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Dear Daily readers,
In November of 2010, I was tapped on the shoulder and told that a bold new experiment in journalism was in the works. Some impressive folks with deep pockets and brass balls were building a first-of-its-kind daily national news publication that would be available exclusively on the iPad.
They said they were looking for fresh voices and unique perspectives, and I was definitely as fresh as they come — damn near raw. At the time, I had an online advice column with a dedicated following who appreciated my unfiltered style. I cursed like a sailor and gave scathing advice, but I also laid down brutal truth about life, love, and the human condition.
My edges were rough, but the editors at The Daily gave me a short list of four-letter words I couldn’t use and picked me as their advice columnist. It was a gutsy choice, and I respected them for it. Exactly two years ago today, I turned in my first round of columns, and since then, I’ve answered hundreds of your questions on everything from wedding etiquette to existential crisis management.
Writing for The Daily has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. That’s not hyperbole. I got to speak to a vast new audience. I got to read thousands of letters from people all over the world. I got to learn from brilliant and talented professionals, and I’m proud of the work we’ve all done along the way.
Dream jobs don’t just manifest themselves out of thin air, but this one did, and I was lucky enough to write for a groundbreaking publication from its inaugural issue to its farewell. Now, as The Daily goes the way of all good things, I’m just happy to have been a part of it.
Thank you all so much for reading. It’s been a blast.
Yours in gratitude,
P.S. To those of you who wrote in these past few days asking what will become of me, don’t worry. My advice and pop culture columns will find a new home soon enough. In the meantime, you can keep up with my latest work at dearcoquette.com and thecoquette.net.
Cut to three months after a three-year-long heartfelt and soul-deep relationship ended. I’m on pretty good terms with the ex; we both still have residual feelings for each other but are keeping a little bit of distance (mostly my request as the ex-to-friends transition hurts like a bitch). That’s not the problem. The problem is that now his friends are trying to get at me.
I make no effort to seem even remotely available to these people. We’ve interacted only a handful of times through Facebook, all amounting to more-or-less pleasantries and those stupid-ass game invites.
While this most recent friend hasn’t been explicit in his efforts, it’s still smelling kind of fishy. I want to do the right thing by my ex, and let’s face it, I’m still loyal to some degree. Also, I have a little thing called integrity. I’m in no way interested in my ex’s friends. They were out of bounds the second I started dating my ex (though I honestly wouldn’t be interested in them anyway.) I’m just trying to figure out the most graceful way to navigate the situation. That’s where you come in, hopefully.
Thanks, Coquette. It’s times like these I wish I could call you up for whiskey sours at a dive bar until 3 am.
Sweetheart, the first thing I would do is wean you off of whiskey sours. (If you insist on adding anything other than ice to your whiskey, that list ends at vermouth and bitters.) The second thing I would do is give you a big hug and tell you that you are not alone in this. It happens with such frequency that I’m surprised there’s not a formal name for it.
There will always be a few acquaintances of your ex who come sniffing around after a break-up. It’s inevitable, especially now that they can do it so easily on Facebook and still maintain plausible deniability. After every relationship, I pretty much expect to play a game of post-breakup whack-a-mole with a horny handful of my ex’s douchebag friends who suddenly find a reason to poke their heads into my business. (And yeah, the really sneaky ones wait a few months.)
The most graceful way to handle this is just ignore them. Unless you have a good reason to be exchanging pleasantries, don’t even do it. You are not obligated to respond to these guys, and you shouldn’t be afraid of seeming rude. Don’t make it your problem that they don’t know any better. Shut them down hard and fast the moment they start hitting on you, and feel free to unfriend them if they make you uncomfortable in any way.
Unless one of them gets aggressively creepy, don’t get your ex involved. The only thing worse than telling your ex that his friends are hitting on you is actually hooking up with one of his friends. Leave that kind of tacky behavior to the attention whores and drama queens.
Good luck with the broken heart, babe. I’m sorry you have to deal with a few jokers along the way.
Coquette: An open letter to Kate Middleton’s fetus
Dear royal highness, fetus of Middleton,
Congratulations on your recent conception! On behalf of all Americans who are inappropriately fascinated with the monarchy, I’d like to say how excited we are to hear you’ll be making your way into the world sometime next Summer.
Kudos to you for being the lucky zygote in succession the British throne. It doesn’t matter whether you eventually become a girl or a boy, as it seems the Realms of the Commonwealth have recently done away with the centuries old law of primogeniture.
I do so hope you’ll turn out to be a princess. Word on the street is that if you’re a girl, your parents might name you Diana. You’re much too young to appreciate the irony, but I know your grandfather and great-grandmother will be keeping a stiff upper lip about the possibility of England eventually being ruled by a Queen Diana.
Speaking of princesses, I was terribly sorry to hear that your mother was recently hospitalized. It seems she was suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which apparently is a spell they teach at Hogwarts to make muggle-born princesses vomit for two straight days. I hear she’s feeling much better now, so that’s good news.
Have a wonderful time being groomed for the throne. Never forget that it’s all just an elaborate game, and try not take any of it too seriously. If your head ever gets heavy from the crown, just do a little neck yoga, and remember to stop and smell the rose petals beneath your feet.
The entire world looks forward to meeting you in a few months, but for now, just enjoy being in the womb. It’s the most privacy you’re ever going to get.
Yours in a tiara,
So, what am I supposed to do when my Jewish grandmother asks me what I think about the situation in Gaza? Do you have any recommendations for any particular substance that might make this holiday season easier?
When your Jewish grandmother asks you about the situation in Gaza, all you have to do is say, “I don’t know, Bubbe. What do you think?” After that, no matter what comes out of her mouth, just smile and nod.
This goes for all ethnic grandparents and all discussions about Old Country politics. Let the elders say whatever they want, and then just smile and nod. It doesn’t matter if their opinions are ignorant or inflammatory. You don’t have anything to prove to them, and it’s not your job to show them that they’re wrong.
Never argue with a septuagenarian on an issue regarding their cultural identity. It’s a waste of everyone’s time.
I’m 23, halfway through grad school, and not dating anyone seriously. My mom is starting to freak out that I’ll be alone forever (she was married at 21 right out of college) and feels the need to ask me every time she sees me “Are you dating anyone?” Knowing the rest of my family, they will start in with the “So when are you going to find a guy and get married” stuff soon. What’s the polite way to tell them all to chill out and let me live my life on my own time table?
I feel you, sister. This was my go-to line when my family members started asking questions: “Marriage isn’t a high priority for me right now, but I’m enjoying my life, and I’m very happy with the way things are going.”
Five years ago I spent a month in Goma, Congo, teaching art camp at a hospital. Today in the news I saw a photo of that same hospital flanked by soldiers and looking much worse for the wear. The invasion of the city has left me terrified for the safety of the people living there that I have come to know as friends. They are not safe staying, but leaving would bring even more danger as men are systematically slaughtered and women are raped almost without exception. I feel helpless and guilty about the stark contrast between my peaceful life in the states and the terror that my friends are experiencing in Goma.
I ask one thing of the people who may read this (even if it is just you): Please, find something to be thankful for in your life. It could almost always be worse. It is an amazing stroke of luck to have even been born in our peaceful little corner of the world. I would hope that everybody can recognize that and do what they can to preserve that which is so easy to take for granted.
And for those who truly have had devastation in their lives… My heart goes out to you.
I don’t have anything to add, except for thanks to everyone for writing in to me. Thanks to everyone for reading The Daily, and happy Thanksgiving weekend, America!
So, one of my best guy friends is married. He has a great relationship with his wife, and we’re all part of a group of friends that hang out together. The other day I left a comment on one of his Facebook pics. The comment was, “Aww, love ya!” He deleted the comment and later, when I was curious why this had happened, I was told by his wife that I had “disrespected their marriage.” (He did not tell me this. She did.) That was really upsetting to hear from my closest guy friend. I told her that no one’s trying to disrespect her marriage and that she needs to slow her roll. I wasn’t sure if it was her insecurities or perhaps her sense of superiority for “being married” but I feel she should know better [than] to accuse a close friend of such nonsense over a comment on a picture. To be clear, I have never found her husband even remotely attractive and I am into my own boyfriend. I realize there are two sides to this, but tell me: Who’s right?
Neither of you are right. She’s a hypersensitive twit with larger trust issues in her marriage, and you’re a self-absorbed drama queen who takes this kind of trivial crap personally when it’s not even really about you.
Both of you should delete your Facebook accounts and go volunteer at a soup kitchen together, but since that’ll never happen, at the very least, quit bickering over petty nonsense like a couple of high school sophomores.
I hate my mother’s boyfriend. He’s verbally and emotionally abusive. He’s lived in my house for years now, and he’s not moving out any time soon. He treats me like dirt and my mom just turns the other cheek or makes excuses. I wouldn’t want her complaining if I had a boyfriend that she didn’t like, but still, what do I do?
If you had a boyfriend that was abusive to your mom, you can be sure she would complain. More importantly, she wouldn’t tolerate a boyfriend who treated you like dirt. The same rules should apply in reverse.
This isn’t about liking your mom’s boyfriend. It’s about allowing him to disrespect you. He doesn’t get to do that, and you sure as hell shouldn’t let your mom make excuses for him. Make sure she knows that his abusive behavior is unacceptable. She doesn’t get to pick him over you.
Remember, you’re family. He’s not. Ultimately, he’s disposable. You’re not. If your mom is too weak or selfish to deal with the situation on your behalf, show her what a backbone is by dealing with it yourself. Don’t complain. Simply demand respect.
I’m hooking up with this guy and I know that he’s with other girls. The thing is I’m not with any other guys and it feels uneven. After we hook up I feel so lonely and like I don’t mean anything. I know those feelings are mine, not anything he’s given me, but still. What should I do?
Stop hooking up with him.
Email your questions to Coquette at email@example.com
Dear Red States,
There’s been a lot of post-election talk about unifying the country, so I’m writing to you on behalf of the blue states, in the hopes of chipping away at some of the bitter divisiveness.
You see, I’ve lived on both sides of the great American political divide. I was born and raised in a God-fearing, gun-toting, Fox-News-watching red state, a place that refers to itself as the Heartland. My family members are all conservative, church-going Republicans. They are good, honest, self-made people — the very job creators that guys like Mitt Romney are always talking about.
Of course, as soon as I was old enough to drive, I made my way to the other side of the country, all the way to California, the bluest of blue states filled with godless Hollywood liberals, pro-choice homosexual union members and other assorted socialist heathens that filled the nightmares of my right-wing parents.
I am intimately familiar with the rift in America’s socio-political landscape. I’ve spent my entire adult life trying to bridge the divide between red state and blue state, and it’s never been more difficult than during this past election year.
Politics have polarized this country to such a degree that the two sides don’t even represent the same realities. I watched time and again as cold hard facts were debated as if they were political opinions. I’ve bitten my tongue as tempers flared, because everything has become so deeply personal. Respectful disagreement doesn’t even seem possible anymore, because both sides aren’t just defending their politics — they’re defending their identities.
Thankfully, the election has come and gone. The worst is over for now, and we can all go back to our regular lives. The Democrats happened to win the day, but under slightly different circumstances, it could have been the Republicans. It might as well have been a coin toss for all the stress and anger it’s caused us, and perhaps that’s the most glaring irony of this process. Half of this country votes red, and half of this country votes blue. We’re two sides of the same coin that gets flipped every four years so that a tiny sliver of undecided swing staters can call it in the air.
I for one am tired of all the divisiveness. We have our differences of opinion, and that’s okay. We shouldn’t let our politics come between us. Now how about we all sit down for an election-free Thanksgiving dinner, and finally talk about something else?
Yours in America,
Is it wrong to get food stamps if I’m legally qualified but don’t really need them to survive?
It’s your dignity. Do what you want with it.
Does being lazy make me a bad person?
No. It makes you a bad employee.
How do I stay motivated in college?
Pay for it yourself.
Does Ann Coulter really believe the things she preaches or does she do it for the money?
There’s no excuse for either.
I’m 22. Is a 39-year-old man too old for me?
A 39-year-old man is definitely too old for you, but a 39-year-old boy might be just the right age.
Why are you so angry?
I’m not angry. I’m just paying attention.
I feel like I deserve more in my relationship.
More what? Love? Sex? Bacon? Please be more specific.
Is it natural for there to be a minor ebb and flow of feeling for a romantic partner?
You’re lucky if it’s only minor.
What’s the best way to help your friend fall out of love with you?
Shut up and get the hell out of the way.
How do you tell the difference between friend-love and romantic-love?
Passion. (Not to be confused with sex.)
I know this is cheap but I’m a little hungover and I just realized I gave away my lighter while high and I want it back. Is it rude to ask for it? Should I just get a new one?
You wouldn’t last very long in prison. Just sayin’.
Can you explain the psychosis of people who constantly need to upload pictures of themselves onto the internet?
Psychosis? That kind of thing isn’t even abnormal. Sorry, dude. The line between public and private is permanently blurred, and technology will always be tied to our egos. If you don’t like it, feel free to delete your Facebook account.
What does it mean when a guy chases you for weeks or months, then tells you he’s “not ready for a relationship” once you start to date?
It doesn’t mean anything. That’s kind of the point.
It’ll all be okay, right?
Nope. It’ll just be.
Email your questions to Coquette at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear girls who wear slutty costumes for Halloween,
This is your big weekend. Are you excited? Hell yes, you are. Halloween is your annual excuse to let your freak flag fly and wear the sluttiest costume you can loosely associate with a fresh pop culture reference. No hemline is too high, no standard is too low and the only rule is to show more skin than the year before.
Your outfit is some ridiculous visual pun made up of a few square feet of spandex and polyester that stretch the limits of what can be considered a mini-skirt/halter-top combo, proving that you can put the word “sexy” in front of pretty much anything. And you’re making it relevant this year. Why be a sexy nurse or a sexy cop when you’ve got legitimate options like sexy honey badger, sexy Big Bird and sexy binders full of women? (Thanks for the limitless possibilities you’ve contributed to this year’s Halloween, Governor Romney.)
Good for you if you can pull it off. Flaunt it if you got it. Embrace your sexuality on the one night of the year when it’s socially acceptable to celebrate candy and a lack of judgement. It’s your evening to acknowledge that dressing like a total slut is fun, so be absolutely shameless, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Don’t mistake me: dressing like a slut on Halloween is a good thing. Pushing the boundaries of normative behavior is a trick to which we don’t treat ourselves often enough in contemporary American society. The puritanical killjoys will disagree, but they should be ignored.
Halloween is your favorite holiday because the regular rules of decorum don’t apply. You get to pretend you’re being someone else when finally you’re getting to be yourself. Enjoy every minute of it, and when you’re checking yourself out in the mirror, take a quick second to recognize what a shame it is that this holiday only comes around once a year.
Happy Halloween, girls. You all look fabulous. Rock out this weekend, and try not to freeze your butts off.
Yours behind a mask,
My 19-year-old sister recently told me that she is pregnant. She is unemployed, hasn’t graduated and has been with her boyfriend for about two months.
The rest of my family is being really supportive, as are many of her friends, but I can’t find the energy to be supportive. I recognize that she has every right to have children, but as a feminist and children’s advocate, I don’t believe the environment and situation she is bringing this child into are healthy or fair to the child.
Am I being a really awful sister by telling her that I don’t think she is making a good choice? Should I just back this decision 100 percent like the rest of my family?
Hell no. Don’t you dare back her decision. You know damn well she’s not ready to be a mother, so be strong and lay down some brutal truth. Don’t just tell her that she’s making the wrong choice. Help her through a very tough decision, and be there for her every step of the way if she changes her mind and decides to terminate her pregnancy.
You’ve only got a couple of months before it’s too late. This is one of those “speak now or forever hold your peace”-type situations, so get in there and plead your case. She is an unwed, uneducated, unemployed teenager about to turn a guy she hardly knows into an accidental father. She is in desperate need of a reality check, so do your best to show her she’s making a massive, life-defining mistake.
Tell her how incredibly selfish it is to bring a child into the world when she isn’t prepared to properly support it. Tell her that she has plenty of time to become a mother after she gets her life together. Tell her that you love her, but that she’s just not ready.
It’s ugly stuff to have to say, but your sister needs to hear it. If it causes a rift between the two of you, so be it. Remember, supporting your sister isn’t the same thing as supporting her poor life choices.
I believe my main purpose in life is to become a mother and raise children. Am I a shameful 21st-century 20-something woman for not wanting the high-flying career over babies?
Don’t let anyone shame you for choosing motherhood instead of a career (or vice versa). If you know what you want out of life, go get it, girl. Be the best damn mother you can possibly be, and ignore the politics. All that “mother vs. career woman” crap is a false dichotomy anyway. Feminism (and life) are way more complicated than that.
I have a friend whose company I really enjoy, but who permanently lets me down and is not there for me when times are hard and I’m not my best. I don’t believe in bearing a grudge and I do like having this person around, so when I’ve got myself back together again and the inevitable apology comes, I accept and then I am surprised/hurt when it happens again. Do you have any advice?
Quit being surprised.
Dear Sesame Street,
All politics aside, I wanted to take a moment out of this ridiculous election cycle to say thank you. You have entertained and instructed four generations of children in over 140 countries. You have revolutionized the way we think about education and childhood development. You are an American institution, and you have made the world a better place.
Wall Street gets all the money, and Main Street gets all the love, but Sesame Street has steadfastly been going about its fundamental purpose of preparing kids for school since 1969. It is without a doubt the most important children’s program in the history of television, and all of its denizens — be they Muppet or human — deserve a certain measure of respect.
Big Bird, you certainly deserve better than to be made a political symbol. The last two weeks have marked a low point in the national discourse as pundits and political operatives on both sides have played a big, yellow, feathery game of tug-of-war. It would be silly if it weren’t so degrading, and all because the tiniest fraction of our tax dollars account for a small percentage of Sesame Street’s budget.
It’s fine if the grown-ups want to squabble over whether federal funds should be used to subsidize public television, but let’s not forget where we learned our 1-2-3’s. Sesame Street is one of the single greatest cultural achievements in American history, and there’s not another instance where we’ve gotten so much educational impact for so little money. (If the Count helped us do the math, no doubt he would laugh at how good a deal we’ve all gotten. You can almost hear him now, “AH! AH! AH!”)
On behalf of everyone who understands the importance of early childhood education (and everyone who loves the Muppets), thank you for doing your job, and for doing it so well.
Yours where the air is sweet,