Anonymous Mailbag

It’s Wednesday — I know I’m a day late this week because I had kid’s doctor obligations yesterday morning — and the anonymous mailbag is here to rescue you from your work or school doldrums.

As always you can send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

With that in mind, here we go:

“Need some advice.  Just found out my wife is pregnant with our third child. We currently have a 4 year old and a 2 year old.  We are 41 and 40 years old (bit of a late start to the kid thing).  My wife is staying home currently with the kids while they get through preschool and I am doing ok financially (living in Charlotte making about $100K a year).  The issue is neither of us want a third child.  We got drunk on one of our few nights away and it happened.  We are considering all options including potentially terminating the pregnancy.  What are your thoughts?  We feel like we are just getting through the rough period of young kids and can see the light to a life where we can go out to restaurants, travel, etc and a third child just gets us back into the malaise of babies not to mention the health risks. Both of our other kids were early and spent weeks in the NICU. It also prolongs my wife going back to work by a couple of years so the financial impact is daunting as well.  Thanks in advance for the help.”

I’m pro-choice, but anti-choice once you’re married.

Does that make sense?

That is, I support a woman’s right to choose, but wouldn’t support an abortion in my own marriage if we accidentally got pregnant and were in line to have a kid we weren’t expecting. I’d want to have that kid and I’m not sure I’d get over intentionally terminating that pregnancy. (This is assuming there’s no health risks for the mom and the baby.)

That’s why the thing that gives me pause about your situation is both of your children being in the NICU and spending weeks there. That’s an incredible stress and I can imagine that’s difficult for both of you. But it seems as if both of your first two children ended up fine, so my assumption is that would happen for the third as well. Unless, and this is a key caveat, the doctor advises your wife not to continue the pregnancy for health reasons, I’d have the baby.

Because here’s the truth, your kids are four and two. It’s not like they are 16 and 14 and college is on the horizon. Is having a 5, 3 and 1 year old really going to make your life that much different than having a five and three year old? I don’t think so.

In fact, I’ve been there so I can tell you — it really doesn’t change that much, two young kids are hectic just like three young kids are hectic.

Plus, you’re not that old, especially since as you said, you started late.

Personally, we have three kids and I can’t imagine not having the third. I suspect just about every parent feels the same way. Once you add a kid to your family, it’s hard to imagine not having that kid in your family, no matter what number they are.

In fact, I’d have a fourth and fifth if my wife were okay with it.

So I’d 100% tell you to have the kid and immediately go get a vasectomy to ensure this never happens again.

And for everyone out there who 100% doesn’t want another kid, why wouldn’t you go get a vasectomy today to ensure this never, ever happens again?

“Need some advice on how to handle the following situation with my girlfriend:

We have been dating for a little over a year now. We both went to an SEC school and live in the Midwest. Her birthday is on Sept. 1st and consequently always falls on Labor Day weekend. Last year we spent that weekend at the lake together. This year my friends are planning a fishing trip near the Canadian border. Of course I was all in on it and wanted to go, but this would mean I would have to miss my girlfriend’s birthday.

Needless to say she was pissed as hell I even considered going on the fishing trip and missing her birthday (she’s turning 24 fyi). I proposed we celebrate her birthday before I leave town on that Friday night but she wasn’t for that option. I would take her out to a nice dinner, get her a thoughtful present and go all out to make up for the fact I’ll be gone. Am I being an unreasonable selfish asshole for wanting to go on this trip and miss spending her birthday with her? What’s my play here King Solomon of the Internet?”

First, I think I hate both of you.

How did you graduate from an SEC school and yet you’re choosing to spend the first weekend of college football season on a fishing trip? You couldn’t have taken the same damn fishing trip for the entire months of June, July or August? Why would you schedule this for the opening weekend of college football, it’s just nonsensical.

Furthermore, the fact that none of your friends have complained about this date as well means that not only do you suck, but so do all your friends.

Second, if celebrating your 24 year old girlfriend’s birthday on her actual birthday is so important you can’t do other things on that date then you need to go ahead and cut bait. (See what I did there? That’s how you make the big bucks as a writer).

Your girlfriend’s high maintenance and that’s not stopping for the rest of your life together.

CAN I JUST SAY THIS FOR A MINUTE, BY THE WAY, ONCE YOU’RE OUT OF GRADE SCHOOL NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR FUCKING BIRTHDAY.

I’m so sick of grown ass adults making a big deal about their birthdays. Other than the big numbers — 21, 30, 40, etc — a birthday isn’t a big deal. Congrats, you didn’t die and now you get free pie at Applebee’s. Just please shut the fuck up about your birthday.

Anyway, back to your girlfriend, let some other poor bastard jump on this grenade and snuff out his life by marrying her.

You need to run in the other direction.

And you also need to pick new guy friends so you aren’t going on fishing trips on the opening weekend of college football season.

Honestly, given your girlfriend and friend choices, I think you need to reconsider your entire life.

“I live in a Midwestern state in a medium sized town. I’ve been married 10+ years to a smart and educated woman.  We both have college degrees. She and I are fairly alike, politically speaking.  I lean libertarian (I’m fairly liberal when it comes to social issues but conservative on many political matters) and she is near the center of the political spectrum, but also leaning right with regard to politics as she has gotten older.

Like many people, I think Trump’s ascendance broke her and has at least temporarily, caused her to become slightly irrational when it comes to politics and the state of the world.  She went full “pantsuit nation” during the election and hates Trump more than I can say in words so I won’t try.  She’s pro-choice and pro-LGBTQ. At least that’s what I have always thought!

Since I’ve known her she’s always had a group of gay friends, both male and female. Nothing to write home about yet, I know.  Here’s my point.  Recently, she drops a bomb on me.  She tells me that she read our 13-year-old kid’s text messages and has discovered that he’s been telling people about being gay.  Admittedly, that threw me for a loop because I wasn’t expecting my wife to drop this on me without warning, and quite honestly, I never saw it coming regarding my kid. 

The only way I knew to respond to this bombshell was to give my kid unconditional love and support.  Live your best life, right?  Yeah there’s a ton to think about and prepare for, but at this stage of life, who even knows what this all means?  In other words, I’m not at all concerned about this. 

What surprised me was my wife’s reaction.  She was nearly apoplectic as she started talking about how big of a deal this was and how our kid’s life is going to be filled with problems, discrimination, etc.  She was in tears as she talked about all of this.  She’s literally losing sleep over it.

I find it ironic that upon finding out that her child was possibly gay, my wife had a near breakdown.  I’m nearly certain that people would look at me, the dreaded American white male, as the one opposed to the situation.  Yet, I have virtually no concerns about the issue.  My only thoughts with regard to my children are that I would do nearly anything to ensure their happiness, and I want them to make their own decisions regarding their (adult) lives.  Who would have thought that my Facebooking, Twittering, and Instagramming virtue-signaling wife would be the one upset about this whole issue?  Don’t we all just want our children to be happy?  I wonder what her LGBTQ friends would think of her if they knew.”

Well, first, I don’t think her reaction is about being anti-gay.

I think if you sat down and talked with your wife about her emotional response to this issue she’d tell you she isn’t upset by your son’s being gay, she’s terrified of how other people are going to respond to his being gay. She believes she, as an enlightened person, will respond perfectly fine to this, but she’s terrified of how other less enlightened people will respond to him.

This also explains much of the antipathy for Trump — it’s not so much hating Trump — other than being brash and uncouth and sending out ridiculous Tweets, what has Trump really done to make any American citizen’s life awful? Nothing — it’s about expressing how much better of a person she is than him. If anything, Trump is the perfect villain for a certain segment of the American public — he’s an unapologetic old white male who believes he knows better than everyone else.

Admittedly, I’m not gay so it’s impossible to know what your son feels like, but I’d respond exactly like you did if this happened in my family, with love and support for my kid and no great fear that his life was going to be insanely difficult from this point forward.

Now is being gay harder than being straight for a teenager? I think probably so just because the majority of people are straight and kids can be cruel any time another kid is different for any reason. Plus, think about how awkward it was when you liked a girl or boy and were 14. Now imagine how much more awkward it might be if you liked a boy or girl and you had no idea if they actually liked your sex? As awkward as your initial high school encounters with the opposite sex might have been, I’d bet most of us, myself included, never spent much time debating whether the person we liked was gay or straight.

Think about how much more awkward and tough that would have made things. (Although if all the girls in high school who rejected me were lesbians, this probably would have made them even hotter to me.)

Having said that, I’m not even sure it’s that big of a deal for teenage kids today to go to school with gay classmates. (I don’t know because I’m not a teenager, but it seems like kids today are much more exposed to gay people than they were twenty or thirty years ago and most of them wouldn’t really have a big problem with it. Again, I could be wrong because kids tend to pick on other kids who aren’t like them, but is being gay a big thing in high schools today or not? Regardless, I’d think that once you leave high school that challenge would be drastically minimized in college and adulthood, where there would be a substantial gay populations surrounding you for the rest of your life. Unless, and I’ll still admit this could be an issue, you’re the only gay person in a small, conservative town without much of a gay population.)

Furthermore, as you mention, he’s thirteen.

I just went to a family engagement party for a relative who told everyone she was a lesbian when she was 16 and she’s now marrying a guy. Now maybe she’s bi-sexual — I haven’t asked because this seems like a conversation a step-uncle could go to jail for having with his step-niece, not to mention it actually sounds like the tagline for a popular video on pornhub — but my point is teenagers aren’t always 100% sure about anything.

Especially thirteen year old’s.

So all you can do is be loving and supportive of the challenges they face.

But let’s presume that your son’s gay and is just coming out for the first time — I’m with you, I tend to think your son will be fine and I also tend to think this is your wife engaging in catastrophisizing thought. Just as she’s terrified by what Donald Trump will do to the country and needs to create boogeymen to believe he’s evil, so too she’s convinced that others who are less enlightened than her will make your son’s life miserable.

She’s projecting extreme goodness from herself and extreme evilness to people who are not her.

I tend to believe the opposite, that he’ll be fine so long as his parents love and support him, which it sounds like both of you do.

I think all you can do is try and talk your wife off the ledge here, but it sounds like she’s chosen to believe the worst and may not be amenable to logical discussions because her emotional fear has overrun her logic. My hope would be that she’s at least keeping her concerns to herself and not aiding in the fear your son might feel over his decision to go public with his homosexuality.

It has been my experience that if you expect the worst from people you tend to get the worst from them and if you expect the best from people you tend to get the best.

Why is that?

Because we tend to receive back what we put out into the world, regardless of what our background is.

That’s advice I’d share with your son going forward as well.

Good luck to him.

“I live in a house in decent suburban neighborhood (covenant controlled) in Denver. Some of us in the neighborhood take care of our houses, mow the lawn, trim bushes, pull weeds, etc. Unfortunately, some of my neighbors don’t take any pride in ownership. Coincidentally, the people who live in the houses with dead front lawns also tend to park a lot of cars at their house. Every house basically has six parking spots allotted to it—two spaces in the garage, two in the driveway, and two spaces on each side of driveway on the street. 

My problem is that some of these people have so many people living at their house that the six spaces are not enough and they end-up parking cars overnight in front of my house (the two spaces on each side of my driveway). This isn’t a downtown neighborhood where parking is at a premium, this is a basic suburban living situation. My neighbors aren’t doing anything illegal (it’s legal city street parking), I just think it’s incredibly rude to park in front of someone else’s house every night or to leave a car and not move it for days at a time. It drives me crazy!

Every morning I look out of my windows and stare at cars that aren’t mine parked in front of my house (spoiler alert: these aren’t nice cars either). Plus, when my friends or family come to visit, they either have to park in my driveway or park several houses down from me.

I already anonymously report these people to the HOA for having dead front yards, but there’s nothing they can do about legal city street parking. I could ask them to stop parking in front of my house but many of them don’t even speak English and like I said they aren’t doing anything illegal. Am I being too sensitive? If not, what can I do to remedy this situation? I don’t want to have a major neighborhood confrontation. Any wisdom or thoughts would be greatly appreciated!”

The easiest thing I can think of is you start parking your own cars in front of your house to take up those parking spaces.

Or, in an effort to provoke confrontation, you start parking your cars in front of their house.

But all this does is make it normal to have cars parked on the street and I don’t see how it solves any problem. If anything, it just moves the problem to more front yards than there are now.

I don’t know how common this concern is, but I know it used to drive my wife crazy when we lived in downtown Nashville and people parked in front of our house. I’m not talking about during a party or on an occasional day, I’m talking about just parking in front of our house for no reason.

Personally, I just ignored it.

And I think you should do the same.

If you find it impossible to stop thinking about it, use it as fuel to work harder and earn more money so you can one day move to a new neighborhood.

At least that way your anger is leading to something productive.

Send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

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