I posted this in my newsletter and thought you might enjoy it too! Hope you are all staying safe and doing well in these uncertain times!
Is anyone else fascinated by advice columns? From a young age, when we got the daily Boston Globe I would read both Dear Abby and Ann Landers every day. I was always intrigued by the people who would write in and the intimate details they would share for the world to read.
In this modern age I have many more to choose from, and I have several bookmarked. I used to read Carolyn Hax, but now she is exclusive to the Washington Post and behind a paywall. My bookmarks, in no particular order, are Ask Amy, Dear Abby, Captain Awkward, Dear Prudence, Wayne and Tamara, Meredith/Love Letters, Miss Manners and Harriette Cole. I used to also read others but gave them up for various reasons. Yeah, I guess I’m a bit of an advice column junkie.
Each one gives me something a little different. Miss Manners is so delightfully last century, and her wit so dry, that she’s like a bite sized bit of fun. Wayne and Tamara are no-nonsense, no BS practical advice that may not be what the letter writers want to hear. Captain Awkward doesn’t post that often, but I look forward to the times when they do. Their columns are full of difficult questions, and mutual angst, and feel very real to me. I marvel at the courage of what some of those people put in their letters, baring open the secrets of their souls.
I enjoyed advice columns even before quarantine, but even more so now. Maybe it’s a way of feeling in control or perhaps it’s wondering what I would say if I wrote in to one of them. What would I ask about? There was a period in my life when I overshared to my friends and family and they knew all the details of my life (whether they wanted to or not). I am different now and keep my issues very much to myself. Would I share those with a columnist? Or would I write asking them questions, interview style, about how they choose their letters and their answers.
Part of me would like to write a column like that. Would I give good advice? What sorts of letters would I get? Each of those people has a specific style, and attracts a certain kind of reader. What sort of reader would I attract, if any? Would my advice help people? I am unlikely to act on that impulse any more than I am going to try to create crossword puzzles (another interest of mine) but I wonder. Maybe someday I will!
Be well and stay safe!