Anonymous Mailbag

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It’s Tuesday and I hope all of you are having good starts to your week.
I’m still down in Florida with the family and things down here continue to return to normalcy in a rapid fashion. Restaurants and retail are all open, the beach is fantastic, and now you can even go get your hair cut.
You want what else is normal?
You guys continuing to email me with your problems. Which is why the anonymous mailbag continues to roll on without fail.
As always you can email your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.
Here we go:

“My family and I are headed to 30a (Florida beaches) for Memorial Day weekend. We have 4 kids under the age of 6 so driving 7 hours in the car is next to impossible.  In my mind there has never been a safer time to fly. If you look at the data and the way air circulates on a airplane it is not very likely to get sick from other passengers without contact.  I am of the opinion we fly.  Let’s get the economy going and help out the airline industry. 

We plan on having the kids wear masks and wiping everything down. I am not worried,  it’s more of a charade for everyone else. My wife is worried we will be judged by other passengers for bringing on 4 children. I could care less.  If you are that worried about other passengers don’t fly.  If someone says something I’m worried I’ll overreact and get kicked of the plane and end up having to drive anyways?  What’s the play here drive 7 hours with 4 screaming kids or chance flying and being verbally chastised by coronabros?”

It’s about a seven hour drive for us to the beach as well and the way I make a decision on driving vs. flying is based on how long we are going to spend at the beach. If we are going to for a week or more I tend to drive, if it’s a long weekend, we tend to fly.

Leaving aside the coronavirus, here’s my analysis on how I make that decision. Unless you fly private and the plane is waiting for you on the tarmac, everyone forgets about the time spent driving to the airport and waiting there. You pretty much have to get to an airport at least an hour before your flight takes off. Then you add in the time spent driving to the airport and parking your car. That’s at least 1.5 hours total and that’s probably too low. So before you even take off you’re in for at least 1.5 hours of no movement. Then the flight down to the beach is at least an hour. Then you have to exit the plane, get your bags, and either get an Uber/cab or rent a car and drive to where you are staying, so that adds another hour upon landing.

That means you’re looking at 3.5 hours of travel time, at best, as opposed to seven hours in the car.

So you’re really only saving about 3.5 hours by flying.

Now this assumes you have a flawless travel experience in both directions. It seems to me that it’s actually more likely you end up with a substantial delay on the flight than a substantial delay if you just drove. (That’s because even if there’s an accident on the interstate if you use apps like Waze you can generally adjust to limit your time in traffic, whereas you have no control over the flight delays. Now the worst case scenarios of course — you have a significant car accident or your plane crashes — actually militate in favor of flying.)

Given that there’s less traffic than normal on the roads, I’d actually be inclined to drive over flying, even with the young kids. (All kids, to be fair, travel differently. Mine are pretty fantastic. I think that’s because we started traveling with them when they were young. We have WiFi in the car and if we give them iPads they don’t make a sound for hours.)

Having said all of this, I’d be perfectly fine taking my family on an airplane flight right now. If, for instance, we had a family vacation scheduled this summer to a place in the country that’s too far to drive to, I’d be fine putting us all on an airplane and flying there.

As for being judged by fellow travelers, won’t everyone else on the flight also be traveling for Memorial Day weekend? I’d think most people on the plane will have made the same decision as you and therefore be more likely to approve of your decision. It’s not like airports are abortion clinics with protesters yelling at everyone who is going inside. (At least not yet, anyway).

We have pretty much returned to normalcy in the Travis household. We are hanging out on the beach and eating in restaurants down here in Florida and we are planning on taking the kids to Dave & Busters in the next day or so because it’s now open in Panama City Beach as well.

I’m a data guy and the data guy just doesn’t reflect that my wife, me, or our three kids are in danger from this virus. And we aren’t coming in close contact, at all, with elderly people or people in ill health. You can certainly be more cautious than this with your own family, but I believe that young and healthy people need to get the economy back working.

And I don’t just believe that, I’m living it in my own life.

“My oldest son is graduating high school this month. This has not been the senior year that any of us expected. One of the ways we wanted to celebrate, and have had this planned for 6+ months, is a family trip several states away. This trip will also act as a family reunion with my wife’s family, 30+ people and a couple of houseboats.

When everything started shutting down, we thought we may have to find new plans, but it looks like everything will open back up to allow the trip to happen. The only issue now is the ridiculous Department of Defense travel ban. I can go further than 40 miles from my home until June 30th!!! They say the policy will be reviewed every two weeks, and we all hope they get their head straight and lift this travel ban. This ban is effecting more than just my family trip, military family members can’t move either. I know some families who had already moved out of their houses and are now stuck in hotels for 2+ months because they are just waiting to move to their new house. This whole thing is crazy and a huge overreaction!

My question to you-if this travel ban is not lifted, do I still go on the trip? My family is thinking about going without me, but I just can’t imagine missing my son’s senior trip all because of this stupid virus that is proving to be less and less deadly. The way I would work this situation is to take “local leave” and then just go on my normal trip. The downside of this is if I get caught there could be severe penalties, loss of rank, money, etc. What would you do in this situation? I have been 100% on board with you since this coronavirus craziness started and completely disagree with my organization’s policies.”

You’re in a tough spot here because in order to go on the trip you have to lie to your employer.

Worse than that, this isn’t a “little white lie” to an employer — you claim to be sick one day when you really aren’t to go see the new “Star Wars” movie instead of going to work — this is a direct disobedience of a directive that you are intentionally disobeying. (You reference the department of defense as the rulemaker and a potential loss of rank, does that mean you’re a solider? I’m not sure, but that’s certainly the implication here.)

So in addition to the disobedience, you have to think about the penalty at work if your lie is uncovered.

My questions here for you would be twofold: 1. how good of a relationship do you have with your superiors? and 2. how aggressively will your superiors seek to catch you violating their rules?

The reason I ask these two questions is because they help to explain the risk at stake for you.

You mention traveling for a family event that will include many people. How many of those people will post on social media? Almost all of them, if your family is like most families. Are you going to avoid every photo that is taken? Are you sure you’ll never appear in any backgrounds as well? I mention this because it could be relatively easy for your boss(es) to catch you violating work rules if they want to do so.

I’m also of the opinion, in general, that this summer is probably not the best time for family reunions. I understand the need and desire to travel with close family members — as I’m presently doing — but while I believe the economy should be opening back up, I also don’t think it’s very smart to have big family reunions with people of all ages this summer. Taking a trip with your son is one thing, turning it into a default family reunion seems like a bit much. Especially this May.

Ultimately like many things in life, however, I think it comes down to you analyzing the risk and reward. You know what you stand to gain — a graduation trip with your son as he embarks on adulthood — but are you really sure what you stand to lose for sure?

I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you this same trip seems like it could be taken in July and likely not put you at any risk at all from your job.

That’s probably what I’d be trying to schedule.

“Hi Clay, big fan of everything you do. My girlfriend of six months and I had a fantastic relationship before the whole quarantine started. We are both one year removed from college and live in a large northeastern city that has been hit pretty hard by the virus. It makes sense that we have both gone home for the quarantine. I have been doing my software development job on my laptop and she has been furloughed from her retail job but should be back to work once her store reopens.

I’ve always seen both of us as happy optimists but ever since the lockdown started, she has been convinced that this is truly the end of the world and society is never going to be the same again. She has been paying way too much attention to the fear porn on CNN and similar outlets and has literally not left her house once since mid-March except to walk around the neighborhood. Her way of thinking is much more emotional than factual. I have tried to convince her to come to my house which is about 2 hours away but she says no way during the pandemic, thinking she will endanger her parents and that it’s illegal to cross state lines. I will admit my family has not been the best at quarantining. She believes her parents have compromised immune systems but there really are not any issues other than being in their low 60’s/ early 50’s.

This would all be OK, but the real issue is that I believe the lockdown is giving her legitimate depression. She was a very social person but has not seen anyone in person except her parents for about 2 months now. She stays up until 4am and sleeps until noon and has been so negative about everything and clearly is unable to enjoy anything, even crying for no reason now. We did “FaceTime sex” at first but she has lost interest recently. It has seemed bad for about 3 weeks now and there were zero signs of this for the first five months of dating. I have tried everything to show her the world is not ending, but nothing has worked. I think meeting in person would help a lot, but she refuses. How do I make her see all the positives going on and how do I make her happy again?”

Your last sentence just lands like a gut punch here because so many people who have dealt with depression from their friends and families — or themselves — have experienced the same haunting question. I’m going to repeat it here with the ending italicized: “How do I make her see all the positives going on and how do I make her happy again?”

This is difficult for young people to understand — and I certainly didn’t understand it when I was young either — but you can’t make another adult happy. You just can’t. Happiness isn’t external, it’s internal. The only person who can make you happy is you. It takes years and years to realize this. And many people never do realize it.

Now I’m not saying you can’t help make people happy for short periods of time — a special event, a gift, a vacation — all of these things can make someone happier in the short term, but ultimately people return to their average happiness level over time. And the only thing that can alter that average happiness level is internal. (The flip side is true, by the way, external events can take away our happiness — death of a loved one, loss of a job, health issues — but over time you tend to return to your average happiness level even when bad things happen to you).

What I want my kids to be, and what I’d like to think that I am, is emotionally resilient. That is, I’m able to handle hits to my emotional equilibrium, both good and bad, without losing control of my overall balance. As a general rule, I tend to be a fairly happy guy who doesn’t worry too much about things I can’t control, but like anyone my moods can fluctuate.

While you can’t make your girlfriend happy again, what you can do is try to share facts with her that are positive in nature. To the extent that you can make her realize that this portion of our lives isn’t going to last forever and that things, at least right now, are not actively getting worse in the country, that should help. But one of the big challenges I’ve found is that what’s really going on in this country right now is we’re having a battle between people who feel and those who think. People who feel, as a general rule, spend less time focused on logic and more time focused on their emotions. Trying to appeal to someone logically who is focused on their emotions is often a losing battle.

You can tell them until you’re blue in the face what the data shows, but then they will find an anecdote that confirms their worst fears in the media — kid dies, pregnant woman sick, young person who had no symptoms suddenly dies — and they will convince themselves that anecdote is real life.

But all you can do in the meantime is provide her with the data and tell her things are getting better. Whatever you do, don’t let her drag you down into her abyss. And don’t expect that you can pull her out of that abyss by yourself, ultimately she has to do that.

“My wife and I are around 30 with multiple kids. Simply: not as hot as we were in college due to less time to workout/eat well and obviously the pregnancies for my wife.
My wife used to send me racy photos that have been lost to old devices.  A few days ago I found an old hard drive that my wife’s had forever and decided to see if there were copies on there.
Jackpot. Not only the photos I remembered, but nudes too. She was smokin’, and I was in heaven. The photos were a few layers deep in some folders so I kept poking around to see if there were more. Indeed there were more, though these included sexual acts with her last boyfriend before we started dating. There was a video on there in which she is giving head and doing some 69.
The video is really hot. It’s basically a POV, never see the guy’s face and he doesn’t say much. Naturally, I rubbed one out while watching it.
Afterwards, I got to thinking – was it natural? Am I psychotic? Is it normal to jerk off to watching your wife suck a dick that you know isn’t yours? Did I just cuck myself? I have less than zero desire to see my wife with another man, but is something wrong with me?”
One of the reasons I sometimes wish I did a show on satellite radio is because I’d love to open up the phone lines and take calls on this.
Just an absolutely fascinating question here.
I tend to think most guys, if they found a hot video of their wife engaging in sex acts before they knew her, would jerk off while watching that video too. It’s not like she’s cheating on you or you know the guy. I think your sexual arousal was focused more on her and less on the other guy.
How can we test this? Well, we can’t for sure. But we can come up with a hypothetical that doesn’t involve another guy. So let’s do that.
How many guys out there would love to have a video of their wives at their absolute peak sexual attractiveness, even if that was before the two of you met, doing a strip tease on video?
I think it’s 100%.
Literally, 100% of guys would want to have this video.
Any straight guy who is saying he wouldn’t want this video is lying. (Ladies, if you are reading the anonymous mailbag and you ask your husband if he’d want this video and he says no either he is lying or you’ve married a gay man).
And this is significant, it wouldn’t matter who recorded the video. I mean, sure, you’d prefer it was your wife’s hottest college girlfriend and that as soon as the video was over they had hot sex with each other and, now that you mention it, that hot college friend just got divorced and she’s coming to your house to stay the weekend and…(I’m sorry, I got distracted there.)
My point is, a small percentage of people are marrying as virgins today. Even a tinier percentage are marrying without having had oral sex before. So to pretend your wife or husband didn’t do both before he or she met you is just ludicrous.
If anything, I think most husbands wish their wives were as sexually experimental now as they were when they were in college.
So, no, I don’t think you did anything most men wouldn’t have done in the same situation.
“I have 3 kids, a son who is 3, 2, and a daughter who is 6 months old. I picked them up from daycare yesterday and the lady who watches them said that my oldest son was poking her boobs and laughing about it. I’m proud of him obviously lol but when I ask him about it he laughs. 
How do I explain to him that touching the babysitters boobs (they’re gigantic) is not appropriate?” 
How did the lady who told you this tell you this? That matters here. Was she angry? Happy? Flirtatious? (Forget I asked that).
Because I think it’s easier for her to explain to him that it’s inappropriate while he’s doing it than it is for you to explain it. So her tone matters here because it dictates what she’s expecting from you. Regardless, you should have said, “Yikes, my bad. Can you tell him not to do that? And we’ll tell him that at home too.”
Right now he’s three so he’s probably not going to totally understand — or even remember — when you bring it up to him while he’s watching “Cars.” But you can tell him that boys aren’t supposed to touch girl’s boobs unless they let him. And that he will spend most of his adult life trying to get them to let him.
As always send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.
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