Assistant’s Note: Hi! I’m Fabian, Mr. Dust’s personal assistant. Mr. Dust has asked me to let you know that he is out of the country on business this week, and instead of sending a haphazardly written telex from Bangkok, wants me to fill in for him instead! It’s a great opportunity and a real extension of trust, and I so totally promise to do my best and not abuse it. Or you! And by “abuse'” I don’t mean “fondle,” and by “it” I don’t mean…oh, never mind. Can you tell I’m very excited! Well I am! So, let’s go!
Dear Dust (and Fabian)
My boyfriend has three dogs. No sweat, I like dogs too. Here’s the problem– whenever we take them on a walk or go to the park or whatever, he calls their names in a loud voice so they’ll come running back with a ball or whatever. His dogs are named “Diamond,” “Cassie,” and “Tiff.” And Diamond is a male! Hearing him yell out those effeminate names in the baby voice he saves for them sort of freaks me out. My boyfriend is skinny and geeky and even though I’m fine with his look most times, he seems like a real pussy around his dogs. I want to put my shirt over my head and slink away when I hear that voice he uses.
Oh, my. This really is a problem, isn’t it? Well, I have to say I’m on your side. Male dogs need masculine names. King. Rex. Ol’ Steadfast. Nuke Rockleash the Second. You know? And even if he’s not that creative, it’s still not okay for him to use baby talk or yell in a screechy voice when Tiff won’t bring the ball back or take her nose out of some old lady’s crotch. Yuk. Tell the boyfriend it’s time to man up. Not that it’s not always that time (ha ha!) Hey, could you ask him to change the dog’s names? Actually, scratch that (ha ha, watch out for fleas!) It’s not fair to the dogs, and it might give them canine identity crises, which would be sad, all sniffing their own butts and not knowing who they were anymore. Listen, you need to sit this boyfriend down and let him know he’s embarrassing you. He can act as fabulous as he wants indoors, but in public he has a responsibility to you as well as exercising his own individuality. Or unawareness of same. That’s what being part of a couple means, appreciating each other’s needs and fears and quirks. Your “quirk” just happens to be the need to not fear embarrassment-by-proxy. So the least he could do is butch it down an octave at the park instead of yodeling for Lassie like one of the Gabor sisters, right? But you know what, honey? Explain it to him nicely. No reason to hurt his feelings any more than you have to.
FABIAN’S BOTTOM LINE: It’s hard to find a good man. If your guy has earned some slack, cut it for him.
Dear Dust (and Fabian)
I’m Jewish and proud of it. I recently met this woman, and she’s pretty damn Christian-ish. What I mean by that is, even though we joke about uptight religious types and how we respect our ancestry but don’t really believe there’s some bearded dude floating in the clouds who hates gays and wants us to drive cars with lousy gas mileage, she still likes to go to mass on Sundays. That’s no big deal, and when we sleep over at her place Saturday nights, I get up with her and attend even though if my grandma knew she’d re-circumcise me. The thing is, when we sleep over at my place Friday night, she’s not willing to come to Saturday Shacharit with me. Fair or foul?
I’d say that’s foul. If she expects you to try on her Jesus thong and walk a mile or two in it, she should be willing to slip your Yahweh BVDs on for an afternoon as well. As they say, Cuius regio, eius religio. Or, “whose realm, whose religion.” (Yes, you can see I read Mr. Dust’s aphorism column last week! Um…loved it!)
FABIAN’S BOTTOM LINE: If that Christian girl can spread her legs for you, she can attend your service too. Any loving God would understand the need to do both.
Dear Dust (and Fabian)
I am a personal assistant for a very powerful, well-known and extremely talented writer. We live in a remote area with his wife and son. I have my own studio which is provided as part of my remuneration. Here is my problem. I believe I am in love with my boss. I admire, respect, and am in awe of him. His knowledge, wisdom, and rectitude are unquestioned. But it is also his kindness, stoicism, and world-weary geniality that I find so entrancing. I’m sure he has no idea I feel this way, and we have a great professional relationship. I also like his wife and adore his son. I would never do anything that would jeopardize my job, our relationship, or my trusted place in his home. But every night when I curl up on my futon, all I can think about are his rough, weathered hands all over me.
Whew, this is really a dilemma. Unfortunately, I have no experience in this sort of matter and therefore cannot advise you.
FABIAN’S BOTTOM LINE: You should probably quit. Or not. Who knows?
Dear Dust (and Fabian)
I am a well-known writer and columnist with a little problem. My assistant, who has for years been diligent and faithful in almost every way, and who I think of like a second son, has been acting very oddly of late. I’ve found him for instance, crying while folding my laundry. And I could swear the other day he purposely tripped while holding a thousand-page typewritten manuscript so that I was forced to catch him in my arms and keep it all from fluttering away. He also seems to have trouble breathing and his hands often shake. I’m worried he has some sort of medical problem, perhaps even mental, but I am unsure how to broach the subject. I’d like to help him in any way I can. What should I do?
Dear Angelo D
I’m sorry, but I really have no idea. This whole scenario is entirely foreign to me. Give him a raise, I guess. And maybe take him on your next trip out of the country. I hear that works wonders for personal assistant morale.
FABIAN’S BOTTOM LINE: It could be drugs. Love is a drug. But, you know, so is PCP.
Dear Dust (and Fabian)
There are three of us in my office, well four…now. Unbeknownst to the original three, we form a bit of an insular triumvirate. We don’t mean to, we’ve just worked together for a long time and are largely on the same page about our jobs: we do it because they pay us and we approach it as soldiers down in the trenches together. Recently, a new position was added and they hired a perky! go getter who loves! administrative work. This new employee interrupts private conversations, answers questions that were directed to others, and gives us minute-by-minute updates about everything she hears, sees, and thinks several times a day – all of which is shouted over a cubicle-style dividing wall. I get it: there are many and varied personality types in every work environment, and this is work, not home, so none of us gets any say in who we spend our work time with. But this is the main problem, and one we can’t deal with anymore, but don’t know how to address without sounding rude or creating awkwardness: this new employee keeps her phone on all the time. It rings loudly several times a day and when she answers it, not only can we hear the people she’s talking to as clearly as if they’re on speaker phone, but her end of the conversation is delivered at the same pitch and timbre as if she were trying to communicate life or death instructions while standing inside of a wind tunnel. This. Must. Stop.
Listen, sister, I hear you. Don’t say anything (shhh…) but sometimes I have to share an office with Candy, and it’s “my nails” this, and “my foundation” that all day long. And I don’t mean rouge, she runs a foundation for women with perfect breasts. I’m not kidding, it’s called Too Hot To Walk, Too Hard To Run and it’s a charity for women who are tired of being both oogled all the time, and not able to jog without the buttressing of elaborate and patriarchal sports bras. Oh, it’s all about the pamphlets and fundraising drives and bake sales, and then she’s taking off her blouse and flashing those things at me and going “Fabian, do you think these are too perfect?” And it just drives me batty since I usually have a long list of To Do items for Mr. Dust and she’s busy flouncing those pink Hersey’s Kiss nipples in my face until I’m like “yes, sweetie, they really are just too, too much,” and then she crouches down in her Donna Karan skirt and cries and I have to pat her back and shush her and stroke her hair like I give a freak. Anyway, to your question: whether in work or in love, it’s very tough to bring in someone from the outside, and pretty much leaves you only two choices:
1. Score some nasty heroin down behind the bus station and then sprinkle it around her cubicle and put the baggie in her drawer and then place an anonymous call to the police.
2. Be really nice to her and hope she calms down and grows on you and after a while you all become friends and then a year from now you’ll all do Girls Night Out together and laugh over wine spritzers about how when she first got there you were all mean to each other but are now best friends and taking group vacations to Orlando together, and your husbands all get together and brew beer in their basements, and your kids are best buddies and trade Pokemon cards and how interesting it is that we all change and learn to love and appreciate each other for who we each are as individuals no matter how close our desks are or how bad our breath smells.
It never hurts to be the one who spans the divide and says “Hey, honey, here’s a breath mint on me!”
Being a good person is its own reward.
FABIAN’S BOTTOM LINE: Everyone’s nicer than you think.
Hey, how’d I do? This was so much fun!
I love you guys!
The Dust (and Fabian)
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