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FEBRUARY 2006

Dear Madrone,

I have this co-worker with a mouth on him, swears like a drunken sailor. In fact he is a drunken sailor, although I can't actually prove the drunk part. Or the sailor part. I can avoid the mamaluke most of the time, but it's a tap dancing school, and most of the students are not old enough to cross streets by themselves. Plus there is something just this side of creepy the way he shuffles off to Buffalo. Plus, he's the boss's nephew.

Kid Gloves, Monticello

Dear Kid,

One time, I was assistant coaching with the CYO basketball league of Our Lady of Fatima, ( I'm short, but I can jump) and one of the other assistant coaches had a mouth on her, and played favorites, and joked, ha ha, but not really, with all the cool kids, who thought who they were. We had a great record, though, so no one wanted to say boo. I don't care about the winning, the gavonna wasn't right. So, I think to myself, what's the deal here?

I asked myself- do I have the firepower to take her on, and besides, what does it matter, she's just some jamoke, and these kids, their parents should be looking out for them, not me. AND YET... when you send a kid to a church you think they'll come back better not worse (hah!) So I told her off. Nicely, not in front of the kids. PS... next day, I got fired, which was a nice trick because they weren't paying me to begin with. But her sister was the head nun at the parish school, and the family forked over, you know what I'm saying? I should have figured. Anyhow, with regards to your situation, I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you what to think about… #1- Is this a battle you can win? Yes no maybe

#2. Is your honor involved? Yes no maybe

IF #1 is yes, go for it. #2 is not an issue.

If #1 is no, #2 is no, let it sit.

If #1 is no, #2 is yes, then you are obliged to take him on full steam, honor trumps safety.

If #1 is no #2 is maybe, see next to last.

If #1 is maybe, #2 is no, again, you may take a pass

If #1 is maybe #2 is yes, maybe is upgraded to yes, take him on.

If #1 is maybe and #2 is maybe, that equals out to fahgeddaboutit, unless you have trouble sleeping over it, in which case, you may have a yes in there somewhere.

Capish?

OK then, I am completely done here, and the girl is coming to clean the house and I haven't straightened up yet. God bless, Donna

Dear Madrone,

Alas my son-in-law played kissy face with a cheap slut. I'm not surprised; his father had a reputation, that's how that goes. I warned, I warned, but my daughter was having no part of it. Now her heart is broken and she is wrought with anger. They are trying to decide to stay together or split for good, but in the meantime are living together with the children like normal family. It is not easy for a mother to keep her mouth shut. I weep at the thought of the entire affair and my nerves are a wreck. Advice from a wise one such as you would be appreciated.

Mother and mother-in law

Dear Mother,

First off, forget about the mother in law part, that's a no starter.In this situation you are the mother, period. You can only be a mother in law, if your actual child has become the founder of a functioning new family. Now, it looks like they have made a start at one, but the fact that the palooka has been playing around (and we'll take that one as given, but honestly, unless you saw it yourself, you don't really know the skinny, but let's say you do) means it's in terrible peril. If you can, stay out of it. That's not only wise but safe. My neighbor Emmalina spoke against her son's wife which was understandable because the young woman in question should have had a turnstyle installed outside the bedroom door, but the son and his wife reconciled, and they ended moving down the Jersey shore but not before they took a pipe to Emmalina's prize knick knack shelf where she displayed all her Lladros after a heated conversation over cannolis. It wasn't pretty and the law, shall we say, became involved. If for some reason involving either the mental or physical well being ofyour child or grandchildren, you have to interfere, this is what you can expect:

a. the blame for ending the marriage, even if you weren't the one
smooching on the sly.

b. the blame for trying to keep them apart, only you couldn't their love was too strong.

Which is to say, either way YOU will take the fall. Logic doesn't enter into it

God bless, Donna

.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pamela Bongiorno Monk is a full time faculty member of Penn State University, where she teaches creative writing, both fiction and non fiction. She pursues freelance writing, authoring plays and feature articles. She has broken nearly as many rules of family as she has enforced.

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