“My 62-year-old father has recently started to streak his hair with fluorescent colors. He does it when he goes to his job and coordinates his hair color with his outfits. As far as I know, his employer has not said anything as of yet.
Also, Dad has difficulty with social cues. My mother and I aren’t happy with his ‘fashion’ choices and we plead with him to stop doing this. It’s embarrassing because it looks stupid and ridiculous. He claims he doesn’t care what others think and that he has flair.
Are my mother and I wrong to criticize his ‘flair’? Isn’t this behavior really inappropriate for a man his age? How can we convince him that he’s making a fool of himself and should stop? Your help is appreciated.”
—From “NO FOOL LIKE AN OLD FOOL” via “Dear Abby,” 28 August 2017
Welcome to our latest Bad Advice column! Stay tuned every Tuesday for more terrible guidance based on actual letters.
Dear No Fool Like an Old Fool,
Your father’s friends and coworkers think of nothing but how terrible you and your mother are because your dad dyes his hair. Everyone who sees your dad’s hairstyle is immediately compelled to think negatively about you. In fact, the world in general is actively and frequently concerned with developing an opinion about you based on your father’s coiffure, which is why it is so incredibly rude that, after 62 years on planet earth, your father fails to grasp what’s really important: styling his hair to your liking.
It is a shame that he is spending the autumnal years of his tenure on earth making himself happy, rather than accommodating the aesthetic preferences of people who think he is stupid and embarrassing. Men in their sixties have no right to deviate from the grooming practices you deem socially and culturally acceptable, and which have remained entirely static over time, because there is one way and one way only for men in their sixties to act, and it is to not dye their hair or wear colorful clothing. Gender and age are immovable determinants of the way people ought to present themselves in public, nothing ever changes, and everybody hates fun.
One of most beautiful parts of being a square in this glorious quilt of humanity is belittling people until they agree to wear only natural hair colors and neutral clothing tones for the sake of appeasing their nagging-ass family. The sooner your father settles for a pair of khakis, the sooner the other people at Applebee’s will come to respect you and your ability to crush an old man’s spirit.
“Our daughter is 14 and has got into a group of girls at school that I believe are a bad influence on her. I’m pretty sure most — if not all of them — are sexually active and have other questionable values, whereas she has been taught at church to save herself for marriage.
I’ve seen other parents struggle to maintain influence over their child in the face of peer pressure. Do you have some wise advice on how to convince girls to stay virgins?”
— Via “Dear Mrs. Salisbury,” Stuff, 20 August 2017
The last thing you want is for your child to feel as if she can have an open and honest dialogue with her parents about her changing body, growing up, dating, and finding a healthy relationship; you must not signal even for a moment that desiring sex is an acceptable and normal part of human existence instead of a foul and loathsome activity that must only be shared with one’s lifetime mate.
After all, it is so important to protect your family’s investment in the penetrative condition of your child’s reproductive organs. The market value of your daughter will go down significantly if potential suitors find out that they will not have the uniquely delightful pleasure of deflowering her, which is one of the few joys a man may take in marriage, an otherwise distasteful prospect into which he must be lured by unsullied nethers carefully preserved by dear old mom and dad.
Manipulate, cajole, and coerce your daughter into rebuking her sexuality by any means necessary. This is a vital part of reminding her that her value as a human being is entirely predicated on the circumstances of someone interacting with her hoo-ha, and when, and whether, a religious officiant said any words beforehand. Teenagers long for nothing so much as they long to be told not to do something by the parents they dream of obeying at every turn. Focus your attention entirely on engaging your daughter constantly with the idea of not having sex in order to ensure that she develops a healthy disinterest in sex, the thing you must always remember to tell her not to have. Set an alarm on your phone if it will help you to remind your daughter to think constantly of not having any sex, lest she accidentally forget how you feel about sex, the activity which her family and church leaders have expressly said she should not have.
Be ever vigilant about ensuring your daughter preserves the repulsive and shameful act of abhorrent sexual congress for her sacred marriage bed. A moment’s lapse could lead to your daughter believing she is some kind of human person with a brain and a body, instead of a girl.
“I am the father of a teenage son and a daughter. Our house has a ‘no shirt — no service’ rule that has been tested a few times by my son’s friends. In each case, I (or my son) tell the offender that the second violation will result in banishment from our house. No offender has ever violated the rule a second time. Our house also has an informal ‘no low-cut shirt’ rule for females. This policy has been tested a few times by my daughter’s friends. However, in these cases I am reluctant to mention the infraction to my wife or daughter, let alone enforce this policy. Am I being sexist?”
— From E.M. / Malden, via “Miss Conduct,” Boston Globe, 18 August 2017
You are not being sexist, because there is nothing sexist about believing that women’s bodies are fundamentally lurid bits of fleshy temptation that must be obscured lest a man experience an errant sexual desire caused entirely by the suggestion that a set of tits exists in the local vicinity. The fact that you expect your male guests to wear shirts entirely excuses any in-home dress code for women, because men and women are treated exactly the same and very fairly everywhere in society and there is no need whatsoever to thoughtfully explore the possibility that you are reinforcing dangerous stereotypes that shore up rape culture and engender body shame among your family’s females. Indeed, not only are you not sexist, you are also definitely not the creepy neighborhood dad who spends his time contemplating the details of the exposed decolletage of underage girls, a super normal and entirely cool thing for grown-ass men to think about at length and advertise their concern with in the local newspaper.