Anonymous Mailbag

It’s New Year’s Eve and I feel like I’m the only person working in the entire country.

I’ve already knocked out the morning radio show and we’ll be live on “Lock It In” this afternoon at 4:30 eastern.

But until then, it’s time for the anonymous mailbag.

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

Here we go:

“Alright Clay, time for the toughest mailbag question you’ve ever gotten. I have a 9 and 7 year old. We’re limping along on the “you have to believe to receive” and the stupid ass Elf on the Shelf. It’s time to cut bait and let them know the deal, especially before they find out from school. So, lay it on me, what’s the who/what/where/when/how on Santa truthing your kids…. What’s your plan?”

Well, no one wants to have the sixth grade kid who still believes in Santa Claus, but the whole Santa dilemma can be a challenge when you have kids of multiple ages.

For instance, my oldest kid hasn’t believed in Santa for a couple of years now. But we had to swear him to secrecy to protect the fun of Santa for his younger brothers. So now I feel like we’re all involved in a criminal conspiracy to keep Santa alive in the house. And we’ve brought in our oldest son into the criminal business too.

It’s like the Santa “Godfather.”

I think it should be organic where they come to you and you, sensing their questions, are ready to let them know that Santa isn’t real any longer.

I feel like this should happen for most kids by fourth grade. Definitely by fifth grade.

But what if your kids are different ages. Ours are 11 to five right now. That’s a fairly decent range. What’s best for the 11 year old isn’t best for the five year old.

And so far my kids haven’t gotten old enough to make us feel awkward about their belief in Santa. (There’s also quite a bit of discussion about Santa at school as you get into the third and fourth grade. And there’s always that asshole kid who has to start telling other kids in first grade too.)

But if your kid gets to the fifth grade, I think you need to sit them down and end the charade.

By the way, can you think of anything other than Santa — and the elf on the shelf — that parents blatantly lie to their kids about for years and years?

I can’t.

(Don’t even get me started on this billionaire elf on the shelf lady. This is just a brand new 21st century lie that came out of nowhere and took over kids all over the country. They’ve expanded the elf on a shelf now to all these other additional products and I think I speak for parents everywhere when I say, ENOUGH! I hate your product. Forgetting to move this elf until you’re already almost asleep — which always happens — has led to the loss of millions of hours of parent sleep across this country. This is one tradition that needs to end. I don’t want to sound like the Hitler of holiday traditions here, but I think we need a parenting final solution for Elves on a Shelf. This is one tradition that needs to end now, before it keeps metastisizing for generations of lies to come.)

“I am a mid-level manager in a government agency. A young lady in an adjacent branch has repeatedly accused one of my employees of “sexual harassment,” and by sexual harassment, I mean she thinks he is nicer to her than to other people. The most recent encounter she has accused him of is saying “happy holidays” to her.

She complained to several levels above me (to a female manager who has made it her priority to “address the sexual harassment culture in our agency” and that manager has made it clear that she wants my guy gone.

The truth is that this dude is a really awkward guy and is nice to everyone. And the girl who is accusing him of stuff has accused multiple dudes over the past decade of sexual harassment. I feel like it needs to be said that she clearly has a problem working with males and that maybe she should be moved to an all female team, or put in the basement or something; but if I say something, then I am victim blaming and defending the “predator” and will probably be fired or relieved of my position, or at least be treated like an outcast by the rest of the agency as a sexist pig. So, should I let this dude get railroaded or put my neck out to get chopped off?”

Do you get to review the sexual harassment report? Is there an independent investigator of these claims? I ask both of these questions because back when I practiced law I did independent sexual harassment investigations. That’s exactly what it sounds like, I’d be brought in as the independent investigator with no connection to the company to conduct an investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment.

I’d sit and talk to both the person who alleged the harassment and the person who claimed he’d done nothing wrong. (All of my investigations were against male bosses accused of sexual harassment by female employees.) These were hard investigations to do because typically there weren’t witnesses and you had to assess who was more likely to be telling the truth.

Sometimes I sided with the men, sometimes I sided with the women, sometimes I said it was virtually impossible to make any determination at all.

What my report did was allow the bosses to avoid having to do these investigations themselves or make determinations themselves about what might have happened.

So before your governmental agency — which since it’s a governmental agency seems like it should have some defined protocols in place here — undertakes any action it seems like you need to have an independent investigation. This guy deserves due process and the fact that this woman has been a serial accuser of sexual harassment should factor in as well.

So if I were in your position what I’d advocate for is an independent investigation by an external person — hopefully an attorney or someone who has been trained to interview witnesses and analyze the truth or falsehood of their allegations.

If none of that happens I think you can easily raise the issue of a potential lawsuit by this guy. If he truly didn’t behave in any inappropriate manner and this woman has a history of making frivolous sexual harassment claims then he may well have grounds for a potentially successful lawsuit. Raising this as a potential issue shouldn’t put you in the firing line, it should make you look like a smart boss.

If you want to take a step beyond this, I’d suggest a private conversation with this guy where you tell him the situation and suggest he retain counsel. Merely getting a lawyer and having that lawyer address a letter to the company laying out why any punishment for this client would be immediately challenged with a lawsuit can often rattle the cages of the bosses, who suddenly see themselves on the chopping block if they exceed the scope of their authority based on a bogus sexual harassment claim.

But before you do anything, I’d want to see an external investigation take place so you can have a more valid written opinion of what exactly is alleged.

I’d think it’s well within your grounds as a boss to request this and not risk your job in any way.

“I just need to know if I’m a terrible person because of the way I feel about something.  A year ago, my cousin’s wife went in for a minor surgery.  (It’s not important to the story, but we think it was for a boob job.)  Shortly into the operation, her heart stopped.  She had no prior heart problems or any prior indication that anything like that would happen. 

Thankfully the doctors were able to resuscitate her with CPR, but she was technically dead for a couple of minutes.  She stayed in the hospital for a few days for observation, but everything has been fine since.  She is perfectly healthy and has had no after effects. 

Needless to say we are all grateful she is ok.

Here’s where I think I might be a terrible person.  Ever since this happened, it seems like she takes every opportunity to tell everyone about it.  For the first few months I didn’t mind since it was fresh on her mind and not having had a near death experience myself, I can’t imagine how traumatic it must have been.  But as time went on, she kept bringing it up all the time, even when it had nothing to do with anything going on currently.  For example, I was at a holiday gathering recently and was talking to another cousin that I hadn’t seen for a while, and he asked, “So, what’s new?  Anything interesting happen to you lately?” and my cousin’s wife, from across the room, not involved in the conversation, yells out, “I died and came back to life.” 
People had a good laugh over it, but inside I was a little annoyed that she had to grab all the attention with her near death experience.  So what do you think?  Am I horrible for being annoyed?  Or does almost dying mean you should always be the center of attention?”
I think that’s a pretty funny line.
I would have laughed in that situation.
Since my inclination is always to give funny people the benefit of the doubt, it’s hard for me to believe that her story about dying and coming back to life is that bothersome to you. Or that she can be that awful of a person if she’s this funny about her story.
Having said that, if she continues to bring up the story you can ask her for more details. Say something like, “I’ve heard your story about dying and coming back to life a few times now — and it’s terrifying and we’re glad you’re still with us today — but what was the surgery for, I don’t think I’ve ever heard?”
If it was, as you surmise, a boob job, then she may be less likely to keep telling the story.
I don’t think asking this is rude because if she’s telling the story as often as you make it out to be then I think it’s perfectly fine for you to ask for more details.
After all, this is what most people do if they’re truly interested in a story, they ask for more details surrounding the story.
If she declines to say what the surgery was for then it brings her story to an abrupt end and makes it awkward for everyone, which might make it less likely she tells the story again.
If she admits that she almost died during surgery for a boob job then at least that makes the story funny and takes it in a new direction. (Also, did they finish the boob job? Did she get one boob done and then die? Did they later fix the other boob without putting her to sleep? Did her husband buy her a new car because he felt guilty that she almost died trying to get new boobs for his entertainment? These are the questions I’d have).
As a final point here, this is why I can’t ever have elective surgery, because I’m terrified I’d die in the process. It’s one thing if you have to have necessary surgery, but to voluntarily be put to sleep for elective surgery is a bridge too far for me.
That’s especially the case the more embarrassing the cosmetic surgery is.
Getting boobs isn’t that embarrassing because it’s so common, but do you remember the guy who died during penis enlargement surgery? This story went viral earlier this year.
Is there a worse way to go than to die during penis enlargement surgery? First, you die, which isn’t ideal. Second, everyone knows you died because you had a little dick and were having cosmetic surgery to fix it.
I honestly can’t think of a worse way for a guy to die than during voluntary penis enlargement surgery.
(And that’s even though, like all of you, I have a gigantic penis and it’s already so large I have never, ever wanted a bigger penis. In fact, because I’m so generous, I’ve even thought to myself, you know what, I could afford to give away a few inches to the less well-endowed. All of you little dicked guys out there. But that’s just me, a real giver).
Sometimes I even think, what would happen if I died doing (insert decision here) and then don’t do it just because I think I’m destined to die in an ironic way and it seems like tempting fate.
For instance, I wouldn’t climb into one of those great white shark cages to watch great white sharks under water in their natural habitat because after all the animal thunderdomes we’ve done on the radio, I’m convinced an animal is going to kill me one day. So why give the animals an opportunity to take me out easy?
That’s why I’m also not going to do an African safari trip or take a raft ride through a crocodile and hippo-infested river.
Nope, it’s not happening.
I’ll do the jungle safari ride at Animal Kingdom and call it a day. (And if I get killed by an animal on the Animal Kingdom jungle safari ride at least I’ll make a billion dollars suing Disney.)

“Clay – My wife and I need an arbiter on what I think is an egregious violation of the spirit of Christmas.  My in-laws and sister-in-law live in another state, so we bounce back and forth for holidays, as it typical in these situations.  Our kids are still young – 13, 12, 10 – and the youngest is still all-in on Santa.  While staying at the in-laws, my kids were told that they would have to wait for their Aunt to arrive on Christmas morning before opening presents.  She lives about 45 minutes from my in-laws and, while this would not be a huge issue if she was arriving early, she did not arrive until around 11am after enjoying Christmas morning at her house with her in-laws.  

Like most kids, ours were up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning and, while they were able to dig into their stockings, they had to sit around for a full 4+ hours before my sister-in-law arrived and they were “allowed” to open presents – including those from Santa.  My wife thinks this was perfectly fine, stating that her sister likes to see the kids open presents.  I thought it was a MASSIVE violation of the spirit of Christmas, as every kid loves that feeling of anticipation, running down the stairs to see a tree loaded with presents and tearing into them.  I felt they were robbed of that feeling due to my wife and sister-in-law putting their Christmas joy ahead of the kids. Who is right here?”

You are right and your wife and the aunt are wrong.

I can maybe understand the aunt making this decision if she didn’t have kids, but I can’t understand your wife supporting her decision. If the aunt really wants to see the kids open up the presents then she should come over early in the morning.

This production is not for the aunt, at best she’s the Christmas morning side chick.

The side chick doesn’t get to call up and have them play the football game at her convenience. She shows up and sits in her side chick seats when the game is scheduled and bangs the athlete when his wife is out of town like every other side chick in the business.

Know your role, side chick/aunt.

Having said that, your kids are getting pretty old for the early morning wake-up. At some point you stop the early morning wake up in favor of a leisurely present opening experience, which can be scheduled later in the day.

Maybe this was your wife’s way of trying to change the present tradition without being the bad guy.

I get up every weekday morning at 4:30 so holidays are fabulous because I can actually get some sleep. A couple of years ago my two youngest kids woke me up at 3:30 in the morning wanting to open presents.

So now our rule is no one can open any presents until the sun is up.

Which is why while I support your position in general, everyone needs some rules in place for opening presents.

At this point I’ve been a dad for 12 Christmases and we’re coming up on the tail end of the early morning wake ups. I’ve enjoyed them, but I’m also not going to cry over getting a decent night’s sleep on Christmas morning.

Maybe that’s what your wife really wants here more than anything else.

“Hi clay, I’m a 22 year old college senior in my last year of undergrad. A few weeks ago I knocked up a 19 year old girl I barely knew. In the immediate aftermath of discovering her pregnancy, she drank heavily and took various painkillers in a bout of anxiety.

About two weeks later, (last Wednesday 12/11) she decided to inform me of her pregnancy. Unsure of whether or not she wanted to continue the pregnancy, we both were sent into a state of panic as she contemplated what she wanted to do.

Had she chosen to abort the child, I would not have interfered in her efforts to do so. In fact, most of me was hoping she’d choose to do so. Regardless, I assured her of my support throughout the process. This past Thursday, she went into her doctor to discuss her options. While at the doctor, they found that she was about to undergo an early miscarriage and that the baby is no longer in her body. I’m definitely shook by the whole experience, but am I wrong to be a little relieved?

I’ve definitely learned my lesson regarding having unprotected sex, and clearly I’m not mature enough to be a father. I’m not 100% sure on your views on abortion, but would I have been wrong to encourage her to do it? After all, it’s her choice. The whole situation just has me a little messed up and I feel like a bar person for being relieved.”

There’s a really funny bit in Dave Chappelle’s newest comedy special where he says he’s fine with women getting to decide whether or not to have babies because it’s their body their choice. But then he follows it up with this question: why shouldn’t men get to decide whether to support the baby too? Our bodies our choice.

I’d love to see a politician actually endorse this theory just to see the media reaction.

Now on to your question. I think most college-aged guys in your situation would be relieved the girl had the miscarriage. I think everyone who claims they were heartbroken would be lying.

So you’re not a bad guy for having these thoughts.

You had casual sex with a woman you didn’t know very well, you weren’t expecting to become a parent with her.

That’s why every young guy out there should have condoms in his wallet. I’m not even kidding about this, just carry them with you in your wallet like you carry a credit card with you. You can’t rely on the girl to be on birth control and given the rise of STD’s in the dating app era, I don’t know why you’d want to have unprotected sex with a virtual stranger anyway.

Plus, sex might happen when you don’t expect it and you may not have easy access to a condom.

I have a single guy friend around my own age who told me recently he had a condom break with a girl he was casually sleeping with and the next morning he left her in bed and went and bought Plan B. Then he had her take it while he watched.

See, romance isn’t dead, ladies!

I think it’s a bit much to keep Plan B in your bedside drawer, but I think it’s also something you should know exists. (Google it.)

As for encouraging an abortion, that’s a tough conversation to have. Because if she keeps the kid and you guys don’t get along there’s a 100% chance she’s going to one day tell the kid, “You know, your dad wanted to have you aborted.”

And then you’re always the dad who wanted his kid aborted.

And they don’t make good father’s day cards for those dads.

I think the best thing you can do in this situation is be supportive of the fact that it’s her choice while simultaneously letting her know that you’ll pay for any medical costs she may have. (Even if she has insurance some girls in this situation may be afraid of their parents finding out about the pregnancy. So many girls may want to pay out of pocket).

Personally, I don’t think anyone should have a kid unless they 100% want one.

Which is why I’m pro-choice.

I understand many of you agree with me and many of you disagree with me.

And neither of us are going to convince the other that they’re wrong.

So…Happy New Year!

Thanks for reading the anonymous mailbag.

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

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