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The Three Hundredth Sort of Dear Jon Letters

Proposing a standard barter system.

by Dear Jon
March 8, 2005

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ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

Now that I have a newborn baby, is there any possible way to talk my wife into letting me buy a roadster?

Mid-life Man
 
Dear Mid-life,
 
Sure there is. You just need to convince her that you will get the kind that will take four slices at once.

 
ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

Recently I went to the grocery store to buy ice cream. I found Rocky Road, Moose Tracks, Pecan Delight, Cookie Dough, etc. Whatever happened to plain old vanilla and chocolate?

I Scream for Ice Cream
 
Dear Scream,
 
Those are the boxes in the back covered with freezer burn.
 
Dear Reader,
 
Now that I have settled these burning questions, I want to launch into a critique of Condi Rice’s first 45 days as Secretary of State. Far be it from me to tell someone else how to do their job…well actually, as an advice columnist, that is exactly what I do, isn’t it? It just seems to me that we are sending mixed signals. In our war on terror, Syria gets away with murder and Iran gets away with nukes, and meanwhile we are trying to fix Iraq, which was never a terrorist threat until after we knocked it over.
 
It is time to set right the ship of state, so here are my five tips to Condi on how – wait a minute, my friend Jon Deer is trying to get my attention.
 
Excuse me.
 
Sorry about that. It appears that a question was asked about a roadster, and I had answered a question about a toaster. The problem was not aural, it was visual, as the two machines are approximately the same size.
 
Condi Rice will have to wait. Clearly there is a marriage here that needs saving.
 
Marriage is all about give and take. A woman (as 9 in 10 of all wives are women except in Vermont) might be willing for the family to acquire a high-priced sports car, but she has to know, “what is in it for me?”  The man has to figure out the approximate emotional value of what he wants, and offer something she wants of equal value in trade.
 
Here are some examples:
 
Meeting your old college crowd at a sports bar for 90 minutes, equals one entire afternoon folding clothes in the laundry-mat and then watching patiently, and without grousing, while she refolds every single item.
 
Watching basketball the entire month of March equals trips to carpet, wall-paper and used furniture stores every Saturday from April to July.
 
If you drag her to an action movie and think you have made up for it with overpriced popcorn and extortionist candy, you are wrong. You must still keep your promise to spend an entire evening at her elbow watching the Figure Skating Championships.
 
This is getting too complicated. Let me try to simplify it by offering one barter as a standard currency: Two beers in a single evening equals one trip to a stranger’s garage sale half a mile away, OR, vacuuming the house.
 
Now there are some things that women want, too. For example, if you are already even and she wants to drag you to a cousin’s baby shower, then you are entitled to one free Saturday morning tinkering around your garage with your portable stereo playing 60’s and 70’s classic rock.
 
The only catch, of course, is that you, silly man, will NEVER be even. You will always be behind. The round of golf, the week-end fishing … be careful with your privileges. If you over spend them you will exhaust your credit.
 
One roadster priced at, let’s say, 65 grand, means that you must be home by six, no excuses, must do all the dishes, and then must be completely present and attentive to your wife, asking only intelligent questions and by no means ever offering anything that remotely resembles a solution, for 150 minutes while she emotes her perplexity that one of her 42 best friends might be giving her the cold shoulder. Every single night. Until the car is paid off.
 
Four-slice toasters are a lot cheaper and might even earn you a cuddle for being so thoughtful.

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