of the e-mail include these additional entries, all also drawn from that same book:
DEAR GERTIE: I don’t know. What’s he getting?
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend is going to be twenty years old next month. I’d like to give him something nice for his birthday. What do you think he’d like?
DEAR CAROL: Never mind what he’d like. Give him a tie.
DEAR ABBY: Are birth control pills deductible?
DEAR KAY: Only if they don’t work.
DEAR ABBY: Our son was married in January. Five months later his wife had a ten-pound baby girl. They said the baby was premature. Tell me, can a baby this big be that early?
DEAR WONDERING: The baby was on time, the wedding was late.
DEAR ABBY: Do you think about dying much?
DEAR CURIOUS: No, it’s the last thing I want to do.
DEAR ABBY: Is it possible for a man to be in love with two women at the same time?
DEAR JAKE: Yes, and also hazardous.
DEAR ABBY: I know boys will be boys, but my ‘boy’ is seventy-three and he’s still chasing women. Any suggestions?
DEAR ANNIE: Don’t worry. My dog has been chasing cars for years, but if he ever caught one, he wouldn’t know what to do with it.
DEAR ABBY: I have always wanted to have my family history traced, but I can’t afford to spend a lot of money to do it. Any suggestions?
SAM IN CAL.
DEAR SAM: Yes. Run for public office.
DEAR ABBY: What inspires you most to write?
DEAR TED: The Bureau of Internal Revenue.
DEAR ABBY: When you are being introduced, is it all right to say, “I’ve heard a lot about you”?
DEAR RITA: It depends on what you’ve heard.
DEAR ABBY: I am forty-four years old and I would like to meet a man my age with no bad habits.
DEAR ROSE: So would I.
DEAR ABBY: What’s the difference between a wife and a mistress?
DEAR BESS: Night and Day.
Barbara “shift(y) work” Mikkelson
Last updated: 9 April 2008
- Van Buren, Abigail. The Best of Dear Abby.