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The Bleach Stain Problem

Plus: Dear Jon tackles the

by Dear Jon
June 28, 2001

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The Bleach Stain Problem_Dear Jon-Plus: Dear Jon tackles the ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

What is the best thing to do about bleach stains in your favorite dark shirt? Should I try to color the stains in? Would a magic marker work?

Spotted Shirt

Dear Spotted,

At last! A question of advice for an advice columnist! These are so few and far between, I have to enjoy the moment...

Okay. Because you have asked for advice, and you even challenged me with a tough issue, I am going to give you the best advice I have ever given. Seriously. My answer is no joke. My advice, when it comes to bleach stains on a colored shirt, is: Ask your Mother.


Dear Jon,

Are people who are jerks aware that they are jerks, or do they honestly believe that they are behaving normally and can't understand why they upset people around them?

Sincerely, Ponderer

Dear Erer,

This is a question I have also pondered. The "jerk" mystery is a large one. Subsets of the "jerk" question are: "Why can't jerks realize their girlfriends are upset?" and "How do jerks wind up with otherwise intelligent, attractive women in the first place?"

It is a mystery to all of us who are not jerks. I know that I am not a jerk, because I only consistently upset four specific people groups: Freemasons, conservatives, liberals, and women.

We need to realize that there is a broad spectrum in which jerks fit. In broad categories, there are three groups of people who frequently upset the people around them. There are people who are clueless nerds, in that they are socially inept. This is not a matter of their hearts or intentions, but their training. People who test off the charts as either introverts or extroverts will tend to fall into this category, while everyone knows that most males are clueless nerds. Nerds are usually terribly embarrassed to realize their behaviors are putting other people off. Sometimes, friendship and patience can bring a Nerd around to a normalcy of social grace.

Then there are selfish whiners. These are people who think they are good people because they are kind to other people who give them what they want and otherwise stay out of their way. However, when things become inconvenient, they begin to moan about how tough life is, regardless of the sacrifices, experiences, or perspectives of the people they are complaining to. The problem with selfish whiners is that their kindness is not matched by any genuine empathy. While some selfish whiners may grow out of it, others need some kind of formal training, as in counseling.

Then there are selfish aggressors. This is where we begin to think of jerks less as "nerds" or "wimps" and come up with more colorful names unprintable here. Selfish aggressors have to draw attention to their rude social disruptions in restaurants, at parties, and sports events. Some like to appear in public drunk, others use vulgar language with absolutely zero consideration of people within earshot, even if those people are very young children. They are egotistical control freaks who can never be wrong, must have the last word, and will have their way even if others get hurt. They don't mind yelling and causing a scene if it helps them get what they want. They frequently run red lights, honk at an elderly pedestrian is in the crosswalk, cheat on their taxes, and treat the people who love them like objects. They are bullies.

Of the three kinds of jerk: Nerds, wimps, and bullies, I think all of us find bullies the most difficult to forgive. Except those women who seem to think it's better to have a bully then no boyfriend at all. Come to think of it, bullies tend to attract wimps.

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