Anonymous Mailbag

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The anonymous mailbag is here to save those of you who are actually at work. Or to save those of you who are already with your families for Thanksgiving and seeking a few minutes of escape.

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

Here we go:

“A couple weeks ago, my wife’s best friend brought a gift over for my 4 year old daughter. The friend had been helping her mom clean out their old house and came across some old toys, still in boxes. The friend is explaining this to me as she hands my 4 year old an obviously vintage Barbie. 
I tell the friend that the Barbie appeared older, and since it was still in the box, could have some value to it. She brushed it off as if it wasn’t a big deal and because my 4 year old is getting into Barbies, she wanted her to have it. I double check, verifying she was sure… and that was that.
After the friend leaves I google this Barbie and it turns out to be a 1985 Dream Glow Barbie with an estimated value of $125 to $140… nothing major but it could definitely help pay for college in 14 years, especially being new in the box. 
My wife wasn’t home for all this. I grab the box and put it up in a cabinet and promise my 4 year old I would take her to Target and buy any Barbie she wanted the next day. Once my wife got home I told her she needed to offer her friend the Barbie back, no questions asked, no harm no foul. The friend insisted we keep it, and that the internet is probably wrong on the value. 
I hold the line pretty tight that this is an appreciating asset we need to hang on to. She holds the line that our daughter should play with it because it’s a gift from a best friend. What do you think?”
I understand your idea of keeping the old toy in the box rather than opening it and playing with it like it’s a new toy, but this line of thinking from you is totally bonkers “(the Barbie) turns out to be a 1985 Dream Glow Barbie with an estimated value of $125 to $140… nothing major but it could definitely help pay for college in 14 years, especially being new in the box.”
Help pay for college?!
Are you insane?
That Barbie doll is nearly thirty years old and adjusting for inflation it has roughly increased in value by about $90 over the past thirty years.
That’s $30 a decade, or $3 per year.
Given that your daughter is four years old now, she’d be entering college in fourteen years, meaning your Barbie doll projects to be worth about $42 more, or between $165 and $180.
I don’t know where your daughter is planning to go to college, but this won’t even cover her bedspread and bedsheets in the dorm room freshman year.
I do, however, understand your reticence to allow her to play with a toy that old when you could just go buy her a new one for $20.
Only, and this is pretty funny, by going out and buying her a new Barbie you’ve wiped out half the gains you stand to receive over the next fourteen years from the old Barbie’s appreciating value.
Plus, this doesn’t even factor in any of the time you’ll spend trying to sell the old Barbie or go buy the new Barbie, which will probably cancel out all the money you’d make. (This is why garage sales are so crazy in general. If you factor in your own labor most people who put on garage sales end up spending more time pricing, setting up the inventory and selling things than they make off the things they sell. That’s fine if you enjoy the process, but if you factor in an hourly salary for yourself you end up losing a ton of money in the process. Or paying yourself like $2 an hour.)
Anyway, if I were you I’d probably go buy the new Barbie and keep the old Barbie in the plastic. I don’t know why I’d do this either, but I think it’s probably something nostalgic in our childhoods that makes us not want to open the old toys of our youth.
My mom kept a ton of my old toys from when I was a kid — all opened toys, by the way — and whenever my kids break one of those old toys, which has happened quite a few times, I find myself reacting like a kid and being upset at them for breaking one of “my” old toys. I don’t actually say anything, but in my head I’m like, “You asshole, why did you break my Spider-Man?!”
Is that ridiculous?
Of course.
But I bet there are a lot of dads and moms who react the same way to kids playing with their old toys.
So save the old Barbie, but not because it’s going to pay for college some day, but just because you think your daughter might find an old Barbie still in the package to be cool when she gets older.
And go buy her two new ones, not just one.

“A college buddy of mine reached out to me recently. We typically keep in touch pretty regularly over sports. Shared power 5 school and fans of MLB rivals, so text a couple times/month throughout the year.

Hadn’t heard from in a couple months until this past weekend. He confided in me some issues with his marriage, that he and his wife are looking to explore intimately, and that I am who they decided on.
I’m single, they live in another state, and she’s a smoke show, so there’s a small part of my brain that thinks “what’s the big deal?”  I’m about 99.9% on no freaking way, but that little devil on my other shoulder is whispering in my ear.  Just to be clear, not a 3 way situation.  
What should I do?”
Well, the thing that bothers me here is that he and his wife are having “issues in (their) marriage.”
If they were totally happy with each other and they wanted a (somewhat) stranger to spice up their sex life, I’d say go for it. You’re in a different state, you’re single, and she’s really hot. They probably picked you for that exact reason, because you don’t have any entanglements and there’s a geographic distance between you, but you’re also not a total stranger.
But if they’re having issues in their marriage then you are just cannonballing into their relationship and I don’t see anything good that comes out of this for you.
I’m not an expert on marriages — or relationships in general — but I don’t think there are many marriages that have been saved by a friend of the husband’s banging the wife.
Maybe I’m wrong and there are tons of you out there reading this right now thinking to yourself, “Boy is Clay ever wrong about this one. Before Jim-Bob laid the pipe to my wife we were on our way to divorce, but after Jim Bob banged the hell out of her, our marriage is perfect now!”
Having said all of this, now that you’ve read my answer, I know exactly what you’re thinking, you’re weighing how hot she is, aren’t you?
So if you’re going to do it, I hope she is so hot it’s impossible for you to bang a girl that good looking in your own town. After all, you’re single. There should be plenty of available girls for you without the marriage connection.
Because I just don’t see this ending well for you.
Or them.
“When it comes to female attire, there seem to be a spectrum, with naked (i.e., no clothing) on one extreme and a full burka (only eyes visible) on the other extreme. I have been married for a decade and have young kids. I consider myself an extreme moderate in many ways, including dress.

Lately, my wife, who is quite attractive, has started wearing tops that I would say are on the more revealing side of the spectrum. I am not talking tight-fitting tops, but very low cut v-necks or button-up shirts that are unbuttoned farther than I would consider normal, such that one gets quite an eye-full when she makes minor movements. As a boob-loving male, this is of course a festival for my eyes, but maybe less fun knowing that my neighbors, the grocer, handyman, etc. all get that view of my wife.

Ignore why she is wearing what she wears (that seems like it could a totally separate question with deeper issues), what I want to know is, am I BAP to let it bother me? And if not, how would you suggest I tell my wife that I am not a fan of outfits that give “Dave next door” a generous view of her bra and boobs. The one time I mentioned that a particular shirt seemed to leave little to the imagination, she reacted like I was seeking sharia law.
Clearly there must be a line where the attire is inappropriate (e.g., if my wife were wearing lingerie in public). And the line would seem to change somewhat as one goes from single to married.”
So I think the bigger issue here — even though you said to ignore it — is why has your wife suddenly started dressing sexier?
My guess is that now that she’s a mom of a couple of kids she doesn’t feel as sexy as she used to and she wants to still feel sexy and not feel like a mom all day. So she’s stepped up her sexy attire game. It could also be that she feels more confident now because she’s a mom, is married, and isn’t as shy as she used to be.
It’s also possible she’s a suburban housewife hooker and this is how she picks up clients.
I kid, I kid.
Okay, here’s a lesson I’ve learned in 15 years of marriage. NEVER CRITICIZE CLOTHING CHOICES WITH WOMEN.
Hell, I don’t even like making clothing suggestions.
I’ve given clothing advice to my wife once in the past three years that’s she’s actually listened to. We were going to a Preds playoff game and I told her the women dressed up for Preds playoff games and she got there and was overdressed and I still hear about it to this day.
I’m not even kidding about this, she continues to bring it up on a regular basis — the time I told her to dress up for the Preds playoff game and what a fashion calamity it was.
Yet do you know what my wife has asked me for twenty straight years of events we go to? What are people going to be wearing there? And do you know what I always tell her? “I don’t know, I’m wearing a button down and jeans.” Literally this has been my answer for twenty years. Occasionally, but not often, I’ll add a sports coat to my attire.
Sometimes she’ll ask me to ask other women for her while she’s getting dressed and I don’t like even getting involved in that because it’s too confusing for me.
That’s why f there’s an event we’re going to that she really cares about, I just let her pick out what I’m going to wear.
I say all this for this reason, it’s impossible for you to win when it comes to suggesting your wife’s attire is too revealing.
Buddy, you are just not winning on this conversation and I think you need to just stop being a pussy about this and get over it.
I would suggest you bring up in casual conversation the new sexy outfits you’re noticing, but I’m not even sure you can delicately bring this up without getting yourself into trouble. Especially since you’ve already commented on the outfits and been effectively accused of trying to implement sharia law in your household.
What I’d suggest instead is that you spend more time complimenting your wife on how sexy she looks. The phrase, “You’re even better looking now than before you had kids,” is, I would suggest, the greatest phrase any husband can ever utter to a wife with kids.
I say this to my wife all the time and I truly believe she’s better looking now than she was before she had three kids. (And I’m not just saying this in case she’s reading the anonymous mailbag today).
Maybe the reason your wife is dressing sexier is because she’s not hearing enough from you that’s she’s still sexy.
As much as I’d like to give you great advice here, I think this is a battle it’s absolutely impossible for any husband to win. (Also, by the way, it’s also a battle every man in the workplace should never engage in. God forbid you try and apply a dress code to a woman in a #metoo era at the office. You have to duck and cover from every one of these potential conversations. There’s just nothing to gain here.)

“I’m going to be proposing to my girlfriend soon. We’ve been dating for 3.5 years, and I’m super excited to get engaged. I just turned 30, and she’s 2 years younger than me. We’ve talked a lot about our future and discussed any compromises we plan on making; my only remaining concerns are about kids.  We both want kids, and we’ve agreed to having 3 kids, but there are some differences here:

1. She really, really wants kids, and would love to have 4, 5, or even 6 kids. I’m just pretty sure that I want kids, and 3 kids seems like enough that the house never gets boring, but not overwhelming or too expensive. I’ve spent plenty of time with kids between ages 5-15 during various summer jobs in high school and college, and I think they’re fun, but I haven’t spent any time around infants. I’ve only held a baby once in my life, and it was about a year ago. What if after the first year of raising kid #1 I’m just not into having a second?

2. She wants kids earlier than I do. She wants to be pregnant before she turns 30 (meaning I’ll be a dad at 32, maybe 33). I get that she has biological clock and I’ve done the backwards math, so I understand why she wants to start having kids at 30. Money’s not an issue – I’m graduating from grad school after having a full ride, with a job offer in hand, so between the two us we should be making at least $250k in salary (doesn’t even count bonuses). I’m just not ready for my social life to end (none of my friends have kids, maybe one couple is remotely close). Right now, the idea of dropping $2k on a trip with my college roommates to watch my alma mater play in a bowl game seems way more fun than spending $2k on diapers and baby food. Beyond that, I just find it difficult to imagine myself as a father in the next 2 years.

I love this girl, and can’t imagine her not being in my life. I can imagine myself as a parent, but just not in the immediate future. I always thought that I’d reach an age where my social life would die and my professional life would plateau, and that would be the perfect time to start a family, but I’m starting to notice that there’s always going to be something; a friend inviting me somewhere, a new professional opportunity, etc. Is there ever a ‘good time’ to have kids, or just ‘not-bad times?’ Should I be worried about this, or is this common?”

I think most men enter into marriage happy with their life and not really wanting it to change very much.

I think most women are different — they are planning on substantial changes to their lives.

To your fiancee’s credit she’s told you exactly what she wants — multiple kids starting at the age of thirty. Given how many kids she wants to have, starting at thirty even seems a bit late. So I think it’s hard for you to quibble with her timeline.

As for whether you should be nervous about having kids, yeah, you should.

Having that first kid is a tremendous lifestyle change that it’s hard to prepare for. I know some people like to talk about getting ready for having kids by having a dog, but that’s like saying you’re preparing for building your own house by staying in a hotel for a weekend. It’s really just a nonsensical analogy.

You just can’t prepare for having kids. Nor can you tell people how to be ready for having kids.

But the upshot of all of this is that eventually you’ll forget what it was like not to have kids.

And they probably will be the best part of your life.

I’m writing the mailbag from my house here in Nashville and my family has already headed down to the beach for Thanksgiving and I’m walking around the house wondering how I used to spend all my time before kids.

The house is just silent and I’ve been a dad for almost 12 years and it’s like I’ve forgotten what life was like before I was a dad.

You’ll eventually, like most dads and moms, be the same way. And, like I said above, you will probably consider becoming a parent to be the best decision you ever made.

I understand some parents don’t like it, but I think they’re the small minority.

Now it’s not easy, and you’ll be overwhelmed by how busy you are, but most things that are worth doing aren’t easy. And parenting is the same way.

Having said all of this, I do understand your point about not really knowing how many kids you’ll want. But that’s totally normal too.

It’s also partly based on how easy or difficult your kids are as babies and on what type of jobs you and your wife have. Despite what some people will say, all kids are totally different. You can have an angel baby or a devil baby and it’s not really based on your parenting skills.

The easier the first baby you have is, the more likely you’ll want multiple kids. The more difficult your first baby is, the less likely you’ll want multiple kids.

But there’s a reason most highly educated couples stop at two or three kids as opposed to having several more, because raising kids in today’s society is really hard work and it’s incredibly time consuming.

Plus, it’s very hard for both parents to have kids while working full time.

So there’s a ton to balance out, as you’ll discover in the years ahead.

In the meantime, I doubt you’re talking your fiancee out of her decisions when it comes to kids. She’s been thinking about this way longer than you have and she’s already planned out your family. If you don’t want kids on her timetable you need to let her know now, before the two of you get married.

Good luck.

Thanks for reading and happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

As always you can send your anonymous mailbag questions to me at claytravis@gmail.com

In the meantime, good luck winning $10k of my money this weekend with the free Outkick college football pick’em.

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