It’s Tuesday, time for the anonymous mailbag.
As always, send your anonymous mailbag questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, anonymity guaranteed.
Okay, here we go:
“I’m a 43-year-old female, happily married, two kids. I was raised along with one sister (40, divorced, one kid) in a small town by loving parents who still reside in our childhood home. My sister and I now live in larger cities within a four-hour drive of our hometown. Growing up, we were heavily involved in church at the behest of our parents — Sundays, Wednesdays, youth group, VBS, the whole deal. Once I got to college, I drifted away from the church and now attend only on the occasional holiday and, of course, when home visiting my parents. My sister took the same path when she left home. I still believe in a higher power but no longer subscribe to any specific religion. I guess you could call me “spiritual but not religious.” My parents, on the other hand, have never wavered in their evangelical convictions.
A little over a year ago, my father had a heart attack. While he made what initially looked to be a full recovery, he’s since had a number of setbacks. His health is rapidly declining, and our family is starting to prepare for a world without him in it. On a recent trip home, he asked to speak with my sister and me in private, saying there’s something weighing heavily on his mind. He told us that his last wish was for both of us “to know the lord Jesus Christ and become saved.” Tearing up, he said, “I want all four of us to be together again one day, and I can’t bear to think of the alternative.” Implying, obviously, that he believes we’ll go to hell if we don’t act.
It’s important to note that my dad was never a hateful or judgmental father. He is the greatest man I’ve ever known and sacrificed so much to give my sister and me the opportunities we’ve had. He simply and genuinely believes that going to hell is the fate of anyone who dies without being “saved” — not excluding his own daughters. His exhortations are coming from a place of love and worry.
My sister and I vehemently disagree on how to handle this situation. She thinks that for our dad’s sake, we should accompany him to church, answer the altar call, and make a fake profession of faith. I maintain that we owe it to our dad to be our authentic selves and not pretend to be someone we aren’t, arguing that I wouldn’t want my kids (not yet teenagers even) to lie about a huge part of who they are to appease me. My husband, for what it’s worth, sides with me (or at least likes sleeping with me enough to pretend he does).
Since we’re at a stalemate and time, sadly, is not on our side, I thought I’d throw it to you, the liberal conservative gay Muslim who’s also a devout Christian agnostic with spiritual leanings. Do we satisfy our father’s dying wish and undergo a phony religious transformation?”
This is an incredibly heavy question to start the anonymous mailbag with, but I think the answer is, yes, I’d undergo the phony religious transformation to make my dad happy on his deathbed.
I’m a big believer in balancing equities in life. That is, when you can do something that doesn’t cost you very much and makes someone else very happy, I think you should err on the side of making someone else happy. That’s in all facets of life, but certainly in a deathbed situation involving a beloved parent.
What’s your cost here if you lie about what you believe to your dying father? At the absolute worst this creates an ethical dilemma for you, but other than that, so what? If you’re going to hell already, pretending to be religious isn’t going to make you go to hell any quicker.
But this may make your own father much more comfortable with his death.
Is it really that important to you that your parents know your exact and completely honest feelings on religious related issues?
If he’s a true believer in his faith, and it seems clear your dad is, then the idea that you’re going to spend eternity in hell while he’s in heaven is likely upsetting him a great deal. He wants to spend as much time as he possibly can because he loves and cares for you and your sister so deeply.
As he nears death you and your sister are what matters the most to him.
When people are near death, I think this is common. We want to be surrounded by the people who meant the most to us in our lives. I think it’s the obligation of those loved ones to ease our loved ones paths to death as best we can. That means sometimes we may agree to do things we otherwise wouldn’t in order to make their final moments as pleasant as they can possibly be.
No one knows what happens after death, but if your dad dies and he’s right — and you’re wrong — then he’ll be in heaven for all eternity and you’ll be in hell for all eternity. So he’ll know that you lied to him then. But, and this is the key, THIS IS THE ONLY WAY HE’D EVER KNOW YOU LIED TO HIM.
So if you’re correct about what happens after death then your father will die content and never know that you lied to him.
Plus, what if you change your mind as you get older? There’s a huge number of people who convert to a religion on their deathbed. As you age you focus more on what will happen after you’re gone. What if you falsely convert now and then later end up really converting when you’re eighty years old yourself? Then even if your dad was right and you see him in heaven he might never know you lied about the conversion as he was dying.
And if he did know about your lies, would he really care if later on in life you ended up agreeing with him? Of course not. The end goal is eternal salvation, not eternal salvation at a particular point of your life.
If I were you, I’d falsely convert.
I think your sister is right and your husband, by the way, is probably lying to you so you’ll keep sleeping with him. (And if he’s not lying about this, he’s lying about something else so you’ll keep sleeping with him. Trust me, all married men are lying about something so their wives will keep sleeping with them.)
“I’ve been married now for six years. We got married right after graduating. We have 3 pairs of married friends that we have been friends with since college and still are today. I have been having an affair with all three of the wives. I have been having sex with all three of the women a few times a month since the end of college. As far as I’m aware none of the 3 women or my wife know that I’ve been with any of the other women.
It’s crazy to think I haven’t got caught in six years of doing this. I’m really wanting to end my affair with all three of the other women and try to be more faithful to my wife, but I really don’t know how to end this without my whole thing burning down. I’m thinking if I end the affairs with the other three women they may tell my wife. Should I just continue on since i’m having a great sex life with four beautiful women? I feel like I may have a less chance of getting caught if I just continue the affairs. How should I go about this without my whole life crashing down?”
First, this sounds like a crazy story.
But assuming this is true, do you really think these women are going to blow up their entire lives because you’re so good at having sex that they can’t imagine not having you to sleep with? That they’re going to tell your wife about your affairs with them, but only going to tell her if the affair ends?
That’s crazy. (As a general rule you can bet against people undertaking actions that make their lives worse than they already are. In other words, most people are selfish and their motivations are selfish in nature. As soon as you require someone to give up something like value — here a marital relationship — it’s unlikely to occur absent some benefit accruing to them. So unless you’re a sugar daddy and you’re threatening to turn off the cash spigot, I think these women will be fine.)
Odds are these women will keep quiet about your relationship ending just like they’ve kept quiet about your relationship existing thus far.
As for what you should say, how about it’s not a good idea for us to be having an affair and we need to break it off before this ends up destroying both of our lives?
(Personally, I kind of hope your wife is sleeping with all three of these guys too because it makes the story even better.)
“Over the last few months I have become really fond of this girl. There is a problem though, we are both in relationships. We both are unhappy and looking for change. We talk about it constantly. We kind of work together but not directly and I have known her for years. Over the last few months though we have gotten kind of close and talk often. To the point where my gf is jealous of her. She has brought up both of us breaking up with our partners and moving on together and tonight she wants to hang out. On her three year anniversary with her bf. What do I do here? She is a smoke show. I feel like there could be something there if I play this right, but wonder if I’m just the friend that’s giving her what her bf isn’t. Help me Clay Travis, you’re my only hope.”
If you don’t like your girlfriend, break up with her.
You don’t have to jump from one relationship to another, you aren’t standing on a sinking boat and in danger of drowning as the boat sinks into the water.
It’s perfectly fine to be single.
Maybe a relationship with this other girl will work out, maybe it won’t.
But it’s pretty clear you’re done with the girl you’re dating now. It isn’t fair to stay with her just because you don’t have a better option at the present moment.
Break up with her and move on.
If the other girl won’t break up with her boyfriend, so what? There are plenty of other girls out there. The important thing here is this: you know you don’t like your current girlfriend enough to stay with her.
Boom, your decision is made.
You can’t control what others do; spend more time on your own decisions and less on the decisions of others.
“How do I address my wife’s inefficiency or unwillingness to do things around the house that need to be done? Case in point, we are having new carpet put in in a few days, which means there is a lot of work to be done to get everything off the floor, breakdown beds, etc. My wife was supposed to work on this while I was gone for 3 hours at my kid’s practice last night and best I can tell she put in about 10 minutes of work. What this means is I will now have to have her take our son to his game tonight, with me missing the game, because I know if I don’t stay home and get everything cleaned up, it simply won’t get done in time for the carpet people.
How should this be handled without blowing up into a huge argument? It’s one thing to work slow, it’s another to put your spouse out to the point that they have to miss a kid’s event because of your unwillingness to pull your weight.”
If it’s a three hour job, why can’t the two of you do it simultaneously and have it take 1.5 or two hours?
Based on your email, to be honest, it feels like you are trying to punish her and use your son as the collateral damage. Is it really impossible for this work to be done at any time other than during your son’s event? Why can’t you all go to the game, come home, and stay up working for 1.5 hours each to get things ready for the carpet to be installed?
Also, what do the carpet installation people do if they show up and the carpet can’t be installed? Do they just not install the carpet? Do they charge you for the labor of having to move things out of the room? I honestly don’t know.
What I do know is this, it’s fucking carpet, does it really matter that much when it gets installed? If it doesn’t work one day, it will work another day.
Again, it’s fucking carpet.
I hate fighting over dumb things and it seems like you guys are headed towards a big fight over a dumb thing here.
And my point remains: very rarely does it occur that something has to be done at the exact moment that something else is scheduled in your life.
Most people can make their schedules work so they are able to do two different things they want to do. That’s called being flexible, which is an important trait to have in life and in any relationship.
My read on this situation is you’re trying to set up a fight with your wife and creating a conflict that isn’t as stark as you make it out to be.
That’s not to take away from your wife’s failures here.
You relied on her to help you and she didn’t do it. But are you sure what else she did? Did she drink wine and watch Real Housewives because she’s lazy and doesn’t respect your time or did something else more pressing come up that ending up taking her time.
Regardless, I see a fairly easy solution — if this is a three hour job for one person wouldn’t it be, at worst, a two hour job for you and your wife together? So why can’t the two of you do the work together after your son’s event?
Sure, you might get less sleep for a night, but if it’s got to get done, it’s got to get done.
And I highly doubt the only time it can get done is during your son’s event.
Also, one more time just for good measure, it’s fucking carpet.
“What percentage of the world’s adult population do you think is naked online somewhere?”
Well, you can knock out about half the seven billion people in the world right off the top because they don’t have access to the Internet, the access to technology to upload naked photos or they are children.
According to their most recent quarterly statement there are 2.45 billion people on Facebook. Let’s add another billion people to that list and say there are roughly 3.5 billion people in the world regularly using the Internet.
Let’s then subtract roughly a billion from that number and say they are either under eighteen or over eighty. Sure, there are some people in this group who would be naked online, but the under eighteen’s aren’t adults and the over eighties are far less likely to be taking naked photos.
That would leave around 2.5 billion adults, those between 18 and 80, who are potentially naked online.
Of this group I would say the incidence of naked online photos would be far higher from the ages of 18-40 than above forty.
I would venture to say somewhere around 60% of people have taken a naked photo under the age of forty. And I would think it would be a much higher percentage as you move younger.
For people over forty I think it would be far less likely, let’s say 35% of people over forty have done it.
If you factor in everyone’s personal cloud, existing iPhones connected to the Internet, the Internet being roughly twenty years old as a reliable place to handle images, and the fact that no picture that has been sent is truly ever gone, I would venture to say that there are 1 billion naked people on the Internet.
That would represent roughly 40% of the overall adult Internet age population.
And I would venture to say that in forty years that percentage will be nearly 100% of the adult Internet age population.
That means there is an awful lot of nudity out there.
It also means nudity, as a cultural taboo, has lost much of its cachet.
As always you can send your anonymous mailbag questions to email@example.com, anonymity guaranteed.