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Coping with Humorist Absence Deficit Syndrome.

by Dear Jon
January 15, 2008

Actual Letter to Dear Jon

Dear Jon,

I have been holding on to this question for a long time. How can someone cope when one of their main coping mechanisms, a humorous internet advice columnist, up and leaves without giving any notice? And now that you're back, can I go off my meds?


A Fan in the Cold

Dear Fan,

First of all I owe you an apology for launching your Actual Letter at a particular computer, saving it there, deleting the notice from my e-mail, and then never going back to that computer. Now I am way past deadline, I wanted to publish your question, and I'm at the wrong computer AGAIN, so I have reconstructed the gist of it as best as I could. Hopefully you can recognize that this letter is yours.

I don't owe you any apology for cancelling the column at my whim, and picking it up again without fanfare. I just want to make sure we all understand why I am apologizing.

Now that I have reconstructed the question, I am going to spout off on some tangents. Readers might be curious why I picked up the column again; in a way that is a more important question than why I left it. First, why I left:

I left the column because my gainful employment (i.e., the stuff I get PAID to do) transferred me to a temporary assignment in Europe. I had enough trouble coping with language and cultural adjustments to try to keep an anonymous cyberspace persona in the mix. Then I came back to a new position in a new location with a lot of start-up types of projects with their own learning curves.

Now then, I  have started up the column again because a couple of guys kept telling me, "You should turn the Dear Jon Letters into a book."

I thought to myself, "One of these guys is a stuffed-shirt language snob who has pointed out at least two spelling and grammar errors in each and every one of my columns. I have 350 Dear Jon columns. That means to turn it into a book, I have at least 700 mistakes to clean up. (Factual errors and bad advice do not count as mistakes.)

"The other guy is the Partial Observer's Webmaster, who has all these particular formatting rules which are all going to change if I try to submit a book manuscript to him.  This sounds like just the kind of project I want; a thousand hours of combing through the Partial Observer archives, cringing at what I once thought was funny and in good taste, rejecting the dated material, editing the good stuff for a book, filtering all of that through "Spelling and Grammar," and then cussing out the dumb computer for lacking the intuition of my use of commas for rhetorical pacing. Where do I sign up?"

So the book "The Dear Jon Letters: Subtitle Wanted" is now underway. As I work feverishly to complete it, I have also resurrected the column for one simple reason: Marketing. The book is more current and relevant if Dear Jon is a current advice columnist. Otherwise the book is merely a museum piece.

I am hoping that my loyal fan base can help me come up with a subtitle. I have a few suggestions.

The Dear Jon Letters: Dispensing Advice Without A License.

The Dear Jon Letters: Funnier than Dr. Phil, but just as grumpy

The Dear Jon Letters: Advice from the Testosterone Side

Thus Speaks Dear Jon: A Super Guy's Philosophy for Living

Advice from Dear Jon: It's Almost Like I Care

The Dear Jon Letters: First Edition, It Can Only Get Better

Please let me know which of these subtitles would have you buying multiple copies.

Now back to the questions which I am pretending to have adequately reconstructed. 
1. How can you cope when one of your comic mainstays up and leaves?

Laughter is a relief in life. Those personalities whom we count on to bring laughter are very important people. So while I am not licensed to practice or diagnose anything,  I personally believe that a new diagnosis should be worked into medical and psychological reference books: "Humorist Absence Deficit." This is a particular kind of grief that occurs at the death, retirement or removal of an important laugh-inspiring humorist. This syndrome is akin to a sense of betrayal, the sense of "I've been HAD."

I remember the death of Charles Schultz, the author of the PEANUTS  comic strip which is such a main-stay, newspapers are reprinting old ones just to ease people through the HAD syndrome. I remember the "retirement" of columnist Dave Barry. I am still not over that.

The best way to cope with the HAD syndrome is to buy that humorist's books just as soon as they roll off the press.

2. Now that I'm back, can the writer of the letter stop taking meds?
That's very funny. Dear Jon is not licensed to prescribe, treat, or diagnose anything, not even the HAD syndrome of my own discovery and description.

I can going to repeat some caveats that appear throughout the hundreds of Dear Jon articles.

1. The internet is the last place you need to be looking for real psychological help. If you are on meds, the laughter I might bring to you is no substitute. If you are not on meds, don't take me as your authority that you should start popping junk.

2. Everyone should have a doctor whom they see at least once a year. If that doctor wants to refer you to psychiatric and/or psychological therapists, you should follow your doctor's advice.

3. Do not vote based on what you read in Dear Jon, or anything else you see on the internet, including forwarded e-mails that accuse various candidates of being allied to Osama bin Laden, or of belonging to cults that strangle chickens and worship Medusa.  Official websites run by actual campaigns might be an exception.

4.  Just because Dear Jon might strike you as a clueless male chauvinist jerk, does not give YOU the license to be a freaked-out stalker. If I am retro in some of my attitudes, it is with a view toward recovering Chivalry, NOT Chauvinism. That means that if you are a guy and you are a bully towards females in your life, then as far as I'm concerned you deserve to be taught a valuable lesson by someone bigger and stronger than you are, preferably with brass knuckles.

5. My opinion about using brass knuckles on bullies is NOT intended to be taken as a legal or therapeutic authority for the next intervention you conduct on your alcoholic brother-in-law.

6. NOTHING I say can be construed as your authority to do anything.

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