Why people choose to write to ‘agony aunts’ in an effort to solve their problems, I’ll never know. Because why talk it through with friends and family when you can have it published in a newspaper for all to see? Sometimes I think that it’s all a big scam that newspapers pull to titillate their readers with scandal, some of the scenarios are just beyond belief at times.
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That being said, the “Dear Abby” advice column has become something of a national institution. It started way back in 1956 by Pauline Phillips under the pen name “Abigail Van Buren,” and has been featured in thousands of newspapers over the years. Pauline passed away in 2013 aged 94, and her contribution to American life and culture was recognized with a “Hollywood Walk of Fame” star.
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Now run by Pauline’s daughter Jeanne, the column is still going strong as she continues to give “sound, compassionate advice, delivered with the straightforward style of a good friend.”
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This entry, written by a couple “unhappy in Tampa,” seems like it could’ve quite easily have come from 1956. They felt like they were the victims of unfair treatment from their neighbors, and wanted Abby’s assurance that it wasn’t they that were, in fact, the problem.
“Dear Abby, My husband and I relocated to Florida a little over a year ago and were quickly welcomed into our new neighbors’ social whirl,” they wrote. “Two couples in the neighborhood are gay — one male, one female. While they are nice enough, my husband and I did not include them when it was our turn to host because we do not approve of their lifestyle choices. Since then, we have been excluded from neighborhood gatherings, and someone even suggested that we are bigots!”
“Abby, we moved here from a conservative community where people were pretty much the same. If people were “different,” they apparently kept it to themselves. While I understand the phrase “when in Rome,” I don’t feel we should have to compromise our values just to win the approval of our neighbors. But really, who is the true bigot here? Would you like to weigh in?”
Turns out that Abby would like to weigh in. Living up to her motto of “delivering with a straightforward style,” Abby pulled no punches in setting this hypocritical and slightly deluded couple straight. “Dear Unhappy, I sure would,” she began. “The first thing I’d like to say is that regardless of what you were told in your previous community, a person’s sexual orientation isn’t a “lifestyle choice.” Gay people don’t choose to be gay; they are born that way. They can’t change being gay any more than you can change being heterosexual.”
“I find it interesting that you are unwilling to reciprocate the hospitality of people who welcomed you and opened their homes to you, and yet you complain because you are receiving similar treatment.”
“From where I sit, you may have chosen the wrong place to live because it appears you would be happier in a less integrated neighborhood surrounded by people who think the way you do. But if you interact only with people like yourselves, you will have missed a chance for growth, which is what you have been offered here. Please don’t blow it.”
Boom. Simmering with passive-aggressive sentiment, this classic from Abby still has people talking more than 5 years after it was first published. What do you think? Do you agree with Abby, or was she a little harsh? Let us know in the comments!
Here’s a sample of some people’s responses to the withering put-down