Traditional Balsam Wreath, $49.95

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Dear Dave,

The good – arrived very fast; smelt fabulous when the box was opened. The bad – I think the smell comes from a spray – it has completely gone now. The wreath is not round but “egg-shaped”! Decorations look cheap. Frankly, it looks ugly. It’s too late for me to return and get another (company arriving). I used to get much cheaper ones from the local chain store, at less than half the price, but thought I’d splurge this year. It will be back to the chain store next year!

Boston48, Boston, MA

Dear Boston48,

What is it with you people and your “wreaths”? People are not seasonal decorations! My dear readers, this is a good reminder to drive in your lane, punch at your weight class, or stay in your socio-economic comfort zone when looking for a partner. Look at what happens when you set your sights too high! Now you’re stuck with your “wreath” and your holiday party will certainly be ruined. Think of what your guests will say about the oval shape of your “purchase”. The thought of a smug LL Bean type is much better than the reality. Those decorations can’t hide the ugly truth once you get close and the perfume wears off. People are people, regardless of where you shop for them. That being said, consider a middle-of-the-road option. No need to drop down into Walmart territory. Avoid the temptation to go slumming for a “wreath” just to piss mom off at Christmas dinner.

Happy Holidays!

Dave

 

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The Holiday Shakedown

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“Let’s cut to the chase,” JJ said. “How much do you want?”

“You’re pretty bold since winning that lottery,” Betty said.

JJ’s sister, separated from her husband, had come to town and forced a meeting. He couldn’t hold her off forever. JJ thought a public place would be best, to reduce the chance of bodily harm. So they sat in a crowded café on a Saturday morning. He was hoping she wouldn’t make a scene.

“That was two and half years ago. And you can’t get your mind off my money.”

“Well, look at you, all happy up there in that ridiculous farmhouse. No farming. No actual work. Money will do that for you.”

JJ looked out the café window. Something about the winter before the snow, everything looking cold and brutal with the leaves gone and the grass dead. Maybe that’s why Christmas decorations took hold; so people wouldn’t kill themselves before Christ’s birthday.

“I’m happy for the first time in years,” he said.   “The money helps, but it’s not about the money.”

“So your girlfriend is back, is that it? Lulu or whatever?”

“Lila.”

“So she’s back in the picture since the lottery?”

“She could care less about the money.”

“Couldn’t care less, you mean. Couldn’t care less.”

JJ felt the heat rising, the coals of resentment fanned towards rage by this money-grubbing harpy who happened to be his sister. “They’ll dangle the bait,” Professor Tom, his sponsor, had said. “Family will do that.” And here she was, separated from her husband, dangling a big fat worm in front of his stupid trout mouth. “Oh, fuck it,” he thought.

“Dad can’t stand you,” JJ said. “He’s never liked you. After mom died, he told me.”

“Funny,” she said. “He told me the same thing about you.”

Touché.

“Bullshit,” he said.

“Don’t you ever think why we all hate each other?”

“Betty, we all hate you and you hate us.”

“You can’t stand Brian.”

“We bond over mocking you.”

“He calls me just to wonder why you’re such a loser. That ‘dumbass loser’, I think was the exact term.”

Professor Tom had said it would go like this. “They won’t want you to get away. Even if it’s what’s best for you. It will unbalance the mobile.”

“The mobile?” he had asked.

Families are like mobiles. Every member has their part to keep the balance, even if it’s all dysfunctional. If you leave the mobile, it will get out of balance.

JJ looked at his sister. “I’m leaving the mobile,” he said. “You guys will have to rebalance without me.”

“Don’t give me that shit about the mobile,” she said. “I know all about the mobile. You won’t get away now that everything’s going good for you.”

How the hell did she know about the mobile?

“Anyone who’s been in therapy since 1990 knows about the fucking mobile,” she said. “And you’re not leaving. At least without buying your way out.”

So this was it. She was shaking him down, offering to let him off the mobile for a price. Ok, then. Back to the beginning.

“Let’s cut to the chase,” he said. “How much do you want?”

“I’ll be in touch.” She rose and stalked away, leaving him with the check.

“I’m sure you will,” he muttered. “Happy holidays.”

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SLAP!

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Dear Readers,

The proponents of Aggro Parenting have long encouraged me to gather my writings into one coherent and accessible work.  The continuing decline of our society and erosion of our values have convinced me to speed up the process.  Everywhere we look we see discord, hatred, and strife.  Instead of raising funds from the usual sources or seeking a book advance from a publishing company with an agenda of its own, I have decided to self-publish and promote the book myself.  It appears necessary, urgent even, to begin releasing this material to the world before the book is completed.  Despite the dubious claims of the believers in global warming, the largest threat to our species lives right in our own homes.  Our own children are going to kill the planet long before the sea levels rise.  Pictured above is the cover of SLAP!, the future bible of the Aggro Parenting movement.  My sincere hope and prayer is that “Aggro Parenting” will soon be known simply as “Parenting”.

Here is an excerpt from the Prologue:

What happened to the respect of parents and authority? We all need to look in the mirror. As I have shown, we were all disciplined growing up. We were slapped into good behavior. However, a well-meaning but naïve cartel of therapists, scholars, and cultural watchdogs tell us that we were damaged and cannot repeat the same “mistakes” with our own children. They tell us that the “it was good enough for me” mentality is limiting and non-progressive. They tell us not to SLAP our kids and they shame us if we do. Sometimes they even put us in jail or take our children away.  Well, this scholar is here to tell you that we need to SLAP our kids more, not less. We need to SLAP them at home. We need to SLAP them in public. We need to SLAP them in the car. We especially need to SLAP them in the car.

And guess what?  Your children will thank you for it! Not some day, when they look back from a successful and lucrative adulthood. They will thank you in the moment, right after you SLAP them!

 This is possible only if you follow the SLAP program.

 

S- Sadism

L- enLivens

A- and

P- emPowers

 

Thank you for joining me on this journey back to sanity.  Together, we will SLAP the world back into shape!  Please watch for more excerpts as we approach the publication of this seminal work.

Davis Ferland, PhD

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Autumn Harvest Wreath, $149.95

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Dear Dave,

YUCK – ORANGE DRIPS STAINING MY DOORWAY

I have had this wreath for a few weeks on my front door, which is in a covered location due to our large front porch. The other day I noticed some orange droplets in the doorway which had stained the ground below the wreath – turns out my wreath is “bleeding” some weird orange drips onto the ground. The wreath is not wet, and I have no idea what would be making such dark orange drops come off it, but I am going to have to throw it out and am very disappointed.

Sally M, Seattle WA

Dear Sally,

A wreath? Come on! Wreaths don’t bleed. The reason the doorman is bleeding weird fluids onto your porch is because he’s dead! I know it’s hard to get good help to impress your many autumn visitors, but a few weeks on your front door? What did you do, nail him to the door like an ornament so he wouldn’t slouch? Did you even notice his coloring? You are careful to point out that your porch is covered and he was able to stay dry in rainy Seattle. Well, aren’t you are a compassionate lady of the people! My advice: lose the doorman and get a doorbell. Oh, and check your local laws on body disposal. Things are different now. You can’t just throw the body out like an old rug.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dave

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Lila and JJ in the Fall, Part 3: Together at Last?

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They lay in bed listening to the rain, talking little. Lila was on her side, her face snuggled against JJ’s neck. He was on his back, eyes open, staring at the ceiling. He remembered the cracks on the ceiling above his childhood bed, how they formed a river canyon and tributaries, a whole regional map up there. As a child, he lay in his bed and imagined a world of heroic deeds, unjust tragedies, and vengeance playing out on that ceiling. An entire fictional watershed was drained by the topographic cracks up there. There were no cracks yet on this adult farmhouse ceiling. Just some undulations here and there, a rolling prairie rather than a canyon land.

His phone, still in the pocket of his jeans on the floor, double buzzed for an incoming text.

“Don’t,” Lila said into his neck.

“I think something’s wrong.”

“What else is new.”

“I mean, like someone’s sick. Or died.”

“Someone’s going to die if you get out of this bed.”

“I have to,” he said and rolled away from her. He reached down and out, stretching for the jeans. He snagged a belt loop with a finger, reeled them in, and retrieved the phone from the pocket. “See, I didn’t have to get out of bed.”

Lila groaned and rolled away.

JJ read the text: From Betty (Satan), “Where are you!!! Barry had affair and I left.”

He stared at the screen and a strange sibling mix of emotions washed over him. Sadness for his sister, for anyone, betrayed and alone. Disappointment in Barry, tempered by a “What took you so long?” wonderment. Smug satisfaction that his upwardly mobile sister had been derailed in a non-life-threatening way. And, dread over what she wanted from him. Mostly there was the dread. She was in the area, a place she never visited, and that meant she expected to stay in the area. Probably in this very house where he finally lay snug in bed with the elusive love of his life.

“Well,” Lila said to the wall.

“Not good,” he said. “I have to call her.”

“Wait awhile.”

“Barry had an affair.”

“What took him so long?”

“Yeah, I know. But…”

“Oh, fuck it,” she said and flung back the blanket. She got up and thumped naked out of the bedroom. “Fuckin’ drama,” she muttered in the hall and went into the bathroom.

JJ called Betty.

She launched right into it. “Where are you? I was at your house. The car was there but no one answered. I tried to go in but the door was locked.”

Thank God he had locked it. She would have found them cowering in the downstairs bathroom.

“I went for a walk,” he said.

“Well, I’m coming back.”

Lila walked back into the room and JJ followed her with his eyes. She didn’t look at him but went over to the chair to sort through her discarded clothes. She started to dress.

“Listen Betty, it’s not a good time. I have a guest and we’re very busy today.”

Quiet. Then, “Are you saying that your own sister, abandoned by her husband, can’t come over?”

“Go home, Betty. Work it out with Barry.”

“Jason…”

Lila had turned to watch him and he met her eye.

“It’s going to be ok,” he said and hung up. He turned the phone off and Lila came back to bed, where it was warm.

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Therapeutic Dog Bed, $299.00

Dear Dave is a series in which I address poor reviews of consumer goods in the advice column tradition of Dear Abby or Dear Sugar. Aren’t most online reviews a cry for help, anyway?

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Dear Dave,
I bought this bed to keep my hairy beast off the furniture, figuring it was cheaper than replacing the couch. She still prefers the couch, the kitchen floor, the bedroom rug, anything, to this bed. The cat, however, seems to like it. The Extra Large would have probably fit 2 St. Bernards- it’s really big. And it is very very difficult to put together. I’m afraid now to wash it in case I can’t figure out how to put it back together. I’m very sorry I incurred such an expense because it’s not being used.
Frustrated
Western NY

Dear Frustrated,

Married couples are sometimes like citizens in closed countries. Think North Korea. Or the Soviet Union. They have alternate realities. People live there, they walk around, go to work, stand in food lines, fear the police. They do many of the same things that all people do, just in a closed-off parallel world. The citizens don’t know how different they are because their contact with other countries is all rumor and whispers. They suspect there’s something more, but they don’t know what it is. That sounds a little like your marriage, Frustrated. In your marriage country it’s ok to refer to your wife as a dog or “hairy beast”. And maybe she does have quite a bit of hair. However, it sounds like she prefers the floor or the rug instead of the bed because she doesn’t want to sleep with you! Out here, in the wonderfulfilling™ world of internet content and consumerism, she could remove that hair and you could find a therapist for men’s issues. In fact, that’s my recommendation. Seek therapy before you end up married to the cat. On a side note, we also wash our bedding out here in the modern world. Despite our fears of getting the fitted sheet back on the bed.

Best,

Dave

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Lila and JJ in the Fall, Part 2: A Close Call

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Except for an increasing rain, the omens seemed to stay at bay. They ran, holding hands and laughing, from the car to the porch and entered the house.

“This is awkward,” JJ said.

“Just kiss me,” Lila said. So they kissed right there in the kitchen. So far, so good. They parted, hands held between their bodies.

“Come upstairs with me,” he said.

“Let me go to the bathroom first.” She pulled away and turned with a sassy skip, looking back at him over her shoulder as she walked down the hall.

When the bathroom door closed, JJ turned to lock the outside door and something caught his eye in the sloping field. There was a group of wild turkeys in the grass. A gaggle? A flock? They were strutting and pecking their way across the field, taking their time. This farm with no crops and no animals. It’s a farm of the world, JJ thought. It’s just here and the turkeys are here and this is the way it’s supposed to be. “And I’m here with Lila,” he thought. “Finally. And it’s all ok.”

To the right he heard, then saw, a car coming up the road. It slowed and turned into his driveway. A black BMW, like an adder entering a henhouse. Alarmed squawking in JJ’s brain.

“No. No. No.” He didn’t recognize the car but he knew who it was. “No,” he said again as he watched Betty, his sister, emerge from the driver’s seat. She deployed an umbrella and peered around at the barn, field, and house. An intruder in nature. The land itself seemed to grow still, aware of this foreigner, knowing that people from Away never brought glad tidings. Betty started walking toward the porch.

The sound had all sucked up into JJ’s head and he was frozen by her approach. A sense of being the prey shuddered his body back into movement. She hadn’t yet seen him yet. His hand was still on the lock bolt and he turned it, the click breaking the spell. He moved quickly away, down the hall, crouching, and pushed his way through the bathroom door.

Lila was rising from the toilet, pulling up her jeans. “JJ, what the…”

“Shhhh. She’s here!”

“Who?”

“Betty.” JJ jostled past to the little window and pulled the curtains together tight. The bathroom was only a WC, just a toilet and a sink. He shifted back to the bathroom door and latched the hook into the eyelet.

“JJ, really.”

“She’s here to ruin my life.”

Then came the knocking, four hard raps. He could picture her there, all consternation and intent. He quieted his breathing and waited.

“JJ,” Lila whispered.

“Shhh.”

Then, his sister’s voice, muffled but too close. “Jason!” For a moment he thought she was already in the house but, no. His mind was messing with him. They stayed quiet, waiting it out. JJ’s phone vibrated in his pocket. Caller id: “Betty (Satan)”. He refused the call. Four more hard raps on the door, a turning and shaking of the doorknob, (“Thank God I locked it”).  Silence for a moment, then steps retreating, car door chunking shut, the engine, tires on gravel, and an acceleration down the hill.

He realized he was clutching Lila’s hand. He was clutching her whole arm.

“Kiss me again,” Lila whispered. “She’s gone.”

“But she’ll be back,” he said. He looked at Lila’s wry smile, the twinkle in her eye, and realized she was amused, enjoying this. Then he kissed her, cowering in the little downstairs bathroom of the farmhouse he bought with his lottery winnings. He felt they were in a sanctuary, spared and chosen, the overlooked survivors of some freak disaster. A close call and very exciting

He pulled her closer and let his hands roam down to her waist and hips.  Her noticed her jeans were still unbuttoned from when he barged into the bathroom. He never wanted her more.

But a voice, insistent, in his head. “She’ll be back,” it said.

“Oh shut up,” he said out loud.

“What?”

“Come on,” he said and led her into the hallway and up the stairs.

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