Saturday, February 25, 2012

Diapause (Look it up!)

Just in case you’re one of the lucky few who haven’t had to listen to me bitch about it: I threw my back out a week ago -- should that be, “threw out my back”? Not a big deal, it’s only painful. If I have to get out of a chair I make those old-person oofing noises. I hope it’s funny to see. There ought to be some value in inconvenience.

Being injured does weird things to one’s state of mind. I haven’t done much besides go to Improv shows for a week, nor do I plan to do much else for the immediate future. Ergo I’m seeing lots and lots of Improv shows, but I don’t have anything in particular to say about them. In fact, I don’t have anything in particular to say full stop.

Big thanks to everyone who has sent in a question for Auntie, and even if you only thought about what you’d ask if you were going to ask something but still have no intention of trying, well thanks for that too.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Restaurant Wars (Ask Auntie)

Help, please Aunt Scary!

I have a friend who turns into a beast from Hell in restaurants. This person can’t just order something, it has to be hold this, extra that and when it comes it’s never hot enough and has to go back to the kitchen to be reheated.

Other than end the friendship, what can I do?

Crawling under the table in Embarrassment

Dear “Crawling”,

As a semi-vegetarian who has to know ingredients to avoid dysentery, I almost see both sides. Then again, Auntie isn’t going to order chili con carne and ask them to hold the meat.

Is your buddy avoiding menu items that meet the criteria? If you’re in an Italian place and you’re lactose intolerant, don’t get lasagna. You can have the chicken marsala, though, without a second thought. Let’s say your entrée of choice is described in the menu as “bathed in béchamel.” Hold your head up, say please, and ask for the sauce on the side. But your friend didn’t write to me, you did. And if Picky Pat had a sense of perspective, there wouldn’t be an issue.

Assuming that you meant the word “friend”, and that your friend isn’t being openly hostile to the wait-staff, then I’d suggest keeping a short list of places you don’t like or even better, where you had bad service, and only take Picky Pat there. If you really feel sorry for the server, you can add a bit to the tip. If Picky Pat notices, you can say that you thought the service was exceptional. If Picky Pat disagrees, you can explain why.

Which leads Auntie to the next question…

Dear Auntie,

What do you do about a bad tipper?

Pissed Off

Dear “Pissed”,

Well, that depends on the context. The obvious answer is: you hope they get seated in someone else’s section next time.

If it’s a first date and you’re reckless, you can ask why and learn a lot about them. Factor that in if they ask for a second date.

Or, most likely, if it’s a friend who for some strange reason just never seems to leave enough of a tip, then you square your shoulders and leave an appropriate tip yourself. I put out my share of the bill and then say, “I’ll take care of the tip because I like to over-tip.” I say it because it’s true. I like to tip a little more than it seems most people do, but saying so also avoids any implied insult to my dining companion. If my companion is paying, I thank them first and then offer to leave the tip. Remember, always go to places where you can do this comfortably on your budget. You have to feel good about paying slightly more than your share in the name of Justice and Fair Play. Or you can just stick to fast food and avoid the issue entirely.

Hey, Aunt Scary,

My GF doesn’t pay attention to me when we eat out. I can be in the middle of a sentence and if a waitress or someone puts something in front of her she makes eye contact with them and says “Thanks!” even if I’m talking! It’s so rude!! She does it when they take stuff away too! She’s not listening to a word I say!! How do I get her to pay attention to me?

Invisible BF

Dear “Invisible”,

Try refilling her coffee cup. That should do it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Sneeze Stands Alone (Ask Auntie)

Dear Aunt Scary Cookies,

Sneezing and how people react to it is confusing and sometimes embarrassing to me. When I sneeze, I simply say excuse me if anyone is around. I don't expect anyone to say "bless you". To me that is awkward and has nothing to do with manners but rather with a long standing habit that people think they are "supposed to say this." What do you have to say?


Dear “Sneezy”,

You came to the right place. A lot of people aren’t up on the latest sneeze theory, but your Auntie is a specialist of sorts. Really, I’m just superstitious as hell, but it amounts to the same thing.

Here’s the deal: Once upon a time when there were evil spirits in the forest and animals could have talked if they had anything pertinent to say, it was thought that when you sneezed your soul temporarily left your body. The “bless you” was to put you back together again.

In our gritty modern era, this is no longer true. Now, if you sneeze and people hear it and no one says anything, that’s just bad luck. So let them bless you or say Gesundheit or even Rumplestiltskin. It doesn’t matter, as long as there is verbal acknowledgement. Thank them. That way everyone is polite.

There’s an etiquette twist, and that is to say it yourself. “Excuse me” is fine. It doesn’t matter what is said, as long as something is, by you or anyone in earshot. The rule is all about people hearing you sneeze, not the sneeze itself.

Remember, if you sneeze in a forest and no one is around to hear it, you don’t have to excuse yourself.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Case Of The Coughing Co-worker (Ask Auntie)

Hi aunt scary,
Long time reader, here. I finally have an issue you can help with.
How can I tell coworkers to cover their mouths when they cough? For months, a poor bastard near me (yes, we are in cubicles) has been coughing. Now, as you might expect, another co-worker right next to me has been coughing for a week. Go figure -- she probably got it from the first guy! How I wish those sad sounds were muffled. I'm really not unsympathetic, but please give some kind words to help me quell the germs floating over the cubicle wall!
-Just saw the movie Contagion
Sent from mobile device

Dear “Mobile Device”,

Thanks! Not sure what you mean by “long time reader” since this feature is only three days old, but thanks. Your loyalty is appreciated, so much so that I actually regret having to go all Tough Love on your ass.

You say that “Coughing Charlie” has been at it for months. My dear, there is a statute of limitations on certain kinds of rudeness, and you’ve lost your window. The good news is that the other coworker, the one who’s just come down with cough-itis, is still in your jurisdiction.

Rule #1- If you want to keep someone amenable, don’t make it about you.

“Are you okay? I’ve noticed that you’ve started to sound a little like Charlie over there. Can I get you a cup of tea or some lozenges or something?” Repeat some variation of this theme with every cough and not only will she try to stay quiet just to keep you out of her cube, you’ll come off like a nice person. An annoying person, but a nice one. And while you’re passing the Ricolas around, toss a few on Charlie’s desk. You never know.

“Ask Auntie” right here:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thus It Begins... (Ask Auntie)

Well, I asked for it. I did, just scroll down. You answered by throwing a gauntlet the size of a minivan in my face. But you know what? Auntie doesn’t scare that easily. Putting aside the very polite note Carlos Churchill wrote on behalf of his friend Ahmed Hassan to help move Mr. Hassan’s $18.7 million fortune here to the United States, we’ll begin with the last submission and work our way up to the first.

Thanks to all of you who spared me the indignity of writing the first few letters myself as someone suggested I do. There’s no way I would have thought of any of these.

Dear Aunt Scarycookies,

One of my secret fantasies is furries and being a character who has sex. I was wondering if you know anything about this and if you could give me some guidance on what to do. I don’t feel OK at all with telling people, but at the same time I keep thinking about it and want to know if more people are out there like me.


Dear “Howie”,

No, Auntie doesn’t know anything about it but that never stops her from giving guidance. Yes, keep this to yourself until you’re in a like-minded community, just because I’m guessing you don’t have a lot of martial arts training. That said, the words of wisdom you should take for a mantra are “Consenting adults”. There are lots of them. They live online. Find them and be happy.

Dear Aunt Scary Cookies,

How many pounds of butter can one safely eat at one time?


Dear “Richard”,

Unless you’re a character out of Dickens or Thackeray and actually have gout, the amount of butter you eat should be proportionate to the amount of exercise you get. Did you go to the gym this morning? Park a block away from work? Was there anything that caused the slightest increase of physical effort on your part? No? I didn’t think so. So here’s the rule: if you’re at home, you get one (count’em one!) of the little lines on the side of the wrapper. That’s a tablespoon. If you’re in an old school restaurant, you get one pat. If they serve it in little paper cups, you get half a little cup. Now either move your ass or don’t complain.

And now for the very first letter of Auntie Scary’s career as such:

Seeing our parents' mistakes, how come we aren't better parents?

I’m not a parent, but I’m not a Furry either and that didn’t stop me from answering “Howie”, so I won’t let it stop me now. First off, you’re already a better parent than you think you are just because you asked the question. You care how you’re parenting. That’s huge.

My parents’ generation, your grandparents’ generation, were all raised during the Depression, when good parenting just meant providing food and shelter. Your parents probably grew up during the Cold War, which wasn’t a particularly nurturing zeitgeist either. In other words, your parents were fucked up for a reason, and they probably didn’t know that they were fucked up because everyone around them was too.

You have the advantage here. You know. And you don’t want to pass it on to the next generation, which is an advantage for them.

So the answer to your question is that you’re doing a better job than your own parents did. Nobody’s perfect, but I bet you’re not making their mistakes, at least not twice. Wait and see the adult your kid turns into. Ultimately that’s how your parenting will be judged. Besides, you turned out fine, so stop worrying.

Well, that’s it for this inaugural episode of “Ask Auntie”. Thanks for sharing, thanks for visiting, and we’ll do this again as soon as Auntie has something to work with.

Remember, send your questions to and until next time, behave yourselves.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

"Ask Auntie"

Are you sitting down? Oh, right. Of course you are. Well, there’s going to be a brand-spanking new feature here on Scarycookies.

Assuming a minimal amount of audience participation (that means you, cutie patootie!) I’m going to start an occasional Agony Aunt, or in this case Agony Auntie, column.

Send all queries to -- I promise, if I don’t know the answer, I’ll do my best to make up something that sounds good. And note the AOL – this is a clue not to hit me with technology problems. Etiquette surrounding the use of technology, sure. But if your hardware doesn’t work, trust me, you don’t want Auntie trying to fix it.

Of course all the usual caveats and disclaimers: Like that horoscope you pretended not to read this morning, “Ask Auntie” is for entertainment purposes only. I will edit or ignore anything that seems to need it, and I’ll make an effort to keep you anonymous.

So put on your thinking caps! All of my darling readers abroad, this means you too. Yes, you in Latvia, and you over there in the Netherlands. If the weather is nice in Malaysia, you can wait until monsoon season when you’re stuck indoors.

Remember, that’s

Bring it!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Karma Insurance

There is harmony in the universe, but it’s not what you think. Turns out, karma is just basic math.

You may have heard of it. The official title is “Law of Averages”. Yep, our good old pal homeostasis. Events balance out. Got a string of bad luck? Something good will happen. It will, but you may not recognize it as such. You probably won’t feel like things evened out, but that’s basic math and math is an unfeeling subject.

Here’s my example: This morning I broke Robert’s favorite coffee mug. I knew I had to do something to balance that out or else something worse might happen. That’s my logic. Go get your own logic if you don’t like it.

It started with clearing off my desk. I dealt with every scrap of paper, every scribbled note scratched onto the back of something and tossed in a pile, the entire paper graveyard – not as an end in itself, mind you, but so that I could have the surface space to tackle one of the two outstanding projects that have been staring balefully at me for months now.

All that had to happen to compensate for my slip of the fingers at the kitchen sink.

I’m not even doing the nice project. (Sorry, Sis!) I’m doing the agonizing, no-good-side one. It sucks so badly that I stopped to write to all of you first. This is my last gasp of procrastination before destiny devours the day. I’ve decided that only finishing the horrible project can cancel out the karma and restore harmony to my tiny world.

Age of Aquarius, my ass. The paisley-pushers can bite me.

P.S. That was yesterday, and my system worked! Mock all you want, but the tide did turn. Knocking on wood now.